C-class blimp

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This article is about the United States Navy class of blimps. For the Royal Navy's class of blimps, see Coastal class blimp.

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

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, with 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, and the St. Louis Aircraft Corporation.[1] All ten of the "C" type blimps were delivered in late 1918, and examples served at all of the Navy's airship stations in 1919 and 1920. In 1921 the C-7 was the first airship ever to be inflated with helium.[2] The Navy deflated its last two C-type airships, the C-7 and C-9 in 1922.


Arriving too late for the war, the C-type was used for a variety of activities. Training of course, but there were also other exploits. 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 only "famous" 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. The attempt ended when the C-5 was blown from the hands of the ground crew and out to sea. Two C-type blimps were transferred to the US Army. C-8 exploded 2 July 1919 while landing at Camp Holabird, Maryland, injuring ~80 adults and children who were watching it. Windows in homes a mile away were shattered by the blast.[3][4] On 7 July 1921, US Navy Airship C-3 burned at Naval Air Station Hampton Roads, Norfolk, Virginia.[5]

Interesting fact[edit]

The first US thermo-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.[citation needed]


 United States

Specifications (typical)[edit]

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[edit]


  1. ^ "Saint Louis Cardinals". Retrieved 15 September 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Clark, Basil, The History of Airships, New York: St Martin's Press, 1961, Library of Congress 64-12336, p. 147.
  3. ^ http://www.hsobc.org/Documents/BC%20Timeline.pdf
  4. ^ http://books.google.com/books?id=2u0bAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA2&lpg=PA2&dq=Winkler+dirigible&source=bl&ots=pgdeuJ4Ggh&sig=NxSU2MnUDsIm-g-eopIlFcHibHA
  5. ^ The New York Times, July 8, 1921, Friday, Page 1, Big Navy Dirigible Burned in Flight; Flames Destroy the C-3 at Hampton Roads
  • Shock, James R. (2001). US Navy Airships. Edgewater, Florida: Atlantic Press. pp. 22–27. ISBN 978-0-9639743-8-9.