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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Shells for Destroying Airships


joseph

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I came across an article in a Scientific Magazine (Mar 1915) describing this new explosive projectile. Was it used? any idea of the size, I have another picture (bad scan) of it hitting an airship it must have been fired from a Railway gun. The design was patented by Armstrong Whitworth.

Regards Charles

post-7039-1131451956.jpg

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Joseph

There were all sorts of wacky ideas for destroying Zeppelins. I certainly have never heard of this device being used.

As you say we have no idea of the size but I would imagine it was too large to fire from an aeroplane. But to have any effect it would have had to make a direct hit, and from a ground-based gun even a 650ft Zeppelin would have been a very difficult target at 12000+ feet at night.

Adrian

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Adrian,

Thanks. I supposed, wrongly, that because such a well know name patented it it would be made and used. The magazine was American so obviously no centureship.

Regards Charles

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Yes, it must have been difficult to hit airships given the primitive fire control and fusing, but there must have been some system.

By 1914, Germany, France and Britain all had 'anti-aircraft' guns - the British was an 8 pounder, I think.

I have a photo taken in early August 1914 of a German anti-aircraft gun mounted on the edge of the city here and given that the barrel is just about vertical, there is little doubt that that is what it was.

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You would think something so big would be a sitting duck, obviously not. The article goes on about the difficulty in getting large enough holes in the gas bag to bring it down, seems they could take a lot of hits and still "not be seriously inconvenienced".

Charles

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I think mixed incendiary rounds were used in machine guns for attacking balloons and by extension airships, I suppose. I understand this ammunition was prohibited for use in attacking aircraft and ground targets. Ammunition called "Buckingham"?

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I think mixed incendiary rounds were used in machine guns for attacking balloons and by extension airships, I suppose. I understand this ammunition was prohibited for use in attacking aircraft and ground targets. Ammunition called "Buckingham"?

I've seen suggestions that it was technically a war crime (like the use of dum-dumammunition).

In naval service, of course, the 3" was the commonest fitting in WWI, but 2pdr & 6pdr were also used - and several of the "Insect" class were fitted with high-angle 6" guns and used on "anti-zepp" patrols in the North Sea.

#

The first RNAS success against a zeppelin was gained by bombing it - and Warneford's aircraft was so badly damaged that he had to land in enemy territory with a broken fuel line. He repaired it - supposedly with the stem of his pipe, and made it home.

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Ian,G o U,

Thanks for that, have been a googling and found the Buckingham ammunition which from its discription is an Incendiary or Tracer round designed to set them on fire. The Brock round was purely an explosive round for use against the Zepplin. Also the Pomeroy round which was filled with Nitro Glycerine. But alas nothing like the round I posted.

Regards Charles

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Buckingham incendiary ammunition was indeed illegal for general use, and pilots using it had to carry a letter signed by their commanding officer saying that they were on anti-balloon and anti-airship operations. But most of the balloons and airships brought down were accounted for by aeroplanes using this method.

Some were brought down by AA fire, but this was with ordinary exploding shells that didn't need a direct hit. L33 suffered a lucky direct hit by a shell that did not explode, also being machine-gunned by an aeroplane without catching fire, and came down intact in Essex as the gas leaked out.

The very early guns that Healdav mentions were intended as anti-balloon guns - something armies possessed after the the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 when balloons were used. These soon became the first AA guns

Adrian

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Thanks for the clarification on AA guns.

I once wrote in a book that AA guns had been invented well before WW1 and that all the main armies had them by 1914. My statement was rubbished by a history professor! and used as an excuse by the publisher to turn the book down.

The said professor wanted to rewrite the book and be listed as co-author (which said to me that he wanted to jump on a bandwagon - mine, and get his name in print the easy way).

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For details on the various Brock, Buckingham and Pomeroy rounds used by the RFC see my post on the Uniforms, Arms and equipment forum of this site under "Explosive Rounds"(currently on Page 3).

In 1918 the standard issue for RAF squadrons in France was:

Cartridges SA Ball .303":

RTS Mark II 150 per gun

Mark VII Red Label 500 per gun

AP 150 per gun

Buckingham 250 per gun

Tracer SPG 250 per gun

(remember that all special purpose .303" ammunition still carried the nomenclature of "Ball")

Most Zeppelins that were brought down from the air ( Leefe Robertson et al) were destroyed by a combination of Buckingham and Pomeroy rounds. Initially these were strictly for home service only, but as the Germans were using various special purpose rounds in their aircraft machine guns ( S.Pr, LE etc) the use of these was extended to France.

Regards

TonyE

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