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The Royal Naval Air Service Friedrichshafen Raid Nov 21, 1914

(Monochrome photograph - Of three of the Friedrichshafen Raid Avro 504s at Belfort, France prior to take-off.)

At the outbreak of the First World War the Navy undertook to maintain the defence of the British Isles as it had done in previous centuries. When the War started the perceived greatest threat to Britain's defences was an attack by the feared German Zeppelin airships.

One of the primary targets was to be on the sheds at Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance which involved around trip of some 250 Miles (400 km), an extremely long flight for the aircraft of the day.

At the outbreak of war the Navy had six Avro 504s on order for the RNAS. To make the raid the first four machines were converted at Manchester to have petrol tanks for 6 hours flying mounted in the front cockpit and racks for 4 x 20 lb. (10 kg) bombs mounted under the pilot's cockpit.

When completed the 504s and their attendant personnel were sent to the airfield at Belfort, eastern France from where the raid was to be made.

On Saturday, 21 November, at half-past nine in the morning the four machines were lined up to under go engine and bomb-release tests. They were then dispatched to Friedrichshafen at intervals of five minutes. In the event only 3 Avro 504s took part as one (No. 179), to be flown by Flt. Sub. Lt. Cannon, damaged its tail skid on take-off.

The three machines reached Friedrichshafen about noon, almost together, and created havoc at the Zeppelin works, but unfortunately Squadron Commander Featherstone-Briggs was brought down by rifle fire, which injured him and punctured his petrol tank. The other two flown by Flt. Comm. Babington and Flt. Lt. Sippé however, returned to Belfort safely.

The raid was unsuccessful in destroying any Zeppelins but it was a great propaganda coup and raised the morale of the British people immensely at a time of great need.

(Monochrome photograph - Showing Squadron Commander Featherstone-Briggs Avro 504 No. 874 by the Zeppelin shed at Friedrichshafen where it was shot down during the raid.)

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