Airship Down- B.E.2c William Leefe Robinson


WWI 1914-1918 Aviation Art Print - Victoria Cross Winner William Leefe Robinson attacks SL11 airship in modified BE.2


On the night of 2/3 September 1916, Captain William Leefe Robinson succeeded in shooting down an airship over Cuffley, Hertfordshire. This was the first such instance as up to this point British air defence aircraft had been unable to reach some of the heights at which they had operated and did not have suitable ammunition with which to shoot such a target down.


Flying a B.E.2c, lightened and with the forward cockpit faired over, Robinson was able to attain the 12,000ft at which the wooden-framed Schutte-Lanz SL11  was flying and after losing track of it through cloud, managed to pick it up again after 45 minutes. After three firing passes that had yielded no result , Robinson was positioning himself for a fourth firing pass when the airship burst into flames.


For his actions, Robinson was awarded the Victoria Cross. He would become a POW in 1917 during his time with 48 Squadron while leading a patrol of Bristol F.2A.

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