ROAD TO WAR -
|Terror of the Zeppelin’s!
|Pioneer of the air Count Ferdinand Von Zeppelin was a genius at
flight design and by 2nd July 1900 he had produced 4 massive new
airships; 450feet long and 40feet wide, aptly nicknamed “Flying
Cigars”. By the beginning of 1914 he had produced a huge fleet
of thirty airships to which he gave his own name to. These were
initially used for pleasure purposes flying passengers across Germany
and Switzerland. But the German High Command knowing war was on
the horizon planned to use these airships to carry weapons and bombs
against their enemies. These were soon to make their presence known
in a devastating manner.
Their appearance in the skies above caused a great stir among the
onlookers, for they had never seen anything so huge being able to
fly, apart from that it seemed to be suspended in mid air.
But their purpose in war was to come suddenly, ready to deliver
their own form of destruction, bringing sheer terror and mayhem
upon the unsuspecting enemy below,
The German Air Force soon changed their tactics of warfare, while
their new fighter aero-planes were engaged in daily combat over
the skies of France and Belgium, the Germans decided to turn their
attention towards England. The German Air Ministry had decided to
bomb London in an unprecedented attack on the capital, using their
new form of aerial warfare the…Zeppelin.
Loaded with a deadly cargo of bombs this lone massive Zeppelin left
its base in Germany, and headed out across the channel.
This step of blatant aggression by the German Zeppelin in aerial
warfare came to reality on the night of 31st May 1915, when to the
absolute shock and horror of the people it dropped bombs on London,
destroying many houses, causing fires, and killing five civilians.
The war raging fiercely in France and Belgium seemed to the people
of Britain so far away, but when this sudden terror raid brought
death and destruction to the people of England, especially London
they were outraged.
An American pilot on leave in London, expressed his own views by
saying “It doesn’t matter if nothing was hit or destroyed,
as long as it puts the wind-up the civil population”. His
words would echo the true feelings of the nation, as thousands now
lived in fear and terror from the skies above.
A Zeppelin in flight
Destruction by the Zeppelins
|It was not a great success but it had
frightened the people, enough to implement safety measures by the
Government. As these raids continued it brought fear and terror
to the people of the capital, the Government wanted results in stopping
The east coast of Britain was soon to come under attack, in 1915,
both towns, Kings Lynn and Yarmouth were bombed.
By September 1915, another attack came by a group of Zeppelins,
this time they had once again penetrated right into the city of
London, dropping their load of bombs causing over £500,000
worth of damage.
There was no let up in these attacks, for on the night of 31st January
1916, a group of nine Zeppelins headed for the north of England
and bombed the Midlands, killing 59 civilians and causing severe
damage to buildings.
One month later, these terrifying airships concentrated their destruction
on the seaside town of Hull, bombing it at their leisure causing
great destruction to homes and killing many civilians.
These terrible events brought it home to the people of England that
they would not escape from the horrors of war. Now it had shocked
them into realizing it had now arrived on their own doorstep, creating
panic and fear amongst the population.
The R.F.C. became the new front line defense in the protection of
London, in their fighter planes they chased the huge Zeppelins firing
hundreds of bullets into them, some were shot down but the ammunition
seemed to hardly impact the Zeppelins at all and many escaped back
It would have been thought that these monster airships could be
easily shot down considering the massive size of them, being between
500 and 800 feet long, and filled with up to 2, 000, 000million
cubic feet of highly inflammable Hydrogen gas. But they were invulnerable
to the many different forms of the poor ammunition used against
them, and the height that they flew.
One R.F.C. pilot took 20 minutes of continues firing at one Zeppelin
he attacked, eventually damaging the engine and puncturing the gasbags,
which caused it to drop lower and lower until it crashed.
The British Air Ministry was determined to rid the skies of this
terror, and so ordered explosive experts to design and find a bullet
that could destroy these airships.
Progress was quickly
made and a new type of exploding bullet was invented and produced,
in a hope to bring down the Zeppelins. They were introduced to
the R.F.C. to test-out these bullets which exploded on impact.
These bullets fired in great number should turn the monster airship
into an inferno and bring them down in large numbers, hopefully
bringing a halt to the Zeppelin menace. Out of total amount of
84 Zeppelins that attacked Britain, 30 of them were finally shot
down, crashing to earth and exploding.