Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


ZPG-3W Airship

The ZPG-3Ws were the largest airships ever built. It was the last type of airship the Navy built before bringing a close to its LTA era in 1962. Four were delivered.

The ZWG-1, designed specifically for the national early warning network mission, was ordered but was subsequently replaced by a much-modified ZPG design as the ZPG-3W. The car, radar and crew accommodations were similar to the -2Ws, but with the engines outside. Larger radar antennas were installed inside the 1,516,000-cubic-foot envelope, while the higher-powered Wright R-1820-88 engines were returned to external nacelles. By end of 1955, the mock-up inspection of the ZPG-3W had been completed. In 1956, the Navy ordered four ZPG-3W (EZ-1C as of 1962) airships from Goodyear.

Before the ZPG-3W made her first flight in July 1958, production of the 12 ZPG-2s and five ZPG-2Ws purchased had been completed and the -2s had set a number of records for extended-duration flights. The ZPG-3W began flying barrier patrols from Lakehurst in December 1959. Slightly larger than its predecessor, the 404-foot-long ZPG-3W was the last airship delivered to the Navy.

A fatal accident to the first one at sea in the summer of 1960 and a change in early warning mission left the ZPG-2s as the major LTA long-endurance aircraft. On 01 March 1960 a ZPG-3W airship of ZW-1 returned to NAS Lakehurst from an Air Defense Command barrier patrol over the North Atlantic after having been on station for 49.3 hours and 58 hours in the air. This new record for continuous patrol more than doubled the best time logged by its predecessor, the smaller ZPG-2W. On 6 July 1960, the envelope of a Lakehurst-based ZPG-3W collapsed during a flight off Long Beach Island, New Jersey, killing 18 of 21 on board.

On 31 October 1961 the Navy's last airship units were decommissioned. Two ZPG-3Ws that had been kept at Lakehurst for research were retired when the Navy terminated its airship program on 31 August 1962.

Specifications
Powerplants Two 1,525 hp Wright Cyclone engines
Length 403 feet
Diameter 85 feet
Volume 1.5 million cubic feet
Crew 22 - 26
Max speed 80 mph





NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list