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How to build a dirigible? What is an airship? Do they need in the modern world?

The airship (from the French diriger - "to control") is a self-propelled aircraft, lighter than air. About his history and the ways to build this aircraft himself, we will discuss later in the article.

Elements of construction

There are three main types of airships: soft, semi-rigid and rigid. They all consist of four main parts:

  • A cigar-shaped shell or a balloon filled with a gas whose density is less than the density of air;
  • A cabin or a gondola suspended under a shell serving for the carriage of the crew and passengers;
  • Engines propelling propellers;
  • Horizontal and vertical rudders, helping to guide the airship.

What is a soft airship? It's a balloon with a cab attached to it using ropes. If the gas is released, the shell will lose its shape.

The semi-rigid airship (photo of it is given in the article) also depends on the internal pressure that supports its shape, but it still has a structural metallic keel that extends longitudinally along the base of the balloon and supports the cabin.

Rigid airships consist of a light frame of aluminum alloy, covered with a cloth. They are not sealed. Within this structure are several balloons, each of which can be separately filled with gas. Aircraft of this type retain their form, regardless of the degree of filling of the cylinders.

What gases are used?

Usually hydrogen and helium are used for lifting airships. Hydrogen is the lightest known gas and, thus, it has a large carrying capacity. However, it is easily ignited, which caused many fatal catastrophes. Helium is not so light, but much safer, since it does not burn.

The gas-containing balloons of the early airships were made of cotton cloth impregnated with rubber, which was eventually replaced by synthetic fabrics such as neoprene and lavsan.

History of creation

The first successful airship was built in 1852 in France by Henri Giffard. He created a 160-kilogram steam engine, capable of developing a capacity of 3 liters. With., Which was enough to propel a large propeller at a speed of 110 rpm. In order to raise the weight of the power plant, he filled the 44-meter balloon with hydrogen and, starting from the Paris Hippodrome, flew at a speed of 10 km / h, breaking the distance of about 30 km.

In 1872, German engineer Paul Hahenlein first installed and used an airship on an airship, fuel for which was gas from a cylinder.

In 1883, the French Albert and Gaston Tissandier were the first to successfully fly a balloon, which was driven by an electric motor.

The first rigid airship with an aluminum sheet body was built in Germany in 1897.

Alberto Santos-Dumont, a native of Brazil, who lived in Paris, established a series of records on a series of 14 built by him from 1898 to 1905, 14 non-rigid airships driven by internal combustion engines.

Count von Zeppelin

The most successful operator of rigid aerostats with a motor was the German Ferdinand Count von Zeppelin, who built his first airship in 1900. What is LZ-1? Luftschiff Zeppelin, or the Zeppelin aircraft, is a technically complex ship, 128 m long and 11.6 m in diameter, made of an aluminum frame consisting of 24 longitudinal beams connected by 16 transverse rings and powered by two motors, 16 liters. from.

The aircraft could reach speeds of up to 32 km / h. The earl continued to improve the design during the First World War, when many of its airships (called Zeppelins) were used to bombard Paris and London. Aircraft of this type were also used by allies during the Second World War, mainly for anti-submarine patrols.

In the 20s and 30s of the last century, in Europe and the United States, the construction of airships continued. In July 1919, the British aircraft R-34 twice made a transatlantic flight.

Conquest of the North Pole

In 1926 an Italian semi-rigid airship (photo is given in the article) "Norway" was successfully used by Roald Amundsen, Lincoln Ellsworth and General Umberto Nobile for the exploration of the North Pole. The next expedition, already on another airship, was headed by Umberto Nobile.

In total, he planned to make 5 flights, but the airship, built in 1924, crashed in 1928. The operation to return the polar explorers took more than 49 days, during which 9 rescuers, including Amundsen, died.

What was the name of the airship of 1924? The fourth air transport of the N series, built on the project and at the Umberto Nobile factory in Rome, was named "Italy".

The heyday

In 1928 the German aeronaut Hugo Eckener constructed the airship Graf Zeppelin. Before decommissioning, nine years later, he made 590 flights, including 144 transoceanic transitions. In 1936, Germany opened regular transatlantic passenger transportation on the "Hindenburg".

Despite these achievements, in the late 1930s the airships of the world almost ceased to be produced because of their high cost, low speed, and vulnerability to storm weather. In addition, a series of catastrophes, the most famous of which is the explosion of hydrogen-filled "Hindenburg" in 1937, combined with advances in aircraft construction in the 30s and 40s. Made this mode of transport commercially obsolete.

Progress of technology

The gas cylinders of many early airships were made from the so-called "gold coin skin": the cow's guts fought back and then stretched. The creation of one aircraft required two hundred and fifty thousand cows.

During the First World War, Germany and its allies stopped the production of sausages, so that there would be enough material for the production of air ships, with which the bombing of England was conducted. Advances in fabric technology, including, thanks to the invention in 1839 of vulcanized rubber by the American merchant Charles Goodyear, caused an explosion of innovation in airship construction. In the early thirties, the US Navy built two "flying aircraft carriers" "Akron" and "Macon", whose corps was opened, producing a fleet of fighter aircraft F9C Sparrowhawk. Ships crashed after hitting the storm, and not having time to prove their fighting ability.

