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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 1466
Last updated: 23 May 2021
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Time:17:37 LT
Type:Royal Airship Works ZR-2
Owner/operator:Royal Airship Works
Registration: R-38
MSN: R-38
Fatalities:Fatalities: 44 / Occupants: 49
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:River Humber, Hull -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Cardington, Bedfordshire
Destination airport:Howden, East Riding of Yorkshire
Destroyed by a structural failure while in flight over the city of Hull and crashed into the Humber estuary, killing 44 out of the 49 crew aboard.

Following a spell of bad weather, the airship was finally walked out in the early morning took off for her fourth flight, which had an intended destination of RNAS Pulham, where she could be moored to a mast: a facility unavailable at Howden. In the event, mooring proved impossible because of low cloud and so the airship returned out to sea with the intention of running some high speed tests and then returning to Howden. The speed runs proved successful and as there was still daylight left it was decided to try some low altitude rudder tests to simulate the effects of the rough weather that could be expected on the Atlantic crossing. At 17:37, fifteen degrees of rudder was applied over the city of Hull. Eye witnesses reported seeing creases down the envelope and then both ends drooped. This was followed by a fire in the bow and then a large explosion which broke windows over a large area. The airship had failed structurally and fell into the shallow waters of the Humber estuary.

During its fourth flight, the British airship R38 (ZR-2), due to be delivered to the United States Navy as the ZR-2, broke in two on a test flight near Hull, England, the forward half falling into the Humber River whereupon spilt gasoline on the water caught fire, while the stern, not in flames, settled on a sandbar. The ship had been undergoing turning trials, at 63 mph at 2,500 feet, with the rudders worked to their maximum, causing the lightweight structure to fail

44 died, including British Air Commodore E.M. Maitland, Leader of Airships, and 16 Americans. Maxfield Field at NAS Lakehurst, New Jersey, named 6 January 1944 in honor of Commander Louis H. Maxfield, Naval Aviator No. 17, who lost his life in the R38 crash.

Source 9 lists casualties individually:
CBM CJ Aller (killed)
243858 LAC G S Anger (killed)
Mr H Bateman
Lt Cdr V N Bieg


4. Flight, March 22 1922:
7. Vaeth, J. Gordon, "They Sailed the Skies: U.S. Navy Balloons and the Airship Program", Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, 2005, ISBN 1-59114-914-2, pages 2223.
8. Baker, David, "Flight and Flying: A Chronology", Facts On File, Inc., New York, 1994, Library of Congress card number 92-31491, ISBN 0-8160-1854-5, page 139.


R-38-rescue Rescuers scramble across the wreckage of British R-38/USN ZR-2 airship, 24 August 1921.

Revision history:

02-Feb-2008 11:04 harro Added
18-Dec-2013 21:44 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Location, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Embed code, Narrative]
23-Apr-2015 17:45 TB Updated [Time, Location, Embed code, Narrative]
16-Nov-2018 02:57 Dr.John Smith Updated [Source, Embed code, Narrative]
19-Jan-2021 16:48 Castleace Updated [Source, Narrative]
20-Jan-2021 15:40 Castleace Updated [Narrative]
05-Feb-2021 12:51 Castleace Updated [Narrative]
10-Feb-2021 17:39 Castleace Updated [Narrative]

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