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(Witness excused.)
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. Mr. Link, will you take the stand?


The CHAIRMAN. You do solemnly swear that the testimony you will give in the matter on hearing will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God.

Mr. LINK. I do.

Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. Mr. Link will you please state your name and address?

Mr. Link. Walter Link, Seventeenth and Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington.

Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. Have you observations that will enable this committee better to perform its function in making recommendations as to the future policy in lighter than air?

Mr. LINK. I think so; yes, sir. I have in mind, however, and I have here a copy of the resolution

The CHAIRMAN (interposing). We are familiar with that; you do not need to call our attention to it.

Mr. LINK. I was only going to say, while I recognize you are not supposed to touch on the commercial aspects of the proposition, that I may have occasion

Senator KEAN. I do not think we are interested, Mr. Counsel, in the commercial.

Mr. LINK. I am obliged to make one or two statements in that connection in answer to your inquiry as to recommendations.

The CHAIRMAN. First, do you believe that the ships that have been built for naval purposes are of the right design, whether they have utility for naval purposes, or whether the Government should continue constructing ships for naval purposes?

Mr. Link. My answer to that is this, as it was expressed by me, and is very well known, that it is my belief that the dirigible airships have a decided part in the national defense. When I say "national defense” I mean just that—that these ships of the Akron and Macon type are adapted to that purpose, I deny. In the first place, they do not and could not from the start fulfill the performance requirements expected of them or that were incorporated as arbitrary conditions in contractural requirements. It has been stated that these ships have a range of 10,000 miles--nautical miles. It has also been stated that to attain that range it would be necessary for them to carry a fuel load beyond their ability to get off the ground with it. As had developed, and as was exemplified clearly by the flight of the Akron to the west coast, that their construction would result in the demonstration of this inability in the matter of performance as was defined and expressed by myself while the ships were still in the blueprint stage. Reference to the tabulated characteristics of this ship here, as it lays on the table, shows that she had a total lift of 403,000 pounds, that is according to the Navy's estimate of the lifting power of hydrogen.

The CHAIRMAN. Hydrogen or helium?

Mr. LINK. I mean helium, which, to my mind, is a little optimistic. However, I am perfectly willing to accept their figures in this case, that would be the lifting power of six million and a half cubic feet of helium gas. The weight of the ship is given as 221,000 pounds. It has been disclosed here that her actual weight was 245,000 pounds.

The CHAIRMAN. That would be the excess then over the contract price?

Mr. LINK. Over the arbitrary conditions laid down in the specifications which were put out in the design competition and which were afterwards incorporated in the contract.

The CHAIRMAN. The record shows that, does it, Colonel, that it was excess weight?

Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Proceed.

Mr. LINK. And the useful lift of any airship is the difference, of course, between the weight of the empty ship deducted from the total lift, and it is given in this card over here as 182,000 pounds. The difference because of the excess weight, so called, shows that her useful lift is about 128,000 pounds; that may not be the exact figure, but I could figure it up for you in a few minutes exactly. Now, thé useful lift comprises crew, the personnel, the fuel, the oil

Representative DELANEY (interposing). Mr. Chairman, Mr. Link is going over a ground that has been covered many times, and I would like to know what he intends to show by all of this repetitionwhat he seeks to prove; just let us have what you have in mind, Mr. Link.

Mr. LINK. What I seek to prove is this: That if we are to have dirigible airships, efficient dirigible airships for the national defense, they will have to be of a different type, different construction from that which we are not now attempting to perpetuate.

Representative DELANEY. I see.
Mr. LINK. It is an obsolete type.
Representative DELANEY. This is obsolete?

Mr. LINK. Yes, sir; and was so declared by the Germans several years ago; and so declared by me.

Representative DELANEY. What would you suggest as to a type that we might adopt to be up to date?

