Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Based in Europe, to Office of the Chief of Naval Operations

IL 5579 <September 26, 1918.>

From: Sims

To:  OPNAV

      5579 British Air Ministry have urgently requested 100 type R kite balloons1 from Navy for use on Western front. In compliance, arrangements have been made transferring eight type R and two type M kite balloons2 leaving balance 90 to be furnished. Earnestly recommend shipment from United States earliest possible moment. Previously requested 15 having been furnished by army. Air service from Bordeaux France about 1 July and ten from United States via U. S. S. FRANK H. BUCK early inAugust. These 25 have been delivered 100 now asked for, are in addition. 113226 5579

       Sims

1033 p.m.               9-26-18  

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: Also known as the Caquot Observation Balloon (after its inventor, Albert Irénée Caquot), the R type kite balloon was a sausage-shaped dirigible equipped with three air-filled lobes spaced evenly around the tail as stabilizers, with an inner air balloonette located at the underside of the nose, separate from the main gas envelope. The Caquot was able to hold steady in 90 km/h winds and remain horizontal. The balloon provided France and its allies a critical advantage in military observation which significantly contributed to the allies’ supremacy in aviation and eventually to the final victory.

Footnote 2: The type M kite balloon was a modified version of the type R, designed to better fit the needs of naval use. The type M could handle higher and rougher winds, although it could not operate at altitudes as high as the type R.

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