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Uss Akron

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THE USS AKRON: A NAVAL AIRSHIP

By

Wynette C. Perry

Airframe Structures and Applications

AMNT 270

Instructor R. Xavier Koon

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Extended Campus

Patuxent River Resident Center

September 27, 2011

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

LIST OF FIGURES iii

Chapter

I INTRODUCTION 1

II HISTORY OF EARLY FLIGHT 2

III HISTORY OF HOT-AIR BALLOONS 3

IV HISTORY OF THE ZEPPELIN 4

V USS AKRON DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION 5

VI USS AKRON MISSIONS 6

VII SUMMARY 8

VIII CONCLUSION 9

APPENDICES

A BIBLIOGRAPHY 12

LIST OF FIGURES

Figure Page

1 Ormithopter Flying Machine 2

2 Montgolfier Brother’s 1783 hot-air balloon 3

3 dirigible 4

4 First ring of the uss akron 6

5 USS AKRON DESIGN PLANS 7

6 USS AKRON 8

7 LONG ENDURANCE MULTI-INTELLIGENCE VEHICLE 9

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

The idea of flight has intrigued man for many years. For centuries, man experimented with ways of how to fly; some ideas of how to fly were good, while other ideas were not so good. Early pioneers of flight would construct wings out of feathers, wood and wax and attach them to their arms and jump off of high structures. These experiments usually ended in injury or death. During the following years, man invented machines with the idea of making them fly. In 1783, the idea of man flying became a reality with the invention of the hot-air balloon by two brothers. The hot-air balloon led to the invention of various lighter than air crafts. In 1893, the idea of a rigid airship came into creation, but it was not successful until 1900 when, inventor Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin designed and flew the Luftschiff Zeppelin One, also known as the LZ-1. The military showed interest in the Zeppelin and began to have them designed for military purposes. In 1929, the Navy contracted Goodyear-Zeppelin to design and build the USS Akron. The Akron, designed for the purpose of scouting and support to military missions, only operated for 2 years. Although, the life of the Akron was short, during its commission, it completed many successful missions until it crashed in 1933.

CHAPTER 2: HISTORY OF EARLY FLIGHT

Since the beginning of time, man has always been intrigued with the flight of birds. Man’s fascination with the flight of birds stemmed from the way birds soared in the air with minimal effort, so man wanted to experience the same feeling. The only problem was that man and birds were built differently; therefore, they could not fly as birds fly. Many early inventors attempted to emulate the flight of birds by making wings of feathers or light weight wood, then attaching them to their arms to test their ability to fly. These experiments usually resulted in injury or death as people plummeted to the Earth (Ancient Flying Myths). Eilmer of Malmesbury an English Benedictine Monk built some wings, modeled after those of Deadalus (Early Attempts). Deadalus was a Greek god who fashioned wings out of wax and flew out of a prison (DAEDALUS). Eilmer of Malmesbury attached the wings to his hands, jumped off a tower, fell to the ground and broke his legs (Early Attempts). Early flight attempts for humans were unsuccessful, but man continued to figure out this mystifying phenomenon.

In 1485 Leonardo de Vinci began to study flight and how to get a man in the air. During de Vinci’s life, he drew concepts of what he believed was the answer to how man could fly, but the discovery of these drawings came after flight achieving flight. One drawing was that of The Ornithopter flying machine, which was similar to today’s gliders.

[pic]

In order to operate the machine, the pilot would lie face down on a board in the center of the machine and use its hands and feet to pedal cranks. The cranks, connected to a rod-and-pulley system, caused the wings to flap. Although Leonardo de Vinci would never test this flying machine, it is an icon in early flight history.

CHAPTER 3: HISTORY OF HOT-AIR BALLOONS

In 1783, brothers, Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier invented the hot-air balloon. This invention, based on the idea of constructing an air balloon that would be lifted by lighting a cauldron of paper beneath it, was a success (Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier). In the year of 1782, the brothers used different livestock to test the balloons ability to fly. In 1783, astronauts, Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes became the first people to take part in a manned balloon flight (Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier). This was the birth of the lighter-than-air (LTA) crafts. Although the hot-air balloon had not been around for long, there are already modifications in process. Jacques Charles modified the hot-air balloon to use hydrogen gas instead of fire (Aspire).

