Wednesday, August 13, 2014

FBI Hindenburg Report

Long time no see!

Got back from my vacation to find that my FOIA request for the Hindenburg File had been approved. In all, 408 pages were released. I'm not sure how different it is from the redacted report available from the FBI Vault, but I'll be transcribing the entire report as best I can.

I need to check Bureau guidelines to be sure, but I think I can provide a copy of the  transcript here when it is finished. In addition, you can contact me at ' for further information.

Monday, February 3, 2014

£427.00, the Imperial Airship Scheme, and His Majesty's Airship R-100

HMA R-100 was one half of the Imperial Airship Scheme. The brainchild of Christopher Thomson, the British Minister of Air, the Scheme, was a farsighted plan to connect the far flung colonies of the “empire on which the sun never set”, with regular, reliable, and expedient airship service. The first ship, R-100, the lesser known cousin of the infamous R-101, was chosen to fly a transatlantic route to Canada.

                The ship was the engineering brainchild of Barnes Wallis (later famous for WWII’s ‘bouncing bomb’ and his various designs for a supersonic airliner) and Nevil S. Norway (later acclaimed as the successful author Nevil Shute). The design and construction of R-100 represented a leap in airship design, going so far as to influence both the structure and passenger accommodations of Germany’s A.S. Hindenburg.
R-100's superstructure was revolutionary. (Image courtesy 'Airship Heritage Trust')
                In fact, the streamlined, elliptically shaped envelopes of both the R-100 and the R-101 held such an technological advantage over the earlier Zeppelins that, coupled with the failure of the frameworks on the American ZRS ships, Zeppelin Co. engineers opted to eliminate their original design schedule, proceeding from design number LZ-127 (Graf Zeppelin) to design number LZ-129 (Hindenburg).

Zeppelin Co. abandoned the LZ-128 design after the engineering
advancements made by the Imperial Airship Scheme. (Image courtesy 'Projekt LZ 129')
         On July the 29th, 1930; R-100 departed for her maiden voyage to teh mooring mast in St. Hubert, Canada with a full contingent of reporters. The flight was as well received as it was stunning: Before departing for the return trip to Cardington, the passengers flew over Toronto and were treated to a twenty-four hour flight to Ottowa. They had breakfast in an ornate and distinctly British atmosphere over Niagara Falls, lunch was served over Ontario, and dinner above the white caps of the Atlantic. The ship arrived safely at Cardington twenty-two days later.             

         She would never fly again.

         Soon afterwards, the fatally flawed R-101 slipped the mooring mast in Cardington and headed for Karachi. Dangerously overweight, she nosed down and crashed into a field in Beauvais, France, killing 48 of the 54 passengers aboard. Parliament was faced with three options: Continue the projects and proceed with plans for R-102, maintain the ship for scientific research, or eliminate the Imperial Airship Scheme. 

        Shortly thereafter, on November 16th, 1931, workmen began disassembling the once proud airship. Work was finished by February of the next year and the twisted metal was sold for an insulting £427.00.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Goodyear and the ZRCV Airship

The ZRS-class USS Akron and USS Macon, both fabricated by Goodyear Aircraft Co. in Akron, served as part of a massive experiment. Their purpose as proof of concept models for a skeptic Navy was masked by the vast complexity and performance of the two ships.

Cross section of the USS Akron, Circa 1931
The ZRS designation stood for 'Lighter Than Air (The 'Z' likely being an homage to Zeppelin) Rigid Scout'. The ship's F9C Sparrowhawk fighters were designed to serve as both protective 'parasite' fighters, dispatched to eliminate threats to the larger mothership, as well as reconnaissance vehicles, their range vastly expanded by the ultra-long distance capabilities of the airship.

The next generation airship would represent a great step in naval aviation. The ZRCV designation belied their true role, CV was the navy abbreviation for Carrier Vehicle, as flying aircraft carriers.
This advertisement offers a tantalizing glimpse at the ZRCV airship. The illustration, made by Goodyear Aircraft Co., is very similar to descriptions of the ZRCV class and, if it does not indeed depict the CV-type airship, was certainly inspired by the designs Goodyear commissioned. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

A brief note on "Airship of the Month"

To facilitate a complete story of any airship that I feature I will no longer be using the label "Airship of the Month". Instead, I'll have a "Featured Airship" which allows me to take as long as I need on a particular airship E.G. with so much information on the Hindenburg It'd take more than one month to complete a full collection on it.)

This will go into effect on April 1st with the Shenandoah as was originally planned for March.

In the meantime, to make this post presentable, here are two of my all-time favorite airship photographs.

The Hindenburg floats towards disaster at Lakehurst. Two hours later the ship would become one of the most famous air disasters of the 20th Century.

The R-101 lit up inside her Cardington hangar.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

March Airship of the Month: ZR-1 Shenandoah


With this headline, on the morning of September 3rd, 1925, the Baltimore American announced the crash of the first American rigid airship. The ZR-1 Shenandoah (originally designated "Fleet Airship No. 1" represented the start of America's unfortunate association with rigid airships. 

Assembled at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station the then FA-1 was copied from a wartime German Zeppelin. 

The Shenandoah garnered several firsts during her short career including the first transcontinental airship flight, the first airship to launch aircraft, the first airship to moor to a ship (the U.S.S. Patoka, more about that ship later) and, of course, the first American built airship.

The ZR-1 takes shape in the same hangar that would later shelter the Hindenburg. Parts for the airship were fabricated in Philadelphia then shipped to Lakehurst for final assembly.

 The Shenandoah is christened after two years of construction

The Shenandoah shares Lakehurst Hangar No. 1 with its cousin the Los Angeles.

A striking image of the Shenandoah moored to the U.S.S. Patoka.

 The Shenandoah lies in ruins as spectators gather. One businessman gathered the remains of the gasbags to manufacture so-called "Shenandoah Slickers".

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hindenburg engine gondola [failure]

Just woke up this morning to the unpleasant surprise that my model of the engine gondolas for the Hindenburg appear to have vanished from my computer... I look forward to being able to post photos as soon as I rebuild the model.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The "A.M. Report"

EDIT: I'm posting this a day late due to a couple issues with it.

I'm considering an "AirshipModeler Report" to summarize the goings on of AirshipModeler over the past week or month as the amount of activity dictates.

The A.M. Report ~ Monday, January 21st.

Today I am presenting a special version of the first ever A.M. Report. 

January 4th, 2013

On January 4th the first thread since AirshipModeler was attacked by malware was posted by "Dirigible_Nut". This thread can be found here:!!

January 7th, 2013

"Hlostoops" (me) posted a thread about the upcoming test flight of "Aeroscraft". An ensuing discussion also provided insight into the technical definition of a rigid airship.!

January 15th, 2013

Dirigible_Nut" continued work on his model of the R-34:

January 16th, 2013

"=DK=" picked up work on his model of the SL 20 for X-plane 9:

January 20th, 2013

"Hlostoops" posted a thread for his model of the Hindenburg: