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  1. 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", designed to carry biplane parasite aircraft, five single-seat Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawk for scouting or two-seat Fleet N2Y-1 for training.

    • 21 April 1933
    • 31 October 1929 (Commenced), 8 August 1931 (Launched)
    • USS Macon Life and Legacy
    • Exploration and Mapping Mission
    • Expedition’S Lessons Learned

    As early as 1916 the Navy had begun designing lighter-than-air (LTA) rigid airships, and by 1926 the focus had shifted to airships that could support aerial scouting missions. The first flying aircraft carrier, USS Akron(ZRS-4), was commissioned in 1931 – and after several incidents in two years, the airship crashed and sank off the coast of New Je...

    On Tuesday morning, scientists, archaeologists and other experts gathered aboard the 211-foot Exploration Vessel Nautilus at the wreckage site; at the ship’s command hub, the Inner Space Center at University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography; and at NOAA headquarters in Maryland. Broadcasting the whole operation live online, the tea...

    “We’re really extending the life of this airship and her biplanes and documenting the past 80 years she spent under water, which is the majority of her life,” NOAA archaeologist Megan Lickliter-Mundon said while broadcasting from Nautilus. But she noted Tuesday afternoon that the artifacts may be corroding faster than expected. One of the biplane’s...

    • Flying Aircraft Carriers
    • Development of Akron and Macon
    • Structural Design of Akron and Macon
    • Operational History of U.S.S. Akron
    • Crash of U.S.S. Akron
    • Operational History of U.S.S. Macon
    • Crash of U.S.S. Macon
    • Akron and Macon Statistics and Specifications

    Akron and Macon were designed as airborne aircraft carriers, which could launch and recover heavier-than-air planes for use in both reconnaissance and self-defense. The ships were equipped with hangars, approximately 75′ long x 60′ wide x 16′ high, which could stow and service up to five aircraft in flight. Aircraft were launched and retrieved by m...

    The Akron and Macon grew out of the Five Year Plan proposed by the U. S. Navy’s Bureau of Aeronautics, which had been approved by the United States Congress in 1926, and which authorized the construction of two large rigid airships. The Navy contest to design and build the two new ships was won by the Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation, a joint venture ...

    As part of the Goodyear-Zeppelin arrangement, the Luftshiffbau Zeppelin had sent technical experts to Akron to train Goodyear employees in the design and construction of airships. Goodyear president Paul Litchfield had insisted that the Zeppelin Company’s chief stress engineer, Karl Arnstein, be included in that group, and in November, 1924 Arnstei...

    Construction of U.S.S. Akron began in November, 1929 at the newly completed Goodyear-Zeppelin Airdock in Akron, Ohio. The design of U.S.S. Akron, and its sister ship U.S.S. Macon, were based on plans prepared by Goodyear-Zeppelin engineer Karl Arnstein which differed radically from the design of previous rigid airships. The ship was christened by F...

    U.S.S. Akron departed NAS Lakehurst on the evening of April 3, 1933 on a mission to calibrate radio direction finding equipment along the northeastern coast of the United States. The ship was under the command of Frank C. McCord, and among the 76 persons on board were VIPs including Rear Admiral William Moffett, Chief of the Navy’s Bureau of Aerona...

    U.S.S. Macon (ZRS-5) was a virtually identical copy of her sister ship, U.S.S. Akron, with some minor modifications and improvements. The airship was christened by wife of Admiral William Moffett on March 11, 1933, and made its first flight on April 21, 1933. Later that year Macon left the Naval Air Station at Lakehurst for her new home in Californ...

    Macon crashed at sea off the coast of California during a storm on February 12, 1935, after her unrepaired upper fin suffered in-flight structural failure. The failure of the upper fin damaged the three aft gas cells and caused the loss of a significant quantity of helium, representing about 20% of the airship’s lift. But the Macon remained in the ...

    ZRS-4 U.S.S. Akron: 1. Length: 785 feet 2. Gas capacity: 6,850,000 cubic feet 3. Useful lift: 152,644 lbs 4. Maximum speed: 69 knots 5. Crew: 60 officers and men 6. First flight: September 25, 1931 7. Final flight: April 3-4, 1933 8. Total flight hours: 1,700 9. Total flights: 74

  2. USS Macon (ZRS-5) Built at Akron, Ohio, USS Macon was a rigid airship, which first flew in April 1933. Designed in 1926, along with sister ship, USS Akron (ZRS-4), to utilize Helium gas,...

  3. USS Macon: The Last Great Airship NAUTILUS Live USS Macon History In 2015, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary commemorated the 80 th anniversary of the loss of the USS Macon ZRS-5 and its four Sparrowhawk F9C-2 biplanes, and the death of two U.S. Navy sailors on February 12, 1935. Credit: NOAA-MBNMS Download USS Macon ZRS-5 inflight.

  4. USS Macon The Last Great Airship Launched by the U.S. Navy in 1933, the airship USS Macon was one of the largest flying machines in history, but after just two years of service, disaster struck. The Macon would be the nation's last great airship. Macon at: montereybay.noaa.gov/maritime/macon/ USS Macon Mapping and Survey Expedition 2015

  5. T he USS Macon was the last U.S. built rigid lighter-than-air craft and at 785 feet in length was the largest of the design. On February 12, 1935 during a routine flight to its home base at Moffet airfield in Sunnyvale, California the airship encountered severe weather conditions.

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