improvements to R.100 & Airship Continuity Programme
It was noted that when
the R.100 returned from her Canadian voyage, the ship was
under evaluation as part of the on going requirements of
the Imperial Airship Scheme. A document has been discovered
in the Public Records Office which showed the change of
direction from the original requirements of the 1924 and1928
revisions to the Imperial Airship Scheme. The document has
an outline of the whole project but particular interest
is seen as to the modifications to the R.100.
In August of 1930 it
was seen that both the R.100 and R.101 would have by this
time offered some way of ascertaining the earning capacity
of airships, and also to demonstrate the possibility of
a regular airship service. It was deemed that by this time
that neither requirements had been met and it was noted
that both ships were not capable of doing so. The reasons
behind this were that the existing ships did not have suffifient
lift to give a fair indication of the possibility of regularity
of Airship flying and it's consequent regation on earning
It was not seen that any progress would be made unless new
construction and adaption was made as part of the next programme.
It was hoped that by
placing some of the car externally to the ship, then this
may have given more room in the gasbag which was immediatly
above the passenger accommodation. This would have also
allowed more disposable lift suitable for more commercial
operations. By removing the large passenger areas and reviewing
the use of the R.100, it was seen that the new class of ship,
the R102 class be deemed more suitable for carrying the
large number of passengers as orignally planned in the R.100
It was also planned that the R102 was also to have some
of the passenger accommodation protude from below the main
hull, and so this could have been seen as early concepts
for part of the planned external smoking lounge for the
R102. The passenger capacity of the R102 was deemed to be
a realistic 50 passengers and so the potential reduction
in cabin numbers and configuration on the revised R.100 would
have been realistic in line with the plans as discovered.
Source of data :
Minisrty File Note from LGS Reynolds to the Direcort of
Airship Development dated 28 August 1930:
out improvements to R.100 and R.101 such as modifications to
passenger accommodation in both ships, fit dieselised condors
to R.100 and possibly fit a new bay to the ship"
exist regarding the actual plans however the following images
were found in the AHT archive relating to a "Scheme C"
showing the R.100 with a long external passenger car affixed
to the hull behind the existing control car. The location
of the control car would have moved forward approximalty 20
feet of it's existing postion on the R.100.
An image showing the
interior of the proposed R.100 external cabin space.
Policy Development and Continuity - 1929
a personal statement issued on 13th September 1930 by
C Buloch to H C T Dowding shows a very interesting insite
in to the state of the Airship Programme which seems
to have been largely overlooked by many sources. The
document proved to be seen as a snapshot of the situation
with regards to the programme moving forward.
It was seen that
the initial phase was the "teething period"
for large airship design and construction was largely
over and the unforseen difficulties should not arise
in the case of the new ships which are to be in the
main "scaled up" editions of the R.101.
Plans were not
to be submitted at the forthcoming Imperial Conference
as it was viewed that at this would be unjust at this
date/stage. Understanding that the quote given at
the 1926 Imperial Conference had not been met with
R.100 and R.101, and also the ships at present cannot
operate with useful loads without additional masts
at Malta and Baghdad. A prudent course of action as
it seemed at this stage the scheme had provided very
little of what they said it would in the original
conference back in 1926.
What could be
released were the plans were which were to look at
building some of the new ships in July 1931, the proposed
moovable mooring tower would have be delivered by
May 1931. The R.100 would have an extra bay fitted.
It was seen that
the crux of the commercial operation is the view of
reularity of operation before they were to embark
on the construction of the new ships
Plans for the
R.100 were underway and noted in this documentation.
It was stated that it would take "6 months for
the outer cover to be put on the ship as the material
was not ready to put in the new bay, which would take
some 7- 8 months to install. It was urged that this
would be done on the recovering of the ship. It would
be no more difficult as had been with the R.101".
Both the R.100 and R.101 were planned to be the workhorses
of the England - Egypt route, but is was noted that
the Malta Mast had to be constructed if both ships
were to carry workable loads. A final note planned
both ships to carry out occasional flights to the
Canadian and Indian provinces to keep thier interests
alive and show that airships were part of the communication
plans. The R102 and R103 would be suitable for these
routes as working airships.
considered as a fair income from the ships when operational.
Fares charged for the flights were outlined as :-
£ 200 each
way to Montreal for the first 18 months
£150 each way to Karachai
It was noted that these figures were not unreasonable
whilst airships remained "a novelty". After
this time the fairs be reduced to compete with the
Imperial Airways charges :-
fares via Airship
Below is the full
specifics of the 1930 programme
Details of the Programme issued by G S Reynolds:-
As promised I now forward the programme of Airship
Developement which is recommened as a basis for consideration
at the Imperial conference and also and estimate of
the cost of the Programme which covers a period of
The new programme
might be looked upon as a Programme of Airship Demonstration
Services would appear to be an essential preliminary
to Commercial Services financed by Private Enterprise.
