Los Angeles (ZR3)
LZ-126 was built in
1923-24 at the Zeppelin works in Friedrichshafen, Germany for the U.S.
Navy. The "American ship", intended as war-debt compensation, was
the world's largest aircraft when first flown. Built as a commercial
ship, the 2,470,000-cubic-foot craft was furbished for carrying 20
USS Los Angeles inside Hangar No. 1 at NAS Lakehurst
Manned by a German crew
and with three American observers on board, LZ-126 was flown to NAS
Lakehurst in October 1924, where she concluded a stunning 82.5-hour, 5,000
mile transatlantic flight. In command of the aircraft: Dr.
Hugo Eckener. She was the fourth aircraft to cross the North
Commissioned LOS ANGELES
(ZR-3) by Mrs. Calvin Coolidge on 25 November 1924, the ship was to log
nearly seven years of intensive, productive flight. She was
utilized as an experimental ship for a host of projects and trained
student naval aviators for the program. Extended over-water flights
also were flown, to demonstrate the airship's commercial potential.
Crew: 40 to 45 officers and men.
Los Angeles in flight over Washington D.C.
LOS ANGELES was a major
element in the development of the low-mast mooring system for airships,
mechanical handling gear and, in 1929-31, the technique of an
airship-airplane hook-on. Though still in good flying condition, the
ZR-3 was formally decommissioned at NAS Lakehurst on 30 June 1932, to
economize funds. Despite efforts to re-commission her, LOS
ANGELES never flew again.
Experimental glider test being conducted
Aircraft approaching ZR-3 for hook-on
The aircraft had logged
4,398 hours during 331 flights. Distance flown: 172,400
nautical miles. After a reconditioning, in 1934, LOS ANGELES was
used out on the field as a grounded testbed. Finally, on 24 October
1939, the venerable ship was stricken from Navy inventory and, that fall,
the airframe was dismantled inside Hangar No. 1. No other rigid
airship had a longer career.