REVIEW of REVIEWS

Utility of Airship Undecided

After Years of Controversy, Expert Opinion is Still Divided—New Giant Planned.

EMPIRE REVIEW,THE STAR August 15 1930
REVIEW of REVIEWS

Utility of Airship Undecided

After Years of Controversy, Expert Opinion is Still Divided—New Giant Planned.

EMPIRE REVIEW,THE STAR August 15 1930

Utility of Airship Undecided

After Years of Controversy, Expert Opinion is Still Divided—New Giant Planned.

EMPIRE REVIEW

THE STAR

ON NO subject have the experts disagreed so much as on the subject of airships. Theoretically, they possess many advantages over the airplane; but practically, say their opponents, they are inherently incapable of being developed into a reliable vehicle of transport. In The Empire Review (London), Lieut.Commander Sir C. Dennistoun Burney mentions a few of the advantages as follows:

“To begin with, there is the matter of range. There, the airship is supreme over all other forms of transport. In fact it provides the only really long-distance craft in the world. The range of the R-100, with a commercial load of a hundred passengers and one ton of mail, is over 3,000 miles at a cruising speed of 70 miles an hour. No land airplane has a commercial range of more than 500 miles; while the range of the Dornier flying boat, which represents the latest development in flying boats, does not exceed 750 miles with a full load.

“No less pronounced is the advantage possessed by the airship in carrying capacity. The R-100 provides accommodation for a hundred passengers with luggage and a ton of mail. The Dornier flying boat cannot seat more than 60 passengers, except for relatively short flights. Nor is this all. The tendency in airship construction is always in the direction of vessels of a larger type, for reason of stability and speed. The new design of airship on which I am now working is almost twice as large as the R-100, and this will by no means represent the maximum size that is technically possible. On the other hand, so far as one can see at present there is a definite limit to the increase in the size of flying boats. Of course, as regards carrying capacity, the ordinary land airplane does not enter into competition at all. Again, owing to their greater size, airships provide far more comfortable travelling than heavierthan-air craft. Passengers have complete freedom of movement and are housed almost as comfortably as in an ocean liner. Not only do the large spaces available make possible the provision of adequate restaurant, sitting, and sleeping accommodation, but they also allow of the passenger quarters being entirely shut off from the noise and smell of the * engines. Furthermore, the equable motion of the airship greatly reduces the likelihood of air-sickness.”

On the other hand, A. G. Gardiner, in The Star, ridicules the claims of the airship and states:

“In the controversy between the airplane and the airship the victory has gone finally and decisively to the airplane. In war the airship was proved to be the clumsiest, most futile, and most vulnerable weapon ever fashioned by man. Of the sixty-one Zeppelins launched by the Germans seventeen were destroyed by the enemy, twenty-eight were lost by accidents, six were put out of service as useless.

“The post-war experience has been no less devastating. We have spent tens of millions of money in experimenting with this gigantic imposture, always with the same result. The ships have always come to an inglorious end, most of them after less than one hundred hours in the air. We have at present two ridiculous white elephants of the air which have cost a king’s ransom and which are eating their heads off, with nothing more to their credit than an occasional joy-ride.

“For any practical service they have done or are likely to do they might never have existed. The cast of their maintenance alone, with their horde of attendants and their ceaseless repairs, would impoverish an Eastern nabob. The airship is doomed and damned by every principle of transport and navigation. In a thunderstorm the monster is helpless; in a contrary current it may use all its fuel without a mile of progress; it has no stability in the air, and is unmanageable on land; it has neither harborage nor anchorage, and even if the world were strewn with hangars bigger than Waterloo Station and taller than the Nelson Monument they would not serve for the airship in distress.

“As a commercial proposition it is impossible. It would need to be as big as the Matterhorn to carry the load of a coal barge on a canal, and even then, it has been estimated that its operational cost would be at the rate of £1,200 per ton, or 8d. an ounce. The ordinary shipping rate to America is £5 a ton. From the passenger point of view, the challenge is equally grotesque. Winter and summer, year in and year out, for twenty years and more the Mauretania has steamed into New York and Southampton almost as punctually as an express train; but no time-table can be kept for the airship.

“Perhaps it will start, and perhaps it will arrive, but when it will do either is only an incalculable speculation dependent on the weather, of which the Mauretania takes no more account than it would of a cloud of midges. Add to all this that the airship costs as much as a great ship that will make a thousand voyages, and is nearly as fragile as the Crystal Palace, and the folly transcends any South Sea Bubble that was ever blown.

“And in the face of it all, and in the presence of a financial depression that darkens our sky beyond any precedent in living memory, we are informed that we are contemplating a ‘Mystery Ship “Y” ’ that is to eclipse in extravagance all the follies that have been already exploded. Do the gods really wish to destroy us? If this thing is possible, they have certainly taken the precaution of making us mad.”