[pic]

CHAPTER 3

The following years presented several different types of LTA crafts from hot-air balloons to dirigibles. Although, balloons and dirigibles are both lighter than air aircraft, they perform differently. A hot-air balloon is a craft covered in fabric that lifts into the air by heating that air with fire. A hot-air balloons pilot can only control the balloons height; the pilot cannot maneuver the balloon left or right. The direction of a hot-air balloon depends on the direction the wind is blowing. A dirigible, powered by gas cells, maneuvers left or right by propellers which move it through the air. [pic]

CHAPTER 4: HISTORY OF THE ZEPPELIN In 1893, David Schwarz began designing the first rigid airship, also known as a dirigible. This airship contained a 10-hoursepower, four cylinder engine and was capable of carrying 3 people. While testing the dirigible for flight, the airship encountered problems and collapsed on inflation. Schwarz did not know why the dirigible collapsed, but he was not discouraged and began designing another airship. The second airship, constructed of aluminum, was propelled by three propellers and powered by a 12-horsepower gas engine. The life of the airship was also short lived; on November 3, 1897, while conducting a tethered test flight, the airship’s propeller belts broke causing the airship to crash. Although Schwarz would never see his dream a reality, years later a former German cavalry officer would design and fly the first successful rigid airship. In 1900, inventor Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin flew the world’s first flyable dirigible called the Luftschiff Zeppelin One or LZ-1 for short (Donkin, 2000). The LZ-1 was a cloth covered, gas filled, aluminum airship. The LZ-1, powered with 17 gas "cells" and constructed of aluminum, also contained an aluminum gondola which passengers and crew. Unlike its predecessor built by Schwarz, the LZ-1, driven by two propellers instead of three, contained large rudders making it capable of changing direction and altitude. “A marvel of safety and comfort, it made 590 flights, carried more than 13,000 passengers, and clocked over one million miles” (Britten and Mathless, 1999). In the following years, Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin constructed 2additional Zeppelins, the LZ-2 and LZ-3, both designed for better travel. The German government, interested in the Zeppelin, challenged Zeppelin to build an airship that could fly 24hours non-stop (Donkin, 2000), if Zeppelin succeeded, the German government agreed to finance his efforts to develop more Zeppelins. So the LZ-4 was born.
CHAPTER 5: USS AKRON DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION

This new LTA was of considerable interest to the military. LTA craft, hot-air balloons, previously used in military operations, consisted of limited functions, so the idea of an LTA that could be maneuvered was a big deal. During the French and Germany War in 1914, “both the Germans and French used tethered balloons as observation posts along the front lines” (Britten and Mathless, 1999). Although LTA support was not new, the Zeppelin was; and the military wanted to see its capabilities. The military wanted to know how they could use this new style of aircraft to their advantage so, October 6, 1928, the Navy contracted Goodyear-Zeppelin for the work. Goodyear-Zeppelin began constructing the Akron in November 1929; in Akron, Ohio. The first frame ring for the Akron was erected on March 24, 1930, she was christened in the Goodyear hanger on August 8, 1931, and on October 27, 1931, she was commissioned at Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey. Designed for the Navy as an airborne aircraft carrier capable of housing and servicing military aircraft, this airship completed missions for long range scouting in support of fleet operations.
[pic]

The Akron was 785 feet and weighed 242,356 pounds. It consisted of eight 560 horsepower Maybach 12-cylinder engines with a designed maximum speed of 75.6 knots. The flight crew of the Akron had 10 officers, 50 enlisted personnel and a Heavier-Than-Air group that consisted of 4 officers and 15 airplane mechanics. The Akron was equipped with a mechanical trapeze that allowed the launch and recover heavier-than-air-planes. Being equipped with a 75’x60’x16’ hangar, the Akron could house and service up to five F9C Sparrowhawk biplane fighter aircraft (USS Akron and USS Macon).
[pic]

CHAPTER 6: USS AKRON MISSIONS The life of the USS Akron was unexpectedly short, but doing its life, the USS Akron had many challenges. During the latter part, of 1931 and early 1932, the USS Akron flew within the eastern United States and the western Atlantic; the USS Akron also completed its first scouting mission. In February of 1932, the USS Akron sustained damaged during the removal from a hangar at Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey. Three months later, in May, while attempting to land at Camp Kearney, near San Diego, California, the USS Akron accidentally began to climb pulling up 3 handlers. One handler survived by being pulled up by the crew, but the men sadly fell to their deaths. Between late 1932 and early 1933, the USS Akron flew extensively, fining her airplane support and search capabilities. On April 4, 1933, the USS Akron conducted its last flight. On April 3, 1933, the USS Akron set out on a trip to New England. This trip would turn out to be its last. The USS Akron flew into a storm, and a little after midnight, crashed into the sea off of the coast of New Jersey. This terrible accident resulted in the death of sixty-four men and the destruction of the Akron. While searching for survivors the Navy’s J-3 LTA also crashed killing two of its crew members. In 2002, a research submarine revisited the crash site of the Akron and almost seventy years later, the collapsed framework continues to remain visible on the Continental Shelf.
[pic]

cHAPTER 7: sUMMARY

The evolution of flight took many centuries before man before the achievement of success. Throughout the entire process many people were injured and lives were lost. After centuries of attempting to fly, man achieved success in 1783 with the hot-air balloon. After the invention of the hot-air balloon, Ferdinand Grafvon Zeppelin flew the first successful rigid air craft, also known as the Zeppelin. The invention of the Zeppelin led to the government contracting Goodyear-Zeppelin in Akron, Ohio to construct the USS Akron. The Akron’s operation was short lived but eventful. The Akron was in commission from 1932 to 1933 until it crashed off the coast of the Jersey Shore. From the first hot-air balloon to today’s modern jet fighters man continues to build and improve on his knowledge and technology of flying.

