"Dedicated to the crew of North Sea Class airship NS11 – lost with all hands 15 July 1919"

The story of the record-breaking airship NS11, her crew and the NS airships during, and beyond WWI.

Airship NS11 – Introduction

The North Sea class airship N.S. 11 was assembled and tested at RNAS Kingsnorth on the Isle of Grain, 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. 

The Last Crew

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.

The Airship Service in WWI

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.

Multi Media Bar

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N.S.8 and Destroyer

© The Lewry Collection  |  NS11.org

N.S.11 at Eastchurch

© The Spike Johnson Archive


© The Lewry Collection

N.S.11 at Pulham

© The Lewry Collection

N.S.7 at surrender of German Fleet

Image kindly provided by John Wisdom

N.S.12 in flight

The Lewry Collection

N.S.6 at Longside

The image was kindly provided by John Robertson of the Highland Aviation Museum who...

N.S.8 above German Fleet

Surrender of the German Fleet. British airship N.S.8 flying over the surrendered ships...

N.S.7 at surrender of German Fleet

N.S.7 escorting surrender of the German Fleet. British Battleships leading the way with...


© The Lewry Collection

N.S.5 at Pulham

Image kindly provided by The Pennoyer Centre, Pulham.

N.S.11 & HMA 25 at Cranwell

© The Lewry Collection

Pansy’s story

It is said that every story needs a love interest. In the case of airship NS11 this is provided by Pansy, together with a fair dose of intrigue, unsolved questions and an astonishing coincidence.

NS airship and Coastal

Kindly provided by the Pennoyer Centre, Pulham and the Owens family. Photograph taken by...