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Apr 21, 2012, 12:55 PM
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USN Airship Squadron ZW-1 or ZP-3, Lakehurst, NJ

Any Airdale's from these LTA units on here ? I was attached to ZW-1, Lakehurst, NJ. Flew many hours in the 2W's, when Goodyear sent the new
3W's down, then the real trouble started. They both went down, lot of our crew members killed.

Hobe Sound, FL
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Apr 29, 2012, 06:55 PM
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Hello Vince. Interesting to hear from someone who flew the big nonrigids. I thought there was only one 3W that crashed, but you say they both went down. What were the circumstances?

BTW, could you please enlighten me on teh colour scheme of the 3W. I have built a model (see, but I only have B&W photos to go on. Knowing the colours for the details would be good for finishing.

Thanks, Alan
Jun 02, 2012, 09:43 PM
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Airship 3W model

Hi Alan. I haven't checked mail on here in a while. Trying to recollect my memory. I had plenty of time in the 2W bags, and good time in the larger
3W's. I could have been on one of the blimps, as we would trade off barrier flight duty. You could get out of a mission, say we wanted a weekend off, just trade time an date with another crew member, working the same position as you.
As far as I remember, one 3W went down in a storm, the other, the bag split from the nose cone, at the top, right down the middle, deflating it, and very quickly. Inside these bags, on the 2W's and 3W's, are ballonets. The (e) in that word, is pronounced as a long (a). Saying the alphabet, you would start with the letter (a), that sound. These ballonets, are secured to port and starboard, fore and aft, inside the bags. Say you have a considerabel temperature change, when making a long approach to land, then the bag is heavy, and you have also dumped water out of the combo tanks, these tanks hold water onboard for ballast, if the temp changed to cold out, from when you left, or on station, you would pump the ballonets up, which in turn compressed the helium, making the bag lighter, and if the bag is light coming in, the reverse. Sometime we would dump ballast water, just before final approach, as you fly the bag as an HTA aircraft for landing pattern, and takeoff. I have all nomenclature in my head, more for the 2W. On the 2W's, we had a radome under the gondolas, and the engines were inside, with a series of driveshafts out to the engine nacelles. The 3W's engines were outside the bag, hanging off the gondola's. The noise inside on the 2W's was almost unbearable, and I am sure that had some effect on my hearing nowadays. The 3W's in turn, had a very large radar antenna inside the bag, and the 2W's did have a small encased antenna on top of the bag, and the one under the gondola was encased. Many times, coming back from a barrier flight in the Atlantic, (lot of Russian subs and trawlers out there), we would have to make a bag repair during the flight, up to the top of the blimp, teathered, making a patch. The 3W's crew, about 36, double everything, as we worked 4 on and 4 off continually. Usually, a flight was about 32 to 40 hours, and half of that time was getting on station. Sometime, during a storm, we would zig zag back, not to buck head winds, I have seen us making minus 4 or 5 knots. We had two squadrons there, AEW and ASW, ZW-1 and ZP-3, which is anti-sub. I did find a model plastic kit of one of the USN's blimps we used to fly in, a 2W bag. On the box, it looks exactly like the bags we flew in. I have not opened it up yet, I got it on e-bay a few years ago.
I can share any info with you, if I can. Each crash of the 3W's, killed all crewmen on board, and on our bag for ZW-1, one crewmember lived. His last name was Dalesandro, from Ohio, he was a rigger aft of the gondola. I belive he said it went down from about 300' altitude, and right now I do not remember which of us went down in the storm, or the bag ripping on top.
We were not allowed to talk to the press, and was ordered silence.
I had to make a sales call on Goodyear Akron, some years ago, these bags went down in 1959 or 60. The company I retired from, I traveled the USA for many years, and had an appointment with a hangar maintenance manager at the Akron location, around 1992. After security clearance, I was directed to another building, I had my visitors pass displayed, so I could walk around. On my way to see this person, I passed a very large building, but it did not have hangar doors that would allow entry of any blimp. I saw a side door, and peeked in. To my surprise, in there, was one of the gondolas, which was recovered from the ocean, or at Barnegat Bay, NJ. One went down somewhere off shore, and the other Barnegat Bay, which was where we would set down low, to pump up some ballast water. Meaning that one would have been the one with the mechanical trouble of the bag.
There was the gondola sitting there, with shreds of the bag dangling all around, and looked like a ghost to me. Someone came over, asked me what I wanted, told him where I was going, then I asked him about it. He did not know much, only telling me, a blimp that went down. Of course I knew more.
Every 4th day, and every 4th weekend, we would have ground duty, assisting take off and landings of the blimps. There were drag lines off the nose cones, blimp coming in under power, low, you had to run out and with a leather sheath on your arm, you would cradle the drag line in the crook of your arm, then the mules would come over, an AWD vehicle with two Chrysler V-8's in them and your would hook the drag line to the mule, he would then maneuver in concert with the other mule from the other drag line, they would make it taught, until we drove the 3 sided mast to the blimps nose section where a tit would be, and the motorized tripod, would come up, and a female split clasp would secure the tit on the front. The mules could let go, the blimp would be taken to its standing station, it would just weathervane there. On watch, you would sit at the cockpit, main job, especially when the weather would change temps, to valve or pump up the ballonets. There were times when someone would fall asleep on watch, hot out, the bag would get lighter and lighter, attached to the mast, and it would rise, and rise, and be standing almost straight up, and making it difficult for the OD and others to get in the gondola. That could mean a captain's mast, (dereliction of duty), if they turned him in.
More later, write anytime. I do have film of these blimps that my father took, many years ago, they are lost somewhere in the family. Of course he has passed some years ago, and the film if from off the base, looking in. I'll do some research on the colors, and I am sure everything was silver. Possible some color framing around the cockpit window areas.

Hobe Sound, FL
Hobe Sound, FL
Jul 20, 2016, 04:17 PM
Registered User
Hi Vince,
I just came across this website this week. I was attached to ZW-1.
My wife and our son were stationed at Lakehurst 1958 & 9, having transferred from NAS Corpus Christi where we flew PBM's.
I heard about the crash you mentioned, with one survivor, from a good friend who was still there after we left. That was my crew!
We were saddened by the news, but I said to my wife, "I might have been the one to survive."
I think you are right about colors that Alan asked about.

Best Regards,
Tampa, Fl.
20 July 2016
Aug 11, 2017, 01:58 PM
PhoenixFlyer's Avatar
Rick. Sent you a PM. 3W below.


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