Hvor langt væk kunne zeppeliner smide bomber?

Hvor langt væk kunne zeppeliner smide bomber?

Jeg læser en lille verdenskrig for en klasse, og jeg kom til denne passage:

tysk direktiver, eller zeppeliner, var i stand til at smide bomber på mål, der var 700 miles væk. Dette var langt uden for ethvert flys rækkevidde.

Teksten siger også, at zeppeliner

gled hen over himlen om natten og kørte kun 25 miles i timen.

Jeg har ikke været i stand til at finde oplysninger om, hvor langt de kunne bombe fra, men jeg lavede nogle undersøgelser, og zeppelin -bombefly i første verdenskrig kastede artilleri -granater. Når jeg rejser så langsomt og taber skaller, tvivler jeg på, at det er muligt, at de lavtflyvende bombefly opnår det.

Er dette bare en skrivefejl, eller kunne tyske zeppelin bombefly virkelig ramme mål fra 700 miles væk?


Sammenlignet med datidens fly var Zeppelins meget lange intervaller, højtflyvende og langsomme, men ikke overdrevent. Nyttelasten var også imponerende.

  • Topfarten var tæt på 60 mph. Krydstogthastigheden var lavere.
  • Rækkevidden var godt 700 miles. Nogle var tættere på 7.000 miles.
  • Loftet var op til 20.000 fod.

Jagerfly kunne og aflyttede luftskibe, men det krævede held og dygtighed.

Tungere end luftfart havde et større udviklingspotentiale og færre driftsproblemer, så de overskyggede lettere end luft efter WWI.


Tyskland gennemførte en chikane -kampagne mod England i første verdenskrig ved hjælp af både Zeppelins og fly.

Nogle Zeppelins havde rækkevidde på mere end 700 miles og kunne flyve over 24.000 fod høje, langt ud over driftsloftet for fly fra WWI-æraen.


Luftfart i første verdenskrig

Første verdenskrig var den første store konflikt, der involverede storstilet brug af fly. Tilknyttede observationsballoner havde allerede været ansat i flere krige, og ville blive brugt i vid udstrækning til artilleri. Tyskland ansatte Zeppelins til rekognoscering over Nordsøen og Østersøen og også til strategiske bombeangreb over Storbritannien og østfronten.

Fly kom lige til militær brug i begyndelsen af ​​krigen. I første omgang blev de mest brugt til rekognoscering. Piloter og ingeniører lærte af erfaring, hvilket førte til udviklingen af ​​mange specialiserede typer, herunder jagerfly, bombefly og skyttegrave.

Ess -jagerpiloter blev fremstillet som moderne riddere, og mange blev populære helte. I krigen blev der også udpeget højtstående officerer til at styre de krigeriske nationers luftkrigsindsats.

Selvom flyets indvirkning på krigens forløb hovedsageligt var taktisk frem for strategisk, vigtigst af alt var direkte samarbejde med jordstyrker (især rækkevidde og korrigering af artilleriild), blev de første trin i flyets strategiske roller i fremtidige krige også forudset .


3. Kæmpe Champignon Cloud

Selvfølgelig havde den mest kraftfulde atombombe nogensinde detoneret en massiv svampesky. Svampeskyen anslås at være gået så højt som 40 miles på himlen, hvilket er cirka syv gange så højt som Mount Everest. I denne højde gik skyen gennem såvel stratosfæren som mesosfæren.

Bomben frigjorde også en massiv ildkugle til at ledsage svampeskyen. Når deton detonerede, nåede ildkuglen næsten den højde, hvor bomben blev kastet, og var synlig mere end 600 miles væk fra stedet.

Tsar Bomba -kabinet set på skærmen. Af Croquant – CC BY-SA 3.0


Hvad er den nukleare 'knap', og hvor kom den fra?

Siden John F. Kennedy har hver præsident haft en officer, der følger ham rundt med den såkaldte ȁKernefodbold, ” en dokumentmappe, der kan bruges til at iværksætte et atomangreb (det fik sit kaldenavn fra en atomkrigsplan kaldet 𠇍ropkick ”). Dette er noget, præsidenten ikke ville gøre med en knap, men med sine personlige atomkoder, som han også altid skal bære på ham.

Det er en temmelig stor beslutning at lægge i hænderne på en person og en udøvende magt, som kongressen har udfordret under præsident Donald Trumps administration. Indtil videre har ingen præsident nogensinde faktisk brugt fodbolden, men stadig,  hvorfor   gør ꂾslutningen om  start atomkraft  war kommer ned på en enkelt persons skøn?

Interessant nok var den eneste præsident i historien, der godkendte et atomangreb —Harry S. Truman — faktisk ikke meget involveret i beslutningen. Selvom han vidste, at et angreb var planlagt, henrettede militære embedsmænd det på egen hånd. Truman var på et skib, da den første bombe faldt på Hiroshima den 6. august 1945. Han hørte ikke om selve bombningen før cirka 16 timer senere, efter at han allerede havde brugt lidt tid på at slappe af på dækket, mens et band spillede.

Efter et pressemøde stillede præsident Harry S. Truman op for, at fotografer læser erklæringen, hvor han grusomt advarede kommunistiske angribere om, at USA overvejer at bruge atombomben i Korea -krigen. (Kredit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

Alex Wellerstein, professor i videnskabs- og teknologistudier ved Stevens Institute of Technology, siger, at Truman måske ikke havde vidst om bombningen af ​​Nagasaki den 9. august på forhånd. indså, at de havde to bomber klar til brug så hurtigt, ” siger Wellerstein, der driver en blog om nuklear sikkerhed. “H Vi fik bestemt ikke nogen forstand på det andet angreb. ”

Men det ændrede sig hurtigt. Dagen efter bombningen i Nagasaki fortalte militæret til Truman, at de kunne have en anden bombe klar inden for en uge. Over for en mulig tredje bombning hævdede Truman straks kontrollen over situationen og erklærede, at flere bomber ikke kunne bruges uden præsidentens godkendelse. Han indskrænkede også militærets adgang til disse nye og skræmmende våben.

Den næste præsident, Dwight D. Eisenhower, begyndte at flytte tingene i den anden retning ved at udvide militærets adgang til atomvåben. Men lige efter reducerede præsident Kennedy endnu en gang denne adgang. Det var noget, hans administration var begyndt at gøre før den cubanske missilkrise, men blev meget mere bekymret over bagefter.

En af de ting, de tager væk fra krisen, er … hvad hvis en af ​​disse unge flyvere havde troet, at han så cubanere komme over horisonten og begyndte at angribe? ” siger Wellerstein. Du kunne også have haft atomkrig ved et uheld, hvilket lyder endnu mere forfærdeligt end atomkrig med vilje. film Dr. Strangelove.

Præsident Kennedy med embedsmænd fra den amerikanske hær under Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962. (Kredit: Corbis via Getty Images)

Ved afslutningen af ​​sin administration blev Kennedy halet af en mand, der bar en tidlig version af atomfodbolden, der indeholdt en liste over telefonnumre, han skulle ringe til, og en række angrebsplaner, som han kunne vælge. Det er ikke klart, hvornår offentligheden fandt ud af dette, men allerede i 1965, Baltimore -solen kaldte det en 𠇏ootball ” med nukleare kapaciteter. Den samme artikel beskrev, hvordan manden, der bar fodbolden for Kennedy, selv fulgte ham til hospitalet, efter at præsidenten blev skudt.

Under hele den kolde krig havde præsidenter fodbolden med sig, hvis Sovjetunionen startede et overraskelsesangreb. Fordi USA kun ville have minutter til at svare, virkede det rimeligt at få præsidenten til at rejse rundt med det. Wellerstein siger, at Nixons overdrevne drikke og stadig mere uregelmæssige adfærd i slutningen af ​​hans valgperiode er et tilfælde, hvor en administration satte spørgsmålstegn ved sin øverstkommanderende og evne til at håndtere fodbolden. Alligevel er bekymringen omkring Trump ganske enkelt hidtil uset.

