FACTA A COLT Till-: ZEPPELINS. EXTENT OF THE MENACE, As London becomes darker and darker, wrote a correspondent of ‘ Tho Times’ in October, tho thoughts of Londoners turn more and more towards the possibilities of a German raid by airship on London, and towards the amount of damage those airships can possibly do. The troops in the field laugh at. airships, lor they know that the damage they can do is not worth cons dering, compared with nllo and gun fire; but we who live in comfortable homes naturally regard ihe ijucuion rather differently, and it may be well to consider the matter in some detail.
Tho Germans arc naturally interested in spreading as mock dread of tv Zeppelin invasion ns possible. Hence the stories one, hears of 75 Zeppelins to invade London, and so forth, chi-ally conveyed through articles' in the newspapers of neutral nations, or through American tourists newly arrived trom Germany. These stories aro very far wide of the possible truth, but that is no reason for carelessness on our part, or for scoping at the possibility of an airship raid. Whether one airship makes tho rttid or 20, wu aro wise to make the veiy provision we .are making now to throw invaders off the track of the particular points in London which they wi.di to damage or destroy. In tho first place, everyone seems to assume that the raid is to be made by Zeppelins, and nothing but Zeppelins, but it is quite likely that airships of other types wib be employed. 1 use tho future tense deliberately, for it. is fairly certain that unless something very unexpected happens an attempt will be made, whatever lho result may bo after d has stalled, —Fragility of tho Zeppelin Now, tho Zeppelin airship is a thing apart. Its long, rigid body makes it impossible to transport by road awl inflate tu a base near our coast. Hence, it must etcher make thfull journey frou, say, Cologne (Dussekljii being broken up for the time being), or it must camp out in the open in daylight somewhere in Belgium, where, it will be"at: the mercy of any of our aeroplanes which happen along. Also, temporary sheds in Belgium are handy targets. Camping out is not a job that tho skipper of a Zeppelin appreciates, lor in the event of the wind rising to even half a gale it is practically impossible to prevent tho machine from Icing destroyed. Therefore, if Zeppelins arc to be used, they must make tho journey at (,ne trip or take very big risks. Further, in rcidly heavy weather a Zeppelin is absolutely unmanageable anywhere near ihe ground., where it is likely to encounter severe gusts or up-and-down cur- ' rents, ns was proved by the destruction of Germany's best naval Zeppelin in the North Sea not. very long ago, and by the destruction of another in tho Teutobergor Wald last year. Therefore, any raid is only likely to be made during a spell of really calm weather. And there is always a sporting chance that though the weather may be beautifully calm along tho Rhino valley it may be blowing a gale over tho Channel. However - , given calm weather, a Zeppelin or two may coino over to make themselves distinctly unpleasant, for a matter or two or throe tons of explosives deposited over London would make quit© a noise and do considerable architectural damage, but the deleterious effect on the national morale would bo slight, and, as Mr Runciman said, it would stimulate recruiting, and tho actual financial damage could not be of any nnportanoe. —Strength of the German Airship Fleet. — Still, the longer the raid is postponed the more the damage which will be done —if the raiders succeed in getting to London—for undoubtedly the Germans are working very bard to iuerraso their airship fleet. A Zeppelin has \o bo built, “to a. keel,” so to sneak, ns a ship it as to be, and therefore cannot bo built in pieces and put together in a hurry; but by accelerating construction, as one can accelerate tho construction o; a warship, it may bo possible to build one in perhaps four months from start to finish. When the war broke out Germany can scarcely have had more than a dozen Zeppelins fit for service, for 1! c latest to t-p p-ar before the war was about No. 24, and as the ships are built in a regular series all those smashed up and obsolete are included in that number. It. seems likely that at least, three, and possibly six, have been destroyed since ihe war began, so that Ihe number actually available at the moment cannot bo more Hun nine or ten—oven including the now one which was running trials over Lake Constance a week or so ago—and apparently not doing any too well, being the first of a new type. There arc, I believe, two others at Friedricbshafen approaching completion, and perhaps another at tho linn’s other works at Potsdam, so (hero may bo n dozen lit for use in another six weeks or two mnn'hs. It is well to remember that some of tho air=bips. as, for example, those at Posen or Graudenz. are not likely to bo spared from the Russian war area. Also the If ansa and Sachsen (those privately-owned ships, taken over by tho navy, arc included in the numbers mentioned) are wanted by tho German Navy for roast patrols. They have recently been operating along both the east and the west coast of Denmark. Consequently, until many more have been built, we are not likely to sec a big fleet, directed against England. Resides Iho Zeppelins, the Germans have a. certain number of Parseval non-rigid airships, similar to the one owned by our Navy, whHi did quite useful work on Channel patrols during the transport alien of the Expeditionary Force. Also, she has a few semi-rigid Gross slops. These eat; bo built, much more quickly than Zeppelins, but their cacrying caoacity is small —say, a ton to spare for explosives at tho very ouLsido when loaded w ; Hi petrol and oil for a. long trio. in addition, site has a Schutte-Lanz or two, rigid ships, but inefficient compared with the Zeppelins. In a few months Germany may be able to spare a whole dozen Zeppelins for our benefit alone, and perhaps another dozen Parsevals. but one may rest, assured that cur high-angle guns and fast aeroplanes will increase in' proportion much more rapidly. Therefore, the longer the delay the bigger tbe smash-up of the. Gormans’ aerial armada. Germany’s best chance is a foe, for then we cannot see very well to hit back. But in a. fog iho German, airships cannot pick their targets, and so the innocent dweller in suburbia has to take his or her chance with our naval and military chiefs in Whitehall. After all, the latter are the more valuable, and tho dweller in the suburbs has tho satisfaction of knowing that in such case ho is sharing the burden of Empire with his betters. _____
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AIRSHIP RAIDS, Evening Star, Issue 15707, 22 January 1915