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Airship Sheds   RNAS Luce Bay
Country: United Kingdom Location: RNAS Luce Bay

The northern reaches of the Irish Sea were shipping lanes heading out from the docks of Liverpool, and during the First World War, were needing protection from the threat of enemy submarines.

The area of low lying land at the head of Luce Bay, which was protected by the worst of the prevailing winds by rising low buff ground to the east and the west of the area, providing shelter. In the second year of the war, it was decided to site the new RNAS airship station here, and in the months of May and June 1915 the single airship shed was under construction.

The size of the shed was to enable the housing of four Submarine Scout class airships, with workshops and offices situated in annexes along the outside walls of the main shed.

15th July 1915 saw the official commissioning of the RNAS Luce Bay Station. The first two airships to arrive were Submarine Scouts S.S.17 and S.S.23. They arrived by road and could not be inflated until the doors on the shed were finally fitted on the 1st August 1915.

September 1915 saw an additional ship added to the fleet at Luce Bay, and live bombing practice was undertaken on targets at sea.

Work continued on the shed in 1916 as the concreting of the floor had yet to be completed and left nowhere for the airships enveloped to be laid out and inflated.

Getting to the station proved a challenge and the roads became impassable in the winter and the only way for the hydrogen cylinders to be delivered was by horse and cart.

As with all RNAS Stations, Luce Bay had it’s own wireless station, and in 1915 intercepted messages from German submarines thought to be about 100 miles to the north.

Escorting ships became the major role for the four ships based out of Luce bay with 1917 seeing a huge increase in flying hours by the ships to some 1,300 hours. The Stranraer to Larne Ferry, an essential link between Scotland and Northern Ireland was always escorted by one the SS ships. A mooring out station at Larne was set up to receive the SS ship and re-fuel.


Airship Shed 1. Submarine Scout Class Shed (302ft long 70ft wide 50ft high)

Hydrogen plant: 1
Gasholder 1 x 10,000 cft


The Luce Bay airship shed, showing the flat ground on which it was suitable to build a small airship station.


The ships provided valuable service right up until the Armistice in 1918, however with the hostilities ceased, the station was rapidly demobilised in December of 1918. In 1921 the buildings were auctioned off and the airship shed was sold for scrap for the sum of £2,750, and each of the four windbreaks for £196.

With the threat of the oncoming Second World War, the site was turned in to a training aerodrome for the RAF and was renamed as West Freugh and saw continued use right up until the end of the 1990’s.



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