Zeplin - Non-German Zeppelin-type Airships

Non-German Zeppelin-type Airships

Airships using the Zeppelin construction method are sometimes referred to as zeppelins even if they had no connection with the Zeppelin business. Several airships of this kind were built in the USA and Britain in the 1920s and 1930s, mostly imitating original Zeppelin designs derived from crashed or captured German World War I airships.

The British R33 and R34, for example, were near identical copies of the German L-33, which crashed virtually intact in Essex on 24 September 1916. Despite being almost three years out of date by the time they were launched in 1919, these sister ships were two of the most successful in British service. On 2 July 1919, R34 began the first return crossing of the Atlantic by aircraft. She landed at Mineola, Long Island on 6 July 1919 after 108 hours in the air. The return crossing commenced on 8 July because of concerns about mooring the ship in the open, and took 75 hours. Their success led to proposals for a fleet of airships to link far-flung British colonies, but unfortunately post-war economic conditions resulted in most airships being scrapped and trained personnel dispersed, until design and construction of the R100 and R101 commenced in 1925 as part of the Imperial Airship Scheme.

Another example was the first American-built rigid dirigible ZR-1 USS Shenandoah, launched in September 1923, while the USS Los Angeles (ZR-3) was still under construction. The ship was christened on 20 August in Lakehurst, New Jersey and was the first to be inflated with helium, which was still so rare at the time that Shenandoah contained most of the world's reserves. When Los Angeles was delivered, she was at first filled with helium borrowed from ZR-1. Other airships were the USS Akron (ZRS-4) and the USS Macon (ZRS-5).

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