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R38 / ZRII Disaster


The following extract of the final flight of the R38 and its death in the Humber was taken from the Airship Heritage Trust website. For a full history of the R38, pictures and a video clip, simply follow this link.

At approximately 17.00 on the 24th August 1921 Disaster struck on a test flight during a tight turn over the Humber near Hull. Eyewitness reports confirmed that the ship seemed to crumple along mid section and then the front section broke away and detonated. The nose section detonating in two explosions killing 44 crew. Five members of the crew in the tail section were saved from the wreckage as it did not catch fire. The tail section tilted and fell towards the Humber estuary, but was not alight. The official report attributes structural weakness as the cause of the crash. The Ship Plans and Gondola Plans can be viewed at the Airship Heritage Trust site.

Statistical Information
Length Diameter Speed Engines Volume First Flight
695 ft 85.5 ft 71 mph 6 x 350 hp 2, 724,000 cu ft 23 June 1921


The R38 leaves its hanger at Hedon field prior to a test flight.
The R38 fly over the English countryside during the summer of 1921.
Wreckage of the R38 is pulled from the River Humber.

All text and images on this page are copyright © The Airship Heritage Trust.

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A very special thanks to Hull Local Studies Library for their help with our research projects.