I februar 2017 blev mange forstyrrede, da en gæst på Trump ’s feriested i Mar-a-Lago lagde et billede af sig selv på Facebook, der stod ved siden af ​​betjenten, der bar mappen, der gør det muligt for præsidenten at lancere atomvåben når som helst. Men eksperter sagde, at dette ikke var så farligt som det faktum, at Trump samme weekend holdt et aftensmøde om Nordkoreas atomtrussel på feriestedets udendørs terrasse.

Tanken om, at præsidenten skulle godkende atomangreb, siger Wellerstein, blev faktisk aldrig lovgivet. Over tid etablerede præsidentdirektiverne en protokol for affyring af atomvåben, der generelt antog, at præsidenten havde enekompetence til at affyre dem. I løbet af Trump ’s første år spekulerede en fremtrædende republikaner om, hvorvidt Trump ’s hold nogensinde ville tackle ham for at forhindre ham i at bruge fodbolden.

Men generelt antages det, at hvis præsidenten bruger sine koder til at godkende et atomangreb, vil det gå igennem uden tvivl. Det er jo sådan systemet var designet til at fungere i første omgang.


GLOBALT VIRKNING AF KRAKATOA

Krakatoa -udbruddet i 1883 målte en 6 på Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) med en kraft på 200 megaton TNT. Til sammenligning havde bomben, der ødelagde den japanske by Hiroshima i 1945, en styrke på 20 kiloton eller næsten 10.000 gange mindre strøm.

Krakatoa's udbrud sendte seks kubikmil sten, aske, støv og snavs til atmosfæren, mørkede himlen og producere levende farvede solnedgange og andre spektakulære effekter rundt om i verden.

Digteren Gerard Manley Hopkins skrev fra England og beskrev himmelstrålerne med grønt, blåt, guld og lilla, mere som betændt kød end de klare røde rødder ved almindelige solnedgange og gløden er intens, det er det, der rammer alle, det har forlænget dagslyset og ændrede optisk den sæson, det bader hele himlen, det forveksles med afspejling af en stor brand. ”

Tætte skyer sænkede straks temperaturen i nærområdet. Da støvet spredte sig, forårsagede udbruddet sandsynligvis et fald i de gennemsnitlige globale temperaturer i flere år ifølge senere undersøgelser.

Andre klimaforandringer skete tusinder af miles fra Indonesien: Mængden af ​​nedbør i Los Angeles – 38,18 inches – i månederne efter Krakatoa -udbruddet er stadig byens højeste årlige nedbør på rekord.

Selvom Krakatoa ’s langt fra er det mest kraftfulde vulkanudbrud i historien (udbruddet af nærliggende Tambora i 1815, for eksempel målt en 7 på VEI), er det uden tvivl den mest berømte. Dens udbrud i 1883 blev den første virkelig globale katastrofe takket være det nyligt installerede verdensomspændende telegrafiske netværk, der øjeblikkeligt udsendte nyheder om udbruddet over hele verden.


Hvorfor Rusland byggede en bombe 3.000 gange dødeligere end hvad Amerika faldt på Hiroshima

Her er hvad du skal huske: Tsar Bomba var så stor, det er tvivlsomt, om det nogensinde kunne have været et praktisk våben leveret af et sovjetisk bombefly. På grund af afstanden fra Sovjetunionen til Amerika betød fjernelse af flybrændstoftankene for at rumme bomben - kombineret med dens rene vægt - at en bjørnebomber ikke ville have tilstrækkeligt brændstof til missionen, selv med luftpåfyldning.

Maj. Andrei Durnovtsev, en sovjetisk luftvåbnspilot og chef for et Tu-95 Bear-bombefly, har en tvivlsom ære i den kolde krigs historie.

Durnovtsev fløj det fly, der tabte den mest kraftfulde atombombe nogensinde. Det havde en eksplosiv kraft på 50 megaton, eller mere end 3.000 gange kraftigere end Hiroshima -våbenet.

Gennem årene har historikere identificeret mange navne til testbomben.

Andrei Sakharov, en af ​​fysikerne, der hjalp med at designe det, kaldte det simpelthen "den store bombe." Sovjetpremier Nikita Khrusjtjov kaldte det "Kuzkas mor", en henvisning til et gammelt russisk ordsprog, der betyder, at du er ved at lære nogen en hård, uforglemmelig lektion.

Central Intelligence Agency kaldte testen uforskammet "Joe 111". Men et mere populært navn, der er født af russisk stolthed og en ren ærefrygt, opsummerer det hele - Tsar Bomba, eller “Bombens konge”.

"Så vidt jeg kan se, kom udtrykket først frem efter afslutningen på den kolde krig," siger Alex Wellerstein, historiker ved Stevens Institute of Technology og blogger, fortalte War Is Boring. "Før det blev det bare kaldt 50 megaton eller 100 megaton bombe."

"Jeg tror, ​​vi gør meget mere ud af Tsar Bomba i dag end noget andet end den umiddelbare periode, hvor den blev testet."

"Amerikanerne kan lide at pege på det som et eksempel på, hvor vanvittig den kolde krig var, og hvor tossede russerne er og var," tilføjede Wellerstein. "Russerne synes at være stolte over det."

Den 30. oktober 1961 startede Durnovtsev og hans besætning fra en flyveplads på Kola -halvøen og tog til det sovjetiske atomprøveområde over polarcirklen ved Mityushikha -bugten, der ligger i Novaya Zemlya -skærgården.

Testprojektets forskere malede bjørnenes bombefly og dens Tu-16 Badger chase plan hvid for at begrænse varmeskader fra bombens termiske puls. Det var i det mindste, hvad forskerne håbede, at malingen ville gøre.

Bomben havde også en faldskærm til at bremse dens fald, hvilket gav begge fly tid til at flyve omkring 30 miles væk fra jorden nul, inden atomvågen detonerede. Dette gav Durnovtsev og hans kammerater en chance for at flygte.

Da flyene nåede deres destination i den forudbestemte højde på 34.000 fod, beordrede han bomben kastet. Skakten åbnede, og bomben startede sin tre minutters nedstigning til dens detonationshøjde to og en halv mil over jorden.

Durnovtsev skubbede gashåndtaget til maks.

Eksplosionen brød ruder mere end 500 miles væk. Vidner så blitzen gennem kraftigt skydække mere end 600 miles fra eksplosionsstedet.

Dens svampesky kogte op i atmosfæren, indtil den var 45 miles over jorden nul - i det væsentlige de lavere grænser for rummet. Toppen af ​​svampeskyen spredte sig, indtil den var 60 miles bred. Hukommens termiske puls brændte malingen af ​​på begge fly.

Og det var lille i forhold til Sovjets oprindelige plan.

Designerne havde oprindeligt til hensigt, at bomben skulle have et udbytte på 100 megaton. De brugte en tretrins Teller-Ulam lithium tørbrændstof konfiguration - ligner den termonukleare enhed, der først blev demonstreret af USA under Castle Bravo skudt.

Bekymringer om nedfald fik russiske forskere til at bruge blytampe, der reducerede udbyttet til halvdelen af ​​bombens kapacitet. Interessant nok var tsar Bomba et af de "reneste" atomvåben, der nogensinde blev detoneret, fordi bombens design eliminerede 97 procent af det mulige nedfald.

Selv dens størrelse var uhyrlig. Den var 26 fod lang, cirka syv fod i diameter og vejede mere end 60.000 pund - så stor, at den ikke engang kunne passe ind i bombeflyet til den modificerede Bear -bombefly, der plejede at tabe den.

Tsar Bomba var så stor, det er tvivlsomt, om det nogensinde kunne have været et praktisk våben leveret af et sovjetisk bombefly.

