Strafed Zeppelins

Commanded on its first bombing raid by Lieutenant Commander Franz Georg Eichler, the L 48 dropped his bombs near Harwich shortly before dawn on June 17, 1917. Eichler then turned for home. Believing that he was flying east, away from England and out of danger, he brought the ship down to 13,000 feet. But the compass had frozen and was giving a faulty reading. The L 48 actually was flying north along the English coast - at an altitude well within range of the British aircraft that soon closed in on it. The faint rattle of machine-gun fire was heard and incendiary bullets tore into the gas cells. Explosions followed as the gas cells caught fire. Within a few minutes the Zeppelin smashed to earth. Only two of the 21-man crew survived. The Zepp was shot down by Lieutenant L.P. Watkins.

(Source: The Giant Airships - Douglas Botting - Time Life Books 1980)

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L 48 - No. 3

L 48 - No. 7

L 48 - No. 8

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L 48 - No. 11

L 48 - No. 16

L 48 - No. 14

      Six cards from a large series published by J.S. Waddell, Photographer, Leiston

Both as bomber and as strategic scout, the Zeppelin was being replaced by the airplane. Scarce raw materials such as rubber and aluminium, needed in airship construction, were diverted to the production of planes for an expanding German Air Force; the Navy's airship allotment was limited to 25, and new ships could be build at the rate of only one every two months. Raids would only be conducted on extremely dark, cloudy nights. Such a night came on October 19, 1917. An 11-ship attack was launched that became known in England as the "silent raid". As targets were chosen the industrial centers in central England. As the airships made their landfall they were surprised by a violent  north wind that broke up the attack and swept the ships helplessly southward across England at speeds of 45 to 50 miles per hour. The L 49 was forced to land in France by French fighter planes and its crew was taken prisoner.

(Source: The Giant Airships - Douglas Botting - Time Life Books 1980)

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Une Belle Débacle de Zeppelins. Du 19 au 21 Octobre 1917, sur environ 11 appareils partis pour bombarder l'Angleterre, 7 ont atterri, soit abattus, soit désemparés, 1 reste intact en notre
possession; les autres sont disparus.

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LZ 85 shot down
in the Vardar.

Shot down at

Shot down on its
way from Celle to

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daring Airmen.


3 Sept. 1916.

The end of the
"Baby - Killer"

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Within the
London Area
Autumn 1915.

The Raider.

The Zepp Raider.

A nasty jar for
the Baby - Killers.

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London Air Raid
Oct. 13, 1915

The "Robinson"  Touch

The first Zepp to
be brought down.

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Lieutenant Sowrey

"Got It!"
W.L. Robinson V.C.

The man behind
the gun.

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Three Gallant Airmen - "The Zeppelin Strafers."

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