History: Photo of the USS Los Angeles Rigid Airship Over Long Island


The USS Los Angeles (ZR-3) was said to be the most successful of all rigid airships operated by the U.S. Navy.

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Photo: Bain News Service, publisher / Public domain.

German-built by the Zeppelin Airship Company in 1922, the USS Los Angeles (ZR-3) was considered one of the most successful rigid airships ever operated by the U.S. Navy.


A true Zeppelin (having been built by the namesake company), the craft came to America in 1924 and was christened the USS Los Angeles by First Lady Grace Coolidge.


Her construction, according to some accounts, was partially funded by German World War I reparations and was conditional on her being employed for civil purposes.


The ship became what one military paper described as a flying laboratory that was used primarily as a training airship and a research and development vehicle. In June 1925, as part of one of many scientific experiments conducted onboard, she took scientists to view and photograph a total eclipse of the sun.


The USS Los Angeles became the one-and-only Zeppelin operated by the Navy for many years, after another vessel, the USS Shenandoah, was lost. She also aided in the calibration of navigational radio stations in the Atlantic and made the first nonstop flight from New York to the Panama Canal Zone.


The USS Los Angeles saw her last flight from Philadelphia to New York City just before she was decommissioned on June 30, 1932 and finally dismantled in 1939.


She was the longest serving rigid aircraft for the Navy at seven years and eight months, in that time making 331 flights over 4,300 hours, and also almost 2,000 hours moored at masts out in the open.


The above photo shows the USS Los Angeles (ZR-3) flying over Long Island. No date is given for the photograph.


Below is also a bonus picture of the ship standing on its nose while moored in New Jersey during what is described as a weather-related docking-mast mishap.


Photo: US Navy / Public domain.