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Flying Forever - R.33 Parasite Fighter Experiments

Enlarge image (will open in a new window)Prior to the US Navy's Skyhook parasite fighter experiments of the late 1920s-early 1930s, Germany had tested the parasite fighter concept on airships in the First World War, and the Royal Air Force had experimented with a DH.53 Hummingbird and Sopwith Camels on one of their airships, the R.33.

The plan was to provide British airships with their own fighter defence. Two F.1 Camels (serials N6622 and N6814) were modified for trials by 212 Squadron, RAF, Airship HMA No 23 in 1918.

The first live releases were made by Lt. R.E. Keys, DFC. Later, the DH.53 Hummingbird was used in launches from the airship R.33 on 15th October 1925. This was followed by tests using two of the RAF's Gloster Grebe fighters.

The discontinuance of the project was no doubt appropriate, given that the role of the airship in warfare was virtually over.

Thanks to Gary Kroman for further information on the RAF airship experiments.


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