The R33 Airship

This robust and enduring airship was built by Armstrong Whitworth and was completed after the end of WW1. Her first flight was in early 1919. She was sent to Pulham airship station where she clocked up over 300 flying hours in tests and the training of crews. In 1921 she was used by the London Metropolitan Police for traffic control. Following the R38 crash later that same year this much loved ship was grounded at Cardington for the next four years.

With the resurrection of airship construction in 1925 the reconditioned R33 was brought out and sent back to Pulham for further tests and again used for training. On April 16 1925 she famously broke free from her moorings at Pulham carrying a skeleton crew across the North Sea. This adventure made national headlines at the time and the crew were hailed as heroes when the damaged ship was successfully steered back home.

In the following years the ship was used for testing and trials and as a training ship. Almost all of the rigid crew who we are familiar with had been on this ship at some point and I am sure many were sad to learn of her demise when she was finally scrapped in 1928.



This article (left) from The Flight Magazine in May 1925 lists the awards given to the crew members on board the Airship R33 when it broke free of the mast at Pulham.

The R33 breakaway crew

First Officer Flt Lt Ralph Sleigh Booth
Chief Cox Flt Sgt George William Hunt
Second Cox George Ernest Long
Senior Engineer William Rose Gent
Rigger acting Cox Leslie Anderson Moncrieff
Acting Cox Charles Bernard Oliver
Wireless Operator Spencer Thomas Keeley
Arthur Bell
R W Dick
William Henry King
Zimiri Little
Norman Mann


D W Mayes
J N Potter
J G Rarp
H L Rowe
J E Scott
J Walkenshaw
Granville Watts


Other known crew associated with the R33 over the years.

Flight Lieutenant Herbert Carmichael Irwin, A.F.C., R.A.F
Engineer Joseph Binks
Engineer H W Clarke
Hector Ford
Ass Cox Flt Sgt T Greenstreet
Engineer Alfred Charles Hastings
Ass Cox Thomas Hobbs
Engineer William Young Angus
H F Luck


Ass Cox Christopher Hugh Mason
Captain G.F.Meager, A.F.C
Assistant Coxswain Leonard Oughton
Asst.Chief Coxswain Walter Potter
Chargehand Engineer Ted Stupple


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).