In these servces
we should have to endeavour to :-
Ascertain the earning capactiy of an Airship
2) Demonstrate the possible regularity of Airship
3) Obtain some reliable data in regard to perating
and maintenance costs.
I do not think
we can hope to do either 1 or 2 with the existing
ships; they havce not sufficient lift to give a fiar
indication of the possible regularityof Airship Flying
and it's consequence reaction on earning capacity.
I feel therefore we shall not be making any real progress
toward Commerical Services unless new construction
is included as part of the next programme. Much data
in regard to operating and maintenance costs might
be obtained with operations of existing ships.
Briefly, the main
items of the Programme recommended as as follows :-
construction of one new Airship.
2. Order second
mooring tower for Cardington to be completed as
soon as possible. Until this Tower is provided
the operations of the R.100 and R.101 concurrently
must be strictly limited.
3. Order new
Shed for Cardington to be completed as soon as
both No 1 and No 2 Sheds at Cardington
experiments with Transporter Tower and Handling
mooring tower experiments.
7. Carry out
improvements to R.100 and R.101 such as modifications
to passenger accommodation in both ships, fit
dieselised Condors to R.100 and possibly a new
bay to that ship.
with R.100 and R.101 on the Atlantic during the
Summer months and on the Egypt route during the
Winter months and certain operations and experiements
from Karachi. A total of 1,500 hours for the two
9. The selection
of sites and the provision of Mooring towers in
the Maritime Provinces, Matla and Middle East.
of certain additional ground facilities and equipment
for operations purposes at Cardington, Ismailia,
and Karachi, such as improved ydrogen facilities,
accommodation,etc, to be completed by middle of
the development of Meterological and Wireless
organisation on the Indian and Atlantic routes
and commence investigation in to Winter flying
conditions on the Atlantic route to Canada.
of spares for existing ships.
1. New shed
to be completed by the middle of this year.
assembly of Airship.
3. No2 Mooring
tower completed earlier this year.
of transporter tower and handling rails for Karachi
to be completed by middle of third year.
with R.100 and R.101 as in first year, but a total
say 3,000 hours flying for the two ships during
ship to be completed in the middle of this year,
i.e. 2 1/2 years from the commencement of this
with the new ship and existing ships will be again
as in previous years, but schedule flights to
We have made provision
for spares for existing ships on a reasonable liberal
basis as far as fabric, engines and miscellaneous
replacements are concerned. No provision has been
made for engine experiemental work other than prvided
for in the spare engines.
It is understood
you require some estimate of the cost of Airship Services.
As you know from time to time many figures have been
worked out, but we really have no data at present
on which to form a reliable estimate.
cubic feet ship which we propose should be built,
would carry 50 passengers and 5 tons of freight under
the worst conditions either on the Indian or Atlantic
route provided the additional tower facilites mentioned
above are availalbe.
If we assume passenger
fares at 150 and a full load, 2 tons of mails at say
10/- per lb, you will see than an airship with this
performance shouls be able to earn well over 20,000
on a round trip.
Airships, if they
are to pay, will undoubtebly have to fly about 3,000
hours per year and when this amount of flying can
be got out of an airshipthe revenue from each ship
will clearly be very large.
In regard to possible
earnings during this programme I think they might
be put at 50,000 for the first year, 75,000 for the
second year and say 1,250,000 for the third. when
the first new ship will also be in operation.
The earnings from
existing ships will clearly depend as to what alterations
are made to improve their lift. The amount of flying
which they can carry out will, I think, be found to
depend largely on the engine question.
If it was decided
to beuild two ships at R.A.W. the second to be completed
as soon as possible after the first it is considered
the second ship could be ready for trials 8 months
after the first, or early in the 4th year.
A second new shed
would be required at Cardington and would be available
by the time the first ship is completed to allow the
erection of a second ship to commence immediatly following
the completion of the first. As already pointed out,
however, the estimates attached are on the basis of
one new ship.
are figures which have been finally put up to the
Secretary and are being put to the Secretary of State
in this connection :-
Capital works services at RAW and Atlantic and Indian
two new airships and experimental work
Flying with R.100 and R.101 and R102 (gas, fuel, oil,
rations etc ) crews and operating personnel; improvements
to R.100 and R.101 the provision of spares, engines etc
for four years
Maintenance of base including RAW for four years
Normal A in A
As you know, the
Secreatary has suggested to the Secretary of State
that these figures might be increased by 20%. This
would make the total about 3,300,000.
It is essential
that the new AMSR should have before him in detail
the figures leading up to the total given above, and
he is taking over on Monday next. You will therefore
appreciate the need for urgency.
G S Reynolds.
Records office : AIR 5/987
improvements to R.100 and Airship Continuity Programme