Mr. LINK. It was not my purpose to suggest that at this committee meeting. However, in answer to your question, I will say this, that I would like to go a little further and explain that owing to prejudice on the part of the sea-going Navy, as they have been styled here, to the inauguration of anything new, I want to say this, that if we are to have any development, that development must take place in the commercial world, and then if the Navy finds use for them it will be time enough for them to adopt it. If left in the hands of the Navy there will never be any commercial development, and I want to deny an assertion that was made here that the Navy Department are open to and welcome suggestions along any of these lines, with particular reference to airships, as I know from my own personal experience, I have met rebuff after rebuff when I have appeared before any governmental agency that is organized under the direction of Congress for the promotion of the development of the commercial airships, and I want to say here and now that it is utterly impossible for any outsider, whether it is a corporation, individual, or firm, to get any assistance from any of those various governmental departments, which Congress authorized to encourage that development; and I am sure there is more than one person in the room who will corroborate that statement.

The CHAIRMAN. You stated that this type of ship, in your judgment, was obsolete; what did you mean by that; give your reasons for that view.

Mr. Link. Because, in the first place, they are designed for hydrogen gas. There has been no material change in that regard. We, in this country, cannot contemplate the use of hydrogen gas in any form.

The CHAIRMAN. We do not or we cannot?
Mr. LINK. We should not; I will put it that way.

The CHAIRMAN. You would differ from Captain Heinen, then, who favored hydrogen?

Mr. LINK. Yes; I should say I do.
The CHAIRMAN. Go ahead.

Mr. LINK. That, however, is the only point of difference between Captain Heinen and myself.

Representative DELANEY. Captain Heinen seems to favor this type of ship, from the testimony he gave before this committee?

Mr. LINK. That may be so.

Representative DELANEY. You suggest in your testimony that this ship is obsolete and it is a type that never can be successful?

Mr. LINK. So is the Graf Zeppelin obsolete, according to a statement made by Commander Eckener, himself, when he returned to Germany after his first flight over here, he declared that the Graf Zeppelin was obsolete.

Representative DELANEY. You have confidence in Captain Eckener's ability, have you not?

Mr. LINK. As a navigator, yes.

Representative DELANEY. Well, you do know that Dr. Eckener when he was here the last time, shortly after the accident to the Akron, he gave it a very glowing tribute-paid it a very glowing tribute-to its construction, to its flying ability, and to its general makeup.

Mr. LINK. In that connection I may say that as he is an official in the corporation which is constructing those ships, I should scarcely expect him to say anything else.

Representative DELANEY. Then you would attribute to Dr. Eckener a little bias because of his connection with the building of those airships?

Mr. LINK. Yes, sir; and Dr. Eckener is not the only one.

The CHAIRMAN. I would be glad if you would give us the reasons for your statement that you think this type of ship that we are discussing is obsolete and is not of the character that if the Government is going to continue in the airship business, that it should make appropriations for or should build

Mr. LINK. I can perhaps do that just by reading from a statement I made before the Naval Affairs Committee of the House at the time the bill was up for discussion, which was designed to further increase aviation in the Navy by the replacement of the U.S.S. Shenandoah. These hearings started on January 13, 1926, and I made at that time a statement

The CHAIRMAN. Is your statement compact?
Mr. LINK. It is.
The CHAIRMAN. And it expresses your views concisely?

Mr. LINK. It does; I do not intend to read all of my testimony. The CHAIRMAN. Proceed.

Mr. LINK. I made at that time a statement and I read it again last night, and believe it is distinctly pertinent to the situation here. It is titled, “Commercial Development of Rigid Airships.'

Representative DELANEY. Mr. Chairman, did we not agree a short while ago, if possible, to get away from the discussion of the commercial part of this matter?

Senator KEAN. That is my impression.

The CHAIRMAN. I do not understand this is commercial. He is giving the reasons he objects to this type of ship for any purpose. Go ahead.

Mr. LINK. "Since the continued experimentation in rigid lighterthan-air craft by the Government is a part of the consideration of this board, I desire to go on record as declaring that the commercial development of rigid dirigible airships, for which there is now ample incentive, will result in the production of a type of ship that will perform the functions considered desirable by the military departments efficiently and effectively, and experimentation may well be left in the hands of this industry, and I can say for the company which I represent that having complete confidence in a ship of our own designing we are content now, since there is definite prospect of the Government fixing a working status for commercial aeronautics to proceed to development “on our own,” and let our product speak for itself.

