Recently found in Flickr Commons are eleven photographs that record a significant event in the history of the British airship N.S.11. From March 1919 the images are part of the Adolphe Henri DuBois Special Photo Collection curated by the San Diego Air & Space Museum.Read More
The story of the record-breaking airship NS11, her crew and the NS airships during, and beyond WWI.
The North Sea class airship N.S. 11 was assembled and tested at RNAS Kingsnorth near Ashford in Kent. During July 1918 her two 260hp FIAT engines were prepared for fitting and propellors balanced. In early August she was fitted with a “East Fortune” type car built by Frederick Sage & Co. Ltd. N.S. 11 had a separate power car unlike the Wheelwright-design airships.
All nine officers and crew of the NS11 were killed on 15th July 1919 when the airship was “struck by lightning” and burst into flames over the North Sea five miles north of Cromer, Norfolk. Despite an extensive search only two bodies were washed ashore – that of coxswain Sgt. Charles Henry Lewry and the ship’s mascot, an Airedale terrier.
Research is ongoing to piece together the backgrounds and stories of the men onboard NS11 that night. Lost early in their lives, many are without decedents which makes the task all the more difficult. With the help of researchers and family members we are, however, constantly adding to what we know.
CLICK ON THE PHOTOGRAPHS FOR MORE INFORMATION ON EACH CREW MEMBER.
As war broke out across Europe in August 1914, Britain had very few military airships. While Germany had invested time, money and faith in airship development, Britain had a handful of non-rigid and semi-rigid experimental (and foreign) airships with just 195 airship personnel. Germany on the other hand had ten tried-and-tested airships operated by both the German Navy and Army.
It is said that every story needs a love interest. In the case of airship NS11 this is provided by Pansy Nina Grahame Chambers, together with a fair dose of intrigue, unsolved questions and an astonishing coincidence.