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TESTIMONY OF COMMANDER GARLAND FULTON—Resumed
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. Commander Fulton, you are still under oath.
Did you hear the preceding testimony?
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. Will you make whatever engineering comment or other thought that occurs to you?
Commander FULTON. I first heard of this proposed type of airship about 3 weeks ago, and witnessed a demonstration of the model similar to the one given here today.
Some of the engineering principles involved have been studied in the past, to my knowledge, and have not been found to be as efficient for airship design purposes as principles that are in use in what might be called the more conventional type of airship.
Until 3 weeks ago, I had personally not seen this particular combination of principles as described by the previous witness proposed for an airship, and my opinion, in general, is, from such cursory information as I now have, that an airship of this design would be much less efficient than an airship of a more conventional type.
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. Have you any reasons for that conclusion?
Specifically, on the constructional side, the disposition of a strength member along the axis of the airship is not an economical distribution of weight from a structural standpoint.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you mean the backbone that he referred to?
The greater part of an airship's resistance to motion through the air is frictional resistance. The placing of a tunnel through the center of an airship has frequently been proposed but is not advantageous because it increases the frictional drag of the airship. The modification proposed here, of a venturi section, as it is called, along this tube, in my opinion would not offset that disadvantage.
The method proposed for control has been discussed at various times, but, so far as I know, the modification of a universal joint in the nose is new, but an exit tube such as is shown here has been considered and found to be less efficient from the standpoint of controlling the airship in the air than the conventional fins and rudders.
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. Would you call that a conventional rocketpropulsion idea?
Commander Fulton. Not exactly. However, it embodies some approach to the principles of jet propulsion.
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. Within the limit of disposable time, would the Navy Department welcome suggestions from inventors of new ideas and applications of old ideas to airship construction?
Commander FULTON. We would, and we do.
TESTIMONY OF FRED S. HARDESTY, CONSULTING ENGINEER,
(The witness was duly sworn by the chairman.)
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. I do not think the chairman meant your age, but occupation. The CHAIRMAN. Yes; I meant occupation. Mr. HARDESTY. Consulting engineer. Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. What is your occupation? Mr. HARDESTY. Consulting engineer.
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. And you have been for a number of years interested in the question of airships?
Mr. HARDESTY. For commercial purposes, yes; since 1920.
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. Are you familiar with the various designs and questions that revolve around the manufacture of airships?
Mr. HARDESTY. Yes, sir. Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. Have you studied the constructural design of the Akron?
Mr. HARDESTY. In a general way. Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. Will you please comment to the committee hereon, and also make such observations as you have concerning airship structure, in general?
Mr. HARDESTY. In 1930, after the accident of the R-101, I received communications from Dr. Johann Schuette, who is the eminent authority on airship development in Germany, calling attention to the similarity of the ring, heavy ring in the R-101, without any bracing, the same type of ring in the Akron.
The CHAIRMAN. The R-101 is the English ship?
I felt that Dr. Schuette being 4,000 miles away, he was probably unacquainted with the structural details of the Akron, but as he and some of his associates had pointed out that the same discrepancy existed in the Akron as in the British airship, that the excessive weight was due to the inherently heavy ring construction, without any transverse bracing-I had never made any special study of the Akron, assuming that with the talent they had they were building a ship that was strong and buoyant-I felt obliged to write a letter to Mr. Jahncke and with it transmitted a confidential memorandum calling attention to the information I had received.
In that letter I called attention to the fact that the same conditions existed in the Akron and stated the information was esse
ssentially confidential, as I did not know whether the excess weight would leave sufficient buoyancy to give the ship a useful load.
I have that letter right here, and I stated to Mr. Jahncke then:
Referring to the exhibit which recently I handed to you, relating to the development of the basic type of the superairship by the Schuette-Lanz Co., of Germany, I have to advise that the investigations of the airship situation summed up in the attached memorandum (because of its nature, necessarily confidential), justify the statement that the United States Government is today without any foundation upon which to base its development of the superairship.
