Modern civilian airship cruise liner.

An airship or dirigible is a type of lighter-than-air aircraft that can be steered and propelled through the air using rudders and propellers or other thrust mechanisms. Unlike aerodynamic aircraft such as fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, which produce lift by moving a wing through the air, aerostatic aircraft stay aloft by having a large "envelope" filled with a gas which is less dense than the surrounding atmosphere. The first lifting gas used was hydrogen, although this had well-known concerns over its flammability. All modern airships, since the 1960s, use helium.

Since the mid 20st century airships have been used in advertising, tourism, camera platforms for sporting events, geological surveys, aerial observation, and military application- applications where the ability to hover in one place for an extended period outweighs the need for speed and maneuverability.


Early history

Great War

Interwar Period

During the 1920s, Sir Dennistoun Burney suggested a plan for an air service throughout the British Empire using airships (the Burney Scheme). Following the election of Ramsay MacDonald in 1924, the Burney scheme was transformed into a government-controlled program, the Imperial Airship Scheme, which contracted for two airships, one to be developed by the a private company, the Airship Guarantee Company, and the other under Air Ministry control by the Royal Airship Works. The two designs were radically different. The "capitalist" ship, the R100, was more conventional, while the "socialist" ship, the R101, had many innovative design features. Construction of both took longer than expected, and the airships did not fly until 1929. On 15 October 1930 the R101, which had been thoroughly tested after major modifications, landed safely on its maiden voyage of life at Beauvais in France. Because of the good publicity surrounding the landing, the Air Ministry launched the competing R100 in 1930, beginning the era of British rigid airships.

The Soviet Union had several semi-rigid and non-rigid airships. The semi-rigid SSSR-V6 OSOAVIAKhIM was among the largest of these craft, and set the longest endurance flight at the time of over 130 hours. With successful test and landings, Umberto Nobile created the first Soviet airborne aircraft carrier СССР-B1 Kirovograd. This was a major boost towards the Russian airship program and they continued to operate non-rigid airships until 1950.

Great Patriotic War

New Golden Age

Current Use

List of airships - military/civilian

Soviet Union

  • SSSR-V7 Voroshilov - airborne aircraft carrier/troop transport
  • SSSR-V8 Tukhachevsky - Largest Soviet airborne aircraft carrier
  • SSSR-V9 Budyonny - ICBM platform
  • SSSR-V10 Blyukher - airborne aircraft carrier/troop transport
  • SSSR-V11 Yegorov - troop transport
  • SSSR-A1 Gagarin - stratellite

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