| In 1924, the British Air Ministry
decided to build two airships, each with a volume of five million cubic
feet. This was to be the start of a world wide airship service
The designs should allow 60 tons of available lift for 100 passengers, the crew, fuel etc.
It was also to be a contest between government and commercial ventures. The government was determined to win.
The first, the R.100 was the commercial venture, backed by Vickers, and mainly designed by Barnes Wallis the man who later developed the damn buster bouncing bomb and the Wellington bomber. Neville Shute (Norway) also worked on the project.
was 709 ft long with a diameter of 131 feet. It had six Rolls-Royce petrol
engines fitted into three cars.
On its first flight in 1929 it was found to have only 57 tons of useful lift. Although built at Howden near the East coast, it spent most of its life housed in one of the two giant sheds at Cardington.
The ship flew well, however flapping fabric and rips in the outer cover were a recurring problem. Nevertheless after several trials, it flew across the North Atlantic to Montreal in Canada in 78 hours. There the crew were met by cheering crowds. The ship had its problems on that flight and spent three days under repair before it could fly again.
The return to Cardington took only 58 hours, however there were no cheering crowds awaiting.
The historical flight was to be her last.