31 October 2013

USS Shenandoah (FA-1)

United States of America Airship
Name:USS Shenandoah (FA-1)
Ordered:7 February 1919
Laid down:14 April 1919
Launched:7 May 1920
Commissioned:18 October 1920
In service:Destroyed 24 June 1922
Homeport:Trenton, New Jersey
General Characteristics
Class:Shenandoah class rigid airship
Tonnage:77,500 lb (25,200kg)
Length:680 ft (207.25 m)
Beam:78 ft 9 in (24.0 m)
Height:93 ft 2 in (28.4 m)
Propulsion:300 hp (220 kW) eight-cylinder gasoline engine
Speed:60 knots(69 mph / 110 km/h)
Range:5,000 miles (4,300 nmi, 8,000 km)/td>
Capacity:useful lift of 51,600 lb (23,405 kg); Nominal gas volume 2,100,000 ft
Complement:Ship's company: 25; Air wing: 2
Armament:6 x0.30 in (7.62mm) Lewis machine guns; 8 x 500 lb bombs
Aircraft carried:2 aircraft

The USS Shenandoah was the first rigid airship constructed by the US Navy. It was constructed at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in 1920 and was deployed to Russia after its shakedown in 1921.

The vessel was intended for long-range recon and limited bombing operation. Hooks for a pair of aircraft were added part way through the construction process to enhance the craft's capabilities. On her final voyage the Shenandoah was carrying a pair of Thomas-Morse MB-3 biplanes. During the shakedown cruise the functionality of the aircraft docking hooks was proven. The vessel then crossed North America testing endurance.

After all tests and related missions were completed, and with America's entry into the Red War, the Shenandoah was deployed to the Russian Far East. The trip across the Pacific took several days longer than expected due to weather conditions, but the ship performed exceptionally. It was attached to the American Expeditionary Force in Vladivostok.

Final Mission In June 1922 the Shenandoah was assigned to a extremely long range scouting/bombing mission. They were to verify and destroy an important Bolshevik supply depot far from any allied lines. Later reports indicated success in this mission, but shortly thereafter, on 24 June 1922, the ship was destroyed well over enemy lines by air turbulence. Possibly unknown damage from prior enemy action may have contributed to the destruction.

The image of the vessel above is of the real-world USS Shenandoah. The image and some of the information above was taken and modified from the related Wikipedia article.

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