We are prepared to make a formal tender that will enable the Navy and War Departments to acquire as a military asset, under the National Defense Act, the Schuette-Lanz Foundation, including technical data, confidential information and patent rights, covering the basic type of superairship, developed under the direct supervision of the Imperial General Staff of the German Government.
Representative McSwain. What date was that? Mr. HARDESTY. That was dated February 26, 1931. On March 10 I received this reply
The CHAIRMAN. Are you connected with John Hays Hammond, Jr.?
Mr. HARDESTY. I am associated with Mr. Hammond in his work.
I might say that I am perfectly willing to turn these papers in to you, if you want them, but here is the letter which I did not feel answered my question, and I kept it to myself at the time. [Reading :)
Receipt is acknowledged of your letter of 26 February and also of your earlier letter of 26 January with its inclosed exhibit.
It is not entirely clear to the Department toward what purpose this correspondence is directed. It is noted that an all-American group has acquired the Schuette-Lanz airship patents and technical data, and apparently you would like to have the Government acquire those patent rights and data, under terms not stated, but presumably for a consideration. You are probably aware that such a course would be an unusual one for the Government to pursue and could be justified only because of the most extraordinary circumstances, and the Department does not feel such extraordinary circumstances exist in this case.
As to any question of patent rights involved in the airships now building for the Government, your attention is invited to the fact that the contracts under which these airships are being built contain a clause which saves the Government harmless in the event of patent litigation.
The purpose of the memorandum inclosed with your letter of 26 February is also not clear. The relative merit of a Schuette design submitted in the 1928 airship design competition was decided by a board, and the results published at that time. Your assertions to the effect that the designs of airships ZRS-4 and ZRS-5 are based largely on the British airship R-101 are without any foundation in fact.
Your courtesy in supplying a copy of the Schuette-Lanz exhibit is appreciated and it will be placed in the Department's files.
This book was prepared by me at the instance of the Navy Department, and on the formal request of Admiral Moffett and others, to present as an exhibit of Schuette's rights. His patents have been and are infringed by the Goodyear-Zeppelin Co. today, and the Navy.
That question did not come up in my letter. That is not at issue.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Hardesty, I was going to say that this committee, I think, is not disposed to go into the question of who owns the patent rights.
Mr. HARDESTY. I did not raise that question in this letter at all. I merely said to the Navy Department, and I want to get it very clear, in that confidential information, that the basic character of the German superairship is not a Zeppelin design; it is a design by Dr. Schuette, prepared at the request of the German Government, and what I was saying at that time was that I was offering the Government the confidential data and material, as the Government had no airship foundation.
This is not a selling proposition on my part, and I am not here for that purpose, but I do bring to your attention the memorandum in question, which brings out the similarity of the designs of the R-101 and the Akron and the Macon—the similarity exists in the narrow, inherently heavy ring with no interior transverse bracing; this is brought out so strongly in the three designs that the GoodyearZeppelin Co. offered in their bids. The first project, no. 1, the design has an inherently heavy ring, no bracing, and if they added the bracing it would greatly increase the weight of the airship and make it impossible to lift—that is the project no. 1 upon which the contract was awarded. The no. 2 project, the design was of very much similar type. The third project, the design was an enlargement of the Los Angeles, with some of the features of the R-100; that is, the axial girder running through the center of the airship to hold the gas cells in place.
The CHAIRMAN. Let me see if I understand you.
The point, if I understand you, that you are trying to bring to the attention of the committee, is this, that the Zeppelin design contains some of what you believe to be inherently defective features of the British ship which was destroyed in a storm?
Mr. HARDESTY. I would not call it defective, but may I go on with this?
I did not assume that the Akron was defective, nor did I assume that the British ship was. The trouble with both was that they are too heavy—the Akron, and the Macon. They can not get up off of the ground; they have to go up in the air by dynamic force rather than lighter than air. In all the ships built in Germany, the altitude by buoyancy was a factor.
The CHAIRMAN. But that is subordinated, as I understand the witnesses.
Mr. HARDESTY. I cannot help it; I am bringing you the facts.
