If the U.S. Navy and Goodyear gained icon status as operators of blimps in the United States, the U.S. Army was a big player in the interwar years.
U.S. Army lighter-than-air aircraft can be traced to reconnaissance balloons used during the Civil War by Thaddeus Lowe in support of the Union Army.
In 1921 the U.S. Army operated the semi-rigid Italian-built airship Roma, the largest semi-rigid design in the world at the time, with a length of 410′.
Buoyed by hydrogen, the Roma came to grief near its base at Langley Field, Virginia, in 1922 when the nose collapsed during high-speed flying, and the ensuing hydrogen fire gave the U.S. military the resolve to fill all of their future airships with nonflammable helium instead. [Read more…]