Unlike later blimp squadrons, which contained several airships, the large rigid airship units consisted of a single airship and, in the case of the USS Akron and USS Macon, a small contingent of fixed-wing aircraft.
A semi rigid airship, the O-1, is purchased from Italy
October, The ZR-2 (R38) is placed under contract from Britain, where construction had been started on it as the R38.
The first large US airship hangar is built at Lakehurst, New Jersey
On the fourth test flight of R-38 severe control inputs at low altitude and high speed cause the structural failure of the airship with the loss of the majority of the crew.Sixteen of the men killed were USN training to fly the ship back to Cape May, NJ. The ZR-2 (R38) crashed before the US Navy could take delivery of the airship; therefore ZR-2 did not officially receive its US designation, though it was painted with its planned Navy designation.
The first American-built rigid airship, the USS Shenandoah, is built in Hangar No. 1 at Lakehurst, New Jersey.
August 20, The USS Shenandoah, is christened.
September, USS Shenandoah is launched and flown from Lakehurst, New Jersey. It was the first ship to be inflated with the noble gas helium, which was so rare that the Shenandoah contained most of the world's reserves.
The United States Navy purchases and takes delivery from Germany of the USS Los Angeles (ZR-3); the only German-built (as LZ 126) US Navy airship. The Los Angeles was paid for with "war reparations" money, owed according to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, thus saving The Zeppelin Works. The success of the Los Angeles encouraged the US Navy to invest in its own, larger, airships. The Los Angeles' flew successfully for 8 years.
November 25, USS Los Angeles is commissioned in Lakehurst, NJ. The two airships USS Shenandoah and USS Los Angeles had to share the limited supply of helium, and thus alternated operating and overhauls.
The Los Angeles flew successfully for 8 years.
September 3, USS Shenandoah was lost on a poorly planned publicity flight when it flew into a severe thunderstorm over Noble County, Ohio. It broke into pieces, killing 14 of its crew.
June 24 (Washington, DC), The Navy department authorizes construction of two large dirigibles, named USS Akron (ZRS-4) and USS Macon (ZRS-5), to be the nucleus of the modern Air Force.
The US Navy developed the idea of using airships as airborne aircraft carriers, although the British had experimented with an airplane "trapeze" on their R33 . [ clarification needed ] The USS Los Angeles was used to experiment with the project, followed by two other airships, the world's largest at the time, to test the principle—the USS Akron and Macon. Each carried four F9C Sparrowhawk fighters in its hangar, and could carry a fifth on the trapeze. The idea had mixed results. By the time the Navy started to develop a sound doctrine for using the ZRS-type airships, the last of the two built, USS Macon, was lost. The seaplane had become more mature, and was considered a better investment.
A metalclad-airship, ZMC-2, is built by the Aircraft Development Corp (scrapped in 1941)
The Empire State Building completed in 1931, was fitted with a dirigible mast, in anticipation of passenger airship service. Various entrepreneurs experimented with commuting and shipping freight via airship.
August 8, the USS Akron is launched.
The (ZR-3) Los Angeles is decommissioned.
April 3, USS Akron was caught in a severe storm and flown into the surface of the sea off the shore of New Jersey. It carried no life boats and few life vests, so 73 of its crew of 76 died from drowning or hypothermia.
April 21, the USS Macon is launched.
February 12, USS Macon was lost after suffering a structural failure offshore near Point Sur Lighthouse. The failure caused a loss of gas, which was made much worse when the aircraft was driven over pressure height causing it to lose too much helium to maintain flight.Only 2 of its crew of 83 died in the crash thanks to the inclusion of life jackets and inflatable rafts after the Akron disaster.
The (ZR-3) Los Angeles is dismantled.
An airship or dirigible balloon is a type of aerostat or lighter-than-air aircraft that can navigate through the air under its own power. Aerostats gain their lift from a lifting gas that is less dense than the surrounding air.
USS Akron (ZRS-4) was a helium-filled rigid airship of the U.S. Navy, the lead ship of her class, which operated between September 1931 and April 1933. It was the world's first purpose-built flying aircraft carrier, carrying F9C Sparrowhawk fighter planes, which could be launched and recovered while it was in flight. With an overall length of 785 ft (239 m), Akron and her sister ship Macon were among the largest flying objects ever built. Although LZ 129 Hindenburg and LZ 130 Graf Zeppelin II were some 18 ft (5.5 m) longer and slightly more voluminous, the two German airships were filled with hydrogen, and so the two US Navy craft still hold the world record for the largest helium-filled airships.
USS Shenandoah was the first of four United States Navy rigid airships. It was constructed during 1922–1923 at Lakehurst Naval Air Station, and first flew in September 1923. It developed the U.S. Navy's experience with rigid airships and made the first crossing of North America by airship. On the 57th flight, Shenandoah was destroyed in a squall line over Ohio in September 1925.