På grund af afstanden fra Sovjetunionen til Amerika betød fjernelse af flybrændstoftankene for at rumme bomben - kombineret med dens rene vægt - at en bjørnebomber ikke ville have tilstrækkeligt brændstof til missionen, selv med luftpåfyldning.

CIA undersøgte imidlertid, om Sovjet planlagde at placere lignende sprænghoveder på superkraftige interkontinentale ballistiske missiler, der ville målrette mod amerikanske byer.

Årsagen var nøjagtighed. Eller rettere, manglen på det. På grund af NATO -alliancens nukleare fordele kunne USA placere bombefly og ballistiske missiler med mellemlang rækkevidde temmelig tæt på sovjetiske mål i Østeuropa.

I slutningen af ​​1950'erne og begyndelsen af ​​1960'erne placerede Amerika ballistiske missiler af mellemdistance som f.eks Thor i Det Forenede Kongerige og Tyrkiet, og Ærlig John og Matador missiler i Vesttyskland.

Den kortere flyveafstand for disse missiler betød, at de havde en bedre chance for at levere deres atomsprænghoveder effektivt på mål.

Russiske atomvåben måtte videre, så der var større chance for at gå glip af mærket. Men for et 100 megaton sprænghoved ... tæt nok vil gøre.

Overvej den skade, en 100-megaton version af Tsar Bomba kan påføre Los Angeles-sig, hvis den detoneres direkte over U.S. Bank Tower, den næsthøjeste bygning vest for Mississippi -floden.

På en klar dag ville et luftbrud på 14.000 fod over jordoverfladen producere en nuklear ildkugle to miles bred, der ville være varmere end solens overflade, hvilket reducerer beton- og stålskyskrabere til aske.

Inden for fem miles fra ground zero ville alle, der ikke blev dræbt af eksplosionen og varmen, modtage en dødelig dosis på 500 rems af højenergistråling. Op til 30 km væk fra detonationen ville eksplosionsbølgen tarm hver bygning - også beton- og stålforstærkede bygninger.

Op til 50 miles væk vil enhver, der udsættes for våbens blitz, modtage forbrændinger af tredje grad. Kort sagt, et Tsar Bomba sprænghoved ville fuldstændig ødelægge hele Los Angeles storbyområde.

I 1963 sagde Khrusjtjov, at Sovjetunionen besad en 100-megaton bombe, som den udsendte til Østtyskland. Men premierens påstand har delt historikere om, hvorvidt det var sandt eller bare pralede.

Hvad angår Sakharov, ændrede hans erfaring med at bygge og teste zar Bombach hans liv, hvilket fik ham til at opgive våbenforskning.

Han blev en udtalt kritiker af sovjetiske bestræbelser på at skabe et anti-ballistisk missilforsvarssystem, en fortaler for borgerrettigheder i Sovjetunionen og meget forfulgt politisk dissident, der vandt Nobels fredspris i 1975.

Og Durnovtsev? Umiddelbart efter at han med succes havde tabt tsar Bomba, forfremmede det sovjetiske luftvåben ham til oberstløjtnant. Derudover modtog han prisen for Helt fra Sovjetunionen, den højeste ære, der blev ydet for tjeneste til sovjetstaten.


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Krigens uforanderlige natur

Spy Factory: Ekspert Q & ampA

Forskere vidste, at de kun kunne fremstille betydelige mængder uran 235 kun ved hjælp af isotopseparation. Først forsøgte tyske forskere under ledelse af fysisk kemiker Paul Harteck termisk diffusion i en adskillelsessøjle. I denne proces stiger en flydende forbindelse, når den varmer, falder, når den afkøles, og har en tendens til at adskille sig i dens lettere og tungere komponenter, når den cykler rundt om søjlen. Men i 1941 opgav de denne metode og begyndte at bygge centrifuger. Disse anordninger anvender centripetalkraft til at akkumulere de tungere isotoper på ydersiden af ​​røret, hvor de kan adskilles. Selvom krigen hæmmede deres arbejde, havde de ved faldet af Det Tredje Rige i 1945 opnået en betydelig berigelse af små prøver af uran. Ikke nok til en atombombe, men ikke desto mindre berigelse af uran 235.

Heisenberg brugte dette diagram under et hemmeligt foredrag i februar 1942. Til venstre er et skematisk diagram over en & quoturanium maskine & quot (atomreaktor) til højre er en skematisk af et atomeksplosiv, enten uran 235 eller plutonium.

Nær en nazibombe

Uranmaskiner havde brug for en moderator, et stof, der ville bremse de neutroner, der frigøres ved kædereaktioner. Til sidst besluttede projektet at bruge tungt vand - ilt kombineret med den sjældne tunge isotop af brint - i stedet for vand eller grafit. Dette var ikke (som en af ​​de mange myter forbundet med den tyske atomvåbenindsats havde det) på grund af en fejl fysikeren Walther Bothe begik, da han målte neutronabsorptionen af ​​grafit. Det viste sig snarere, at Norsk Hydro -fabrikken i det besatte Norge kunne levere de mængder tungt vand, de havde brug for i den første udviklingsfase til en relativt lav pris.

Den norske modstand og de allierede bombefly satte til sidst en stopper for norsk produktion af tungt vand (se Norwegian Resistance Coup og See the Spy Messages. Men på det tidspunkt var det ikke muligt at begynde produktionen af ​​hverken ren grafit eller rent tungt vand i Tyskland. Til sidst havde de tyske forskere kun tilstrækkeligt tungt vand til at udføre et eller to store atomreaktorforsøg ad gangen.

I slutningen af ​​krigen var tyskerne gået fra horisontale og sfæriske lagdesign til tredimensionelle gitter af uranterninger nedsænket i tungt vand. De havde også udviklet et atomreaktordesign, der næsten, men ikke helt, opnåede en kontrolleret og vedvarende kernefissionskædereaktion. I løbet af de sidste måneder af krigen byggede og testede en lille gruppe forskere i hemmelighed under Diebner og med stærk støtte fra fysikeren Walther Gerlach, som på det tidspunkt var chef for uranprojektet, en atomanordning.

I bedste fald ville dette have været langt mindre ødelæggende end atombomberne faldt over Japan. Det er snarere et eksempel på, at forskere forsøger at lave alle slags våben, de kunne for at hjælpe med at afværge nederlag. Ingen kender den nøjagtige form for den testede enhed. Men tilsyneladende havde de tyske forskere designet den til at bruge kemiske højeksplosiver konfigureret i en hul skal for at fremprovokere både nuklear fission og atomfusionsreaktioner. Det er ikke klart, om denne test genererede nukleare reaktioner, men det ser ud til, at det var det, forskerne havde tænkt sig at ske.

Et diagram over det endelige gitterdesign af en atomreaktor udviklet af to forskellige forskningsgrupper i Nazityskland, den ene ledet af Kurt Diebner og den anden af ​​Werner Heisenberg

Tiden løber ud

Alt dette stiller spørgsmålet, hvorfor er de ikke kommet videre? Hvorfor slog de ikke amerikanerne i kapløbet om atombomber? Det korte svar er, at mens amerikanerne forsøgte at skabe atombomber, og det lykkedes, lykkedes det ikke tyskerne, men forsøgte heller ikke rigtig.

Dette kan bedst forklares ved at fokusere på vinteren 1941-1942. Fra starten af ​​krigen til slutningen af ​​efteråret 1941 havde den tyske "lynkrig" marcheret fra en sejr til en anden og underkastet det meste af Europa. I denne periode behøvede tyskerne ikke noget vidunderlige våben. Efter det sovjetiske modangreb, Pearl Harbor, og den tyske krigserklæring mod USA, var krigen blevet en udmattelse. For første gang spurgte den tyske hærs ordnance sine forskere, hvornår den kunne forvente atomvåben. De tyske forskere var forsigtige: Selv om det var klart, at de i princippet kunne bygge atombomber, ville de kræve mange ressourcer for at gøre det og kunne ikke realisere sådanne våben snart.

