The Lighter-than-Airship Hangars in Tustin, California, are two of a series
of hangars that were built in 10 different locations throughout the United
States. These hangars mark a significant period of aviation history, when
airships were an important part of the U.S. anti-submarine defense. Each
hangar was capable of sheltering an entire squadron of six airships. All
were built using the same plans and construction began during the early
years of World War II. These airship hangars are among the largest wood-supported
structures in the world, rivaled only by the other hangars built from the
same plans such as the U.S. Naval Air Station Dirigible
Hangar B. The hangars stand 189 feet high to the top of the wind indicator,
and 178 feet to the top of the roof, and have long been considered landmarks
in Orange County. The hangars are 1088 feet long and 297 feet wide, covering
a total ground area of 298,188 square feet.
One of the Lighter-than-Airship Hangars
Photo courtesy of Dana Ogdon,
City of Tustin
The hangars were completed in 1943 when the air station was Santa Ana Naval
Lighter-than-Air Base. The hangars were constructed in three main sections;
two identical supporting structures of concrete located at each end of the
hangar with a massive center section covered by a wood-framed, 484,932 square-foot
arched roof. The end sections consists of two pillars, six huge doors and
a brace connecting the two pillars at the top. The pillars are used as "pockets"
to house the hangar doors (three in each pillar). The brace is also used
as a guide for opening and closing the doors. Fifty-one individual wooden
braces support the roof. Following World War II, the base was decommissioned.
During the period 1949-1951 the hangars were used as a museum for aircraft
and a storage area. In 1951 the base was recommissioned and the hangars
were used to house helicopter squadrons during the development of the vertical
assault, a new military strategy to utilize the quickness and flexibility
of helicopters in attacks. The base has recently been decommissioned again.
Plans are currently being developed to adaptively reuse the hangars.
The massive size of these hangars
can be detected in this interior and exterior view when comparing
the hangar to the surrounding buildings and the airship inside
Photo courtesy of Dana
Ogdon, City of Tustin
The Lighter-than-Airship Hangars are located on Valencia and Redhill
aves., in Tustin, California. They are currently not open to the public
but can be seen from these avenues.
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