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NavSource Online: Rigid Airships Photo Archive

USS MACON   (ZRS-5)



Akron-Class Long-range, Scouting and Aircraft-Carrying Rigid Airship
Authorized Commenced Launched Commissioned Decommissioned Stricken
24 June 1926   May 1931 11 Mar. 1933 23 June 1933   26 Feb. 1935
Builder: Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation, Macon, Ohio.

Fate: During the early evening of 12 Feb. 1935, while returning to Moffett Field from an operation over the ocean, Macon encountered a storm off Point Sur, California. A violent gust tore off her upper fin, causing damage that soon brought her down into the sea. Though all but two of her crew were rescued, the dirigible sank in deep water, effectively ending the Navy's controversial, and trouble-plagued, program of rigid airship operations.


Specifications
(As built)
Air displacement: 7,401,260 ft³ (209,580.3 m³)
Dimensions: length (oa), 785'; hull diameter, 132.9'; total height, 146.5'  /  239.3 x 40.5 x 44.7 meters
Gas volume (nominal): 6,500,000 ft³ (184,059.5 m³) of helium, 95% inflated; 12 gas cells
Armament: Eight .30-cal machine guns in nose, dorsal, ventral, and tail positions. Five Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawk fighter aircraft stowed in an internal hangar.
Power plant: Eight Maybach VL-2 12-cyl water-cooled inline engines (560 hp each), driving three-bladed fixed-pitch, rotable metal propellers.
Speed: 75.6 knots (max); 55 knots (cruising)
Ceiling: 26,000 feet (~7,925 meters)
Cruising range: 5,940 nautical miles @ cruising speed
Useful lift: 160,644 lbs. (73,020 kg)
Crew: 60 (flight crew)

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Size Image description Contributed
by and/or Copyright
Construction (1931–1933)
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990517
101k

The future USS Macon (ZRS-5) under construction in the Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation hangar at Akron, Ohio.

Gerd Matthes, Germany
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990525
61k

The skeleton of the future USS Macon (ZRS-5), in the Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation hangar at Akron, Ohio, July 1932.

Gerd Matthes, Germany
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990518
386k

"America's Giant Airship Nearly Ready."

Flight magazine, 29 December 1932 issue.

Gerd Matthes, Germany
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990510
98k

The future USS Macon (ZRS-5) under construction in the Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation hangar at Akron, Ohio, circa early 1933.

Naval History & Heritage Command photo (# NH 42022).

Naval History & Heritage Command
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990524
21k

NS02990524: "Happy Return."

NS02990524a: "Back in the Hangar."

Macon made four test flights between 21 April and 14 June 1933, totalling 82 hours. The last of them was a 48-hour endurance flight into northern Illinois, eastern Wisconsin, and across lower Michigan.

Gerd Matthes, Germany
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990524a
30k
Service Life (1933–1935)
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990526
31k

Commissioning ceremony for USS Macon (ZRS-5) at Akron, Ohio, on Friday, 23 June 1933.

Gerd Matthes, Germany
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990516
83k

USS Macon (ZRS-5) flying over New York Harbor, circa Summer 1933. The southern end of Manhattan Island is visible in the lower left center.

Naval History & Heritage Command photo (# NH 43901).

Naval History & Heritage Command
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990507
158k

View in the airship's control car, looking forward, while she was in a hangar, circa 1933–1935. This is a halftone reproduction.

Naval History & Heritage Command photo (# NH 82711).

Naval History & Heritage Command
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990504
48k

USS Macon (ZRS-5) arriving at Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey, after her delivery flight from Akron, Ohio, 24 June 1933. Note the light ground haze over the field.

Naval History & Heritage Command photo (# NH 669).

Naval History & Heritage Command
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990501
78k

USS Macon (ZRS-5) conducts initial operations with her Curtiss F9C-2 Sparrowhawk aircraft, over New Egypt, New Jersey, 7 July 1933. The two planes, visible below the airship, were piloted by Lieutenant D. Ward Harrigan and Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Frederick N. Kivette.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (# 80-G-441983).

Naval History & Heritage Command
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990511
104k

Curtiss F9C-2 Sparrowhawk fighter (Bureau # 9057), piloted by Lieutenant D. Ward Harrigan, USN, hanging from the trapeze of USS Macon (ZRS-5) during flight operations in 1933.

Official U.S. Navy photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (# 80-G-441979).