Army Ordnance kom til den rimelige konklusion, at uranarbejdet var vigtigt nok til at fortsætte i laboratorieskalaen, men at et massivt skift til den industrielle skala, noget der kræves i ethvert seriøst forsøg på at bygge en atombombe, ikke ville blive gennemført. Dette står i kontrast til den forpligtelse, den tyske ledelse gjorde under hele krigen til bestræbelserne på at bygge en raket. De sænk enorme ressourcer ind i dette projekt, ja, i omfanget af hvad amerikanerne investerede i Manhattan -projektet.

Således bremsede Heisenberg og hans kolleger ikke deres hastighed eller afledte deres forskning, de modstod ikke Hitler ved at nægte ham atomvåben. Med undtagelse af forskerne, der arbejder på Diebner 's nukleare enhed, skubbede de imidlertid tydeligvis ikke så hårdt, som de kunne have brug for at lave atombomber. De var hverken helte eller skurke, bare forskere, der arbejdede med masseødelæggelsesvåben til Hitler 's Tyskland.


Farvandet omkring Storbritannien ligner en eksplosiv suppe

Under både 1. og 2. verdenskrig blev millioner af havminer lagt som en defensiv barriere. Det anslås, at mellem 30 og 70% ikke blev genoprettet. Dertil kommer de ueksploderede torpedoer, der blev lanceret af ubåde, overskydende bomber, der blev bragt af både britiske og tyske fly og den dårligt regulerede ammunitionsdumping, der begyndte under første verdenskrig og først sluttede for få år siden, og farvandet omkring Storbritannien begynder at ligne et eksplosiv suppe.

I årtier var intet af dette et stort problem. Men den enorme vækst i offshore -vedvarende energikilder (især ud for Storbritanniens østkyst) i de seneste år betyder, at havbundsredskaber nu er ved at blive en stor hovedpine. "Vi har arbejdet på 50 vedvarende energi- eller kabelinstallationsprojekter i de sidste 10 år, og hver eneste havde en risiko for at støde på UXO," siger Cooke.

St Paul 's Cathedral skiller sig ud fra flammer og røg under det store brandangreb i London (Kredit: Imperial War Museum)

Og selvom de fleste undervandsordninger i det mindste er så langt offshore, at det ikke udgør en risiko for offentligheden, er det ikke altid tilfældet. I mundingen af ​​Themsens flodmunding - i så lavt vand, at man ved lavvande kan se masten stikke ud af vandet - sidder et nedsænket skib, der måske er den mest opsigtsvækkende illustration af Storbritanniens offshore -ordnanceproblem.


Transskription

Besejre Zeppelins
Præsenteret af Ian Castle

I august 1914, da stormskyer samlede sig over Europa, stålsatte Storbritannien sig til luftangreb fra Tysklands meget berømte flåde af stive luftskibe-Zeppelins.

Zeppelin luftskibe var det største fly nogensinde at flyve. De første Zeppelins, der angreb Storbritannien, målte omkring 520 fod i længden, men ved slutningen af ​​krigen strakte den seneste type sig til 685 fod. Som en nyttig sammenligning er den Zeppelin-formede agurk i London City faktisk 94 fod kortere end denne senere type! Selvom størrelsen steg, forblev den grundlæggende konstruktion den samme. En ekstremt stærk, men let ramme af duralumin - en aluminiumslegering - gav luftskibet sin overordnede form. Den brændbare hydrogengas, der gav den et løft, var indeholdt i op til 19 gasposer, der var hængt inde. Et ydre dæksel af klud, kendt som konvolutten, indkapslede hele strukturen og under det hang rum kendt som gondoler, som husede besætning, betjeningselementer og motorer.

Det er imidlertid vigtigt at bemærke, at der også var et konkurrerende firma til Zeppelin – Schütte-Lanz. Den største forskel mellem de to er, at mens Zeppelin-luftskibe havde en ramme af metal, blev Schütte-Lanzs konstrueret af krydsfiner. Men for dem i Storbritannien under krigen blev alle tyske luftskibe, uanset om de tjente hæren eller flåden, simpelthen kaldt Zeppelins. Som Hoover skal støvsugere, så er Zeppelin til luftskibe.

Det første Zeppelin -angreb på Storbritannien ramte East Anglia natten til den 19. januar 1915. Efter de senere standarder fra 2. verdenskrig var det ikke et ødelæggende angreb, med fire dræbte og 16 sårede, men for befolkningen i Great Yarmouth og King's Lynn viste det sig at være et ødelæggende angreb. chokerende oplevelse. Og for Storbritannien, da den første bombe detonerede, åbnede det et nyt krigsteater: Hjemmefronten.

Men nu var Zeppelins ankommet, det må vel være let at søge og ødelægge et så stort mål. I praksis viste det sig imidlertid ekstremt svært. Zeppeliner angreb kun om natten, så forsvarspiloter fløj blindt, medmindre en søgelys kunne låse sig fast på målet. Og selv når de blev fundet, var de tilgængelige våben generelt ineffektive. Tidlige brændende kugler havde ikke formået at opnå de krævede resultater, som sådan i hele 1915 og ind i første halvdel af 1916 forblev den anbefalede angrebsmetode den samme – komme over Zeppelin og tabe eksplosive enheder på den. Men der var en stor fejl ved denne metode - en Zeppelin kunne let overgå flyet, der danner hjemmeforsvarets eskadriller.

Efter det første raid på East Anglia ville der gå yderligere tre måneder, før Zeppelins vendte tilbage med angreb på Nordøst, efterfulgt af raid på provinsbyer og landsbyer i syd og øst. Så den sidste dag i maj i 1915 ramte den første Zeppelin London. Krigen var dengang ti måneder gammel, og lufttruslen mod hovedstaden havde indtil nu ikke realiseret sig. London blev derfor fuldstændig overrasket, da den tyske hær Zeppelin LZ.38 dukkede op omkring kl. 23 den 31. maj over gaderne i Stoke Newington. Derfra fulgte det et godt hooked -forløb over Hoxton, Dalston, Shoreditch, Whitechapel, Stepney og derefter ud til Leytonstone og faldt over 100 bomber, hvoraf størstedelen af ​​dem brændte. Det første luftangreb på London kostede 7 civile, heraf fire børn, livet og sårede yderligere 35 mennesker.

Selvom mange i London forventede, at dette razzia ville være starten på en koncentreret periode med angreb på hovedstaden, forblev skyerne over byen faktisk fri for Zeppelins truende tilstedeværelse i yderligere 11 uger.

Den 17. august 1915 nåede en enkelt Navy Zeppelin, L.10, London og bombede ifølge hendes kommandør langs Themsens nordlige bred mellem Blackfriars og Tower Bridge. Men i virkeligheden havde han forvekslet den store række reservoirer langs Lea -dalen med Themsen - hans bomber faldt faktisk mellem Walthamstow og Wanstead Flats. Men de dræbte stadig 10 og sårede yderligere 48 civile.

Tre uger senere, om natten den 7. -8. September, vendte hærens luftskibe tilbage til hovedstaden. De første bomber faldt på Isle of Dogs som en Zeppelin og en trærammet Schutte-Lanz lagde deres vej over det sydøstlige London og efterlod 18 døde i kølvandet og 28 mennesker med frygtelige skader.

Næste nat skiftede opmærksomheden tilbage til Navy Zeppelins, da Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Mathy fløj L.13 over det centrale London fra Bloomsbury til Liverpool Street Station. Det viste sig at være krigens mest ødelæggende raid med materielle skader, der dengang anslås til £ 530.000.