CHAPTER 8: CONCLUSION

In conclusion, the USS Akron paved the way for other LTA craft. Even though the Akron encountered many setbacks, it allowed Goodyear-Zeppelin and the government to collect data to improve future LTA craft. Today, LTA craft are still being used by the military. After 44 years, in 2006, the Navy began to fly airships again. The program will be carried out at NAES Lakehurst, the original center of US Navy LTA operations. In November 2006, the US Army purchased an airship that can be operated by remote control and the Army currently has a contract with Northrop Grumman to develop a Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) system, in the form of three HAV 304's. Much time has passed and technology continues to improve, today’s LTA’s are more dependable and structurally sound.
[pic]

References

Airship Inventor - Home of Echoworld Communications. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.echoworld.com/B02/B0212/B0212-06.htm
Airships USS Akron and USS Macon | Flying Aircraft Carriers ... (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.airships.net/us-navy-rigid-airships/uss-akron-macon
ASPIRE - Jacques Charles. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://sunshine.chpc.utah.edu/javalabs/java12/gaslaws/act3/charles.htm
Britten, L., & Mathless, P. (1999). Century of flight. (p. 49&87). Richmond: Time Life Education.
DAEDALUS Greek Mythology God ... (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ballpoint.org/greekgods/daedalus.htm
Donkin, A. (2000). Zeppelin!. the age of the airship. (p.6-8). London: Dorling Kidersley Limited.
Early Attempts. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.desktop.aero/appliedaero/intro/towerjumping.html
Early flying myths and legends - aviation history, history of early flying. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.century-of-flight.net/new%20site/frames/myths_frame1.htm
Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier - Spartacus Educational - Home ... (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/AVmontgolfier.htm
Leonardo da Vinci's Flying Machine Invention. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.da-vinci-inventions.com/flying-machine.aspx
Northrop Grumman's LEMV Program Completes Three Major Milestones. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://finance.renewableenergyworld.com/pennwell.renewableenergy/news/read?GUID= 15433745
The Era of the Dirigible. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.centennialofflight.gov/essay/Lighter_than_air/dirigibles/LTA9.htm

Appendix A

Bibliography

Bibliography

Airship Inventor - Home of Echoworld Communications. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.echoworld.com/B02/B0212/B0212-06.htm
Airships USS Akron and USS Macon | Flying Aircraft Carriers ... (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.airships.net/us-navy-rigid-airships/uss-akron-macon
ASPIRE - Jacques Charles. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://sunshine.chpc.utah.edu/javalabs/java12/gaslaws/act3/charles.htm
Bellis, M. "History of Airships and Balloons." About.com. The New York Times Company, 2011. Web. 2 Sep 2011. .

Britten, L., & Mathless, P. (1999). Century of flight. (p. 49). Richmond: Time Life Education.
DAEDALUS Greek Mythology God ... (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ballpoint.org/greekgods/daedalus.htm
Donkin, A. (2000). Zeppelin!. the age of the airship. (p.6-8). London: Dorling Kidersley Limited.
Early Attempts. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.desktop.aero/appliedaero/intro/towerjumping.html
Early flying myths and legends - aviation history, history of early flying. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.century-of-flight.net/new%20site/frames/myths_frame1.htm
Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier - Spartacus Educational - Home ... (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/AVmontgolfier.htm

Leonardo da Vinci's Flying Machine Invention. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.da-vinci-inventions.com/flying-machine.aspx

Northrop Grumman's LEMV Program Completes Three Major Milestones. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://finance.renewableenergyworld.com/pennwell.renewableenergy/news/read?GUID= 15433745
RLS's Blog. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://rlssblog.blogspot.com/
The Era of the Dirigible. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.centennialofflight.gov/essay/Lighter_than_air/dirigibles/LTA9.htm

----------------------- Figure 1: Leonardo de Vinci’s Ormithopter Flying Machine

Figure 2. The Montgolfier Brother’s 1783 hot-air balloon.

Figure 3. Dirigible

Figure 4. The first ring of USS Akron’s frame.

Figure 5. USS Akron design plans

Figure 6. USS Akron (ZRS-4), Airship 1931-1933

Figure 7. Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle…...

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