Naval History & Heritage Command
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990514
95k

Lieutenant Harold B. "Min" Miller, USN, with his Curtiss F9C-2 Sparrowhawk fighter, while visiting his hometown, Newton, Iowa, while en route from Lakehurst, New Jersey, to Moffett Field, California, in October 1933. The man in the plane's cockpit is Aviation Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Glowacki. Both men, and the aircraft, were part of the USS Macon (ZRS-5) heavier-than-air group. Macon was also en route to Moffett Field, but her Sparrowhawks were making the trip independently.

Courtesy of Harold B. Miller, 1973.

Naval History & Heritage Command photo (# NH 77429).

Naval History & Heritage Command
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990505
88k

USS Macon (ZRS-5) docked in the new airship hangar at Naval Air Station Moffett Field, Sunnyvale, California, on 15 October 1933. She had just arrived after a flight across the United States from Lakehurst, New Jersey. A small blimp is also in the hangar.

Photograph from the NAS Moffett Field History File.

Official U.S. Navy photograph, from the collections of the Naval History & Heritage Command (# NH 85743).

Naval History & Heritage Command
ZRS-5 Macon
NS05011117
72k

Admiral David F. Sellers, USN (left), Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Fleet, in the control car of USS Macon (ZRS-5) on 9 November 1933, during his visit to the airship for a flight in the vicinity of San Francisco, California. Standing with him is Macon's Commanding Officer, Commander Alger H. Dresel, USN.

Naval History & Heritage Command photo (# NH 50274).

Note: The date of this photo is sometimes given as 9 November 1934. This is incorrect, since ADM Sellers was relieved as CINCUS in June 1934, and CDR Dresel was relieved as CO of Macon in July that year.

Bill Gonyo
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990508
135k

Ship's officers pose below her control car, in the Naval Air Station Moffett Field, California, airship hangar, circa 1933–1934. Those present are:

Seated in front, left to right: Lieutenant Anthony L. Danis; Lieutenant Howard N. Coulter; Lieutenant Calvin M. Bolster, Construction Corps; Lieutenant Scott E. Peck; Lieutenant Commander Bertram J. Rodgers or Lieutenant Commander Joseph C. Arnold; Commander Alger H. Dresel, Commanding Officer; Lieutenant Commander Edwin F. Cochrane; Lieutenant Donald McA. MacKey; Lieutenant Charles W. Roland; Lieutenant Walter E. Zimmerman; and Lieutenant Frederick M. Trapnell.

Standing in back, left to right: Chief Boatswain William A. Buckley; Lieutenant (Junior Grade) George W. Campbell; Lieutenant (Junior Grade) John D. Reppy; Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Robert W. Larson; Lieutenant Howard L. Young; Lieutenant Harold B. Miller; Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Frederick N. Kivette; and Chief Machinist Emmet C. Thurman.

Courtesy of Harold B. Miller, 1973.

Naval History & Heritage Command photo (# NH 77424).

Naval History & Heritage Command
ZRS-5 Macon
NS05250105
107k

The airship USS Macon (ZRS-5) operating with the fleet, 1933–34.

Ralph Fugh Photo Collection
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990513
105k

Curtiss F9C-2 Sparrowhawk fighter (Bureau # 9058), piloted by Lieutenant Harold B. "Min" Miller, flying over Naval Air Station Moffett Field, California, in 1934. This plane was then assigned to USS Macon (ZRS-5).

Courtesy of Harold B. Miller, 1973.

Naval History & Heritage Command photo (# NH 77428).

Naval History & Heritage Command
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990506
91k

USS Macon (ZRS-5) moored at Camp Kearney, San Diego, California, on 8 February 1934.

Courtesy of Harold B. Miller, 1973.

Naval History & Heritage Command photo (# NH 77425).

Naval History & Heritage Command
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990502a
53k

USS Macon (ZRS-5) flying over San Diego harbor, California, 9 February 1934. Photographed from USS Dobbin (AD-3).

Donation of Franklin Moran, 1967.

Naval History & Heritage Command photo (# NH 65302).

Naval History & Heritage Command
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990502
62k

USS Macon (ZRS-5) in flight over San Diego harbor, California, 9 February 1934. Photographed from USS Dobbin (AD-3).

Donation of Franklin Moran, 1967.

Naval History & Heritage Command photo (# NH 65305).

