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Thursday, March 3rd 2005, 8:01pm

USN Airships

The United States Navy operates three rigid airships in the late 1920's, the Shenandoah, Susquehanna, and Los Angeles. Shenandoah was built at Lakehurst NJ, Susquehanna in England, Los Angeles in Germany. Plans are being drawn up for even larger airships capable of carrying several fighter/scout planes. Congress authorized construction of the first two in 1926, and construction will probably begin in 1929.

In 1926 there are two airship tenders modified from fleet oilers, the Patoka (AO-9) and Trinity (AO-13). The tender Wright (AZ-1) was specially built in 1921 and is the only ship designed from the keel up as an airship tender. She was originally intended to maintain kite balloons but was modified in 1924 to serve as a tender to larger blimps and rigids.

Current major airship bases are at Lakehurst New Jersey and Camp Kearny California, just north of San Diego where ZR-2 is based. There are several fields around the US with mooring masts, but the only hangers large enough for the three airships are Lakehurst, Kearny, and an Army hanger at Scott Army Airfield in Illinois which has never been used by the Navy's ships. Goodyear Zeppelin is planning construction of a large "airdock" in Akron, Ohio where the new scout airships will be built. A hanger exists at Cape May, NJ and was intended as the home of ZR-2 but was considered too small for safe operations and is used only rarely by rigid airships.

1933 Update: Lakehurst being converted to commercial use and backup training field. New NAS Orlando established as primary east coast airship base, with several "expeditionary masts" scattered along the coast. Camp Kearny renamed Hoyt Field and second hanger built to house the Macon. Expeditionary masts in Hawaii and Samoa. Twin Airdocks in Akron, and one in Los Angeles. Navy also plans to experiment with airship construction in a large dry dock in Charleston, South Carolina. Army building new hanger at Scott Field in the hopes of building an airship in 1934-35.)

1940 Update: By 1940 the United States airship fleet consisted of twenty-five rigid airships of the ZRS/ZRCV type. The oldest, Akron and Macon, were mainly used for experimentation. The others were based around the country at bases in New Jersey, Florida, Texas, California, Washington State, and the territory of Hawaii. Construction facilities were located at Akron, Charleston, Fort Worth, San Diego, and Los Angeles, though this last facility concentrated on the "Clipper" passenger airships.

This post has been edited 2 times, last edit by "CanisD" (Sep 14th 2010, 12:55am)


Thursday, March 3rd 2005, 8:05pm

ZR-1 USS Shenandoah

Length: 682 feet
Diameter: 78.75 feet
Hull Displacement: 2,289,861 cubic feet
Gas Capacity: 2,115,174 cubic feet of helium
Speed: 51 kts (61 kts post 1926 refit)
Range: 2250 miles (3200 miles post 1926 refit)
Crew: 40

Built in 1922-23 in Lakehurst NJ and based on captured German zeppelin designs. Torn from her mast by a storm in 1924 but flown back to base and repaired. Badly damaged in a storm in September of 1925 over Ohio. Made emergency landing at Akron where temporary repairs were made. Complete repairs and structural reinforcements were made at Lakehurst during the winter and spring of 1926. A new gondola, mounted directly to the keel, replaced the old suspended one, which came perilously close to falling off in the Ohio storm. Engines also replaced with three Packard V-12's. Equipped with a "cloud car" reconnaissance pod and fitted to carry a single fighter in late 1926. Due to age and deterioration of the structure, the Shenandoah was decommissioned in 1932 with the arrival of the Akron. She was sold to an Australian adventurer for a mission to South America.

(Shenandoah was lost in our timeline in the storm in Ohio.)

This post has been edited 2 times, last edit by "CanisD" (Mar 3rd 2007, 9:36pm)


Thursday, March 3rd 2005, 8:05pm

ZR-2 USS Susquehanna

Length: 699 feet
Diameter: 85.5 feet
Hull Displacement: 2960000 cubic feet
Gas Capacity: 2724000 cubic feet of helium
Speed: 67 kts
Range: 9470 miles at 40 kts
Crew: 30

Built in England by Short Brothers as R.38 from 1919 to 1921. Sold to US soon after construction began. Early trials revealed structural problems and reinforcement delayed delivery until 1922. Transfered to US in July of 1922 and flew to Cape May, NJ where her lifting gas was changed to helium from hydrogen. Sent to California in 1925 to serve with the main fleet. Began a refit in the summer of 1926 at the newly completed hanger at Camp Kearny to add an aircraft "sling" and new engines as well as additional structural modifications such as an enlarged control cabin. In the Spring of 1928, the ship made an epic voyage to the North Pole before returning to the U.S. east coast. Later that year she was lost over Kansas in a severe storm.

