The attack on the Zeppelin base
Tønder’s Zeppelin base was a thorn in the side of the British throughout the First World War, but it wasn’t until the summer of 1918 that the British were in a position to launch a decisive attack on the airbase. The problem up to that point had been the range of their aircraft; it was simply too far from England to Tønder.
The British solved this problem by building the world’s first dedicated aircraft carrier, "H.M.S. Furious", which had both a take-off and landing deck. They also now had an aircraft that was ideal for the job: the single-engined fighter, the Sopwith Camel.
On 18 July, H.M.S. Furious left England and set course towards the Danish coast. Onboard were the seven aircraft that were tasked with carrying out the attack. The aircraft carrier also had 17 escort vessels as protection. At 03.04 on 19 July, the world’s first-ever airborne attack from an aircraft carrier against a target on land (the Tønder Zeppelin base) was launched. The distance of 150 km to Tønder from the aircraft carrier meant that the aircraft didn’t have enough fuel to return and would have to land in neutral Denmark after the bombing raid.
At 04.35 the first of a total of five bombs fell on TOSKA. L-54 and L-60 were in the hall at the time. These airships were totally destroyed and smoke billowed out of the bomb holes in TOSKA’s roof. Apart from the holes in the roof and smoke damage, however, TOSKA itself suffered little damage. TOBIAS was hit by two bombs, whilst in Tønder a stray bomb fell on the market square.