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".


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