ZR-3, Meet CV-3: Spotting Deck Space for a Zeppelin
On 27 January 1928, the Navy airship USS Los Angeles (ZR-3) conducted a landing on the brand-new Lexington-class battlecruiser/carrier conversion, USS Saratoga (CV-3).
Some 658-feet long, Los Angeles was crafted by the Zeppelin company in Friedrichshafen, Germany, as a Great War reparation, and was commissioned 25 November 1924 after delivery to the States by a German crew, just a few years before the above meeting.
Scrapped in 1939 after the tragic loss of the Navy’s airships Shenandoah, Akron, and Macon, by default she was the luckiest of the American Z-craft. On the other hand, the Navy’s non-rigid Blimp Program was wildly successful and had an excellent safety record. The last flight of a U.S. naval airship occurred on 31 August 1962.
Speaking of lucky, the 888-foot long Sara, commissioned 16 November 1927, would be one of only three pre-war American flattops to survive WWII, earning eight battlestars. Her reward was slight, being disposed of in the Bikini Atoll A-bomb tests in 1946.