His Majesty Airship No. 1, wrecked by strong winds

His Majesty Airship No. 1, wrecked by strong winds

His Majesty Airship No. 1, wrecked by strong winds in 1911

On this day during on September 24, 1911, “His Majesty Airship No. 1”, Britain’s first rigid airship, is wreck by strong winds before her maiden flight at Barrow-in-Furness. When it was move from its shed in Cavendish Dock to conduct full trials, it was broke in two parts. ​However, His Majesty’s Airship No. 1 was never flew again and project was abandoned.

HMA No.1 after breaking its back

His Majesty’s Airship No. 1

His Majesty’s Airship No. 1 was design and built by Vickers, Sons and Maxim at their works in Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire, England, as an aerial scout airship for the Royal Navy.

It was the first British rigid airship to be built, and was constructed in a direct attempt to compete with the German airship programme.

HMA No. 1 Mayfly at its mooring, Barrow-in-Furness September 1911

Often referred to as “Mayfly”, a nickname given to it by the lower deck, in public records it is designated ‘HMA Hermione’ because the naval contingent at Barrow were attached to HMS Hermione, a cruiser moored locally preparing to act as its tender.

However, its brief career provided valuable training and experimental data for British airship crews and designers.

Mayfly emerging from its floating shed on 24 September 1911

Mayfly Contract

The contract was awarded to Vickers on May 07, 1909, with design responsibility divided between Lieutenant N. F. Usborne at the Admiralty and C. G. Robertson of Vickers.

General characteristics

  • Crew: 20
  • Length: 512 ft 0 in (156.06 m)
  • Diameter: 46 ft 0 in (14.02 m)
  • Volume: 660,000 cu ft (19,000 m3)
  • Empty weight: 44,000 lb (19,958 kg)
  • Useful lift: 48,000 lb (22,000 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Wolseley 160 hp (each driving 2 propellers), 147 hp (110 kW) each


  • Cruise speed: 42 mph (68 km/h, 36 kn)
  • Range: 1,090 mi (1,750 km, 950 nmi)
  • Endurance: 24 hours
  • Service ceiling: 1,500 ft (460 m)