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This fine scale model of H.M.A R101 depicts the airship as she was in October 1930 when she began her final voyage. This is the ENVELOPE ONLY - you will need to buy the R101 Fine Detail Parts kitto complete her.
SCALE: This model of R101 is available in either 1/700th scale OR 1/600th scale. Please check your choice in the top right corner of this page. R101 is also available in 1:500 scale in the Special Items section of my shop HERE
The CARDINGTON MAST model shown in the pictures is also available separately HERE.
His Majesty’s Airship R101 was arguably the most beautiful of the big intercontinental passenger airships of the inter-war period and sadly one of the most tragic. She was one of two designs chosen to launch the British Government's Imperial Airship Scheme, an ambitious plan to link the then enormous British Empire with a passenger and mail airliner service. R101 was built at the state owned Royal Airship Works in Cardington, Bedfordshire, England whilst the other ‘ship, the R100, was built by the privately funded Airship Guarantee Company (a subsidiary of Vickers), at Howden in Yorkshire. Since the government of the day was run by the Labour Party the public soon nicknamed the two as the “Capitalist Airship” and the “Socialist Airship” respectively. Inevitably, R101’s design and operation were impacted heavily by government interference from the outset, but a lot of superb workmanship went into her construction. Many innovative and interesting design features managed to survive the government-imposed controls but too little time was ever allowed for testing them out. Ironically her fate was sealed by official demands that very wide safety margins be built into all of her systems. This inevitably increased her weight, catastrophically reducing the most necessary margin of all for an airship - maximum useful lift. On completion in October 1929, the ‘ship was the largest man made object ever to fly and had superb passenger accommodation. R101 was conceived as a lavish floating hotel with wonderful luxuries, even when judged by today's standards. The open promenade decks and public spaces were unique in the skies. In fact the large British airships were the first to adopt the idea of constructing the passenger accommodation within the envelope. The only contemporary which was offering a passenger service was the German LZ127 - Graf Zeppelin, which accommodated just 20 passengers in a stretched forward gondola hung beneath the envelope. R101 boasted two decks of space including a dining room which could seat 60 people at a time and a smoking room which could seat 20. The promenade decks with their massive windows gave the passengers undreamt of views as they traversed the earth. Compared to the noisy, smelly and very tiring travel experience offered by contemporary aeroplanes, the airships delivered pure luxury, with service comparable to that of the greatest ocean liners. In October 1930, after just one sixteen-hour test flight following a major rebuild to increase her lift, the crew and controllers of R101 were urged on to make her maiden voyage to Karachi in that part of India which was to become Pakistan. The then Secretary of State for Air for the British government, Lord Thomson memo'd "I must insist on the programme for the Indian flight being adhered to, as I have made my plans accordingly." At 18h24 on 4 October 1930, R101 backed away from the mooring mast at Cardington and headed into a night of increasingly heavy rain and strong headwinds. Some observers thought that she was struggling to gain height even as she left Cardington field. Just after 2 am the following morning, R101 crashed into a hillside in Beauvais, northern France. There were only six people who survived, 48 crew and passengers died, and with them the hopes and dreams of the British "Imperial Airship Scheme".