Built in Bedfordshire, the R38 was sent for testing to Howden, also East Yorkshire.
Aviation historian Kenneth Deacon recorded that the “R38 was commissioned towards the end of the First World War and was planned to be the first of four ships that could patrol for up to a week at a time, far out to sea. It was a giant of the sky, 695ft long and 85ft high. To assist with its performance the fuselage was made from lightweight metal, a decision which later proved to be its undoing.”
The airship was sold to the US Navy and renamed the ZR.2.
Heading for an airbase in Norfolk on August 24, 1921, the craft, unable to land, returned towards Howden and over the Humber the airship carried out some high-speed turns. The stress on the fuselage was too much and the craft broke in two, causing a large explosion. It crashed in flames into the Humber just off Hull’s Victoria Pier. Of the 49 people on board, only five survived.
This 3½ x 3½in (9 x 9cm) fragment discovered by a Hull family while going through a family postcard album along with two related postcards is estimated at £200-400 on August 27.