C-class blimp

The C-class blimp was a patrol airship developed by the US Navy shortly after World War I, a systematic improvement upon the B-type which was very suitable for training, but of limited value for patrol work. Larger than the B-class, these blimps had two motors and a longer endurance. Once again, the envelope production was split between Goodyear and Goodrich, with control cars being built by the Burgess division of Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company. Originally the Navy ordered 30 but reduced the number to 10 after the armistice in November 1918.[1] All ten of the "C" type airships were delivered in late 1918, and examples served at all of the Navy's airship stations from 1918 to 1922. In 1921 the C-7 was the first airship ever to be inflated with helium.[2] The Navy decommissioned its last two remaining C-type blimps, the C-7 and C-9 in 1922.

C class
Role Patrol airship
Manufacturer Various (Goodyear, Goodrich)
First flight 30 September 1918, at Wingfoot Lake
Retired 1922
Primary user US Navy
Number built 10


Arriving too late for the war, the C-type became a sort of experimental airship and was used for a variety of activities besides training. C-1 was the first airship to release an airplane in flight when the C-1 dropped a Curtiss JN-4 over Fort Tilden, New York on 12 December 1918.[2] C-1 also tested a job which Navy blimps would also perform for the rest of their service. It was flown to Key West, Florida where it tracked torpedoes fired in practice from submarines. The most notable C-type was the C-5, which was flown to St. Johns, Newfoundland, where it was to attempt a transatlantic flight in competition with the US Navy's heavier-than-air Curtiss NC flying boats. In the race to be first to cross the Atlantic, in addition to the C5 and NC flying boats there were two British entrants. This unofficial "race" drew much public interest on both sides of the Atlantic and received extensive coverage by the press in the US and Europe.[3] The attempt ended when a sudden windstorm tore the unmanned C-5 from the hands of the ground crew and it was blown out to sea and lost.[4] Two C-type blimps were transferred to the US Army.[5] C-8 suddenly exploded 2 July 1919 while landing at Camp Holabird, Maryland, injuring about 80 civilians who were watching it. Windows in homes a mile away were shattered by the blast.[6][7] On 7 July 1921, US Navy Airship C-3 caught fire while in flight and burned at Naval Air Station Hampton Roads, Norfolk, Virginia.[8]

Fat Man nuclear bomb

The first US nuclear bombs, the Fat Man (Mark III) had incredibly bad ballistics. Los Alamos engineers, in an effort to fit the awkward shape of the weapon into an aerodynamically sound shape, based the Mark IV bomb casing upon the shape of the C-type blimp envelope.[9]


 United States

Specifications (typical)

General characteristics

  • Crew: Four
  • Length: 196 ft 0 in (59.76 m)
  • Diameter: 42 ft 0 in (12.80 m)
  • Height: 54 ft 0 in (16.46 m)
  • Volume: 181,000 ft3 (5,125 m3)
  • Useful lift: 4,050 lb (1,837 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Hispano-Suiza, 150 hp (112 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 60 mph (97 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 40 mph (64 km/h)
  • Range: 1,440 miles (2,320 km)
  • Endurance: 31 hours  30 min
  • Service ceiling: 8,600 ft (2,620 m) 


  • 1 × .303 Lewis gun
  • 4 × 270 lb (122 kg) bombs

See also


  1. Althoff, William F, SkyShips, New York: Orion Books, 1990, ISBN 0-517-56904-3, p. 6.
  2. Clark, Basil, The History of Airships, New York: St Martin's Press, 1961, Library of Congress 64-12336, p. 147.
  3. The New York Times, May 10, 1919, British Airmen Think They Can Win
  4. The New York Times, June 9, 1921, Friday, 1919
  5. Shock, James R., American Airship Bases and Facilities, 1996, Atlantis Productions, Edgewater Florida, ISBN 978-0964948037, page 23
  6. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2011-07-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. "New York Times Index for the Published News". New York Times Company. 11 November 2018 via Google Books.
  8. The New York Times, July 8, 1921, Friday, Page 1, Big Navy Dirigible Burned in Flight; Flames Destroy the C-3 at Hampton Roads
  9. Hansen, Chuck, Swords of Armageddon, 1995, Chukelea Publications, Sunnyvale, California, page Volume VII Page 134 (Footnote)
  • Althoff, William F. (1990). SkyShips. New York: Orion Books. ISBN 978-0-517-56904-7.
  • Shock, James R. (2001). US Navy Airships 1915-1962. Edgewater, Florida: Atlantic Press. pp. 22–27. ISBN 978-0-9639743-8-9.
  • Hansen, Chuck (1995). Swords of Armageddon. Sunnyvale, California: Chucelea Publications.
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