“I propose to present the development of the rigid dirigible airship from an entirely new slant or viewpoint. It is my purpose to direct your attention to the immediate future possibilities, rather than invite you to linger any longer in consideration of past development or further experimentation with an obsolete type. The question you have under consideration, as I understand it, is the determination of whether or not it is advisable and proper to appropriate a very considerable amount of the public moneys to continued experimentation by the Navy Department and the production of a huge aircraft exceeding in size anything heretofore produced or contemplated.

"To my mind, the building at this time of such a ship can only emphasize such imperfections as have been shown as inherent in this particular design, the only advantage claimed for larger ships being increase in range of action through ability to carry larger fuel supply. You gentlemen have heard as have the members of the numerous investigating boards, testimony substantiating the foregoing statement fully.

"As I am interested in the development of commercial aviation, I long ago became satisfied that the initial line of endeavor should be directed toward the perfection of the moderate sized, easily handled ship, of high speed and consequent increased range of action, which should, at the same time, be capable of transporting a profit earning or pay load, recognizing that such perfected ship might readily be enlarged to any desirable size when warranted by circumstances as they developed. This reasoning has been proven sound by postwar practice of the German engineers who have been so generously accredited as having full knowledge of these matters.

“My company never has asked, nor intended asking, any monetary assistance from either of the military bureaus, but in the event that any subsidy, loan, or monetary assistance in any form be granted any other company, I suggest that in all fairness the same assistance be given this organization, which has a properly developed plan and practical ship design. So far as my organization is concerned, such assistance must come from Congress itself, since we cannot afford to be subjected to a condition certain to arise if our work has to proceed under supervision of department engineers. Our reason for taking this stand in this matter is best expressed by reference to an article by Lawrence Sperry in the current number of United States Air Services' Magazine, under the title “The aerial torpedo" from which I quote briefly as follows:

In all, the Navy spent $450,000 with us, but very little real progress was achieved before the armistice. This was because the naval authorities did not see fit to give us carte blanche in the development. The fact that we had spent some 5 years in experimental work along this line was discounted, and we were obliged to deviate from our work to disprove many theories of men, who, in the last analysis, knew nothing of the problems to be solved.

"In our cases, instead of 5 years' experimental work there have been 20.

“The past 4 or 5 years I have made numerous suggestions to the military departments that certain inventions of mine might well be incorporated in their development of airships and airship accessories, invariably presenting such suggestions as involving no expense to them.

“I submit that such suggestions as have been disclosed here deal with a type of ship of the vintage of 1916, or earlier, and that, if these suggestions are carried through-even with the very slight suggested improvements—this would result in no material advance in this art; but would be nothing more or less than a reproduction of the German ship of 1915 design, differing only, in any material sense, in size alone.

"It might be well to consider at this point some of the outstanding defects developed in these ships. In other words, what may we reasonably contemplate in the way of improvements that are suggested as absolutely essential to the perfecting of rigid airships, together with the consideration of their practical solution? I enumerate a number of these as follows:

“First. An increase in speed that shall not involve increased engine power, nor increase in size of ship.

"Second. The development of a motor or engine for their propulsion that shall use a safe fuel in lieu of the dangerous gasoline.

“Third. A fuel that shall have less weight than gasoline, with the retention of all of its efficiency.

“Fourth. A better mode of controlling static altitude than the archaic method of valving gas and discarding ballast.

"Fifth. An efficient and reliable means of directional control for the ship that shall eliminate rudder strain and the complicated mass of rudder-controlling apparatus.

Sixth. A design that shall in itself tend to establish equal and uniform lift of ship to the end that load disposal may be simplified.

“All these features and more are exemplified in the American airship as developed in the 10 years that have elapsed since the designing of the existing and proposed other airships, together with the development of a construction method that will insure speedy quantity production.

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