Selvom luftværnskanoner havde åbnet ild mod L.13, kunne de ikke påføre nogen skade. I alt blev 22 londonere dræbt den nat og 87 såret. Og i betragtning af den begrænsede reaktion fra Londons forsvar forsvarede den følgende dag en avis natten, 'Murder by Zeppelin'. Der blev stillet spørgsmål i parlamentet, og almindelige londonere delte en universel vrede, vrede over, at Tyskland uden forskel kunne målrette kvinder og børn på denne måde.

Efterhånden som denne vrede og frustration voksede for hver indtrængen over byen, og larmet i pressen steg, blev der taget skridt til at forbedre Londons forsvar, og en ny mand, admiral Sir Percy Scott, blev udnævnt til at tage kommandoen over Londons kanoner.

Sir Percy Scott var en helt i Boerkrigen, og en hvis improvisationsevner med artilleri var velkendte. Han gjorde hurtigt en forskel. En af de første ting, han gjorde-at skære sig igennem hele bureaukratiet-var at indsamle en 75 mm mobil luftværnspistol fra den franske hær i Paris. Vi havde intet så effektivt - men han havde det stående på Horse Guards Parade, før det ansvarlige kontor overhovedet var kommet til at fuldføre papirarbejdet for at anmode om det!

En måned senere, natten til den 13. oktober 1915, fandt det næste angreb på London sted. Zeppelin L.15 begyndte at smide bomber, da den passerede over Charing Cross Station klokken 21.35. I det øjeblik sad en hærbetjent i en taxa, der kørte langs Strand. Pludselig skreg taxaen i stå, den rædselsslagne chauffør sprang ud og løb af sted for at søge ly. Betjenten stirrede mod himlen på det ekstraordinære syn over ham:

”Lige over hovedet var en enorm Zeppelin. Det blev oplyst af søgelys og krydsede langsomt og majestætisk, et fantastisk syn. Jeg stod og gapede midt på Strand, for fascineret til at bevæge mig. Then there was a terrific explosion, followed by another and another.“

Those first bombs landed in the theatre district of Covent Garden. One, which fell in the road at the corner of Wellington and Exeter Streets by the Lyceum, killed 17 and injured another 21.

A fruit seller, working nearby, described the effect of that bomb:

“A stout, elderly lady came up for some apples, and I was just about to put them into a bag when it seemed to me that the sky opened and a ball of fire came down. I didn’t hear a sound: I was stunned. The woman I was serving, she was killed instantly… and the girl that was standing helping me, well, she was blown to pieces. I got off with shrapnel wounds in me head and me legs.”

Zeppelin L.15 continued on towards the heart of the city, dropping bombs over Aldwych, Lincoln’s Inn and Farringdon as she passed.

At the same time Percy Scott’s new French 75mm anti-aircraft gun was speeding on a hair-raising journey along Oxford Street and Holborn – smashing through road works and traumatising pedestrians – before taking up a position at the Honourable Artillery Company grounds at Moorgate from where it gave L.15 a fright. To those on board the Zeppelin it was clear this was something new and more threatening it was enough to persuade the crew to hurriedly drop their last bombs and disappear into the night sky.

But although there had been an improved showing from the guns, the six aircraft from London’s defences that took off that night struggled to achieve anything due to a thick ground mist outside the capital, and mechanical failure – it was the same old story.

That raid in October 1915 proved to be the last of the year, and can be considered the high-water mark for Germany in the Zeppelin war, for the days of airship raids on London were numbered.

More aircraft for London’s defence were appearing, but they still lacked effective weaponry with which to destroy enemy airships. Although the BE2c now carried a Lewis machine-gun, their standard .303 lead ammunition was ineffective against Zeppelins. These bullets could puncture individual gas cells – of which there were many – but with only a limited effect on performance. The recommended method of destruction remained the same igniting the highly inflammable hydrogen by dropping bombs on the airship from above.

To this end, in addition to the Lewis gun, aircraft carried a handful of bombs and Ranken darts – these were a 1lb, explosive-packed pointed tube, designed to catch onto the airship’s outer covering and explode. There was also the fearsomely-named Fiery Grapnel, an explosive charge attached to a large grappling hook lowered by cable from an aircraft with which to ‘fish’ for Zeppelins! Pilots, unsurprisingly, had little faith in this oddity. However, the problem inherent in all these devices was that the aircraft needed to be above the target, but Zeppelins could easily outclimb the available aircraft.

However, the situation was about to change. The introduction, in April 1916, of a new explosive .303 bullet – the Pomeroy – and a bullet with both explosive and incendiary attributes – the Brock – as well as the Buckingham incendiary bullet, all for use in the Lewis gun, proved a critical advance. Although an airship contained up to 2 million cubic feet of inflammable hydrogen, it only became flammable when mixed with oxygen. Although none of the bullets on their own appeared completely effective, when fired in combination they showed great promise. The theory being that the explosive bullet would blow a hole in the gas bag, letting the hydrogen escape to mix with oxygen, and the following incendiary bullet would then ignite the now volatile gas. In July 1916, following encouraging trials with the new ammunition, Royal Flying Corps pilots abandoned their bombs.

During this period of consolidation there had fortunately been a lull in attacks on the capital, the raid on the night of 24/25 August 1916, being the first to reach London for ten months. Perhaps because of this lull, the British response was not convincing. One Zeppelin, L.31 – the first of the latest R-Class type to attack London – reached the capital largely unopposed, dropped its bombs in South East London, where they killed nine civilians, injured another 40 and caused £130,000 worth of damage. This new type of airship, a massive 650 feet long, and operating comfortably at a height of 13,000 feet, but capable of flying much higher, were dubbed ‘the Super Zeppelins’ by the British.

But, as August passed into September, London now had an in-depth defence system. Pilots with valuable night-flying experience stood by, and an integrated anti-aircraft gun and searchlight system waited to disrupt the hostile airships as they prepared to attack. And, unknown to the Germans, a new weapon – explosive and incendiary bullets – waited to be tested in anger. That test was not long in coming.

On the 2 September 1916, the German navy and army launched the largest raid of the war, its target London. This force comprised 16 airships – four Army airships and twelve from the Navy – including two of the new ‘Super Zeppelins’. With the success of L.31 over London nine days earlier, confidence amongst the airship commanders was high and they anticipated striking a heavy blow against London’s morale.

Amongst the great aerial armada flew SL.11, the latest Schütte-Lanz airship, only commissioned into army service the previous month. Her captain, Wilhelm Schramm, and his 15-man crew left their base near Cologne, intent on bringing fire and destruction to London.

But in spite of a fair weather report, the reality at high altitude was very different. Here the Naval airships encountered heavy rain and ice and were battered by adverse winds, destroying any chance of a concerted attack on London. As the naval airship captains continued their missions, displaying varying levels of determination, the army airships made their appearance. One developed mechanical problems and turned back over the North Sea, but the other three pressed on for London.

The first of these was Wilhelm Schramm’s SL.11. He passed over Foulness at about 10.40pm. From there Schramm steered across Essex and into Hertfordshire, sweeping around London to approach the capital from the North West. This route took him beyond the patrol area of No.39 (Home Defence) Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps, which guarded the north-eastern approaches to the city.

Twenty-five minutes later a second army airship appeared over the Essex coast, but she only flew inland for about 35 miles, dropped her bombs on the Essex/Suffolk border and then turned for home.

No.39 Squadron occupied three airfields, with two pilots at each standing by for night flying duties. ‘A’ Flight, occupied North Weald. About twelve miles to the south, ‘B’ Flight operated out of Suttons Farm, Hornchurch, while the third airfield, Hainault Farm, home to ‘C’ Flight, lay a little to the west of the other two.

