Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Airship Akron

Shapeways has come out with a model of the Akron and her sistership Macon, two dirigible airships built in this country by a German team from the Zeppelin works in that country. Akron became operational in September 1931 while the Macon first flew in April 1933. The airships were kept aloft by 12 helium filled gas cells and were powered by eight 12-cylinder gasoline engines, giving them a range of over 10,000 miles. The United States had much larger quantities of helium than most of the other countries of the world. Helium was not flamable like hydrogen, which fueled the spectacularly ill-fated Hindenburg disaster. Akron and Macon were really designed as airborne aircraft carriers and came equipped with small fighters, the F9C/Sparrowhawk biplane. There was a trapeze arrangement that lowered the planes for launch and they would hook on and be lifted aboard upon their return. Unfortunately the Akron and Macon were also ill-fated. Akron ran into an intense storm front off New Jersey and was lost at sea, only three of its 76 man crew were rescued and a navy blimp sent out to search for survivors also crashed with the loss of two men. Macon was also lost in February 1935, again in a storm, although this time only two of the 76 man crew were lost. You may be thinking that the reaon I only have one model displayed is because the Akron was lost before the Macon commissioned so there was only one active at a time. Actually I have two models, but I tried painting one of them with enamel and it wouldn't dry on the plastic so I painted this one with acrylic and am stripping the other one with thinner to be painted later. When will I ever learn not to paint plastics with acrylic??? Inquiring minds would love to know!!

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