Zeppelin Type P
LZ40, LZ41, LZ43, LZ45, LZ46, LZ48, LZ50, LZS3, LZ52, LZ54
January 1915 was the date set for the introduction of a new type of German bomber airship, the Zeppelin Typ P. In point of fact the first of the new vessels was four months late in making its appearance, the lead ship L10 (buil-der’s designation LZ40) being deli-vered in mid-May. Armament was two 7.92-mm (0.312-in) Maxim machine-guns on free mountings in single gun position above the forward hull.
The ship was sent on its attack against targets in England in the following month with a raid on London, it being believed at all levels and on both sides of the North Sea that the selection of individual targets was possible. In point of fact, the weather took a hand, and L10 was able to get only as far as Gravesend, where its bombs chanced to set light to a military hospital with a consequent reaction against such ‘frightfulness’.
Another attack was mounted 11 days later when Jarrow and South Shields were the targets, despite heavy fire from the defence batteries on the coast. Three other occasions found the new Zeppelin over the British Isles from a total of 28 military excursions from Nordholz. The German system of organization meant that the flights were usually carried out by the same crews, so that some became more ex-perienced than others, but mindful of the dangers the men tended to live only for the day and to endure bomb-ing trips under thousands of cubic metres of explosive gas and in numb-ing cold as best they could.
Strangely, it was on what should have been an uneventful flight, a mari-time reconnaisance on the afternoon of 3 September 1915, exactly a year be-fore SL11 was destroyed, that the L10’s career ended. While the airship was making ready to land back at Nordholz near Cuxhaven, the order to valve off gas was given as a normal preliminary to making landfall. Unfortunately a thunderstorm happened to be raging and the naval airship was struck by lightning. There was a violent explo-sion before the vessel plunged into the shallow waters below, where it burned for several hours. All aboard perished, Kapithnleutnant Hirsch the comman-der and his crew of 18. Total produc-tion of the Type P was 10 units, L10 to L19 (builder’s designations LZ40, LZ41, LZ43, LZ45, LZ46, LZ48, LZ50, LZS3, LZ52 and LZ54 respectively).
L10 (Zeppelin LZ40)
Type: strategic bomber airship
Powerplant: four 156.6-kW (210-hp) Maybach CX six-cylinder water-cooled piston
Maximum speed 95 kph (59 mph)
Service ceiling 3900 m (12,795 ft)
Range 2150 km (1,336 miles) Empty weight 21100 kg (46,518 lb)
Useful lift 26200 kg (57,760 lb)
Diameter 18.70 m (61 ft 4.2 in)
Length 163.50 m (536 ft 5 in)
Volume 31900 c.m (1,126,540 cu ft)
Armament: two 7.92-mm (0.312-in) Maxim machine-guns