protect that convoys and cargos from submarines in the western
approaches of the English Channel, the opposite side from
the Dover Straights and Thames Estuary, it was seen that
an airship base located at the lower end of Cornwall would
village of Mullion was chosen for its strategic position
on the Lizard peninsular. Despite being the last airship
station to be commissioned during the war, it saw more encounters
with German submarines than most other bases.
commenced on the site in March of 1916, and if anyone knows
the rural areas of Cornwall, there are many very single
track small lanes with very high sided hedgerows. The delivery
of the materials to the chosen site caused delays in the
local area, much to the angst of the local residents.
contract to build the main sheds was awarded to A and J
Main of Glasgow. Like all airship bases at the time, the
layout of the sheds was always built on a south west to
north east axis, so that the main door faced the direction
of the prevailing wind.
This would generally make the moving of the ships from within
the sheds easier to manage if they are moved out in to the
wind. Windbreaks were erected to stop gusts from other directions
and mooring blocks were set n to the ground to help with
walking the ships out of the sheds.
the 1st week of June, the first shed was almost complete,
the concrete floor being laid and dried, and the shed being
painted. The first ship scheduled to arrive at Mullion was
Coastal Class C.8, however the ship crashed in to English
Channel on 5th June 1916, on its voyage down to the
site from RNAS Kingnorth, where it had been constructed.
Its replacement, the C.9 was decided not to be flown
down from RNAS Kingsnorth, but instead was packed up by
rail, and assembled in the Mullion shed when it arrived
later that month on 19th June.
saw its first flight on 1st July 1916, and went on
to make 13 more successful flights from RNAS Mullion over
the next 3 weeks. An impressive flight log. Coastal C.10
later arrived, but like many newly commissioned sites, the
ships arrived partly through the construction of the rest
of the site.
Silcol plant had not been made fully operational and there
was not enough gas to be shared between the ships, and had
to briefly rely on cylinder deliveries. The Silcol plant
was operational a month later in July 1916.Many important
convoy duties were carried out by the Mullion ships that
summer, with protecting the ships coming in from Gibraltar.
The ships of the Mullion station had to patrol great expanses
of open sea, and with some of the early single engine Submarine
Scout classes, which were often prone to break down. It
was decided by a group of officers, that a more reliable
option was to install a second engine to the control car.
To ensure there was enough lift for the extra weight, an
enlarged envelope was used. A second Hawk engine
was fitted to the rear or the control car, and the Mullion
Twin was born.
The first ship, designated M.T.1 crashed during trials in
to the River Plym, on 15 March 1918, however the Admiralty
were so impressed by its performance that they agreed
that the new design should go in to production and the Submarine
Scout Twin or SST class was born.