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ZP-32 | Blimpron 32


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ZP-32 | Blimpron 32

 

Established 31 January 1942.

Disestablished 19 November 1945.

 

 

LTA operations on the West Coast centered around the three main operating bases: Santa Ana, Moffett Field and Tillamook. NAS Moffett Field was the first operational LTA air station to be established after hostilities began. The first squadron assigned to the West Coast was Airship Patrol Squadron 32 (later redesignated Blimp Squadron (ZP-32). The squadron was established on January 31, 1942, at Sunnyvale. Work began immediately on the airships TC-13 and 14 to make them fit for service and prepare them for transportation from NAS Lakehurst to Moffett Field. These two airships were the nucleus for ZP-32’s operations.

 

Silkscreened on leather

 

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ZP-32's three operating bases form the acronym MEW:

M | Moffett Field

E | Eureka

W | Watsonville

 

The first mission for the TC-14 was on February 4 when she made a wartime patrol with other units of the Pacific fleet. On February 23, an enemy submarine lying off the coast of California shelled an oil field of Santa Barbara. ZP-32 sent the TC-14 to search for the submarine and to escort any merchant ships in the area. The airship flew from Moffett Field to Morro Bay and operated in the area on February 24. She escorted several tankers and searched for the submarine without any definite results. Even though the airship did not locate the submarine, the squadron was able to demonstrate its capability to respond to crisis situations.

 

ZP-32 continued to expand its fleet of airships, receiving its first L-type airship on February 28. This new airship, L-6, was the former Reliance from the Goodyear commerical fleet. The L-8 was received on March 5 and five days later the third L-type was accepted. It was the L-4, Goodyear’s former airship Resolute.

 

The first K-type airship, the K-20, was received by ZP-32 on October 31, after being ferried across the country from Akron, Ohio. The squadron received the K-21 and 22 in November, the last K- the TC-13 and 14 were transferred to types to be ferried to the West Coast. NAS Moffett Field’s inventory. The Goodyear set up an airship assembly transfer of these airships led to the end of organization at Moffett Field and all the use of both Land TC-type airships for future West Coast K-types were operational patrol duties on the Pacific assembled there. On December 19, the Coast. They were later used for training first K-type, assembled at Moffett Field, and by squadrons for some utility was delivered to ZP-32. missions.

 

K-Type Airships

 

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The squadron demonstrated the practicability of using airships in direct rescue operations on October 23, when a squadron pilot was lifted from San Francisco Bay into the K-107, using special rescue gear. The airship dropped a rubber life raft to Lieutenant Junior Grade Gordon W. Dooley, who was floating in the water in a life jacket. Dooley swam to the raft, inflated it and then crawled into it. The K-107 made a second pass trailing a long line. Dooley caught the line, hooked the harness to it and then was pulled aloft when the life raft was directly under the airship. He was hauled on board by the recovery line, using sand bags as counterweights. The rescue demonstration was covered by photographers from San Francisco newspapers.

 

During the war, ZP-32 was tasked with a special mission authorized by the CNO and sponsored by the Office of War Information. The K-75 airship had all armament and confidential equipment removed and several additional seats installed. On May 1, 1945, the K-75 conducted the first in a series of special flights in the San Francisco Bay area, carrying civilian and military personnel attending the United Nations (UN) Conference for International Organization. This organization drew up the charter for the UN during its meetings in San Francisco.

 

ZP-32 conducted 42 special flights for members of this organization, totaling 331 passengers. ZP-32 was also assigned special ASW patrol duties covering the sea approaches to San Francisco for the maintenance of security while the conference was in session. These special patrols lasted from April 20 to June 27, 1945.

 

With the end of WW II, mission requirements for ZP-32 were reduced. On October 6, 1945, CNO issued a directive for its disestablishment.

 

 

Trading Post. ASMIC. April-June 1989, p 21.

 

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ZP-32 record

 

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