USS Los Angeles was a rigid airship, designated ZR-3, which was built in 1923–1924 by the Zeppelin company in Friedrichshafen, Germany, as war reparations. It was delivered to the United States Navy in October 1924 and after being used mainly for experimental work, particularly in the development of the American parasite fighter program, was decommissioned in 1932.
USS Macon (ZRS-5) was a rigid airship built and operated by the United States Navy for scouting and served as a "flying aircraft carrier", carrying up to five single-seat Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawk parasite biplanes for scouting or two-seat Fleet N2Y-1s for training. In service for less than two years, the Macon was damaged in a storm and lost off California's Big Sur coast in February 1935, though most of the crew were saved. The wreckage is listed as the USS Macon Airship Remains on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
A parasite aircraft is a component of a composite aircraft which is carried aloft and air launched by a larger carrier aircraft or mother ship to support the primary mission of the carrier. The carrier craft may or may not be able to later recover the parasite during flight.
A hangar is a building or structure designed to hold aircraft or spacecraft. Hangars are built of metal, wood, or concrete. The word hangar comes from Middle French hanghart, of Germanic origin, from Frankish *haimgard, from *haim and gard ("yard"). The term, gard, comes from the Old Norse garðr.
Charles Emery Rosendahl was a highly decorated vice admiral in the United States Navy, and an advocate of lighter-than-air flight.
Frederick Karl Gampper Jr. was a dirigible pilot with license #53 issued by the Aero Club of America, and a licensed free balloon pilot. His mentors included Ralph H. Upson and Herman Kraft.
The Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawk is a light 1930s biplane fighter aircraft that was carried by the United States Navy airships USS Akron and Macon. It is an example of a parasite fighter, a small airplane designed to be deployed from a larger aircraft such as an airship or bomber.
Lakehurst Maxfield Field, formerly known as Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst, is the naval component of Joint Base McGuire–Dix–Lakehurst, a United States Air Force-managed joint base headquartered approximately 25 mi (40 km) east-southeast of Trenton in Manchester Township and Jackson Township in Ocean County, New Jersey, United States. It is primarily the home to Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Lakehurst, although the airfield supports several other flying and non-flying units as well. Its name is an amalgamation of its location and the last name of Commander Louis H. Maxfield, who lost his life when the R-38/USN ZR-2 airship crashed during flight on 24 August 1921 near Hull, England.
The J-class blimps were non-rigid airships designed by the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in the early 1920s for the US Navy.
The TC-3 and the TC-7 were the two United States Army Air Corps non-rigid blimps used for parasite fighter trials conducted in 1923–24. A single Sperry Messenger biplane was equipped with a skyhook to engage the temporary trapeze mounted to the control carriage of the blimp itself. The first successful docking was achieved on December 15, 1924. Despite the completely successful results of the program, the Army chose not to develop the concept further. It was the Navy which began the better-known project in 1925 using rigid airships, the USS Los Angeles (ZR-3), the USS Macon (ZRS-5) and the USS Akron (ZRS-4).
An airborne aircraft carrier is a type of mother ship aircraft which can carry, launch, retrieve and support other smaller parasite aircraft.
A rigid airship is a type of airship in which the envelope is supported by an internal framework rather than by being kept in shape by the pressure of the lifting gas within the envelope, as in blimps and semi-rigid airships. Rigid airships are often commonly called Zeppelins, though this technically refers only to airships built by the Luftschiffbau Zeppelin company.
Hangar No. 1 is an airship hangar located at Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst in Manchester Township, in Ocean County, New Jersey, United States. It was the intended destination of the rigid airship LZ 129 Hindenburg prior to the Hindenburg disaster on May 6, 1937, when it burned while landing. Built in 1921, it is one of the oldest surviving structures associated with that period's development of lighter-than-air flight. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1968.
Airship hangars are large specialized buildings that are used for sheltering airships during construction, maintenance and storage. Rigid airships always needed to be based in airship hangars because weathering was a serious risk.
Thomas Greenhow Williams "Tex" Settle was an officer of the United States Navy who on November 20, 1933, together with Army major Chester L. Fordney, set a world altitude record in the Century of Progress stratospheric balloon. An experienced balloonist, long-time flight instructor, and officer on the airships USS Shenandoah (ZR-1) and USS Los Angeles (ZR-3), Settle won the Litchfield Trophy in 1929 and 1931, the International Gordon Bennett Race in 1932, the Harmon Aeronaut Trophy for 1933, and the Harmon National Trophy for 1932 and 1933. He also set numerous distance and endurance records.
The Akron-class airships were a class of two rigid airships constructed for the US Navy in the early 1930s. Designed as scouting and reconnaissance platforms, the intention for their use was to act as "eyes for the fleet", extending the range at which the US Navy's Scouting Force could operate to beyond the horizon. This capability was extended further through the use of the airships as airborne aircraft carriers, with each capable of carrying a small squadron of airplanes that could be used both to increase the airship's scouting range, and to provide self-defense for the airship against other airborne threats.