LZ 61 (L 21)
Silhouette of LZ 61
|Operator:||Imperial German Navy|
|Maiden voyage:||10 January 1916|
|Fate:||Shot down, 28 November 1916|
|Length:||163.5 m |
|Beam:||18.7 m ø |
|Installed power:||Four 240 hp Maybach HSLu engines |
|Speed:||97 km/h |
|Capacity:||31,900 m³ Gas Volume |
Raids on England
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.
- 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. 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.
- 25–26 September
- It was unable to find its designated targets of Derby and Nottingham, and instead attacked Bolton, Lumb, Rawtenstall, Ewood Bridge, Stonefold, Haslingden, Helmshore, Rossendale, Ramsbottom and Holcombe.
Destruction of the LZ 61
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.
|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|
|Nordholz||19 January 1916|
|Seddin||21 February 1916|
|Tønder||5 April 1916|
|Nordholz||16 April 1916|
Confusion with SL 11
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.
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