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Location: /Squadron Patches/USN NAVY Squadrons

pre-WWII Patch, USN, HTA SQ, USS Macon

pre-WWII Patch, USN, HTA SQ, USS Macon

Product Information
pre-WWII US Navy Squadron Patch
Heavier Than Air Squadron, USS Macon
USN Sparrowhawk Airplane Squadron attached to USN
Dirigible (Zeppelin, Blimp) USS Macon
Moffett Field, Naval Air Station (NAS) Sunnyvale, Santa Clara County, California
4.75 inches


From wikipedia: USS Macon (ZRS-5) was a rigid airship built and operated by the United States Navy for scouting. It served as a flying aircraft carrier, launching Sparrowhawk biplanes. In service for less than two years, in 1935 Macon was damaged in a storm and lost off California's Big Sur coast, though most of her crew were saved. The wreckage is listed as USS Macon Airship Remains on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Less than 20 ft (6.1 m) shorter than Hindenburg, she and her sister, Akron, were among the largest flying objects in the world in terms of length and volume. Although the hydrogen-filled Hindenburg was longer, the two sisters still hold the world record for helium-filled airships.

When the USS Macon was christened on March 11, 1933, it was the most sophisticated of the Navy’s lighter-than-air (LTA) fleet. The Macon exhibited the highest expression of naval LTA technology during its short career. At 785 feet in length, the airship’s size captured American fascination during flyovers of U.S. communities as chronicled in numerous advertisements, articles, and newsreels. The dramatic loss of the Macon and its sister ship, the Akron, within two years of each other contributed to the cancellation of the Navy’s rigid airship program. The archeological remains of the USS Macon lie off California’s Big Sur coast in NOAA’s Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The site also contains the remains of four of the airship’s squadron of small Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawk scout aircraft which the Macon carried in an internal hangar bay.  The Macon's fifth F9C-2 biplane is preserved at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, while four biplanes lie in the wreckage.

Designed to carry five F9C Sparrowhawk biplanes, Macon received her first aircraft on board July 6, 1933 during trial flights out of Lakehurst, New Jersey. The planes were stored in bays inside the hull and were launched and retrieved using a trapeze.

To achieve launching and recovery from the airship, a hook/anchor system was developed, dubbed by crews as "the flying trapeze". The Sparrowhawk had a hook mounting on its top wing that attached to the cross-bar of the trapeze. For launching, the biplane's hook was engaged on the trapeze inside the (internal) hangar, the trapeze was lowered clear of the hull into the (moving) airship's slipstream and, engine running, the Sparrowhawk would then disengage its hook and fall away from the airship. For recovery, the biplane would fly up underneath its mother ship, moving slightly faster than the airship, and in a somewhat tricky maneuver hook onto the trapeze; the width of the trapeze cross-bar allowed a certain lateral lee-way in approach, the biplane's hook mounting had a guide rail to provide some tolerance against relative vertical motion (see photo), and engagement of the hook was automatic on positive contact between hook and trapeze. More than one attempt might have to be made before a successful engagement was achieved, for example in gusty conditions. Once the Sparrowhawk was securely caught, its engine could be safely cut and it could then be hoisted by the trapeze back within the airship's hull.

One interesting use of the Sparrowhawks was to act as "flying ballast". The airship could take off with additional ballast or fuel aboard instead of its airplanes. Once the airship was cruising, the aircraft would be flown aboard, the additional weight being supported by dynamic lift until the airship lightened.

In order to increase their scouting range while the airship was on operations, some Sparrowhawks were modified by having their landing gear removed and replaced by a fuel tank. When the airship was returning to base, the biplanes' landing gear would be replaced so that they could land independently again.

Only one Sparrowhawk survives today. XF9C-2 Bu.Aer A9264 is displayed at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, wearing the markings of F9C-2 A9056 of USS Macon.

Price: $140.00


Product Code: PatchUSN.000.HTASQussMacon
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