Madam Satan (1930) boarding the zeppelin
Look at this.
They did this without ANY computers.
This image was featured on an article called "The Most Astounding Airships, Dirigibles, and Zeppelins".
The article itself is fantastic, but when I got to the above picture, all sorts of alarm bells started going off in my head.
It claims to show the ZRS-4 USS Akron, the ZR-3 USS Los Angeles, and two other ships.
First thing I notice is that the USS Los Angeles has its name emblazoned very prominently on the forward of the ship. As far as I know, the US Navy’s rigid airships carried their name towards the tail of the ship, as seen in THIS PHOTO.
Even worse, the “ZRS-4” depicted here looks absolutely nothing like the USS Akron that was built by the Goodyear-Zeppelin company.
Most obvious is the fact that the gondola of the “ZRS-4” in this picture is obviously of a completely different shape from that of the Akron.
As seen in THIS PHOTO, the Akron has a very short, stubby gondola containing only control apparatus, but the one in the photo in the i09 article has an elongated gondola which seems like a larger version of the gondola of the LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin, and would presumably contain “passenger” accommodations or something comparable.
Even more questionable is the engine configuration on the “ZRS-4” from the i09 article.
Ships built with the intention of using hydrogen as a lifting gas, such like the USS Los Angeles, the Graf Zeppelin, and the Hindenburg, had externally mounted engine cars to prevent the risk of the combustible gas igniting.
The US built USS Akron and USS Macon, made to fly with helium, had internal engine rooms, and a unique propeller configuration that allowed for enhanced maneuverability of the ship.
THIS PHOTO shows a good close up of the USS Akron’s propellers, and its extremely easy to tell that the engine configuration seen here has absolutely nothing to do with what’s seen on the “ZRS-4” from the i09 article.
Only nine trans-oceanic rigid airships were built, and the ship posing as the USS Akron in the i09 image does not appear to match a single one of them.
The only conclusion I can come up with is that the image seen on i09 was some kind of promotional image for Goodyear-Zeppelin, perhaps for a pamphlet or press kit or something similar, which included an artist’s conception of what the yet-to-be-built ZRS-4 might eventually look like when completed, and the artist imagined a ship with external engine cars as per German practice, and a design that resembled an elongated Graf Zeppelin. (I’d even go as far as to speculate that the unbuilt LZ-128 might have looked rather like the ship from the i09 article)
I think the fact that the ship is identified in the image only as ZRS-4 rather than USS Los Angeles supports this.
But I’m no airship history expert, this is just my educated guess after having read a few books and perused a few websites on the subject.
If anyone can give me some more concrete information regarding the image in question, and why the “ZRS-4” featured there looks absolutely nothing like the actual ZRS-4 USS Akron as seen in photographs and film footage, please chime in!
Packard and Graf Zeppelin ca. 1929 (by kitchener.lord)
Note the BLIMP in the background for a sense of scale as to how freaking gigantic the Graf Zeppelin was.
United States Post Office building of the 1930s, featuring the steam ship, rigid airship, and steam locomotive, all high technology at the time.
The coolest part is on the inside, there’s a HUGE photograph of the space shuttle Atlantis in orbit over earth.
It’s an honor sending mail through this building.
It could use a steam cleaning though.
I was just put in my place by @AirshipEureka on Twitter for doubting her sentience. Sorry ma’am.
Go ahead and savor that brief shining moment where large rigid airships were taken for granted as a form of current transportation.
At the same time this has an oddly almost mythological tone to it.
77 years ago, the ultimate flying warship, the US Navy dirigible ZRS-5 USS Macon took flight for the first time.
After a short, but successful career as a flying aircraft carrier for Curtiss f9c Sparrowhawk surveillance fighter planes, she was senselessly lost in a storm due to a known design flaw and prior damage which was allowed to go uncorrected.
USS Macon was only 20 feet shorter than the German passenger airship LZ-129 Hindenburg.
If both the Macon and Hindenburg hadn’t been destroyed prematurely, I guesstimate that large rigid airships would have continued development and could have remained commercially viable passenger transit perhaps through the 1970’s and might still be around today as freighters and as high priced flying cruise ships.
That thought came from reading a book by a former GoodYear president called “Why has America no Rigid Airships?”
This guy spent thousands of dollars and years of effort building a flying model of the U.S.S. Macon out of balsa wood sticks and cotton muslin!
He even sent a letter to the Smithsonian Institute asking for plans and blueprints for the actual ship so he could build everything to scale properly.
That’s amazing. This guy is the man.
I would think it cool to attach a really good remote control camera on it and fly it around up high with a really long fishing line so it wouldn’t fly away, but with the amount of work that went into this I understand keeping it close to the ground.