Friday, 20 January 2012

Airships at Cardington

Welcome, today we are off to Cardington ( or as the media still referred to it 50 years after the event "The home of the ill fated R101".Never the nearly successful R100.)  to view some of the various colour schemes seen on the Skyship 500's and 600's of Airship Industries during the 1980's. So check there is enough film in the Canon A1 and jump into the Mini Metro and we be off.

We start off with Skyship 500 G-BIHN on an advertising contract for Pan Am.

Not Cardington but the old US Navy Airship Shed ( larger than Cardington but built entirely of wood, sadly burnt down about 5 years ago in an accident with a welding torch.)  at Weeksville  North Carolina we see a rarity, Skyship 500 G-SKSA this Airship  never flown in the UK was built in Canada and based in the USA but remained on the UK register. Another oddity at Airship Industries was that all the Airships were referred to not by their registration or constructors number but by the build sequence number  SA always being called 500/02 or 502 being the second 500 built.

Skyship 500 G-BIHN or 501 as it was known on one of its many Fuji contracts. One point to note for modellers is that the green band either side of the nose was not symetric as the red Fuji on the white stripe reversed direction on the starboard side.

Skyship 600 G-SKSC or 601 in French Navy colours for trials in early 1985. As was usual all was not as it seemed with Airship Industries, part of the trial was an unrefuelled 24 hour patrol which whilst the Airship kept the engines running for 24 hours actually had to sneak back into Brest at 1am to have ballast added to avoid having to vent Helium  to make up for the fuel burnt off, but this was conveniently forgotten  in the press releases, another feature of this fight was the "not invented here syndrome" rife at Airship Industries, as everything was always done last minute and there was no time to certify the external fuel tanks required for the 24 hour flight and buying in off the shelf certified tanks was not the done thing at AI, so the Chief designer who also owned a boat building business, had his glass fibre men knock up a couple of non crash worthy tanks with morris minor fuel pumps to bolt on when out of the UK and sight of the CAA. Of course the Morris Minor fuel pumps couldn't keep up with the engine consumption so had to be run from start up taking most of the flight to transfer into the main tank leaving some very hot pumps. The successful part of the trial was deploying and retrieving an inflatable boat at sea.

G-BIHN at Cardington in October 1984 about to depart for Shoreham for filming its part in the James Bond film View to a Kill for which a large number of models and full size parts were built including a Gondola to hang from a crane. The live Airship shots were filmed at Amberly Chalk Quarries as were the dangling a dummy James Bond from the bow ropes in the prelude to the Golden Gate Bridge Scenes, which was realistic enough to cause a surge of 999 calls to Sussex Police reporting someone hanging onto an Airship. For the eagle eyed amongst you if watch the Golden Gate scene in View to a Kill, 95% of which was done using models the live scenes are G-ASKA in Fuji colours filmed head on into the sun over the Golden Gate Bridge so Fuji cannot be seen  but the asymmetric Green stripe on the nose is obvious if you look for it.

Skyship 600 G-SKSC advertising a Saudi Cultural exhibition.

And finally Skyship 500 G-BIHN doing Xmas promotional work for Disney. There were a different set of characters painted on the starboard side. 

And so as the Metro rattles along the A600 into the distance we say goodbye to Roger and Reggie till the next  time.

All photo's can be purchased as 6" x 4" prints. Please email for details.

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