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R100 / R101 Airships -- The Original Luxury Liners

Posted: Sat Feb 21, 2015 11:22 pm
by cedarjet
You may not know that Britain had an airship programme in the 1920s which culminated in the R100 which was designed to operate a passenger service to Montreal (and completed one round-trip) and the R101 which was intended for a service to Karachi in India (with a tech stop in Ismailia in Egypt) but crashed on it's maiden voyage only getting as far as France. These ships were absolutely massive, as big as today's cruise liners (albeit almost all gas bags, with cabins and accommodation for only 60 or so passengers on two decks at the very bottom of the ship).

Here is some incredible footage of the R101 on trial flights -- please pause at 1'12" and look at this stunning image of England in 1929 with this huge machine hovering in the background:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KswuNjkw7N8

RE: R100 / R101 Airships -- The Original Luxury Liners

Posted: Sat Feb 21, 2015 11:41 pm
by DocLightning
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KswuNjkw7N8

There. Take off the "s."

It amazes me that airships were ever considered as a means of routine transoceanic travel given the vast amount of structure required for a tiny overall payload.

[Edited 2015-02-21 15:43:15]

RE: R100 / R101 Airships -- The Original Luxury Liners

Posted: Sun Feb 22, 2015 1:25 am
by GSPSPOT
Like the Zeppelins... What a way to travel!

RE: R100 / R101 Airships -- The Original Luxury Liners

Posted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 8:53 am
by rwessel
Quoting DocLightning (Reply 1):
It amazes me that airships were ever considered as a means of routine transoceanic travel given the vast amount of structure required for a tiny overall payload.

Sure it was dimensionally large, but rather less so by mass. The Hindenburg was about half a million pounds-mass grossed out, with ~110 passengers and crew, and with a range of 7500nm. An all F version of a 777-200ER would hold a similar number of people (in rather less luxury), and have similar range and mass.

RE: R100 / R101 Airships -- The Original Luxury Liners

Posted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 11:20 am
by David L
The R-100/101 episode was a rather embarrassing demonstration of private industry versus government management. The R-101 was the government offering and was rushed and hashed - not the best example of how it could have been.

Hidden in the glorious afterglow of Alcock and Brown's first transatlantic flight in 1919, the R-34 airship made the first return crossing just weeks later. Leaving from East Fortune, now the home of Concorde G-BOAA, it moored on Long Island before returning to the UK. It was the first flight to carry fare-paying passengers across the Atlantic and, by parachuting to the ground, Major EM Pritchard became the first person to arrive in the USA from Europe by air.

Quoting GSPSPOT (Reply 2):
Like the Zeppelins... What a way to travel!

I've been to the Zeppelin museum at Friedrichshafen and walked around the mock-up of the passenger cabins. Luxury indeed. It even had a smoking room.  

RE: R100 / R101 Airships -- The Original Luxury Liners

Posted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 11:27 am
by LOWS
How did they deal with the weather?

RE: R100 / R101 Airships -- The Original Luxury Liners

Posted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 1:35 pm
by David L
Quoting LOWS (Reply 5):
How did they deal with the weather?

I'm hardly an expert but I'd have to say... not all that well. I don't think I'd like to have been in one experiencing strong, gusty winds and mooring could be tricky. It wasn't unusual for them to be forced to "hang around" somewhere else until the winds died down. There were a few that were damaged beyond repair due to the weather, some with fatalities - the R-101 and the USS Akron being examples. Obviously, the same can be said for heavier than air craft as well but I haven't compared the statistics. On the other hand, airships had the endurance to hold for longer than aircraft.

RE: R100 / R101 Airships -- The Original Luxury Liners

Posted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 2:20 pm
by Bongodog1964
Quoting David L (Reply 4):
The R-100/101 episode was a rather embarrassing demonstration of private industry versus government management. The R-101 was the government offering and was rushed and hashed - not the best example of how it could have been.

I once had the autobiography of Neville Shute Norway, who was the Chief engineer on the R100 after Barnes Wallis departed, and later went on to found Airspeed then became a novelist.
He was highly critical of what went on with the airship programme and the R101 in particular. At that time the UK had its first Labour Government and they seemed determined that the state built R101 should succeed over the capitalist R101 built by Vickers.
The R100 was built by Vickers at Howden near Hull and flew a successful Atlantic crossing to Canada and back. It was then handed over to the State airship people and hangared at Cardington next to the R101.
The R101 struggled with lots of unsuitable choices such as diesel engines and had weight problems, its one and only route proving flight to India ended in tragedy in France. It was not up to the job, but its departure date was fixed by the desire of the aviation minister to attend a conference in India and to arrive in style on his new airship.

The people at Cardington working on the R101 were under lots of pressure to succeed, especially once the R100 had been to Canada and back. Unfortunately some of them paid the ultimate price with their lives.

Even the "successful" R100 only cruised at about 90 knots, beyond that the outer covering started to deform
History of course showed that the whole thing was a waste of time and fixed wing technology would soon make airships obsolete.

RE: R100 / R101 Airships -- The Original Luxury Liners

Posted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 6:24 pm
by SmithAir747
How were these things boarded? They had to moor at towers, but how did the passengers get aboard?

Apparently, the Empire State Building was originally designed with a zeppelin mast; how were they planning to board these craft there?

SmithAir747

[Edited 2015-02-23 10:25:35]

RE: R100 / R101 Airships -- The Original Luxury Liners

Posted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 10:02 pm
by Bongodog1964
The docking mast had an internal staircase, you went from a gallery on the outside of the mast onto a staircase up into the underside of the nose of the airship. The airship rotated the mast as the wind veered and the staircase moved with it.

RE: R100 / R101 Airships -- The Original Luxury Liners

Posted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 10:13 pm
by aklrno
Quoting SmithAir747 (Reply 8):
The docking mast had an internal staircase, you went from a gallery on the outside of the mast onto a staircase up into the underside of the nose of the airship. The airship rotated the mast as the wind veered and the staircase moved with it.

You can see an example in the video referenced in reply 1 at about 1:10. I presume that was just a test/maintenance facility because there were a lot of stairs involved in climbing that tower!

RE: R100 / R101 Airships -- The Original Luxury Liners

Posted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 12:16 am
by Thenoflyzone
Quoting cedarjet (Thread starter):
which culminated in the R100 which was designed to operate a passenger service to Montreal

Indeed.

The R100 departed for Canada on 29 July 1930, reaching its mooring mast at YHU in 78 hours, having covered 5300 km at an average ground speed of 42 mph. The airship stayed in Montreal for 12 days with thousands of people visiting the airship each day while she was moored there. She also made a 24-hour passenger carrying flight to Ottawa, Toronto, and Niagara Falls while in Canada. The airship departed on her return flight on 13 August, reaching Cardington after a 57½ hour flight.

Wikipedia has some nice pictures of the R100 over Montreal and Toronto.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R100