The general anti-Zeppelin strategy at the time required one pilot from each airfield to patrol a specific line for about two and a half hours, searching for enemy airships. About two hours into these patrols, the second aircraft at each airfield would take off to relieve the first. The BE2c took about 50 minutes to climb to 10,000 feet, so by the time the first plane had landed, the second should have reached operational height, ensuring continual air cover.

Advised of an imminent raid, No. 39 Squadron received orders to patrol at around 11pm. Lieutenant William Leefe Robinson of ‘B’ Flight took off in his BE2c from Suttons Farm, to patrol the line towards Joyce Green, an airfield on the south bank of the Thames near Dartford. Within five minutes both Lieutenant Clifford Ross, of ‘A’ Flight and Alfred Brandon of ‘C’ Flight, were also in the air. Ross patrolled from North Weald to Hainault Farm, while Brandon covered a line from Hainault Farm to Suttons Farm.

As the three pilots commenced climbing to 10,000 feet in wide, spiralling circles over their home airfields, the third German army airship, LZ.98, appeared over the English Channel at about midnight. Flying inland over New Romney she steered a course across Kent towards the capital.

Lieutenants Ross and Brandon, peering from their cockpits into the blackness of the night, saw no sign of enemy activity during their patrols and returned to their airfields. Expecting the return of Robinson at any time, the three pilots taking the second patrols were dispersed differently two were directed to patrol south of the Thames, leaving just one pilot north of the River. Fortunately, for the now undermanned defence line north of the Thames, 21-year-old Lieutenant Robinson, was still airborne.

William Leefe Robinson was born in July 1895, in southern India where his father owned a successful coffee plantation. He completed his education in England in 1909 and, at the outbreak of war, gained entry to Sandhurst, earning a commission, in December 1914, in the Fifth Militia Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment. His subsequent posting, however, to Cornwall and a seemingly endless round of guard duty, trench digging and training recruits, did not satisfy his desire to ‘do his bit’.

He applied for a transfer to the Royal Flying Corps and was accepted as an Observer in March 1915, but two months later he returned to England to recuperate from a shrapnel wound in his right arm. While there he determined to qualify as a pilot. William Leefe Robinson earned his ‘wings’ in September 1915 and, after completing his training, was posted to No. 39 (Home Defence) Squadron in Essex.

Having taken off from Suttons Farm shortly after 11pm, he climbed to 10,000 feet and commenced his patrol southwards towards Joyce Green, on what started as a beautifully clear night. Even so, he had seen no sign of enemy activity as he approached the end of his allotted patrol time. But then, at 1.10am, after two hours in the air and having coaxed his plane up to 12,900 feet, he noticed two searchlight beams fixed on a Zeppelin away to the south east of Woolwich. However, as he turned in pursuit, cloud cover was building up and the searchlights were finding it difficult to hold their beams on the raider.

This distant raider was LZ.98, the army Zeppelin commanded by Oberleutant Ernst Lehmann, that had arrived over the coast at New Romney just over an hour earlier. Anti-aircraft guns forced LZ.98 to turn back eastwards, dropping a number of bombs as she approached Gravesend at about 1.15am. For the next ten minutes, Robinson’s aircraft only gained slowly on LZ.98. He could have closed the distance more rapidly by diving, but preferred to maintain his 800 feet height advantage until ready to make his attack. However, Lehmann cleverly steered LZ.98 into a cloudbank, disappearing from the probing searchlights and becoming lost to the pursuing airman.

Robinson searched for his elusive quarry for another 15 minutes but finally he finally abandoned the hunt and turned for home. Ten minutes later though he observed a red glow over North London fires were burning. Ignoring the fact he was already overdue back at Suttons farm, Robinson flew on to investigate.

Having swung around London, Wilhelm Schramm and SL.11 passed south of St. Albans and, when over London Colney at 1.20am, began dropping bombs between there and South Mimms. About 20 minutes later bombs fell near Enfield, followed by others at Southgate these creating the fires that Robinson now homed in on.

From Southgate, after a westward detour, Schramm gradually closed in on central London. But over Hornsey, just before 2 am, the searchlights positioned in Finsbury Park and Victoria Park, pierced the night sky and caught SL.11 in their beams. Now, brilliantly illuminated, the airship shied away to the east, but almost immediately came under heavy fire from the anti-aircraft gun deployed in Finsbury Park. Schramm swung the airship to the north-east, heading over Tottenham as the guns at Victoria Park, at West Ham, Beckton and Wanstead joined the attack more searchlights locked onto the target too. The central London guns opened fire now, from King’s Cross, Paddington, Green Park, and Tower Bridge, adding to the crescendo of noise thundering across the city.

Awoken by this storm of fire, London was wide-awake. Watching breathlessly, tens, possibly hundreds, of thousands stood in their doorways and gardens, peering up into the night sky to watch the unfolding drama as SL.11 desperately attempted to escape the beams of light that seemed to trap her like a fly caught in a spider’s web. Previous Zeppelins over London had been viewed with apprehension these vast airships, shining silver in the searchlights, with their droning throbbing engines, and threatening the city with a brooding menace, had always appeared to be beyond reach and impervious to attack. But this time it was different. Never before had such a volume of fire filled the London sky.

If SL.11 disappeared briefly behind a cloud, then the on-looking crowds cheered enthusiastically when the lights caught her again. Now over Wood Green, Schramm steered a course to the north-east and, taking advantage of a bank of clouds or heavy fog, which swirled around north London that night, was lost again to the searchlights and thundering anti-aircraft guns.

Perhaps feeling he had escaped the worst, Schramm began dropping bombs again over Edmonton, but his respite was brief, for a searchlight piercing the night sky from Chingford quickly pinpointed him again. Twisting to the north, and now at about 11,000 feet, he released more bombs at about 2.15am over Ponders End and Enfield Highway. Now, three more sweeping searchlights caught the airship and the anti-aircraft guns positioned near Waltham Abbey opened up.

Ten minutes earlier, Lt. Robinson had caught his first sight of SL.11 in the searchlights. With his experience over Gravesend fresh in his mind, he decided to abandon his height advantage, put his nose down and gain on the airship as quickly as possible. As he sped towards the fugitive, he could see the bursting anti-aircraft shells, but noted they were falling short.

Schramm dumped a great quantity of water-ballast in a desperate attempt to gain height and escape the net of searchlights. He also dropped his remaining bombs to lighten the craft, while those watchers with the keenest eyes caught glimpses of an aircraft flitting, like a moth, through the searchlight beams.

Although dwarfed by the massive airship, Robinson headed directly towards it and, from a position 800 feet below, flew along the underside from bow to stern, emptying a drum of ammunition into her, a cocktail of mixed explosive rounds and tracers.

Much to his dismay, they had no effect. And now, alerted to his presence, the six machine guns on SL.11 opened up in response, seen from below as ‘flickering red stabs of light’ in the dark. Undaunted, Robinson turned to make a second approach, this time spraying another drum of mixed ammunition all along one side of the airship, but again, frustratingly, without result.

Meanwhile the Temple House anti-aircraft gun, near Waltham Abbey, continued firing at SL.11. There is evidence to suggest that a shell from this gun did damage one of her engines, but, officially, this was never recognised. Robinson, of course, was unaware of this as he turned for a third attack, noting as he did so, that the searchlights had lost their target and the anti-aircraft fire had now ceased.

SL.11 had risen to 12,000 feet as Robinson closed up behind her, and from a position about 500 feet below, he emptied a third drum, this time concentrating his fire on just one spot. As he finished firing, he noticed a dull red glow, then, seconds later, the whole rear of SL.11 burst into flames. For a brief moment, the intense flare of light illuminated other raiding airships over neighbouring counties. Their commanders saw the blaze, they understood its meaning and they turned for home. One observer wrote, ‘I shall never forget the sight of the blazing airship as it fell… the scene was terrifying in its grandeur.

