British propaganda postcard, 1916
The LZ 61 was a WWI German Navy airship, allocated the tactical numbering ‘L 21’. It carried out a total of ten raids on England during 1916. On November 27, LZ 61 began its last raid on England in the company of nine other Zeppelins. Crossing the coast north of Atwick, LZ 61 initially attacked Leeds but was repelled by anti-aircraft fire. After bombing Shafton, Dodworth, Kidsgrove, Goldenhill, Tunstall, Chesterton, Fenton and Trentham, it made out into the North Sea near Great Yarmouth, where it was intercepted by three Royal Naval Air Service pilots. After exchanging fire with the three aircrafts, the LZ 61 burst into flames and crashed into the sea.
For unknown reasons, when the SL 11 became the first German airship to be shot down over England [on September 3, 1916], it was described officially and in the press as Zeppelin L 21 (LZ 61’s tactical number). This misidentification persisted for decades, even though the authorities were always aware of its correct identity. It has been suggested that the reason for this confusion was a calculation by the authorities that the downing of a hated and feared Zeppelin ‘baby killer’, would play better with the public than the destruction of an almost unknown Schütte-Lanz type.