Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Coastal C14

An old photograph found in an old book a few years ago.

By now I've learned this is a picture of the 'Coastal Class' airship C14. As with nearly any field of interest, there is an active and helpful society. In this case the Airship Heritage Trust that also have a page detailing this particular class of airship and the hazardous missions undertaken by the men in this fairly 'rickety' craft.

Quite a crowd in the picture, ground crew marshaling the airship it looks like. No sign of this being an aerodrome, just empty countryside. The wide 'stripe' on the ground (plowed field?) and the large crowd however suggest that this is a scheduled landing spot. Most of the men are in uniform; navy personnel then and not local bystanders.

The C14 was delivered in September 1916 and taken off the roster on July 17, 1918 (as 'unserviceable'). The airship looks pristine in this picture; could this have been taken at it's delivery to the navy?

Seeing this scene in an actual photograph print makes it very 'real' - the 'Great War' can sound so far removed from today, but it really did happen and not even all that long ago.

At the reverse of the photograph is this dire warning:

How did this government paper ever end up as a bookmark in a book? What's more, in a book sold at a thrift store in a foreign nation. A non-belligerent nation back then, but still...  One of those little mysteries.
(The book by the way is 'Common Faults In Writing English by Henry Alexander, published 1916.)

Strongly worded notice, but after 99 years the defence of the realm will probably be fine with this picture being in foreign (!) hands.

Keeping it in the book...


  1. Interesting that the book was published the same year that the C14 was delivered. :)

    1. Hm, yes - the picture could well have been placed in that book right after/same year it was taken.

  2. Airships have long been one of my interests, and this is a great print.

    The C14's envelope has that "crease" down its length because it has a "trefoil" shaped envelope, where the cross-section shape is in three lobes, a design intended to reduce stresses on the envelope fabric, where the upper two seams between the lobes offers a place to suspend an internal curtain of wires, to distribute the concentrated loads of the gondola and engines across much of the length of the airship.

    These airships served extensively along the North Sea as scouting ships, and have quite a legacy.

    1. Thanks for that extra info! These airships really are feats of inventiveness with the technology available.

      Yes, I read up on some of the service history - terrifying thought, even just the going out to sea in that gondola.