Restoration of Navy LTA (Lighter Than Air) Hangars

by Donald W. Neal, Neal Engineering Associates, Portland, OR, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Evaluation and Upgrading of Wood Structures: Case Studies


In 1942 and 1943 the Government constructed a series of 16 blimp hangars at ten Naval Air Stations along the east coast, west coast and gulf coast. The hangars erected in pairs housed the blimps used for submarine patrol. Due to a critical lack of steel the hangar structural framework utilized trussed timber frames and the deck was constructed of sawn timber. The hangars are among the largest structures ever built of timber at 1,040 feet (317. 00 meters) long, 296'-6' (90. 37 meters) wide and 170'-4' (51. 91 meters) high. In 1975 Donald W. Neal undertook a project for the Navy to inspect and upgrade the hangars at Santa Ana, California. In 1977 a similar project was undertaken for the hangars at Lakehurst, New Jersey and in 1981 for the hangars at Moffett Field, California. The study uncovered many locations requiring routine maintenance and several locations requiring major structural repair. The most significant structural problem encountered was compressive buckling of the trussed frame chords. The worst cases involved buckling 13 inches out of alignment with the potential for imminent collapse. The structures were too high to shore or to brace using conventional means. This case study is confined to procedures used for realignment of the trussed frame chords and restoration of their structural integrity.

Subject Headings: Trusses | Wood and wood products | Wood frames | Wood structures | Buckling | Steel decks | Steel frames | Project management | United States | California | New Jersey

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