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Category: Technology

A Garage-Sized Replica of the 1935 USS Macon

Written on June 16, 2011 by Avlya Jaie

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Engineer Jack Clemens constructed a 20-foot-long replica of the 1935 airship -- USS Macon.

When , a retired computer engineer, attempted to build a of the for the first time, his cat jumped over the airship’s prototype and broke the hull. Similar thing happened in 2008, when he successfully created his second version but it was damaged during a test flight.

After series of attempts, Jack Clemens finally completed his third version of the USS Macon, a helium-filled naval airship, last April. He revamped all the Airship’s details – from the airbags up to the propellers. His original plan was to return a model of the said airship to its home as a sign of tribute. Thus, he asked some help from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

The USS Macon model is considered to be an airship and not a blimp, which means it has a solid hull. Its backbone is made from 12 circular frames that are connected to longerons (strips of wood). Jack Clemens’ aim is to imitate his model structure, so he built a jig to make sure that all of his airships’ frames (made from balsa-wood sticks) have the exact sizes. The USS Macon’s exterior was made from mixed cotton muslin and metal-colored sealant, which made it more lighter and tougher.

In order to make his creation fly, Jack Clemens would need to build eight small model-airplane propellers at the sides of the frame. He even said: “It takes very little propulsive force to move an airship.” Jack Clemens described that the propellers get its power from one 2.5-ounce lithium-polymer battery that is located at the nose of the Macon model.

Right now, this 20-foot-long, 3.3-foot-diameter USS Macon is placed in the garage of Jack Clemens’ house. Although he is planning to donate it to a newly built museum in , he’s still wishing that he would have the chance to fly the USS Macon, apart from bad weathers and wild cats.

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