A newspaper reporter watching the action in the sky described the scene that followed Robinson’s attack:

“…the blazing airship swung round for an instant, broadside on, as though unmanageable then the burning end dipped, the flames ran up the whole structure as her petrol tanks one after another caught fire. In another second or two the Zeppelin, now perpendicular, was falling headlong to earth from a height not much short of a couple of miles, a mass of roaring flame. So tremendous was the blaze and so intense the light that she seemed to be an immense incandescent mantle at white heat and enveloped in flame, falling, falling, and illuminating the country for miles around…With ever-increasing momentum she sped down, until at last she struck the earth with a crash that could be heard for miles. A dull red glow brightened the heavens for a few seconds, and a distant mass of still burning wreckage was all that was left.”

Hauptmann Wilhelm Schramm and all his crew perished in the flames.

The final moments of SL.11 – now a flaring, roaring inferno – illuminated the countryside up to thirty miles away. Those watching had observed the final action in silence, but as the flames engulfed the stricken airship, the mood changed.

A Special Constable, viewing the destruction of SL.11 from some ten miles away, recalled the reaction of those around him:

“This harrowing spectacle was rendered still more terrible by the extraordinary cheers following prolonged tension that greeted the destruction of the great Baby-killer. Defiant, hard, merciless cheers they were, and wherever the cheers rose there was the same inexorable note in them.”

People began to dance in the streets in celebration, and to this triumphant tumult was added the sound of bells, hooters and the screech of train whistles… and even bagpipes! At a stroke, Londoners no longer felt defenceless in the face of the Zeppelin menace that had haunted the city for the last fifteen months.

The doomed airship fell to earth at the village of Cuffley, near Potters Bar, in Hertfordshire.
When the elated Lt. Robinson finally arrived back at Suttons Farm, he had been in the air for three hours and thirty-seven minutes and his petrol tank was almost dry. He also discovered that the intense heat of the burning airship had scorched his jacket, and in his excitement he had managed to shoot away part of the centre section of the upper wing and the rear main spar of his own aircraft. He was fortunate to arrive back in one piece.

With the arrival of daylight, an extraordinary exodus began from London and the surrounding districts. Tens of thousands of curious sightseers headed for Cuffley that morning, by train, motorcar, cart, bicycle and on foot, to see the wreckage for themselves – and to hunt for souvenirs. The Press dubbed it ‘Zepp Sunday’, while The Times referred to the whole episode as ‘the greatest free show London has ever enjoyed.’

In a year that so far had brought nothing but bad news from the war, including the seemingly endless casualty lists from the Battle of the Somme, here, at last, was something positive to report. The newspapers filled their columns with stories of the destruction of SL.11 – the first airship shot down over mainland Britain – and elevated Lt. Robinson to celebrity status. The government was not slow to react either just five days later, he received the Victoria Cross from the King at Windsor Castle. The souvenir industry was quick to cash in too producing numerous lurid postcards of Robinson’s deed, while the Red Cross sold off much of the wire salvaged from the wreck as souvenirs to raise funds.

And from the moment William Leefe Robinson’s bullets set SL.11 on fire in the early hours of Sunday 3 September 1916, the air war over Britain changed dramatically.

The German army had never fully embraced the use of their airships in an overseas strategic bombing role and, following the loss of SL.11, they turned away from it entirely. The army looked instead to aircraft to take the war to London and in the summer of 1917 unleashed the Gotha bomber on the city in broad daylight. But that is another story.

The navy, however, remained convinced that airships could effectively take the war to Britain and persevered, sending a 12 Zeppelin raid against London and the Midlands on the night of 23/24 September, three weeks after the destruction of SL.11, and exactly 100 years ago tomorrow! The outcome was even more spectacular.

Kapitänleutnant Alois Böcker, commanding the latest Zeppelin, L.33, on her first raid, came inland over Foulness at 10.40pm and steered a course towards London. As he approached the capital, he passed between the guns at Beckton and North Woolwich, making for the close-packed and unsuspecting streets of East London. He began dropping his bombs at ten minutes past midnight.

Böcker’s bombs had already killed six occupants of a house in Bromley-by-Bow when L.33 suddenly shuddered. As the first bombs fell, the guns at Victoria Park, at Beckton and Wanstead had opened up on her. The volume and accuracy of their fire shook the Zeppelin, even though it was flying near to 13,000ft. A shell exploded near her, destroying one of the gas bags and damaging part of the framework, while splinters slashed through at least four other gas bags.

Böcker released water ballast in an attempt to gain height and turned away from London, dropping bombs as he went. These caused serious damage to a Baptist chapel and a great number of houses in Botolph Road, while a direct hit on the Black Swan public house in Bow Road claimed four lives. Böcker steered away over the industrial buildings of Stratford Marsh – now the site of the Olympic Park – where his final bombs caused severe damage to a match factory and the depot of an oil company.

The wounded Zeppelin was now heading in the direction of Chelmsford, and in spite of the frantic efforts of the crew to repair the damage, L.33 began to lose height.

Having been in the air for almost an hour, 2nd-Lt Alfred de Bathe Brandon of No.39 Home Defence Squadron had spotted L.33 from some distance away as she bombed East London. But as he closed with the target, his automatic petrol pump failed, requiring him to manually pump fuel while loading a drum of ammunition onto his Lewis gun and controlling the aircraft all at the same time.
Then, as he raised the gun to open fire, it jerked out of its mounting and fell, coming to rest across the cockpit. By the time he fitted it back into position, while still pumping fuel, he realised he had flown under and past the Zeppelin. He turned to attack, but, approaching from the bow this time, the two aircraft closed so quickly that Brandon was unable to take aim before the target flashed past. Undeterred, he turned again and approached from the rear port side, firing a whole drum of mixed ammunition. Frustratingly, the bullets appeared to have no effect. Loading another drum, he attacked again, but this time his gun jammed and he lost L.33 in the clouds.

On board L.33, Kapitänleutnant Alois Böcker ordered the crew to jettison any removable objects, including guns and ammunition, to lighten her in an effort to keep her aloft, but this did not arrest the descent. He had hoped to limp back to Germany but at 1.15am, L.33 struck the ground in a field close to the village of Little Wigborough in Essex.

What happened next bears more than a passing resemblance to the classic episode of the TV series Dad’s Army when Captain Mainwaring’s platoon are left to guard a captured U-boat crew!

L.33 hit the ground hard but remained intact. Determined to prevent his ship falling into British hands, Böcker first tried to warn the inhabitants of a pair of farm cottages only 25 yards away, to take cover – but unsurprisingly they did not answer the repeated hammerings on their door by what appeared to be the vanguard of a German invasion! Böcker then fired a signal flare into some leaking petrol. A small explosion occurred which burnt off the remaining hydrogen and the outer covering, but failed to destroy the looming metal skeleton of L.33. Having done all he could, Böcker called his men together, and marched them off down the adjacent lane.

Meanwhile, the glow from the burning Zeppelin had attracted the attention of Special Constable Edgar Nicholas. Nicholas cycled towards the flames to investigate, then, as he turned a corner, he saw a body of 21 uniformed men marching towards him. A little bemused, he dismounted, approached Böcker, and asked him if he had seen a crashed Zeppelin! In response, Böcker asked Nicholas, in English, how far it was to Colchester! Somewhat surprised by the request, he told him it was about 6 miles, for which Böcker thanked him – but in his report Nicholas added, “I at once recognised a foreign accent”. Böcker and his men then set off again, so Nicholas tucked in at the rear of the column, striking up a conversation with a rather chatty airman who handed over pieces of his equipment as souvenirs.

Nicholas asked him if the Zeppelin had been hit by gunfire, to which the German replied, in broken English, “Zeppelin explode, we crew prisoners of war”. The German then asked Nicholas if he thought the war was nearly over. Nicholas, with his stiff upper lip firmly in place, offered the now clichéd reply, “Well it’s over for you anyway.” Then, as the column approached the next village, Nicholas found another Special and a police sergeant who was on holiday in the area. The three of them decided to lead their charges to the village Post Office at Peldon where they found the local constable, PC Charles Smith.

