1920's AIRSHIP PICS OF USS SHENENDOAH, Etc.

Discussion in 'The Golden Era' started by eniksleestack, Oct 31, 2007.

  1. eniksleestack

    eniksleestack One of the Regulars

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    Hello all,

    I thought some of you might appreciate seeing some great pictures of US Navy airships from the 1920s. My mother in law recently gave me an album full of some anonymous family's snapshots, from somewhere in the New York or New Jersey area, that she found at a flea market a number of years back:

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    Some interesting stuff, but the real gems were in the back. Large format (5" X 8 1/2") images of the doomed ZR-1 airship the USS Shenandoah, which was destroyed in an Ohio storm in 1925, killing more than a dozen crew members. Also some nice pictures of the USS Los Angeles the ZR-3 and some smaller airships, like the J-1, which was the Navy's only operating blimp for a time in the early 20s (according to Wikipedia) in an unidentified hangar.

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    Seeing this gigantic beauties gives me a thrill. It's hard to imagine a time when aircraft so awe-inspiring were so commonplace. Hope you enjoy.
     
  2. Fletch

    Fletch I'll Lock Up

    Awesome. Just awesome.

    Thank you.
     
  3. kpreed

    kpreed Guest

    Thank You!:eusa_clap Some great stuff, I love airships.
     
  4. Big Man

    Big Man My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    Great pictures. Too bad that form of transportation went away.
     
  5. Story

    Story I'll Lock Up

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    Those are just too cool

    That last shot looks suspiciously like the airship hanger at Lakehurt Naval Air Station.
    You might want to copy these photos and add them to that album.
    http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/ac-usn22/z-types/zr1.htm

    Imagine how different air history might be, if they had used helium instead of hydrogen.

    What's the fat bodied, twin-engined biplane in pic #5?
     
  6. Fletch

    Fletch I'll Lock Up

    I can't recall where I saw it, but a photo (perhaps a news photo?) exists somewhere of the Los Angeles' control car, not terribly far off the ground (maybe still at the mast) with a sailor in blues dangling off it, literally holding on for dear life.
     
  7. eniksleestack

    eniksleestack One of the Regulars

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    According to Wikipedia, even thought 14 of the crew were killed, 29 survived the destruction of the ZR-1 and the wreck itself did not burn because they used helium not hydrogen. Then reason the Hindenburg blew up 10 yrs later, and was even using hydrogen was because the US had the largest know deposits of helium, but wouldn't sell to the helium-deficient Nazis, so they used the "next-best-thing" combustible hydrogen.

    My understanding about why these airships disappeared is partly due to the images of The Hindenburg blowing up some years later, but also because they were too big to house for cheap, too slow, and the overall design was just unstable --which probably had a lot to do with the building techniques and materials used.

    I would like to know that too. I love how it's a teeny-tiny detail in the background of the original print, but because the photos were so clear back then you can still see a lot of detail.

    If my grandfather was still alive he could have told us in a heartbeat, he was such an early airplane buff. Maybe there some other 20s aerophiles lurking that have a clue.
     
  8. CharlieH.

    CharlieH. One Too Many

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    Amazing pictures! Thanks for posting.


    That sounds familiar. I recall watching a home movie of an airship (which one I cannot remember) taking off with ground crew still hanging from the mooring lines. The film also showed one or two of them falling off from a considerable altitude. Could that be related?
     
  9. Big Man

    Big Man My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    [​IMG]

    I found this picture from the ones that belonged to my great uncle Briscoe. It appears to be a hanger for an airship. Does anyone have any idea where this may be? From other pictures in the album he had, I would suspect it was taken sometime between 1925 and 1935, although I am unsure of the location.

    Any thoughts?
     
  10. FedoraGent

    FedoraGent One Too Many

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    The Hanger

    The Hangar itself still exists. She was built at Moffett Field somewhere around 1932. It is sitting in Mountain View, CA and was built by the Navy for the USS Macon, Akron and Shenandoah. It is actually endangered at this point as the Navy is wanting to take her down. She's affectionately called Hangar One. October 15th, the Navy announced to take her down. I have a bunch of pictures of her being built.

    FG.
     
  11. Big Man

    Big Man My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    Thanks for the information. That's interesting its still there, but too bad that it may soon be torn down.
     
  12. FedoraGent

    FedoraGent One Too Many

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    More Information

    From a Historical Site in the Bay Area:
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    Construction in 1930: [​IMG]
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    For the Peninsula, the construction of the Naval base was a boon in bad times. It meant an average of 500 construction jobs a month in a time when jobs were hard to come by. Merchants in local communities also looked forward to the purchasing power that would come with the 500 people expected to be stationed at the base upon its completion.

    As excited as the Bay Area was to see the massive airships, the local interest in the construction of its storage hangar - Hangar 1 - was almost as great.

    The hangar, 211 feet high, would be taller than all the buildings in the South Bay except one, the Bank of America tower in San Jose. The base also would be equipped with a massive nine-story mooring mast responsible for grabbing the giant airship by the nose and leading it in and out of the hangar on tracks.

    The hangar was still under construction when the Bay Area got its first glimpse of the kind of monster for which it was intended.

    Despite a veil of fog that had settled on the San Francisco Peninsula, it was a carnival-like scene at the Mountain View-Sunnyvale border on the morning of May 13, 1932.

