site was located for its suitability for level well drained
ground and an area of some 600 acres. The location was deemed
suitable in 1926 as part of the main Imperial Communications
commission visit, and a mooring mast was erected along with
a hydrogen gas plant for resupplying the airships. Like
the other masts, it was fitted with searchlights that would
flash over the desert throughout the nigth as a navigational
aid to the incomming airships. A new railway was planned
to transport disembarked passengers to Cairo and Port Said.
Unlike the other bases along the Imperial route, there were
no plans to errect an airship shed. There was however a
silcol hyrdrogen plant constructed, which could produce
one million cubic feet of hydrogen per day. The total cost
of the site was just over £93,000 (£5,127,565
The mast itself was copy of the Cardington mast, with no
additional buildings erected around the base as with the
Canadian and Indian masts sites. The base came under the
command of an officer from the Royal Airship Works at Cardington,
along with a number of RAF personnel. The employment of
local Egyptians would have been made to assist in the mooring
The September 1930 review saw the Egyptian base as the crucial
part of proving the R100 and R101 to be a commercial success.
It was agreed that the ships would operate a regular service
as far as Ismailia to generate profits for a commercial
service, and the Atlantic and Indian "runs" be seen as more
publicity flights but not commercially viable.
The R101 and R100 would operate this route in the winter
months and then run the "publicity flights" to Canada in
the summer when the North Atlantic was more appealing for
airship flights. It was noted that the R102 and R103 would
be the ships which would have the commercial range to service
the further outposts of the airship scheme.
The 1930 review also commented that commercial operations
to Egypt would improve with the creation of the Maltese
mast and the current R101 and R100 would be able to carry
more of a commercial load (passengers and freight) if they
could offset the additional weight with less of a fuel range,
and depend on the intermediate Malta stop to refuel. In
the original flight plan, the plan had been for Lord Thompson
to hold a dinner party for the High Commissioner of Egypt
in the evening, whilst the ship was moored to the mast.
Provisions had been taken aboard for this evenings lavish
gala dinner, including two cases of Champagne. Alas this
party never was able to take place.
The Ismailia mast was never used as the R 101 crashed on
route to the Egyptian mast. The mast was still standing
in 1939 but then dismantled quite quickly compared to the
Indian mast and shed site, with confirmed sightings of people
based in the area that the mast was not there by the beginning
of Word War II later in 1939/40.
series of photographs were disovered and donated to the
Airship Heritage Trust archive and show the full construction
of the Ismalia mast in 1926. This fascinating series of
pictures depict the layout and construction of the ground
works and foundations, followed by the errection of the
winch shed, and mast itself. The interesting pictures show
the use of the local labour force employed to help construction,
and transportation via camel.