Smith, who had also seen the flames, had been trying to phone headquarters for orders when the strange assembly arrived outside the Post Office. Smith arrested Böcker and his men but was somewhat surprised when Böcker demanded to make a telephone call! However, the request was refused and Smith then politely asked Böcker if he and his men would march with

Böcker agreed and the column of 21 German airmen marched off again, escorted by PC Smith and seven ‘Specials’. Eventually met on the road by a military detachment, the prisoners were taken to the village of West Mersea where, in the absence of anywhere else, they were placed in the parish hall. But the arrival of the hated Hun in their midst was not well-received by the gathering local residents.

However, the vicar defused the situation by raising the Union Flag outside the Hall and conducting the villagers in a rousing chorus of the National Anthem as the Germans filed in. Once inside the vicar then did the only thing that an English vicar could do at a time like that – he made them all a nice cup of tea. Later the crew were transferred to Colchester and after two weeks interrogation they were interned for the duration of the war. Meanwhile the intact framework of L.33 revealed many valuable secrets of modern Zeppelin design.

But that was not the end of the action that night.

Another of the Zeppelins intending to strike against London, L.32 commanded by Werner Peterson, had come inland over Kent and eventually reached the Thames to the east of Purfleet at about 1am. But once across the river a searchlight found her and anti-aircraft guns opened a heavy fire. All this activity attracted the attention of three pilots of No. 39 Squadron whose patrol area L.32 had entered. Brandon, who was still in the air after his earlier encounter with L.33, and Second-Lieutenant J. MacKay turned towards the illuminated airship, but as they were closing on the raider it exploded in a roaring inferno. They had been beaten to it by Second-Lieutenant Frederick Sowrey.
Sowrey pounced upon L.32. He opened fire with his Lewis gun. A whole drum of mixed bullets sprayed along the underside of the vast airship with no effect. As he turned to reposition himself for a second attack, the machine guns on L.32 spat out their bullets in response. Undeterred, Sowrey slid back into a position beneath her and fired off a second drum of ammunition, traversing the belly of the craft, but again his bullets failed to set her alight. One witness reported that, “It looked as if the Zepp was being hosed with a stream of fire.” Then Sowrey fired a third drum.

This time he concentrated his fire in one area and flames took hold inside. Those flames swiftly spread throughout the airship, bursting through the outer envelope in several places. L.32 sagged in the middle, forming a V-shape, before plummeting to earth in an incandescent mass. Another eyewitness described the demise of L.32 as it fell:

“Those few moments afforded a wonderful spectacle. Flames were bursting out from the sides and behind, and, as the gasbag continued to fall, there trailed away long tongues of flame, which became more and more fantastic as the falling monster gained impetus.”

The burning wreckage finally crashed to earth in a field just south of Billericay in Essex. Like the Cuffley wreck three weeks earlier, thousands made a pilgrimage to see it. The bodies of the crew were collected together in a nearby barn – many horribly burnt. Oberleutnant Peterson, however, had jumped to his death.

Then the following week, on 1 October, the most experienced Zeppelin commander of all, Heinrich Mathy, flying L.31, suffered the same fate, shot down over Potters Bar by 2nd Lieutenant Wulstan Tempest. And before November was out, two more Zeppelins came down in flames off the coast of Britain. All victims to the new bullets.

In 1916 Zeppelins raided Britain on 22 occasions, the following year this dropped to just six. One of these raids, on 16 June 1917, with London as its target, ended in tragedy for Zeppelin L48 when she was shot down at Theberton in Suffolk.

The last Zeppelin to bomb London did so on the night of 19 October 1917 and this, almost by accident. L.45, part of an eleven airship raid on northern England was blown off course by fierce winds and found itself driven rapidly across London at high altitude. Her commander dropped a number of bombs as they careered along. One of these, landing at Piccadilly Circus, killed 7 and injured 18 and others claimed lives in Camberwell and Hither Green.

However, the weather that hindered the raid proved disastrous for four of the raiders, including L.45, all lost as they were blown back across France and Germany at the mercy of the fierce and powerful winds.

In 1918, the last year of the war, only three Zeppelin raids bombed Britain, but none of these challenged London’s defences. The threat to London, however, had not diminished, for from May 1917 onwards Germany launched a new terror into the skies as the deadly long-range Gotha and Giant bomber aircraft brought a new rain of death and destruction to the streets of the capital.

While the German air campaign of WW1 bears no comparison to the devastation wrought by the Luftwaffe during the Second World War, to the population of the city, to whom the terrors of aerial bombing were an unimagined horror in 1915, it was a truly shocking and terrifying experience.

In London, Zeppelin bombs killed 181 people and injured another 504. Across the rest of the country there were another 1,200 casualties. Yet the bombing failed to deliver the devastating blow to British morale that Germany anticipated. Great fires did not sweep across the City, mass panic did not break out, the population did not demand peace at any price.

Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, the driving force behind the development of the rigid airship, died in March 1917, having witnessed the tide turn against his great leviathan’s of the air. For two years these airships had maintained a dominance of the sky over Britain, but with the advent of explosive and incendiary bullets, the crews of these great ‘gaseous monsters’ – as Winston Churchill once dubbed them – lived their lives knowing that a terrible death was only ever moments away.

The crews of all these airships – like the pilots of the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps, who took to the skies over London to oppose them – were pioneers all, pioneers in this new age of aerial warfare – and they played a part in shaping the rules of how future wars would be fought. But, when you prepare for bed tomorrow night, let your mind take you back exactly 100 years, to that night in September 1916 – and remember. For on that night Germany brought the war to the British people once more. On that night the war ended for 40 civilians, one RFC pilot and 22 German airship men. The face of war was changing – aerial warfare and the opening of the Home Front, both virtually unheard of before the summer of 1914, were here to stay.


RELATEREDE ARTIKLER

'For some more contextual information, where we can, we add a label with the name of the street it fell on. If you click on the marker, you’ll get a bit more information about the bomb and how far away from your location it fell.'

THE BLITZ IN LONDON - A MILLION HOMES HIT AND 40,000 CIVILIANS KILLED

St Paul's Cathedral miraculously escaped WWII air raids.

The Blitz (from the German word, 'lightning') was the most intense bombing campaign Britain has ever seen.

Between 7 September 1940 and 21 May 1941 there were major raids with more than 100 tonnes of high explosives were dropped on 16 British cities.

London, was attacked 71 times and bombed by the Luftwaffe for 57 consecutive nights.

More than one million London houses were destroyed or damaged, and more than 40,000 civilians were killed, almost half of them in London

Birmingham, Liverpool and Plymouth were also hit eight times, Bristol six, Glasgow five, Southampton four, Portsmouth three, and there was also at least one large raid on another eight cities.

Deeply-buried shelters provided the most protection against a direct hit, although the government in 1939 refused to allow tube stations to be used as shelters so as not to interfere with commuter and troop travel.

However, by the second week of heavy bombing the government relented and ordered the stations to be opened.

Each day orderly lines of people queued until 4 pm, when they were allowed to enter the stations, and by mid-September 1939 about 150,000 a night slept in the Underground.

Despite the blanket bombing of the capital, some landmarks remained intact - such as St Pauls Cathedral (right), which was virtually unharmed, despite many buildings around it being reduced to rubble during the 57 nights of raid.

The site give an astonishing view of every bomb records during the Second World War, and allows users to zoom in

Viewers can zoom in to see the areas worst hit, with each red dot representing a bomb

The astonishing sight reveals the blanketing of bombs German forces dropped on Britain's capital during the Second World War

Once an individual bomb has been located, the site shows details of it, and pictures and other information from the surrounding area


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