Goodyear ZNPK-28 Blimp Control Car
Gift of Goodyear
The Museum's control car is from airship K-28, one of 134 K-category airships built by Goodyear in Akron, OH between 1938 and 1944 for the purposes of anti-submarine patrol and convoy protection, mine sweeping, search and rescue and photography.
Only four "K" ships were available for operations at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. K-28 was delivered to the U.S. Navy at Lakehurst, NJ in December 1942 and was assigned to Blimp Squadron ZP-14. The fleet of reliable blimps was steadily increased to a strength of over 15 squadrons, and were used along the U.S. east and west coastal waters, the South American coast, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea and later in the war included one stationed in French Morocco, North Africa, protecting the waters of the Mediterranean.
Pictured at the left is the envelop nose cone of a U.S. Navy ZNP-K blimp. The upper portion of the blimp was called the envelop and was an elongated balloon made of three ply cotton fabric impregnated with rubber or neoprene and coated on the inside with paraffin. It was non-rigid, with no internal support, and measured 252 feet long and was inflated with non-flammable helium. The fabric alone weighed over three tons. The nose was reinforced externally with 24 spruce ribs (or battens) which radiated outward and rearward from the eight foot diameter nose cone which also contained the mooring attachment mechanism.
Post-WWII, Goodyear purchased and converted six K-class airships including K-28, along with seven L-class airships, from the Government to resume its fleet operations. Renamed the "Puritan," it became the prototype to test a programmable light display system to be used to display advertising. Due to the weight of the light system, the interior was stripped of all none-essential equipment.
The control car was in this stripped state when the Museum received it with 90% of its original equipment missing. The restoration commenced in 1993 and searches were made for any plans, but when none were found, parts needed were drawn up and fabricated from photographs. To date, 14,000 hours have been spent on the project, which is still ongoing.
The effort has been worth it as this is the only World War II style K-ship control car in the world.