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USS Macon (ZRS-5)

Akron-class Rigid Airship / Scout / Aircraft Carrier

USS Macon (ZRS-5)

Akron-class Rigid Airship / Scout / Aircraft Carrier

OVERVIEW
SPECIFICATIONS
ARMAMENT
VARIANTS
HISTORY
MEDIA
OVERVIEW



USS Macon ZRS-5 was commissioned in June of 1933 and managed a short service which ended in early 1935 by way of a crash following a storm.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United States
YEAR: 1933
MANUFACTURER(S): Goodyear-Zeppelin Company - USA
PRODUCTION: 1
OPERATORS: United States
SPECIFICATIONS



Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the USS Macon (ZRS-5) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
CREW: 60
LENGTH: 785.10 feet (239.3 meters)
WIDTH: 132.87 feet (40.5 meters)
HEIGHT: 146.00 feet (44.5 meters)
ENGINE: 8 x Maybach VL-2 12-cylinder water-cooled inline piston engines developing 560 horsepower each driving three-bladed, variable pitch metal propeller units.
SPEED (MAX): 87 miles-per-hour (140 kilometers-per-hour; 76 knots)
RANGE: 6,835 miles (11,000 kilometers; 5,940 nautical miles)




ARMAMENT



FIXED, STANDARD:
8 x 0.30 caliber medium machine guns in defensive positions.

ALSO:
Up to five biplane aircraft carrier.
VARIANTS



Series Model Variants
• USS Macon (ZRS-5) - Base Designation


HISTORY



Detailing the development and operational history of the USS Macon (ZRS-5) Akron-class Rigid Airship / Scout / Aircraft Carrier.  Entry last updated on 5/25/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
USS Macon (ZRS-5) served the United States Navy as a scouting platform and experimental fighter mothership during its short-lived air-going career in the 1930s. It was designed as a rigid airship and her development coincided with the American interest in "parasite fighters". Parasite fighters were to be housed in hangars aboard the airship and released as needed and made recoverable through an ingenious "trapeze" method.

USS Macon began construction in May of 1931 by Goodyear-Zeppelin Company of Springfield Township, Ohio. The airship was launched on March 11th, 1933 and formally commissioned (as naval warships are) on June 23rd of that year. Her development was aided by German engineering support that included Karl Arnstein, a well-experienced designer of airships during the period.

Macon belonged to the Akron-class group which consisted of just one other aircraft - USS Akron (ZRS-4). Displacement was 7,401,260 cubic feet while dimensions included an overall length of 785 feet a beam of 133 feet and a draught of 146.4 feet. Propulsion was from 8 x (German) Maybach VL-2 12-cylinder water-cooled inline piston engines developing 560 horsepower each. These engines drove three-bladed, variable-pitch metal propeller units. The propellers were given a tilting feature that allowed them to vector their power downwards or in reverse. Maximum speed was 86 miles per hour while cruising was restricted to around 63 miles per hour. The airship's range was out to 6,840 miles.




Internally Macon carried a crew of sixty personnel. There were also 8 x 0.30 caliber medium machine guns fitted for local defense. A single trapeze recovery installation was used to launch one of the five Curtiss F9C "Sparrowhawk" biplane fighters (detailed elsewhere on this site). The general make up of the ship involved a dozen helium-filled cells fabricated from gelatin-latex and the solid understructure of the airship was of duraluminum.

Once in the air, the Akron-class airships became the largest such aircraft constructed on American soil. In April of 1933, Macon's sister, USS Akron, crashed and was lost (with only three souls surviving). Macon began her own career in June of that year and began by undertaking training sorties. It then joined USN warships for fleet exercises where her contributions were limited due to a general misunderstanding of how to use such an air vehicle in conjunction with sea-going vessels. The airship then successfully launched and retrieve its first aircraft during July of 1933. It relocated from Lakehurst, New Jersey to Santa Clara County in California before the end of the year.

In 1934, USS Macon attempted another continental journey but was damaged before arriving at its destination. Her end came during a storm encountered on February 12th, 1935 as she crashed off the coast of California (near Monterey Bay, two crew died in the event). The loss of both Akron and Macon steered the USN to invest more in non-rigid airships for the World War 2 period.

The vessel managed 50 flights before being written off (February 26th, 1935). The accident site was explored in February of 1991 and again in 2006. In January of 2010, the site was added to the National Register of Historic Places. At least four Sparrowhawk fighters have been identified with the wreckage.




MEDIA









Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 100mph
Lo: 50mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (87mph).

    Graph average of 75 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LDN
LDN
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MSK
MSK
 
  TKY
TKY
 
  SYD
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  LAX
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  NYC
Graph showcases the USS Macon (ZRS-5)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
1
1

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Supported Roles
A2A
Interception
UAV
Ground Attack
CAS
Training
ASW
Anti-Ship
AEW
MEDEVAC
EW
Maritime/Navy
SAR
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
VIP
Passenger
Business
Recon
SPECOPS
X-Plane/Development
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Supported Arsenal
Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.