LZ 61 (L 21)

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Zeppelin LZ59-LZ61.svg
Silhouette of LZ 61
War Ensign of Germany (1903-1918).svgGerman Empire
Name: LZ 61
Operator: Imperial German Navy
Builder: Luftschiffbau Zeppelin
Maiden voyage: 10 January 1916[1]
Identification: L 21
Fate: Shot down, 28 November 1916
General characteristics
Type: Airship
Length: 163.5 m [1]
Beam: 18.7 m ø [1]
Installed power: Four 240 hp Maybach HSLu engines [1]
Speed: 97 km/h [1]
Capacity: 31,900 m³ Gas Volume [1]
LZ 61 in hangar at Nordholz Airbase (1916)

The LZ 61 was a World War I German Navy airship, allocated the tactical numbering 'L 21'. It carried out a total of ten raids on England, and 17 reconnaissance missions.[1]

Raids on England[edit]

The LZ 61 took part in a total of ten raids on England during 1916. These included:

  • 31 January
It was ordered to attack Liverpool, but problems with night navigation meant that instead it bombed Tipton, Bradley, Wednesbury, and Walsall: killing over 30 people - including Julia Slater, Walsall's Lady Mayoress.[2]
  • 1 April
It attacked Cleethorpes, dropping several bombs on the town just after midnight. One of which landed on the Alexandra Road Baptist Chapel, killing 31 soldiers of the 3rd Battalion the Manchester Regiment, who were billeted there.[3] One of the only British Army units to be directly engaged by enemy action on British soil during World War I.
  • 2 September
It took part in the largest airship attack of the war with 13 other naval airships and also four army airships - 16 in total. During this raid, the crew of the LZ 61 witnessed the downing of the SL 11, the first airship to be shot down over the British mainland.[4]
  • 25–26 September
It was unable to find its designated targets of Derby and Nottingham, and instead attacked Bolton,[5] Lumb, Rawtenstall, Ewood Bridge, Stonefold, Haslingden, Helmshore, Rossendale, Ramsbottom and Holcombe.[6]

Destruction of the LZ 61[edit]

On 27 November 1916, the LZ 61 began its last raid on England in the company of nine other Zeppelins. Crossing the coast north of Atwick, the LZ 61 initially attacked Leeds, but was repelled by anti-aircraft fire.

After bombing Shafton, Dodworth, Kidsgrove, Goldenhill, Tunstall, Chesterton, Fenton and Trentham, it made out into the North Sea near Great Yarmouth. It was intercepted by three RNAS pilots: Flight Sub–Lieutenant Edward Laston Pulling, Flight–Lieutenant Egbert Cadbury, and Flight Sub–Lieutenant Gerard William Reginald Fane, flying B.E. 2C aircraft. After exchanging fire with the three aircraft, the LZ 61 burst into flames and crashed into the sea about eight miles (13 km) east of Lowestoft. There were no survivors.[7]


LZ 61 Commanding Officers[8]
From To
Kapitänleutnant Max Dietrich 19 January 1916 4 July 1916
Hauptmann August Stelling 24 June 1916 -
Oberleutnant Zee Kurt Frankenberg 15 August 1916 28 November 1916

Operational bases[edit]

LZ 61 Bases[8]
Nordholz 19 January 1916
Seddin 21 February 1916
Tønder 5 April 1916
Nordholz 16 April 1916

Confusion with SL 11[edit]

For unknown reasons, when the SL 11 became the first German airship to be shot down over England, it was described officially and in the press as the Zeppelin L 21 (the LZ 61's tactical number). This misidentification persisted for decades, even though it is clear that the authorities were always aware of its correct identity.

One suggestion for this confusion was a calculation by the authorities that the downing of a hated and feared Zeppelin 'baby killer', would be received better with the public than the destruction of an almost unknown Schütte-Lanz type.[9]

Accordingly, the 1918 film The Last Raid of Zeppelin L-21 told the story of the SL 11's destruction and not that of the LZ 61.[10]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Puget Sound Airship Society (2007). "The Zeppelin Airships. Part Two: Zeppelins of the Great War 1914 - 1918". Puget Sound Airship Society.
  2. ^ Morgan, Tom (1996). "31 January 1916 - The Great Zeppelin Raid". Brigham Young University: World War I Document Archive.
  3. ^ Cook, Vernon (1999). "Zeppelin Disaster Casualty List - Cleethorpes Lincs 1916". WEST-RIDING-L Archives. Ancestry.com.
  4. ^ James Burbeck (ed.). "Dark Autumn: The 1916 German Zeppelin Offensive". www.wtj.com: The War Times Journal. Archived from the original on July 19, 2010.
  5. ^ Bolton Museum and Archive Service. "Zeppelin raid on Bolton". Bolton: Bolton Council.
  6. ^ Bramhill, william; Bramhill, Elizabeth. "Zeppelin Attack on Rossendale". www.bramhill.net.
  7. ^ Holdstock, David; Holdstock, Amelia (2000). "Chapter 5 – Edward Laston Pulling: Fengates Hero". In Lewis, Andrew; Lewis, Sarah (eds.). A Celebration of Fengate Road. Redhill: FRIEND (Fengate Road Inclusive Entertainment & Neighbourly Development). Archived from the original on 2010-07-03. Retrieved 2010-07-03.
  8. ^ a b "Zeppelin L 21". Tønder: Zeppelin and Garrison Museum.
  9. ^ Rimell, Raymond Laurence (1984). Zeppelin!: a battle for air supremacy in World War I. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 978-0-85177-239-4. OCLC 10759648.
  10. ^ Erickson, Hal. "The Last Raid of Zeppelin L-21". Allmovie.com.

External links[edit]