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Navy's First Airship, 1915

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DN-1 approaches its floating hangar at Pensacola, Florida, 1917. (Photo US Navy)

On 01 June 1915 the United States Navy signed a contract for its first lighter-than-air (LTA) ship with the Connecticut Aircraft Company in New Haven, Connecticut. This first naval airship was designated the DN-1 and cost the Navy $45,636.

The DN-1 was shipped to Pensacola, Florida, in December 1916 and assembled in the floating hangar seen above. Soon after it was constructed gale force winds took it on a  trip and the DN-1 finally stopped in a swamp 75 miles east of Pensacola, luckily no one was onboard at the time.

On the first day of flight testing, the airship promptly lost lift and began to sink. The DN-1 was returned to its hangar and lightened. Tests began again on 20 April 1917, but the DN-1 failed all tests. It was underpowered, lacked lift,  and the transmission bearings melted. It was 27 April before the airship flew again. Two days later DN-1 was damaged as it was being towed across the water to its hangar. The  DN-1 was subsequently scrapped.

Closer look at the DN-1 cockpit and props (Photo US Navy).

Read here a Popular Science magazine article on the DN-1 from 1917.

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