Building the Gingerzep wasn’t as straightforward as one might have hoped. Having baked the components a few days
before, the next step was to prepare a suitable bonding agent. The first was sugar syrup and the second royal icing. Superficially, sugar syrup seemed to be the answer, as it was simper and cheaper to manufacture in bulk. Regrettably, lack of prior experience with this compound meant that its inherent weaknesses were not appreciated.
The initial stage of the final construction required the assembly of the nose, tail and midship sections. This was accomplished in a gratifyingly efficient manner and without any obvious difficulty. Unfortunately, serious structural defects began to manifest themselves during the drying process, particularly in the midships section. Nothing could be done to arrest the increasing instability of the longitudinal framing and the only immediate recourse was the application of additional layers of hot sugar syrup. Ultimately, this proved to be of no benefit.
Despite this setback, it was determined that HMA 01 (Mayfly) would be assembled in RNAS Woolwich as originally
planned. The intact nose and tail sections, along with the pieces of the midships section, were transported thither by rail. This proved to be a grave error, for the nose and tail sections proved unequal to the journey. Despite the best efforts of the ground crew/engineer/curator accompanying the craft further structural failures led to the complete collapse of HMA 01′s hull somewhere in the vicinity of Dartford at 11 minutes past eight on the 10th of December 1912.
The immediate effect of the catastrophe was withdrawal of official support for the Gingerzep project and further designs were shelved. However, the important lessons learned proved crucial in the development of parallel projects, most notably Operation Ginger Dread [nought]. The details of this fascinating military project are still a closely guarded secret, but it is expected that further information may be released to the public in the spring of 2013 under the provisions of the Hundred Years Act 1899.
[As narrated by Mr C.]