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The Royal Naval Air Service
Friedrichshafen Raid Nov 21, 1914
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 a
round 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 undergo
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.
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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