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A hangar is a closed structure to hold aircraft or spacecraft in protective storage. Most hangars are built of metal, but other materials such as wood and concrete are also used. The word hangar comes from Middle French hanghart ("enclosure near a house"), of Germanic origin, from Frankish *haimgard ("home-enclosure", "fence around a group of houses"), from *haim ("home, village, hamlet") + gard ("yard").
In 1909, Louis Bleriot crash-landed on a northern French farm in Les Baraques (between Sangatte and Calais) and rolled his monoplane into the farmer's cattle pen. At the time, Bleriot was in a race to be the first man to cross the English Channel in a heavier-than-air aircraft, so he set up his headquarters in the unused shed.
The Wright brothers stored and repaired their aircraft in a wooden hangar constructed in 1902 at Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina for their glider. After completing design and construction of the Wright Flyer in Ohio, the brothers returned to Kill Devil Hill only to find their hangar damaged. They repaired the structure and constructed a new workshop while they waited for the Flyer to be shipped.
In Britain, the earliest aircraft hangars were known as aeroplane sheds and the oldest surviving examples of these are at Larkhill, Wiltshire. These were built in 1910 for the Bristol School of Flying are now Grade II* Listed buildings. British aviation pioneer Alliott Verdon Roe built one of the first aeroplane sheds in 1907 at Brooklands, Surrey, and today full-size replicas of this and the 1908 Roe biplane are displayed at Brooklands Museum.
As aviation became established in Britain before World War I, standard designs of hangar gradually appeared with military types too such as the Bessonneau hangar and the side-opening aeroplane shed of 1913 - both of which were soon widely adopted by the Royal Flying Corps. Examples of the latter survive at Farnborough, Filton and Montrose airfields. During World War I, other standard designs included the RFC General Service Flight Shed of 1916, the Admiralty F-Type (1916), the General Service Shed (featuring the characteristic Belfast-truss roof and built in various sizes) and the Handley Page aeroplane shed (1918).
Airship hangars (also referred to as "airship sheds") are generally larger than conventional aircraft hangars, particularly in terms of height. Most early airships used hydrogen gas to provide them with sufficient buoyancy for flight, so their hangars had to provide protection from stray sparks in order to prevent the flammable gas from exploding. Hangars that held multiple craft of this type were at risk from chain-reaction explosions. For this reason, most hangars for hydrogen-based airships were built to house only one or two such craft.
During the "Golden Age" of airship travel (starting in 1900), mooring masts and sheds were constructed to build and house airships. The British government built a shed in Karachi for the R101, the Brazilian government built one in Rio de Janeiro, the pt:Hangar do Zeppelin for the German Zeppelins, and the US government constructed Moffett Field, Akron, Ohio, and Lakehurst Naval Air Station, Lakehurst, New Jersey
Sheds built for rigid airships survive at Moffett Field, California; Akron, Ohio; Weeksville, North Carolina; Lakehurst, New Jersey; Base Aérea de Santa Cruz (Rio de Janeiro):pt:Hangar do Zeppelin and Cardington, Bedfordshire. Steel rigid airship hangars are some of the largest in the world.
Hangar 1, Lakehurst, is located at Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst (formerly Naval Air Station Lakehurst), New Jersey. The structure was completed in 1921 and is typical of airship hangar designs of World War I. The site is best known for the Hindenburg disaster; where on May 6, 1937, the German airship Hindenburg crashed and burned while landing. Hangar No.1 at Lakehurst was used to construct and store the American USS Shenandoah. The hangar also provided service and storage for the airships USS Los Angeles, Akron, Macon, as well as the Graf Zeppelin, and the Hindenburg.
The Goodyear Airdock, is located in Akron, Ohio. The structure was completed on November 25, 1929. The Airdock was used for the construction of the USS Akron and her sister ship, the USS Macon.
The US Navy established expanded airship operations during WWII. As part of this ten "lighter-than-air" (LTA) bases across the United States were built during World War II as part of the coastal defense plan; a total of 17 hangars were built. Hangars at these bases are some of the world's largest freestanding timber structures. Bases with wooden hangars included: the Naval Air Stations at South Weymouth, Massachusetts (1 hangar); Lakehurst, New Jersey (2); Weeksville, North Carolina (1); Glynco, Georgia (2); Richmond, Florida (3); Houma, Louisiana (1); Hitchcock, Texas (1); Tustin (Santa Ana), California (2); Moffett Field, California (2); and Tillamook, Oregon (2).
Of the original seventeen, only seven remain today: (2) Moffett Federal Field, (former NAS Moffett Field), California (2); former Tustin, California (former NAS Santa Ana and MCAS Tustin), California (1); Tillamook Air Museum/Tillamook Airport (former NAS Tillamook), Oregon (2); and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst/Naval Support Activity Lakehurst (former NAS Lakehurst), New Jersey.
A hangar for Cargolifter built at Brand-Briesen Airfield. The hangar (360 m long, 220 m wide and 106 m high), is a technological marvel in itself, is a freestanding steel-dome "barrel-bowl" construction large enough to fit the Eiffel Tower on its side. The company went into insolvency, and in June 2003, the company's facilities were sold off the airship hangar was converted to a 'tropical paradise'-themed indoor holiday resort called Tropical Islands, which opened in 2004.
An alternative to the fixed hangar is a portable shelter that can be used for aircraft storage and maintenance. Portable fabric structures can be built up to 150 feet wide, 100 feet high and any length. They are able to accommodate multiple aircraft at once and can be increased in size and even relocated when necessary.
Hangars aboard ships
Many ships - particularly warships - carry aircraft aboard and will often have hangars for storage and maintenance. Such hangars may be situated adjacent to the flight deck (as is common on cruisers, destroyers and frigates) or underneath the flight deck with elevators to lift the aircraft (as is common on aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships). On some vessels where space is at a premium the hangar and flight deck share the same space, with the hangar stowing away for flight operations.
Structures and sizes
Hangars need special structures to be built. The width of the doors have to be large; this includes the aircraft entrance. The bigger the aircraft to be introduced, the more complex a structure is needed. According to the span of the hangar, sizes can be classified thus:
|S||Less than 30 m|
|XXL||More than 120 m|
Hangar No. 2 at the former Marine Corps Air Station Tustin is 1,072 ft long, 292 ft (89 m) wide and 192 ft (59 m) tall.
Helicopter hangar of the German research vessel Polarstern
Round concrete hangars at Grimbergen Airfield, Belgum.
- Cargolifter Hangar (airship hangar over 100 m high)
- Tee Hangar (primarily used for private aircraft at general aviation airports)
- Bellman hangar (temporary hangar designed in the United Kingdom in 1936)
- Bessonneau hangar (portable timber and canvas hangar used during World War I)
- Blister hangar (arched portable hangar patented in 1939)
- Airship hangar
- Military building
- Underground hangar
- Hangar 18
- Double cantilever hangar
- Loring Air Force Base Arch Hangar, a large hangar constructed for multiple B-36 Peacemaker aircraft
- "A Nine Acre Nest For Dirigibles" Popular Science Monthly, September 1929
- Building the Navy's Bases in World War II, History of the Bureau of Yards and Docks and the Civil Engineer Corps, 1940-1946 Volume I - Part II: The Continental Bases
Francis, Paul (1996) ‘British Military Airfield Architecture – From Airships to the Jet Age’ (Patrick Stephens Ltd, Sparkford, Somerset, ISBN 1 85260 462 X)
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