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R34
- The Record Breaker

"Final Life"



R34 career
Conception and Construction
Altantic Flight
Final Llife

Atlantic Crossing Route Map
(Large file to download)

Atlantic Flight Crew list

The ship did return to East Fortune and spent 6 months being refitted. In February 1920 the R 34 then made a seven and a half-hour flight back to Pulham. The ship remained at Pulham for six weeks where no flights were undertaken. It was later decided that the ship be assigned to Howden Airship Station, and she was flown upto Yorkshire at the end of March 1921.

At Howden the R34 was to undertake further changes, like her sister ship the R33, to enable her to be moored at a mooring mast. Her bows were to be altered to allow access to the ship and a mooring cone was added. The new cone was ordered and placed on the R33 but the R34's mooring gear had not arrived to be fitted to the ship. On 27th January 1921 the R34 left Howden on her first voyage for several months. It was deemed that she was to carry out duties as with the R32, as an instructional ship for American crew.

The R34's final destruction
She carried an instructional crew as part of a training flight but also to check on the recent repairs to the ship had been successful. The ship moved out over Spurn Head and during this time due to confusion with radio messages, contact was lost with the ship. Commander Maitland decided to recall the ship and the message was ordered to be repeated until understood. The ship finally heard the signal and began to return home. Confusion occurred on the R34 as the navigating officer had lost his way, and thought that the ship was safe to journey home, however during the voyage the weather had deteriorated and a heavy fog enveloped the area. The signals were confused as to the ships exact location, however the crew continued in the direction of Howden.

By midnight, the crew was settling into their bunks and the watches were changing when a loud grinding sound was heard and a shudder went through the ship. The control gondola lights went out and the crew was thrown to the floor. Upon recovery it was discovered that at 12.10 am a sudden downdraft had pushed the ship into an unseen slope of the moors. Luckily the ship "bounced" and lurched upwards, and the captain rang for the engines to be stopped


The R34 was floating helplessly in the wind whilst the damage could be assessed. It was discovered that clumps of heather were stuck to the forward gondola, some of the windows were smashed and the bumping bags had been carried away. One girder in the keel had been twisted, tow engine car struts were damaged, the wireless aerial shortened and the fore and aft propellers were reduced to stubs. This last assessment of damage meant that the ship was now deprived of 50% of her power. The remaining engines were started and able to check the drift of the ship against the wind. The R34 had floated out over the North Sea, and like her sister ship, limped home against the wind, damaged and underpowered. By midday the R34 neared Hull, which was only 20 miles from Howden, it then took three hours the get the ship back to her home landing field. At 3.00pm the sky had grown dark and the landing crew assembled to haul the ship home.

The ship was almost to the doors of the hanger when a gust took the ship back out on to the landing field. The wind was gusting very strongly now, and the handling crew were at times being carried aloft as the ship bucked in the gale. More damage was done to the fore and after cars, the rudder had jammed and the controls were therefore inoperable. Commander Maitland then had to give the order to abandon ship, and the crew scrambled safely to the ground. The R34 was then taken back to the mooring block with the idea to have the ship ride out the storm on the tree wire system which she had used at Mineola.

Further damage occurred in trying to get the ship moored, a girder punctured some of the gasbags when it buckled. The ship was finally moored and it was thought that the ship would be able to survive the night, however the gales increased in strength and the ships loss of gas caused her to settle to the ground. Her bows were smashed and the hull of the ship damaged beyond repair by the first light of the morning, it was obvious that R34 would never fly again.

Within 3 days of the accident, the R34 had been striped of her equipment and outer cover, anything salvageable from the ship had been reclaimed and the rest of the hull structure was destroyed. The sad remains of the R34 were sold for scrap.

 

Related ships: R33, R 36, Vickers Transoceanic

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