Rigid airships were produced and relatively successfully employed in the period from the early 1900s to the end of the 1930s. The real technology trailblazer in this field was the Zeppelin company, of Imperial Germany, which built nearly one hundred military airships. British rigid airship designs lagged behind German developments, although a handful of ships were locally evolved and built.
Both the R33 and R34 were almost identical copies of the Zeppelin LZ76, which had been brought down intact onto the English soil in September 1916. Their structural metal frameworks were covered in doped fabric containing cells filled with hydrogen lifting gas. They were fitted with vertical tailfins and horizontal tailplanes with control surfaces. The crew members were carried in suspended gondolas mounting Sunbeam Maori engines and pusher propellers.
The R33 was built by Armstrong Whitworth and first flown in March 1919. By far Britain’s most successful rigid, it went on to serve successfully for ten years. It was used for experiments in connection with the design of the R101 airship and also for trials launching of parasite fighters. It was known as “Pulham Pigˮ.
Her sister ship, the R34, was constructed by Beardmore and also made her first flight in March 1919. She became the first aircraft to make an east to west transatlantic flight in July 1919 and by the return flight it completed successfully the first ever two-way crossing. The crew nicknamed her “Tinyˮ.
Colour schemes included in the kit:
1) Armstrong Whitworth R33 (His Majesty’s Airship R33), c/n R33, Black R 33, Royal Navy/Royal Air Force, Pulham Airship Experimental Station, Norfolk, March – October 1919
2) Armstrong Whitworth R33 (His Majesty’s Airship R33), c/n R33, Black R 33/G-FAAG, Royal Air Force, Croydon Airport, summer 1921
3) Armstrong Whitworth R33 (His Majesty’s Airship R33), c/n R33, Black R 33/G-FAAG, civilian controlled by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), Cardington Airship Station, Bedfordshire and Pulham Airship Experimental Station, Norfolk, April 1925 – November 1926
4) Beardmore R34 (His Majesty’s Airship R34), c/n R34, Black R 34, Royal Navy, East Fortune Airship Station, Scotland, performing the first double crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, July 1919