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The R80 Airship

The R80 was designed by H. B. Pratt and Barnes Wallis and was built by Vickers at Barrow. Initially designed for military purposes in 1917 it was finally completed in 1920. With hostilities ending in 1918 there was no further need for military airships and demand shifted for civil airships capable of transporting large numbers of passengers. Unfortunately due to the smaller size of the Vickers airship shed the company did not have the capacity to build the new ships. The R80 therefore was deemed obsolete from the outset however she could be used to train crew.


In Feb 1921 she was flown to Howden where the US crew where stationed in preparation for taking ownership of the R38 airship almost completed at the Royal Airship Works at Cardington. The US crew had use of the ship for three months to familiarise themselves with a rigid airship. The R80 was then flown to Pulham for testing. She was finally scrapped in 1925.

Some known crew of the R80

Above - US crewman Thomas Dickerson. Shown left is an extract from his log book listing his flights on the R32 and R80. He was also attached to the ill-fated R38 but not on board when it crashed. The US Commander Louis Maxfield shown below is listed as pilot for the R80.

Comdr. Louis H. Maxfield, U.S.N., was head of the U.S. Rigid Air Detachment based at Howden. It is known that the R80 was used as a training ship for the US crew in preparation for them taking ownership of the R38.

Engineer William Angers

William Young Angus joined the Airship Service in 1915 and served on many different types of non-rigids. He later served on the R33 and was on the R34 flight to the US in 1919. He served on the R80 and was Chief Engineer on the R100 flight to Canada.

Maurice Alfred Giblett was Meteorological Officer on the trial flight of the R80. He had also conducted tests on the R36 and R38 airships. He was also on the R100 flight to Canada and back in 1930. Sadly he lost his life in the R101 crash.

Engineer Granville Watts

Granville Watts joined the Airship Service in November 1916. Zero's SS3 & SST 14 & others. Construction and flying R32,R34, R80 and R33 as Engineer. R100 on 23.11.29. R33 breakaway crew.

Engineer Alfred Hastings was born on 16 Nov 1900 and joined the service in 1918 serving on the R33, R38 and R80 airships. In 1929 he joined the R101 crew but sadly was killed the following year when that airship crashed.

Apprentice Ralph Deverell.

According to the R100 press notes Ralph Deverell was an apprentice on the R80. In Nov 1929 he joined the R100 crew and was on that ships flight to Montreal.

Flying Officer H F Luck.

Senior Flying Officer Pilot H. F. Luck had strong airship credentials having served on non-rigids since 1913. He took an active involvement in the construction of HMA 25r and was part of the successful R34 airship flight across the Atlantic both ways in 1919. He also flew in the R33 and R80. He later became mooring officer at Ismailia, Egypt as part of the ill-fated R101 programme. This experienced officer later returned to Cardington and became the first commander of No 1 Balloon Training Unit when the RAF took over the airship site in 1936

Victor Goddard

Victor Goddard was a young navy cadet in 1910 but by 1915 was a fully trained airship pilot. He served on several non-rigids during the war and later served on airships HMA 23r, HMA 24r and then was an advisor on both the R34 and R80 airships. He later went on to have a distinguished career in the RAF becoming an Air Marshall and received a knighthood in 1947.

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