This rare film from the early 1930s shows the dirigible USS Akron, and was made just after its disastrous loss in 1933. The film begins with images of the USS Akron before taking a step back in time to show a WWI type Navy balloon landing on a ship's deck (1:00). A non-rigid Navy blimp, the C-7, is seen at 1:09. At 1:17, USS Los Angeles is seen being christened with President Calvin Coolidge in attendance. USS Shenandoah is seen at 1:38. At 1:42 the construction of the Akron is shown. Construction of ZRS-4 was begun on 31 October 1929 at the Goodyear Airdock in Akron, Ohio by the Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation. Because she was larger than any airship previously built in America, a special hangar was constructed. Chief Designer Karl Arnstein and a team of experienced German airship engineers instructed and supported design and construction of both U.S. Navy airships USS Akron and USS Macon. At 3:00 the narrator mentions that the ship would have its engines inside the hull of the airship. At 3:37, cloth is seen being added to the exterior of the ship. At 3:50, one of the ship's motors is shown being tested. At 5:48 operations on the bridge and inside the airship are shown. The film then shows the airship flying over New York, Washington D.C. and other cities. At 7:00, Rear Admiral Moffat is seen speaking to Commander Rosendahl. At 7:40 the film pays a tribute to the gallant crew of Akron who perished in the crash (see below).
USS Akron (ZRS-4) was a helium-filled rigid airship of the U.S. Navy which operated between September 1931 and April 1933. She was the world's first purpose-built flying aircraft carrier, carrying F9C Sparrowhawk fighter planes which could be launched and recovered while she was in flight. With an overall length of 785 ft (239 m), the Akron and her sister ship the Macon were among the largest flying objects ever built. Although the LZ129 Hindenburg and the LZ130 Graf Zeppelin II were some 18 ft (5.5 m) longer and slightly more voluminous, the two German airships were filled with hydrogen, so the US Navy craft still holds the world record for helium-filled airships.
The Akron was destroyed in a thunderstorm off the coast of New Jersey on the morning of 4 April 1933, killing 73 of the 76 crewmen and passengers. This accident involved the greatest loss of life in any airship crash. Most casualties had been caused by drowning and hypothermia, since the crew had not been issued life jackets, and there had not been time to deploy the airship's single life raft.
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This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD, 2k and 4k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com