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German Zeppelin Airbase Tonder

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German Zeppelin Airbase Tonder

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Date Posted:August 29th, 2009
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Description: The Germans need for airships grew fast in the first months of the war, and already in September 1914 it was suggested to build an airship base in Tønder. The first 2 sheds where finished in March 1915. Their dimensions were 540 feet long, 95 feet high and 120 feet wide.

On the March 23 1915 the first airship, Parceval PL 25, arrived in Tønder. This non-rigid airship was based in Tønder for 8 months.

The first Zeppelin airship at the base was L 7. It arrived on Aril 25, 1915.

The base consisted of the following facilities:

•The airship sheds “Tobias” and “Toni”.
•The airship double shed “Toska”.
•Hangar for 5 Albatros D III airdefence fighters.
•Anchorage where an airship could be parked temporarily.
•Railroad used both for tranportation at the base and with connection to main line between Tønder and Tinglev.
•Radiostation for wireless telegraph communication with the airships.
•Radio beacon for navigation aid to the airships.
•Searchlight on rails.
•Beacon light placed on the northwestern end of the “Tobias” shed.
•Underground petrol tanks:
Two tanks with a 10.000 liters capacity each placed at the “Tobias” and “Toni” sheds.
One tank with a 30.000 liter capacity placed at the “Toska” shed.
•Gasworks and hydrogen storage tanks.
•2 maintenance shops.
•Weather service.
•Heating central
•Baraks for about 600 soldiers.

The Zeppelin Base in Tønder was during the World War a thorn in the side of the British.
But they were first able to mobilise the final and devastating attack in 1918.
The problem so far was the range of the British planes.
This problem was solved when the British build the first hangar ship in the world, "H.M.S. Furious", which had both a takeoff and a landing deck. They had also developed a new plane that was able "to do the job" - the one-engine fighter: Sopwith Camel. See the story from the British pilot, Walter Albert Yeulett.

"H.M.S. Furious" left Britain on the 18. July bound for the Danish coast. On board it carried 7 Sopwith Camel fighters. The H.M.S Furious was escorted by 17 smaller warships as protection.

03.04 AM on the 19. July 1918 started the first hangarship-launched-air attack ever (against the Tønder Zeppelin Base ). There were 90 miles to Tønder from the hangar ships position, that meant that the planes didn’t have enough fuel to return to the ship after the attack, but had to land on neutral ground in Denmark.

04.35 AM was the first of 5 bombs dropped on TOSKA. In the hangar, on the time of the attack, was L-54 and L-60. These Zeppelins burned completely,
and dark smoke stood out of the holes in TOSKA caused by the bombs.
Except for these holes and the damages caused by the smoke TOSKA was undamaged.
The TOBIAS hangar was hit by 2 bombs, and in Tønder City fell a deceived bomb on the marketplace.

This was how Tønders era as a Zeppelin Base ended on 19. July 1918. This attack was also the first attack ever in the world by using an aircraft carrier as base.

Today the plane hangar and some buildings from the gas works can still be seen. West of the former base 9 grenate holes can be seen too. In the nearby Museum to the north a type of fire airbomb used at the attack can be seen. West of the base holes from the airbomb hits can also be seen today.

HMS Furious (47):

The Tondern Raid:

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