The R27 and R29 airships

The R27 in flight.
The R29 in flight.

After the rather lack lustre performance of the first four class 23 airships two more airships were built – the R27 and R29. These had modifications to the original design and were known as the 23x class.


The R27 was built at Inchinnan by William Beardmore & Co and was fully commissioned in June 1918. However this airship came to a premature end three months later in August 1918 when she was destroyed by fire whilst in a shed at Howden.


Because of the short life of this airship it has proved difficult to find any names of crew associated with her. In his book “Battlebags” Ces Mowthorpe states that the modifications to the ship were instigated by Commander C I R Campbell for the Admiralty (Campbell was to lose his life three years later when the R38 airship crashed in the Humber in August 1921.)


Ces Mowthorpe also notes that her captain was a Major Ommaney. Further investigations in the naval lists refer to a Captain (act Major) P Q N Ommaney. These are the only references I can find linking names to this ship.

The R29 however was a much more successful ship. She was built by Armstrong- Whitworth at Barlow and like the R27 was commissioned in June 1918. She was based at East Fortune and was the only rigid airship to directly engage combat with German U boats in WWI as the above article in The Flight magazine dated 20.05.1920 will testify. After the war she made some flights in Scotland alongside the R34 but was deleted in Oct 1919.

Known Officers and Crew of the R27.

Commander C I R Campbell

Shown left Commandr C I R Campbell - made modifiactions to the design of the ship. For more details about him go to the Notable People section.

Major Ommaney

According to Ces Mowthorpe the R27 was captained by Acting Major P Q N Ommaney. If anyone can supply any further details about him please make contact.

The R27 was built by William Beardmore at Inchinnan, Scotland


Known Officers and Crew of the R29.

R29 First Officer Noel Grebowsky Atherstone

Noel Grebowski Atherstone was born in 1894 in St Petersburg, Russia. He joined the Royal Navy in 1913 and served on ships until 1917 then transferred to airships, becoming a pilot in the same year.

In 1918 he was awarded an Air Force Medal and became First Officer on the Airship R29.

In 1920 he retired to Australia but in 1927 came back to join the RAW at Cardington. Sadly he lost his life when the R101 crashed in 1930.

Flt Lt Godfrey M Thomas mentioned in The Flight Magazine article shown above.
Commander of the R29 Archibald Herbert Wann. For more details of this man go to the Notable People section of this website.
George William Hunt

Cox George William Hunt joined the Airship Service in 1913 and had experience of working on kite balloons as well as rigids. He served as coxswain on the R29 and was also a member of the R33 breakaway crew. He later joined the R101 crew as Chief Coxn but lost his life when it crashed in Oct 1930.

Engineer William Rose Gent

William Rose Gent joined the airship service in 1915 and by 1919 had extensive experience of working on airships. He was part of the R29 and R32 crews. In 1925 he was aboard the R33 when it broke away from its moorings. William Gent lost his life in the R101 crash.


R29 was built by Armstrong Whitworth at Barlow, Yorks and was based at East Fortune airship station.

Ted Stupple

Engineer A F Stupple joined the airship service in 1915 and worked on most types of non-rigids. He went on to serve on ships HMA 25r, R29, R36, and was chargehand engineer on both the R33 and the R100 ships.

William Henry King

Engineer William Henry King was born in Tonbridge in 1895. He joined the RNAS in WW1 and took part in airship patrols over the North Sea. He remained with the service after the war and held the rank of First Class Air Mechanic. He served on the R29, R32, R33 and R36 ships was killed when the R101 crashed.

Harold Butler Wyn Evans.

Shown left Harold Butler Wyn Evans. In 1916 he was Admiralty Overseer for H.M. Rigid Airships and worked on airship R9. In 1917 he became Chief Admiralty Overseer and was attached to airships R23 and R26. He later worked on airships R29, R33 and R38. From 1924 to 1926 he was Officer in Charge of Design, Research & Construction of H.M. Airships at Cardington. (With grateful thanks to Christine Dalton the grand-daughter of Harold Wyn Evans for providing this information. For more details about Harold see his biography written by Christine in the Notable People Section of this website).