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Narrative:21.2.16: Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c No.989, RNAS Kingsnorth. Written off (destroyed) when Release mechanism tangled; airship AP.1 inverted and crashed, Strood, Kent. Both crew killed - Wing Commander Neville Florian Usborne (aged 32) killed; Squadron Commander de Courcy Wyndor Plunkett Ireland (aged 31) drowned in the River Medway
Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c
|Fatalities:||Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2|
|Aircraft damage:|| Written off (damaged beyond repair)|
|Location:||Strood Station Goods Yard, Strood, Medway, Kent -
|Phase:|| Take off|
|Departure airport:||RNAS Kingsnorth, Hoo Peninsula, Kent|
|Destination airport:||RNAS Kingsnorth, Hoo Peninsula, Kent|
|Confidence Rating:|| Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources|
As a defence against the German Zeppelin bombing raids Usborne and Squadron Commander de Courcy Ireland (of RNAS Great Yarmouth) had developed a method of suspending a B.E.2c from an airship: this would be able to reach altitude quickly and patrol as an airship, the aeroplane being detached once a Zeppelin had been found. Some preliminary trials were made in August 1915, but on the first full trial attempt on 21 February 1916 Usborne and Ireland had taken off from RNAS Kingsnorth (attached to Airship AP.1) and reached an altitude of about 4,000 ft (1200 m) when a loss of pressure in the airship caused it to buckle, in turn causing the forward suspension cable to part. Overloaded, the rear cables failed: the aircraft went into a sideslip and then turned over, throwing out Ireland: Neville remained with the aircraft, which crashed into the station goods yard at Strood Railway Station, Strood, Medway, Kent.
According to a contemporary report in Flight magazine (February 24th 1916 page 156 - see link #5)
"Commander NEVILLE FLORIAN USBORNE, R.N. (Wing Commander, R.N.), who is officially reported to have been killed on February 21st, became a midshipman in September, 1898, and in qualifying for the rank of lieutenant won the Ryder Memorial Prize, which is awarded to the sub-lieutenant who passes the best examination in French at the Royal Naval College. He specialised as torpedo lieutenant, and in submarine duties, and in 1905 qualified as an interpreter in German. Commander Usborne was best known for his work in connection with airships. He was appointed to the "Hermione" for service with airships in September, 1910, where he remained until January, 1912. In April of that year he became squadron-commander, Naval Airship Section, Royal Flying Corps, and in October, 1913, was given the command of Naval Airship No. 3. He was promoted commander and wing-commander in June, 1914.
Lieutenant Commander de COURCY WYNDOR PLUNKETT IRELAND, who is reported to have been killed on February 21st, entered the Navy as a cadet in September, 1901, and was promoted Sub Lieutenant in November, 1904, and Lieutenant in 1906. He became lieutenant-commander in February 1914, and squadron commander in May of last year."
5. Flight magazine (February 24th 1916 page 156): https://www.flightglobal.com/FlightPDFArchive/1916/1916%20-%200156.PDF
6. "Composite History". Flight 11 November 1937 pages 481 & 484 at https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1937/1937%20-%203094.html
7. "The B.E.2 Series". Flight 16 April 1954 page 481 at https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1954/1954%20-%201077.html
10. Cole, Christopher; Cheeseman, E. F. (1984). The Air Defence of Great Britain, 1914-1918. London: Putnam. p. 98. ISBN 0 370 30538 8.
||Updated [Source, Narrative]|
||Updated [Source, Narrative]|