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DN-1 approaching its floating hangar at Pensacola.
Role Experimental airship
Manufacturer Connecticut Aircraft
First flight 20 April 1917
Number built 1

The DN-1 was the US Navy's first airship. The contract was awarded on 1 June 1915 to the Connecticut Aircraft Company of New Haven, CT.[1] The DN-1 was roughly based on the German Parseval type of non-rigid airship. The envelope was made of two layers of cloth, with rubber between them as well as on the inside and outside. The gondola control car, built by George Lawley & Son of Dorchester, Massachusetts, was a large rectangular box with two four-bladed propellers on outriggers. The two engines, built by the B F Sturtevant Company of Hyde Park, MA, were mounted in the open gondola, and the propellers could be swiveled to provide thrust in either the horizontal or vertical planes. The gondola was water-tight as the Navy intended to operate the DN-1 off water.

The DN-1 was shipped to Pensacola, Florida in late 1916 and assembled in a floating hangar constructed for it. The day of the planned first flight, the DN-1 was removed from its hangar, only to lose lift and sink. The DN-1 was returned to its hangar and lightened. When the test program began on 20 April 1917 the DN-1 was a disappointment. DN-1 lacked lift, barely met the speed requirement of 35 miles per hour (56 km/h), and the transmission bearings melted. It was 27 April before the airship flew again. Two days later the handling party which was trying to tow the airship across the water damaged it and the DN-1 was subsequently scrapped.

The design was retrospectively dubbed the A class by the Navy, although this designation was never applied during DN-1's short life.[citation needed]


General characteristics

  • Length: 175 ft 0 in (53.51 m)
  • Diameter: 35 ft 0 in (10.67 m)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Sturtevant Model 5, 140 hp (104 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 35 mph (56 km/h)

See also[edit]

Related lists


  1. ^ Clark, Basil, The History of Airships, New York: St Martin's Press, 1961, Library of Congress 64-12336, p. 146.
  • Grossnick, Roy A. (1986). Kite Balloons to Airships... the Navy's Lighter-than-Air Experience. Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office.