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5) Fort Tilden's Blimp Hangar

Updated: October 20, 2000

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Airship C-4 from NAS Rockaway at Hazelhurst, Long Island, 1919
Source: Huntington Historical Society

Fort Tilden was the home of a blimp hangar which was designed to house Type C airships. The hangar was located on the North side of the post, along Rockaway Beach Boulevard. A Gas Generator House and an incinerator were also located near the hangar.

Designation: Class C Airship
Type: Non-rigid airship
Built by: Goodyear-Goodrich
Length: 192 feet
Diameter: 42 feet
Gas volume: 181,000 cubic feet
Engines: Two 125 HP Hispano-Suize
Crew: 4
Max speed: 10 MPH
Number built: 10

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Class C Airship in Washington DC
Source: Theodor Horydczak Collection, LC-H824-T-1132 (Library of Congress)

These "blimps" were to be used for coastal patrol in the Atlantic waters near the entrance to New York's harbor during World War I.

On Dec 12, 1917, in a test to determine the feasibility of carrying fighter aircraft on dirigibles, the airship C-1 lifted an Army JN-4 aircraft in a wide spiral climb to 2,500 feet over Fort Tilden, N.Y., and at that height released it for a free flight back to base. The airship was piloted by Lieutenant George Crompton, (Naval Aviator #100) Dirigible Officer at NAS Rockaway, and the plane by Lieutenant A. W. Redfield, USA, commanding the 52d Aero Squadron based at Mineola (Long Island, NY).

This was the first test of a "parasitic aircraft" and although it was a successful test, the idea was not considered to be practical. It is unknown if this hangar was actually used for the storage of blimps, as the adjacent NAS Rockaway had a larger hangar and landing field. This hangar was used as a storage building for locomotives until it was torn down sometime after WW2. An aerial photo from 1938 shows this building with the name "FORT TILDEN" painted on the roof. Railroad tracks are also visible entering the building.

What's left today?
This hangar has long been removed, but the concrete foundation (approx 60' x 150') and the steel rails which once guided the rollers of the large hangar doors are clearly visible today on the north side of Fort Tilden near Rockaway Beach Boulevard. This area is now used to store wood chips from cut down trees until they are used on the trails in the park.

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Gondola of Airship C-4 from NAS Rockaway at Hazelhurst, Long Island, 1919
Source: Glen H. Curtiss Museum

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