Naval History & Heritage Command
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990503
85k

USS Macon (ZRS-5) over San Diego harbor, California, 1934. Photographed from USS Dobbin (AD-3), through the rigging of two destroyers that were tied up alongside. Note lookout "crows' nests" on the destroyers' foremasts. This photograph is dated 9 February 1934, but was probably taken after March 1934, as one set of water recovery condensers has been removed from above Macon's engines.

Donation of Franklin Moran, 1967.

Naval History & Heritage Command photo (# NH 65303).

Naval History & Heritage Command
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990520
45k The airship USS Macon (ZRS-5) flies over the airfield at Sunnyvale, CA, during the summer of 1934.

Tommy Trampp
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990523
124k USS Macon (ZRS-5) attached to mooring mast at Moffett Field, California.

Wiley Collection, Monterey Maritime and History Museum
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990512a
49k

Two of the airship's Curtiss F9C-2 Sparrowhawk fighters attached to her trapeze (left) and perch, during flight operations near Naval Air Station Moffett Field, California, 12 October 1934. This image is a frame from a motion picture film, taken from an airplane flying alongside USS Macon (ZRS-5). The planes' pilots were Lieutenant Harold B. Miller (plane on the trapeze) and Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Frederick N. Kivette (plane on the perch). Both planes have their wheel landing gear removed, as was generally the practice when they operated from Macon after 19 July 1934.

Courtesy of Harold B. Miller, 1973.

Naval History & Heritage Command photo (# NH 77437).

Naval History & Heritage Command
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990512
88k

Curtiss F9C-2 Sparrowhawk fighter, with its landing gear removed for airship operations, maneuvers near USS Macon (ZRS-5), while being filmed by Fox Movietone News cameras on 12 October 1934. The plane's pilot was Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Frederick N. Kivette, USN.

Courtesy of Richard K. Smith, author of the book The Airships Akron & Macon, 1974.

Naval History & Heritage Command photo (# NH 84571).

Naval History & Heritage Command
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990515
50k

Waco XJW-1 utility airplane (Bureau # 9522) parked at an airfield, circa 1934–1935. This airplane was assigned to USS Macon (ZRS-5).

Courtesy of Richard K. Smith, author of the book The Airships Akron & Macon, 1974.

Naval History & Heritage Command photo (# NH 80772).

Naval History & Heritage Command
Crash of USS Macon (ZRS-5), 12 Feb. 1935
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990509
101k

Some of USS Macon's officers aboard USS Richmond (CL-9) on the morning after her crash. Macon went down during the night on 12 February 1935. Present are (left to right): Lieutenant (Junior Grade) George W. Campbell; Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Gerald L. Huff; Lieutenant Anthony L. Danis; Lieutenant Harold B. Miller; Lieutenant Commander George H. Mills; Lieutenant Commander Calvin M. Bolster, Construction Corps; Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Earl K. Van Swearingen; Lieutenant Howard N. Coulter; Chief Boatswain William A. Buckley; and Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Leroy C. Simpler.

Courtesy of Harold B. Miller, 1973.

Naval History & Heritage Command photo (# NH 77423).

Naval History & Heritage Command
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990522
201k

This sophisticated photomontage shows the remains of USS Macon (ZRS-5) and her four fighters on the seabed.

"The wreckage of the Macon and four aircraft lie at a depth of more than 1,500 feet and were first documented in 1990 by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary conducted a sonar survey in 2005 followed by the first archaeological expedition in 2006 that documented the Macon's remains."

"Commemorating the 75th anniversary of the loss of the U.S. Navy airship USS Macon, NOAA today [11 February 2010] announced that the wreck site on the seafloor within Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary has been added to the National Register of Historic Places."

(More information available at the NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] website.)

Gerd Matthes, Germany
Memorabilia
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990519
92k

"The U.S.S. Macon, named in honor of the city of Macon, GA."

"The U.S.S. Macon, largest airship in the world, is 785 feet long and has a maximum diameter of 133 feet. Its gas capacity is 6,500,000 cubic feet, nearly twice that of the Graf Zeppelin.

Tommy Trampp
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990519a
109k
ZRS-5 Macon
NS02990521
138k

"N.Y.C. Greets U.S.S. Macon," 1933.

Gerd Matthes, Germany

For more photos and information about this ship, see:

View the USS Macon (ZRS-5)
DANFS History entry located on the Naval History & Heritage Command Web Site.
Crew Contact and Reunion Information
Not applicable

Related Links of Interest
  AirshipHistory.com

  Naval Airship Association, Inc.

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Last update: 15 December 2013