Now in the testimony that I have read the question of altitude has not been considered important. It is one of the most vital things in a war airship, and Commander Wiley made a statement in the record that the Akron was loaded with 73,000 pounds of fuel and 20,000 pounds of ballast, and the required amount of food, drinking water, and so forth, and that she was 2,000 pounds light when she left the ground and 12,000 pounds light at 2,000 feet.
The CHAIRMAN. Light?
Mr. HARDESTY. When she was 2,000 feet in the air. The question I bring up is that the ship is not properly constructed with regard to a lighter-than-air principle. She is too heavy.
The CHAIRMAN. You think that she would not rise except by dynamic force?
Mr. HARDESTY. In the hearing last winter before this board here
The CHAIRMAN. Which board ?
Mr. HARDESTY. The investigation of the Akron-here is a statement put in of a typical trip, and I believe I can bring that out very clearly, and that is on a 5-day basis, 120 hours, with a useful load of 161,000 pounds, she was loaded 161,000 pounds. She was therefore heavy at sea level, and she could not have gotten off the ground unless she used the dynamic force of her motors.
Now, she carried in that typical trip 6,000 pounds of water for ballast, and she would have to give up fuel if she were going those 120 hours at 60 knots, and she is too heavy; she has not capacity enough.
I would like to say this, and in checking the information I have known this for some time, that the method of operation of the lighter-than-air craft appears to be by dynamic force, and Commander Wylie points that out very clearly, and says that she has a wonderful dynamic force, but if lighter-than-air craft depending on helium to lift them, and it appears that this ship, with 245,000
pounds weight, with 6,000 pounds ballast, if she goes up 3,000 feet, she cannot carry sufficient fuel to make that distance. She must discharge fuel.
I think it is necessary to know that the inherent fault is in the ship's design. If I am not clear
The CHAIRMAN. Yes, I understand it.
Representative McSwain. Can one be made that will be lighter, that will be lifted by her gaseous content, and therefore use her propellers to get speed after she gets up?
Mr. HARDESTY. Yes, sir. All of the German ships, the Los Angeles and the Shenandoah, are of that type, that you could get it in the air by its own buoyancy. In fact, if you would check the Akron with full load, the useful lift, you will find that the buoyance of the gas balances the weight of the ship, and then she uses the motors. In other words, she is heavier than air. The weight balances the buoyancy.
Representative McSwain. What is the objection to using the motors to climb ?
Mr. HARDESTY. It is a good feature, but, as the question has been asked, suppose you get up to an altitude where she can idle at a slow speed for observation purposes. Commander Wylie is on record that when she has had 5,500 pounds weight, she can go up in the air dynamically, but if you stop her engines she will drop. I haul an assistant particularly called in yesterday, Mr. Halstead of the Bureau of Standards, who is an authority on air statistics, and he gave me various figures on that, because I think that is the most important thing, and I am interested in it.
Representative McSwain. Are we not more interested in this problem of finding some design that will not break to pieces in a storm?
Mr. HARDESTY. In April 1928 the Navy Department invited competition designs. I sent Dr. Schuette $10,000, and in 60 days he sent a design in here in competition with the Goodyear-Zeppelin design that they had been working on for 3 years, while the Schuette design as reported in this document took him with a staff of 60 experts to develop and deliver in Washington in 60 days, but the Zeppelin people had spent a great deal of time and money. Dr. Schuette was not in the building business and, as he said in his letter, he figured that the Navy invitation was a gesture—he submitted his design without price for the consideration of the Navy. I have that design here.
Representative McSwain. You did, then, enter the design competition?
Mr. HARDESTY. Yes, sir; and that design is next to Zeppelin's.
Senator Duffy. Do you contend that your single ring with a bracing on the bicycle spoke proposition was as strong as this triple ring that they have on the Akron and the Macon?
Mr. HARDESTY. The bicycle spoke proposition is very good, but the point is this, that Dr. Schuette's ring, which is used on all Zeppelins, the Los Angeles, Graf-Zeppelin, the Shenandoah, and 60-odd ships, was a ring of truss girders, with transverse bracing, which acted as a bulkhead, keeping the gas bags from bulging too far.
Senator DUFFY. Do you think that that is feasible for a ship of 6 million cubic feet capacity