J-class blimp

The J-class blimps were non-rigid airships designed by the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in the early 1920s for the US Navy.

J class
Role Patrol airship
Manufacturer Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation
First flight 31 August 1922
Retired 1940
Primary users US Navy
US Army
Number built 3

Design and development

Designed in 1919, the J-type were to be improvements upon the D-type. Improvements included a smaller envelope (174,800 cu ft), more powerful engines, a new, simple boat style control car capable of water landings and a single ballonet to reduce weight as tried in the H-1. Two airships, designated J-1 and J-2, were ordered. J-1 first flew 31 August 1922 at Wingfoot Lake. The J-1 was operated at Hampton Roads until airship operations there were terminated in 1924. From May 1924 the J-1 served at Lakehurst, and was at that time the Navy's only active blimp. Due to the single ballonet, the J-1 proved difficult to handle. J-1 was retired in August 1924. J-2 was cancelled due to the failure of the single ballonet J-1, with the car being stored at the Naval Aircraft Factory.

J-3 was assembled from an Army TC type envelope and control car, modified to suit the Navy. Instrumentation came from the J-1. The J-3 first flew 12 October 1926. Lakehurst was the only naval air station which the J-3 served at. Its role was to train crews for the ZR-3 and ZRS-4 and 5. The J-3 was lost on April 4, 1933 during a forced landing while searching for survivors of the Navy rigid airship USS Akron (ZRS-4) with the loss of 2 out of the blimp's crew of 7.[1] Rescue was made by a United States Coast Guard and New York Police Department amphibians. J-4 utilized the J-2 control car, modified by enclosing it, and a TC-type envelope. It was test flown in November 1927. The J-4 served as a trainer at Lakehurst until it was sent to Sunnyvale in the summer of 1933. After the Army took over Sunnyvale, the J-4 was returned to Lakehurst in May 1935. The J-4 was stricken from the Navy registry in March 1940.

The J-class blimps were equipped with a control car that was suspended externally from the envelope. Utilizing helium for lift, the envelope capacity was 210,000 cu ft (5,900 m3). Two radial engines powered the blimp.


 United States

Specifications (J-3 and J-4)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 5-6
  • Length: 196 ft 0 in (59.76 m)
  • Diameter: 44 ft 6 in (13.57 m)
  • Height: 58 ft 0 in (17.68 m)
  • Volume: 210,600 ft3 (5,964 m3)
  • Useful lift: 4,600 lb (2,087 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Union, 130 hp (97 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 60 mph (96 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 46 mph (74 km/h)
  • Range: 970 miles (1,556 km)
  • Endurance: 52 hours
  • Service ceiling: 8,000 ft (2,439 m)

See also

Related lists


  • Shock, James R. (2001). U.S. Navy Airships 1915-1962. Edgewater, Florida: Atlantis Productions. ISBN 0-9639743-8-6.
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