The world record for the duration of the flight was established in 1937 by the USSR-B6 Osoaviakhim balloon. The airborne vehicle was conducted in the air 130 h 27 min. The cities that the dirigible visited during the flight were Nizhny Novgorod, Belozersk, Rostov, Kursk, Voronezh, Penza, Dolgoprudny and Novgorod.

Sunset of balloons

Then the airships disappeared. So, May 6, 1937, "Hindenburg" exploded over Lakehurst in New Jersey - in a ball of fire killed 36 passengers and crew members. The tragedy was photographed on film, and the world saw the German airship explode.

What is hydrogen, and how dangerous it is, it became clear to everyone, and the idea that people can comfortably move under the tank with this gas, in an instant became unacceptable. In modern aircraft of this type only helium is used, which does not ignite. More and more popular and economical became aircraft, such as high-speed "flying boats" of Pan American Airways.

Modern engineers involved in the design of aircraft of this type complain that until 1999, when a collection of articles was published on how to build a dirigible called "Airship technology", the only available textbook was Charles Burgess's "Designing an Aircraft" , Published in 1927.

Modern developments

In the end, airship designers abandoned the idea of transporting passengers and concentrated their efforts on cargo transportation, which today is not effectively implemented by rail, road and sea, and is inaccessible in many areas.

The first few such projects are gaining momentum. In the seventies, William Miller, a former US Navy fighter pilot, experienced an aerodynamic deltoid ship called Aereon 26 in New Jersey. But Miller's funds ended after the first test flight. Creation of the prototype of a cargo aircraft requires huge investments, and potential buyers were not enough.

In Germany, Cargolifter AG reached the construction of the world's largest single-standing building with a length of more than 300 m, in which the company planned to build a helium semi-rigid cargo airship. What is the pioneer in this field of aeronautics became clear in 2002, when the company, faced with technical difficulties and limited funding, filed for bankruptcy. The hangar, located near Berlin, was later turned into the largest indoor water park in Europe "Tropical Islands".

In the pursuit of the championship

A new generation of design engineers, some of which are backed by significant government and private investments, are convinced that, given the availability of new technologies and new materials, society can benefit from the construction of airships. In March last year, the US House of Representatives organized a meeting on this type of air transport, the purpose of which was to accelerate their development.

In recent years aerospace heavyweights Boeing and Northrop Grumman were developing airships. Russia, Brazil and China have built or are developing their own prototypes. Canada has created designs for several aircraft, including the "Sun Ship", which looks like a bloated stealth bomber with solar panels placed on the top of the helium-filled wings. All participate in the race to become the first and monopolize the freight market, which can be measured in billions of dollars. At present, the most attention is drawn to three projects:

  • English Airlander 10, Hybrid Air Vehicles - currently the largest airship in the world;
  • LMH-1, Lockheed-Martin;
  • Aeroscraft, the company Worldwide Aeros Corp, created by an immigrant from Ukraine, Igor Pasternak.

Radio controlled aerostat with own hands

To assess the problems arising in the construction of aircraft of this type, you can build a baby dirigible. Its dimensions are smaller than any model that can be purchased, and it has the best combination of stability and maneuverability.

To create a miniature airship you will need the following materials:

  • Three miniature motors weighing 2.5 grams or less.
  • A micro-receiver weighing up to 2 g (for example, DelTang Rx33, which, along with other parts, can be purchased at specialized online stores, such as Micron Radio Control, Aether Sciences RC or Plantraco), powered by a single lithium polymer cell. Ensure the compatibility of the motor and receiver connectors, otherwise the need for soldering will be required.
  • Compatible transmitter with three or more channels.
  • LiPo-battery with a capacity of 70-140 mAh and a suitable charger. To ensure that the total weight does not exceed 10 g, a battery weighing up to 2.5 g is required. The large capacity of the battery will ensure a long flight time: at 125 mAh it is easy to achieve its duration in 30 minutes.
  • Wires connecting the battery with the receiver.
  • Three small propellers.
  • Carbon rod (1 mm), length 30 cm.
  • A piece of deproton is 10 x 10 cm.
  • Cellophane, scotch tape, superglue and scissors.

You need to buy a balloon made of latex, filled with helium. Suitable standard or any other, the carrying capacity of which will be not less than 10 g. To achieve the desired weight, ballast is added, which is removed as the helium leakage.

The components are attached to the core by means of an adhesive tape. The front motor is used to move forward, and the rear motor is installed perpendicularly. The third engine is located at the center of gravity and pointing down. The propeller to it is attached to the opposite side so that it can push the airship up. Motors should be glued with super glue.

By attaching the tail stabilizer, it is possible to significantly improve the forward movement, since the propeller of the lift gives a small rotational motion, and the tail rotor is too powerful. It can be made of their depon and attached with scotch tape.

The forward movement must be compensated by a slight rise.

In addition, an inexpensive camera, for example, used in key fobs, can be installed on the airship.

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