(In our timeline, R.38/ZR-2 was never officially handed over, crashing in 1922 in England. The crash wiped out most of America's experienced airship "sailors".)

This post has been edited 2 times, last edit by "CanisD" (Mar 3rd 2007, 9:36pm)


Thursday, March 3rd 2005, 8:06pm

ZR-3 USS Los Angeles

Length: 658.3 feet
Diameter: 90.7 feet
Hull Displacement: 2764461 cubic feet
Gas Capacity: 2559110 cubic feet of helium
Speed: 65 kts
Range: 5770 miles at 48 kts
Crew: 54

Ordered from Germany in 1922 at a considerable discount as compensation for American losses to U-Boats during WW1. Completed in 1924 and transfered to the US and flown to Lakehurst where she had her hydrogen replaced by helium once sufficient quantities were available. Modified to carry a scout fighter in a "trapeze" mount. She was lengthened almost 100 feet in early 1927, a proposal first advanced during her construction but refused due to budgetary concerns. Transfered to Goodyear/Pan Am in 1934 for use as a training airship.

This post has been edited 2 times, last edit by "CanisD" (Mar 3rd 2007, 9:35pm)


Friday, April 1st 2005, 10:54am

ZRS-4 Akron
ZRS-5 Macon
Length: 785 feet (859 feet Macon)
Diameter: 130 feet
Hull Displacement: Approx. 7,400,000 (Macon 8,460,000) cubic feet
Gas Capacity: 6,500,000 (Macon 7,430,000) cubic feet of helium
Speed: 75.6 kts (Macon 75.1)
Range: 5940 miles at 55 kts (Macon 7,425 miles at 55 kts)
Crew: 79

Authorized by Congress in 1926 with construction commenced in 1929 at Akron. The design underwent significant changes before completion. Concerns were raised by operational commanders about the location of the control car and its lack of rearward visibility, especially the inability to see the ventral rudder during launch and landing. The ships have the capacity to carry at least four aircraft. Macon design modified 1931-32. Macon is equipped with external "perches" along the hull to allow several aircraft to be docked externally. Through the use of a monorail system, these aircraft can be moved to the hanger without having to un-dock and re-dock on the main trapeze.

In the late 1930's Akron became a testbed for airborne radar which resulted in the loss of her ability to carry aircraft due to the large size of the prototype system. She also took over the role of training ship after the sale of Los Angeles. She was given a special high visibility paint scheme after complaints from pilots that she was hard to see in certain lighting conditions.

This post has been edited 2 times, last edit by "CanisD" (Sep 14th 2010, 1:09am)


Monday, April 4th 2005, 8:42pm

"Clipper" Class Airship
Length: 889 feet
Diameter: 136 feet
Hull Displacement: Approx. 8,050,000 cubic feet
Gas Capacity: 7,650,000 cubic feet of helium
Speed: 72 kts
Range: 10,300 miles at 50 kts
Crew: 52 + 80 Passengers

America's first commercial airships, the Clippers have the range to reach virtually any destination on the planet. In wartime they are designed to be converted to either scouts like Macon and Akron, or hospital ships for rapid evacuation of wounded. The Atlantic Clipper was completed in late 1933 and entered service in 1934. Several others are planned, with the Pacific Clipper to complete in 1935.

This post has been edited 1 times, last edit by "CanisD" (Mar 3rd 2007, 9:55pm)


Tuesday, September 14th 2010, 12:57am

Bismarck Class Airships

ZRS-6 Bismarck, ZRS-7 Albuquerque, ZRS-8 Oklahoma City, ZRS-9 Springfield, ZRS-10 Chattanooga

Length: 889 feet
Diameter: 136 feet
Hull Displacement: Approx. 8,050,000 cubic feet
Gas Capacity: 7,650,000 cubic feet of helium
Speed: 72 kts
Range: 10,300 miles at 50 kts
Crew: 85
Airgroup: 6 F15C

Virtually identical to the Clipper class of commercial airships, the Bismarck are an improved version of the Akron and Macon, with more powerful engines and a greater range and carrying capacity.

ZRAP-1 Earl H. Ellis
The Marine Corps modified one "Clipper" class airship into an experimental troop carrier with the intent of carrying troops or important supplies to distant island garrisons in the Pacific.

