K-1 (airship)

The K-1 was an experimental blimp designed by the United States Navy in 1929. Due to the inability to get Congressional approval for the construction of an airship the navy used the ploy of ordering a "universal" control car (type J/K) which could be used on the J-type airships from the Naval Aircraft Factory. An order was placed with Goodyear for an envelope for "fuel gas experiments". To complete the deception, there is no record of the US Navy assigning a serial number to the K-1, Standard Army TC type tail fins were procured from Goodyear. Unlike past Navy blimps, the control car was not suspended from external cables, but was hung from cables attached to the top of the envelope, and the car was carried flush against the envelope as in modern blimps. The control car carried bunks and a galley so that a relief crew could be carried, and was completely enclosed. The K-1 was also the first Navy blimp to have a taxi wheel. Like the Graf Zeppelin, the fuel for the K-1 was "blau gas" a mixture of combustible gases with the same density as air, which meant that the valving of gas as the fuel was consumed was not necessary. The only serious drawback was the tendency of the fuel to leak into the helium which then could not be run through the Lakehurst purification plant, which meant the expensive helium had to be vented to the air when too contaminated or an overhaul was necessary.


K-1 was assembled at Lakehurst, NJ in the fall of 1931. After tests it was based at Cape May. In summer 1933 the K-1 was sent to Lakehurst and after the departure of J-4 to Sunnyvale, was with the ZMC-2, the only flying airships at Lakehurst until 1937. The K-1 last flew in September 1940, and was subsequently used for mooring and snow removal experiments until it was scrapped in October 1941. The K-1 was not a popular airship, tending to fly tail low, and was, despite its amenities, thought to be 'uncomfortable." The K-1 was "not" the prototype of the later "K Class."

pecifications K-1

General characteristics

* Crew: unknown
* Volume: 319,000 cu ft
* Ballonet: 2, total volume 104,400 cu ft)
* Fuel gas ballonet: 1, volume 51,700 cu ft)
* Length: 219.2 ft)
* Diameter: convert|53.9|ft|m|1|abbr=on
* Overall height: convert|70|ft|m|0|abbr=on
* Useful lift: 7,684 lb
* Armament: none
* Powerplant: Two, Wright R-975-20, 300 hp


* Maximum speed: convert|55|kn|km/h|0
* Cruising speed: convert|40|kn|km/h|-1
* Range at at maximum speed: convert|940|nmi|km|-1
* Range at at cruising speed: convert|1640|nmi|km|-1

ee also

* List of airships of the United States Navy

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