Sunset era airship
It is believed that the era of airships ended in 1937, when landing at Lakehurst burned down the German passenger airship-liner "Hindenburg". Hindenburg, as well as an earlier accident airship Winged Foot Express July 21, 1919 in Chicago, which killed 12 civilians, have adversely affected the reputation of the airship as a reliable aircraft. Filled explosive gas airships rarely burned and suffered an accident, but the accident caused much greater damage, compared with the aircraft at the time. Public response from the airship disaster was incomparably higher than that from the crash, and the active exploitation of the airship was discontinued. Perhaps this would have happened if the Zeppelin company had access to adequate quantities of helium.
At that time the largest reserves of helium United States is, however, the German company at that time could hardly count on the supply of helium from the U.S.. Nevertheless, less ambitious airships, such as airships Class M and Class K (M class blimp and K class blimp) nominal capacity of 18 thousand m ³ and 12 thousand m ³, actively used the U.S. Navy during World War II as a spy aircraft designed to combat German submarines. Their tasks included not only the detection of submarines, but also defeat them with depth charges. In this role, they were quite effective and were used until the sound of helicopters. These airships were accelerating to 128 km / h and can remain in flight up to 50 hours. Last airship Class K («K Ship») K-43 was withdrawn from service in March 1959. The only airship shot down during World War II, became an American K-74, which on the night of 18 to 19 July 1943 attacked on their way to the surfaced U-boat U-134 (which is a violation of the rules, because attack is authorized only if the boat starts to sink) the north-east coast of Florida. The submarine saw the airship and opened fire first. The airship is not dropping depth charges due to operator error, fell into the sea and sank a few hours, 1 member of the crew of 10 drowned.
In the years 1942-44 about 1400 pilots of airships and 3000 support crew trained in military schools, the number of individuals serving in the units employed Exploitation of airships, has grown from 430 to 12400. The U.S. airships were produced at the Goodyear plant in Akron, Ohio. From 1942 to 1945 for the U.S. Navy fired 154 of the airship (133 K-class, ten L-class, seven G-class and four M-class) and, in addition, five airship L-class for civilian customers (serial numbers from M -4 to L -8).
In the late 1950's the U.S. Navy have ZPG-3W - the largest airships in history. It was used to fill the gap between the radar ground-based radar in the North American early warning network during the Cold War. ZPG-3W is a rare example of the use of internal space airship - huge radio aerial was located inside gelivogo cylinder. Four of these airships were delivered to the U.S. Navy. The first flight of ZPG-3W was held in July 1958. Covering the airship was used as a radome for 12,8 m radar antenna, thereby airship aerodynamics. The airship was a 121,9 m long and about 36.6 m tall. The airship could stay in flight for many days. ZPG-3W was the last of the airship, created for the U.S. Navy, they were withdrawn in November 1962, when the Navy stopped using airships. It is believed that the radar type AN/APS-70 with its huge antenna is still the best on-board radar system for detecting aircraft, because of the use of low-frequency radio waves, he was not dependent on good weather for optimal performance.
The Soviet Union used only one airship during the war. Airship B-12 was built in 1939 and came into operation in 1942 for the preparation of paratroopers and transport equipment. Until 1945, he made a 1432 flight. February 1, 1945 in the Soviet Union was built a second airship Class B - Airship "Victory" - was used as a minesweeper in the Black Sea. He crashed on Jan. 21, 1947. One such class airship - In-12bis "Patriot" - was commissioned in 1947 and was mainly used for crew training, parades and promotional events.