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Airships are sheltered in airship hangars during construction and sometimes also for regular operation, particularly at bad weather conditions. Rigid airships always needed to be based in airship hangars because weathering was a serious risk.

History

Hangar Y, Chalais Meudon near Paris, France 2002

Early hangars

The first real airship hangar was built as Hangar “Y” at Chalais Meudon near Paris in 1879 where the engineers Charles Renard and Arthur Constantin Krebs constructed their first airship “La France”.Hangar “Y” is one of the few remaining hangars in Europe.

The construction of the first operational rigid airship LZ1 by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin started in 1899 in a floating hangar on Lake Constancemarker at Manzell today part of Friedrichshafenmarker. The floating hangar turned into the direction of the wind on its own and so it was easier to move the airship into the hangar exactly against the wind.

For the same reason later rotating hangars were built at Biesdorf (today part of Berlinmarker) and at Cuxhavenmarker-Nordholz in Germanymarker.Already before the First World War there were transportable tent constructions as hangars for smaller airships. They were quite common in the US at fairgrounds or exhibitions. The American Melvin Vaniman constructed big tent hangars in Francemarker particularly for the French army.

The Zeppelin programme

With the construction of Zeppelin LZ1 the era of big rigid airships started in Germany and for this very big airship hangars were necessary.This development started at the Zeppelin plant in Friedrichshafen before the First World War, continued through the war with dozens of hangars for construction of big rigid airships and their operation all over Germany and the occupied territories. In the 1920s and 30's even bigger hangars for the new LZ 129 Hindenburg class airships were built at Friedrichshafen, Frankfurtmarker and Santa Cruz (part of Rio de Janeiromarker) in Brazilmarker, the only of all those hangars which still exists (see article in Portuguese Wikipedia).

UK airship construction

Also in the UK there was a rigid airship program during the First World War. This required the big construction sheds in Barrow-in-Furnessmarker, Inchinnanmarker, Barlow and Cardington and the rigid airship war stations at Longside, East Fortunemarker, Howdenmarker, Pulhammarker (Norfolk) and Kingsnorthmarker.
Today, only the two impressing Hangars of the former Royal Airship Works, in Cardington, Bedfordshire remain, where the R101 had been built. The No.1 Cardington hangar is original, but extended; and the No.2 hangar was relocated to Cardington from Pulham in 1928.

France

In Francemarker few big hangars had been built, because with the “Spies” there was only one attempt to built a rigid airship. Nevertheless at the end of the First World War an airship station for rigid airships was built in Cuersmarker-Pierrefeu by adding the parts of smaller hangars to two big ones.

At the airport at Parismarker-Orly two concrete hangars were built between 1923 and 1926. Planned by the famous engineer Eugene Freyssinet the 300 m long buildings were an important innovation according construction and aesthetic of the design.None of the big French hangars exists anymore, while a few smaller ones still are there.

The USA

In the USA big hangars started in 1921 with Hangar No 1 at Lakehurst Naval Airship Station (NAS). Additional hangers, which housed the USS Akronmarker and USS Macon, exist in Akron, Ohiomarker (1929) and Sunnyvale, Californiamarker (1932). The ships were constructed in Akron and based out of Sunnyvale during their operation. These three hangars still exist, as do an number of airship hangars built during the Second World War . At that time, the era of big rigid airships had already ended, but those hangars could house several smaller naval blimps at a time.

Post World War hangars

After the Second World War worldwide only one big airship shed had been built: The one in Brand south of Berlin for the construction of the Cargolifter AG airship. With a length of 360m, a width of 210m and a height of 107m it is one of the largest unsupported structures in the world. After the bankruptcy of Cargolifter AG it was converted into the leisure center “Tropical Island”.

For the needs of the rather small blimps quite a number of mostly simple hangars exist around the world today.

References

Notes

Bibliography

  • Bowyer, Michael J.F. (1983). Action Stations, Volume 6, Military airfields of the Cotswolds and the Central Midlands. Cambridge: Patrick Stephens. ISBN 0-85059-529-0.


Further reading

  • Manfred Bauer: Luftschiffhallen in Friedrichshafen. Friedrichshafen 1985
  • Kim Braun: Die Luftschiffhäfen Niedersachsens in Der Traum vom Fliegen. Oldenburg 2000
  • Hein Carsens: Schiffe am Himmel - Nordholz-Geschichte eines Luftschiffhafens. Bremerhaven 1997
  • Christopher Dean: Housing the Airship. London 1989
  • Lassalle Maryse: Bases pour dirigeables. Aix-en-Provence, France 2005
  • John Provan: The German Airship Sheds. Kelkheim 1988
  • John Provan: Luftschiffhafen Rhein-Main. Kelkheim 1986
  • John Provan: Die französischen Luftschiffhallen. Kelkheim 1989
  • James R. Schock: American Airship Bases and Facilities Edgewater. Florida, USA 1996
  • Dr. Fritz Strahlmann: Zwei deutsche Luftschiffhäfen des Weltkrieges - Ahlhorn und Wildeshausen. Oldenburg 1926
  • Michael Wulf: Luftschiffhallen, Dissertation, Technische Universität Carola-Wilhelmina. Braunschweig 1997


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