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Title: Flight testing the Titanic: re-visiting the loss of His Majesty's Airship R101
Authors: Gratton, G
Keywords: The Imperial Airships scheme;R101 A, B and C;Royal Mail Ship Titanic
Issue Date: 2014
Citation: SETP 58th Symposium and banquet, Annaheim, California, USA, 2014
Abstract: His Majesty’s Airship R101 was a British airship built between 1926 and 1929; requiring a crew of 48 of whom an absolute minimum of 15 were required to be on duty at any time, and at 866ft with a gas capacity over 5 million cubic feet long it remains the third largest aircraft ever flown –3.6 times the length of an A380. R101 also incorporated many points of new and under-development technology, including recovery of water ballast, semi-rigid construction, steel framework, wire cage gasbag retention, high rate of climb relief valves, multiple control rooms and aircraft Diesel engines. Following some major modifications, HMA R101 was scheduled for a 74 hour multi-sector endurance demonstration in October 1930, from England to India. Despite adverse weather, lack of testing of some recent design changes and two out of five engines hav-ing failed the flight was continued out of England and into France. Early in the morning of the second day of the flight the aircraft entered an uncontrollable descent, striking the ground at about 15 knots and 20° nose down. The initial impact appears to have been survivable, but the subsequent hydrogen fire killed 48 of the 54 persons on board, and destroyed the aircraft – also effectively ending all large airship development in the United Kingdom, despite a parallel “sister” project, the R100, being well into its own flight test programme without significant problems.
Appears in Collections:Dept of Mechanical Aerospace and Civil Engineering Research Papers

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