|L-8 delivering B-25 modification parts to the aircraft carrier USS Hornet before the Doolittle Raid, 1942|
|Manufacturer||Goodyear-Zeppelin and Corporation and Goodyear Aircraft Corporation|
|Primary user||US Navy|
The L class blimps were training airships operated by the United States Navy during World War II. In the mid-1930s, the Goodyear Aircraft Company built a family of small non-rigid airships that the company used for advertising the Goodyear name. In 1937 the United States Navy awarded a contract for two different airships, K class blimp designated K-2 and a smaller blimp based upon Goodyear's smaller commercial model airship used for advertising and passenger carrying. The smaller blimp was designated by the Navy as L-1 The L-1 was delivered in April 1938 and operated from the Navy's lighter-than-air facility at Lakehurst, New Jersey. In the meantime, the Navy ordered two more L-Class blimps, the L-2 and L-3, on September 25, 1940. These were delivered in 1941. L-2 was lost in a nighttime mid-air collision with the G-1 on June 8, 1942.
When the United States entered World War II, the Navy took over the operation of Goodyear's five commercial blimps. These were the Resolute, Enterprise, Reliance, Rainbow, and Ranger. These airships were given the designations L-4 through L-8 even though their characteristics and performance varied among them. The next four L-Class airships were built in the assembly and repair shops at NAS Moffett Field. These blimps, L-9 through L-12 were completed by April 1943. The last lot of L-Class airships were ordered from Goodyear under a contract of February 24, 1943. This was a lot of ten airships designated L-13 through L-22. All the blimps were delivered by the end of 1943.
As training airships these blimps operated mainly from the two major lighter-than-air bases, Lakehurst and Moffett Field. While too small for any extensive operational use, they were used on some coastal patrols. In this role, L-8, of Blimp Squadron ZP-32 was involved in a mysterious incident where in the airship came drifting in from the Pacific Ocean over southern San Francisco at Daly City on August 16, 1942, without either of the crewmen – Lt. E. D. Cody and Ensign C. Adams – on board. No trace of either man was ever found.
Following the end of World War II a number of the L-class blimps were sold back to Goodyear. The company repaired L-8 and renamed it America.
Data from
- Crew: Two
- Length: 147 ft 6 in (44.97 m)
- Diameter: 39 ft 10 in (12.14 m)
- Height: 34 ft 0 in (16.46 m)
- Volume: 123,000 ft3 (3,482 m3)
- Useful lift: 2,540 lb (1,152 kg)
- Powerplant: 2 × Warner R-500-2 radials,, 145 hp (108 kW) each
- Maximum speed: 61 mph (96 km/h)
- Cruise speed: 46 mph (74 km/h)
- Range: 2,205 miles (3,537 km)
- Endurance: 11 hours 54 min
- Gary Kamiya, "Ghost blimp's enduring mystery: How did crew vanish before Bay Area crash?", San Francisco Chronicle, September 29, 2018.
- Shock, James R. (2001). U.S. Navy Airships 1915-1962. Edgewater, Florida: Atlantis Productions. ISBN 0-9639743-8-6.
- Althoff, William F. (1990). Sky Ships. New York: Orion Books. ISBN 0-517-56904-3.
- Engelmann, Larry (July 1978) Close Encounter of Flight 101 American Legion Magazine