Department/School of the Primary Author

History and Government


Airships, Battle of the Atlantic, Blimps, US Navy, World War II


From 1917 to 1962, the United States Navy was America’s main contributor to the use of lighter-than-air vehicles, from small observational kite-balloons to the massive infamous rigid airships like the ill-fated Shenandoah, Akron, and Macon. Most aviation histories cover the Navy’s rigid airships but ignore the post-rigid era, a period that began after the demise of the Hindenburg. This study serves to examine the Navy’s airship program in the subsequent two time periods: World War II and the post-war era. This study is based upon both qualitative and quantitative sources, most of which come from written accounts and statistics recorded during the subject’s time frame, making the study mostly reliant upon primary sources. Through the examination and analysis of these sources, this study shows that Navy blimps were a valuable contribution to merchant convoy defense during the Battle of the Atlantic, and that blimps’ performance and strengths enabled them to be valuable aircraft to the Navy even in the jet age.



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