Sir Barnes’ airship revelation

Sir Barnes Wallis
Sir Barnes Wallis

Inventor Barnes Wallis had no time for airships after his work in advancing aviation.

A letter has just emerged in which he wastes little time in debating their future, after their influence declined following World War One.

The Ripley-born expert was working for the British Aircraft Corporation in 1964 when he received a letter asking for his opinion on them.

He said that he received “numerous requests in connection with the possibility of reviving the use of airships.”

But his typed letter continues:”My reply is in all cases the same, that there is no future whatever for this type of vehicle, and I very much regret that I am , therefore, not prepared to enter into any argument or controversy about this matter.”

Sir Barnes was a member of the team which developed the airship R100, which made a successful flight to Canada. The project was abandoned after the R101 crashed in flames.

He is best known for inventing the Bouncing Bomb, which was tested in the Derwent Reservoir before being used in the Dambusters’ Raid in May 1943.

But Sir Barnes also worked on improving the Wellington bomber in World War Two and later produced designs for “swing wing” aircraft, which were rejected in the UK but adopted by some American firms.

The letter, which carried his signature, has just sold for £150 at an autograph auction in Marbella, Spain. Nottingham auctioneer Richard Davie, who organised the event, said:”It is a letter with interesting content.”