Stats to Follow

This post has been edited 2 times, last edit by "CanisD" (Oct 5th 2010, 1:14am)


Tuesday, September 14th 2010, 12:58am

Lakehurst Class Training Airship

ZRN-1 Lakehurst

Length: 665 feet
Diameter: 110 feet
Hull Displacement: Approx. 4,000,000 cubic feet
Gas Capacity: 3,800,000 cubic feet of helium
Speed: 75 kts
Range: 5000 miles at 50 kts
Crew: 50

This post has been edited 2 times, last edit by "CanisD" (Oct 5th 2010, 1:33am)


Tuesday, September 14th 2010, 1:01am

Long Island Class Airship

ZRS-11 Long Island, ZRS-12 Mercer Island, ZRS-13 Whidbey Island, ZRS-14 Staten Island, ZRS-15 Catalina Island, ZRS-16 Isle Royale

Length: 1000 feet
Diameter: 170 feet
Hull Displacement: Approx. 12,000,000 cubic feet
Gas Capacity: 11,450,000 cubic feet of helium
Speed: 90 kts
Range: 12,000 miles at 50 kts
Crew: 100
Airgroup: 6 F15C, 6 SBD

The Long Island's are greatly enlarged descendants of the Akron design, covered in a thin duraluminim skin instead of fabric, allowing higher speed and strength.

This post has been edited 2 times, last edit by "CanisD" (Oct 5th 2010, 1:17am)


Tuesday, September 14th 2010, 1:02am

Merritt Island Class Airship

ZRS-17 Merritt Island

Length: 1090 feet
Diameter: 170 feet
Hull Displacement: Approx. 14,000,000 cubic feet
Gas Capacity: 13,450,000 cubic feet of helium
Speed: 90 kts
Range: 15,000 miles at 50 kts
Crew: 110
Airgroup: 6 F15C, 10 SBD

A lengthened variant of the Long Island

This post has been edited 2 times, last edit by "CanisD" (Oct 5th 2010, 1:21am)


Tuesday, September 14th 2010, 1:04am

Long Beach Class Training Airship

ZRN-2 Long Beach

Length: 645 feet
Diameter: 106 feet
Hull Displacement: Approx. 3,500,000 cubic feet
Gas Capacity: 3,325,000 cubic feet of helium
Speed: 85 kts
Range: 5750 miles at 50 kts
Crew: 50

This post has been edited 3 times, last edit by "CanisD" (Oct 5th 2010, 1:33am)


Tuesday, September 14th 2010, 1:05am

Charlotte Class Airship

ZRS-18 Charlotte, ZRS-19 Key West, ZRS-21 Tacoma, ZRS-22 Amarillo, ZRS-23 Hilo, ZRS-24 Nome, ZRS-25 Chattanooga, ZRS-26 Syracuse, ZRS-27 Bangor

Length: 897 feet
Diameter: 147.6 feet
Hull Displacement: Approx. 9,550,000 cubic feet
Gas Capacity: 9,075,000 cubic feet of helium
Speed: 90 kts
Range: 8750 miles at 50 kts
Crew: 75
Airgroup: 8 F15C

A smaller design than the Long Beach, the Charlotte's primary advantage is cost and it is intended for mass production.

This post has been edited 2 times, last edit by "CanisD" (Oct 5th 2010, 1:36am)


Tuesday, October 5th 2010, 2:05am

Nantucket Island Class

ZRS-28 Nantucket Island, ZRS-31 Hatteras Island, ZRS-33 Santa Catalina Island, ZRS-35 Presque Island
Length: 1178 feet
Diameter: 172 feet
Hull Displacement: Approx. 20,000,000 cubic feet
Gas Capacity: 19,000,000 cubic feet of helium
Speed: 100 kts
Range: 15000 miles at 50 kts
Crew: 115
Airgroup: 12 F15C, 12 SBD

Planned to enter service in 1941, the Nantucket Island class is designed for high speed. The control gondola is retractable and retractable "bow planes" help with attitude control.

This post has been edited 1 times, last edit by "CanisD" (Nov 7th 2010, 6:49am)


Sunday, November 7th 2010, 9:42am

George Washington Class

ZRCV-1 George Washington, ZRCV-2 Abraham Lincoln, ZRCV-3 Theodore Roosevelt, ZRCV-4 Thomas Jefferson

Length: 1406 feet
Diameter: 220 feet
Hull Displacement: Approx. 30,000,000 cubic feet
Gas Capacity: 28,500,000 cubic feet of helium
Speed: 90 kts
Range: 22,000 miles at 50 kts
Crew: 150
Airgroup: 16 SBD, 12 F15C

The largest airship in American service and the ultimate evolution of the Long Island metalclad design, the George Washington is first and foremost a flying aircraft carrier, rather then a scout, hence the ZRCV designation rather than ZRS. She is intended to be the centerpiece of a flying task group, supported by smaller scout airships carrying fighters while the GW carries mostly bombers. At present there are only five hangers in the entire country that can handle these massive ships located in Sunnyvale, Hoyt Field, Orlando, Lakehurst, and the construction hanger in Akron.