    More than 100,000 people - enough to fill Stanford Stadium - packed the bayside fields where they huddled in cars and sat in bleachers set up by concessionaires. Vendors sold hot dogs, sandwiches and pies. Sixty-five state troopers were called in to handle the traffic on the still-uncompleted Bayshore Freeway where cars inched ahead four abreast en route to the site. The crowd had assembled by the Bay to greet a Navy aircraft carrier that was due to dock any time that morning. But This new ship would not be arriving by water.

    Suddenly, about 7 a.m., the recently completed USS Akron, which would be based in Lakehurst, NJ, dropped ghostlike out of the clouds. The silver dirigible stretched across the sky, two and a half times the length of a football field.

    The crowed cheered. "It was a never-to-be-forgotten sight..." noted a Palo Alto Times story. This would be the first and last time the Akron would visit the base. Less than a year later on April 4, 1933, the "sky-queen" got caught in heavy storm winds and crashed off the Atlantic Coast, killing 73 of the 76 officers and crew on board. Among those lost was Admiral William Moffett.

    Eight days later, a somber crowd gathered at the base, and Sunnyvale Naval Air Station was commissioned.

    Acting Commanding Officer M.J. Walker concluded the ceremonies by giving the now-famous orders to a deputy officer named D.M. Mackey, "Enter in the log that Sunnyvale station is placed in commission at 11:30 a.m. Set the watches and pipe down."

    Given that the base was located in two Peninsula communities, the original name of the air base was supposed to be the Mountain View-Sunnyvale Naval Air Station. In fact, most of the base actually rests in Mountain View. But Naval officials in Washington, D.C. reportedly feared that the "mountain" in the title would create more safety concerns among Congressional leaders already jittery about the lighter-than-air craft program.

    In the end, the Mountain View portion was left off in favor of just "Sunnyvale" which gave East Coast officials an image of vast, wide-open areas with plenty of room for massive airships.

    Sunnyvale Naval Air Station now awaited the Macon.
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    For Schematics of Hangar One: http://researchpark.arc.nasa.gov/SpecialEvents/UsersGuide/Schematics/Hangar1Map3.02.jpg

    Hope this helps.

    FG.
     
  13. Big Man

    Big Man My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    Very interesting. I'll bet my great uncle was in the crowd that day. Could be that's when he took the picture.
     
  14. Fletch

    Fletch I'll Lock Up

    Moffett Field hangar

    (photos from http://www.history.navy.mil)

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    "USS Macon (ZRS-5) ,docked in the new airship hangar at Naval Air Station Moffett Field, Sunnyvale, California, 15 October 1933, following her flight across the United States from Lakehurst, New Jersey. A small blimp is also in the hangar."

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    "USS Macon leaving the airship hangar at NAS Moffett Field on 26 October 1933, in preparation for her first flight since arriving from the East Coast eleven days earlier."

    On September 1, 1933, NAS Sunnyvale was renamed for Rear Adm. William Moffett, Chief of the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics, who along with 75 others had died in the crash of USS Akron off Atlantic City on April 4, 1933.

    After the Macon's loss in 1935, Moffett Field was turned over to the Army Air Corps. The Navy regained use of it in 1941 and operated it as a conventional air base until 1994. It is today part of NASA's Ames Research Center.
     
  15. SamMarlowPI

    SamMarlowPI One Too Many

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    man those suckers are huge...seems to me the engineers of these monstrosities would have realized they weren't exactly the best things to be flying over the seas because of their gigantic, almost wasteful size and small passenger numbers...or it could be i haven't done a whole helluva lot of research on airships and have no idea what i'm talking about...might go for the latter...[huh]
     
  16. Big Man

    Big Man My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    Same could be said for today's airliners vs. passenger ships. However, then, like today, speed is the key. In their day, the airships were the fastest thing going for transporting numbers of people. Of course you could get way more people on a ship, but the crossing time was significantly greater than with the airship. Flying across in an airplane was not an option (at least with any number of people).

    For a brief time, the airship was on the cutting edge.
     
  17. SamMarlowPI

    SamMarlowPI One Too Many

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    yah, you're right...todays airliners are a lot smaller than airships and can carry a lot more passengers but airships are as far as travel technology got back then...my muddled/unclear point was that the great creative minds that developed the airship could have sat back and realized that the amount of resources it would take to go into the airship would not really balance out with the small amount of passengers and speed. therefore realizing that it might not be worth the use and/or waste of materials and go back to the drawing board and come up with something a little more economical...you can kind of see where i'm coming from, but its a moot point, you make a good point with the liner vs. airship comparison...cheers:D
     
  18. Big Man

    Big Man My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    I would venture to guess that the cost per passenger for an airship vs. an ocean liner would favor the airship. Also, the cost per passenger for an airship vs. today's jumbo jet would still favor the airship. Of course the deciding factor in it all is time. Today's airplanes can move more people in a shorter time. The same argument with trains vs. airplanes. In the end, speed will win. [huh]
     
  19. SamMarlowPI

    SamMarlowPI One Too Many

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    ah, very much so...
     
  20. J.T.Marcus

    J.T.Marcus Call Me a Cab

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    My Daddy spent 31 years in Naval aviation. In the early 1950's (I would have been about four years old.), I remember seeing an airship docked at Naval Air Station, Sanford, Florida. Evidently, there was at least one in service, until 1962. http://www.airshiphistory.com/Books/bookdetail_10003.htm
     

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