Zeppelin Type V
L55/LZ101, L56/ LZ103, L58/LZ105, L60/LZ108, L61/ LZ 106, L62/LZ 107, L63/LZ 110, L64/ LZ109, L65/LZ111
Apart from the historical factors surrounding the last operation carried out by L53, this Zeppelin Type V airship was also of some technical prominence. This lay in the fact that her construction embodied an increased spacing of her main frames, which were now 15 in (49 ft 2.5 in) apart compared with the previous norm of 10 in (32 ft 9.7 in). Measures such as these served to lighten the L53, contributing to the fact that her useful lift was some 62.7 per cent of the total, so that on her maiden raid an altitude of 6300 in (20,670 ft) was attained.
Alternatively known by the works designation LZ100, this airship made its first flight on 18 August 1917 from Friedrichshafen where she had been built, and became the command of one of Peter Strasser’s most senior officers, Kapitanleutnant der Reserve Eduard Proelss. He first brought his new charge over the British Isles on the night of 24/25 September 1917 when raids were directed against targets in the Midlands and north east, 17 months after his first bombing sortie in L13, his previous command.
However, it would be wrong to give the impression that Zeppelins were entirely directed to bombing missions against land targets. L53 is an illustration of this fact since of the 23 operational sorties made by this vessel between her commissioning date on 21 August 1917 and her fiery end on 11 August of the following year, only four were bombing attacks. The remainder were scouting missions over the North Sea where the endurance of lighter-than-air craft made them superior to any conventional aeroplane of the day Small wonder therefore that L53 and her nine sister craft (L55/LZ101, L56/ LZ103, L58/LZ105, L60/LZ108, L61/ LZ 106, L62/LZ 107, L63/LZ 110, L64/ LZ109 and L65/LZ111) were regarded as a standard scout type. All after L56 were fitted with Maybach motors of the supercharged Mb IVa type.
L53 (Zeppelin LZ100)
Type: strategic bomber and patrol airship
Powerplant: five 179-kW (240-hp) Maybach HSLu six-cylinder water-cooled piston
Maximum speed 106 km/h (66 mph)
Service ceiling 6400 m (20997 ft)
Range 4680 km (2908 miles)
Empty weight 24500 kg (54013 lb)
Useful lift 40460 kg (89,199 lb)
Diameter 2390 m (78 ft 4.9 in)
Length 196.495 m (644 ft8 in)
Volume 55990 cu.m (1,977,271 cu ft)
Armament: two 7.92-mm (0.312-in) Maxim machine-guns on free mountings in single position above forward hull, plus bombs