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Balloon carrier

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Title: Balloon carrier  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Aircraft carrier, Naval warfare, Mine countermeasures vessel, Fast combat support ship, Kaibōkan
Collection: Balloons (Aircraft), Naval Warfare, Ship Types
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Balloon carrier

The Union Army balloon Washington aboard the George Washington Parke Custis, towed by the tug Coeur de Leon.
Swedish captive balloon carrier in 1907

A balloon carrier or balloon tender was a ship equipped with a balloon, usually tied to the ship by a rope or cable, and usually used for observation. During the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century, these ships were built to have the furthest possible view of the surrounding waters. After several experiments, the type became formalized in the early 1900s, but was soon to be superseded by the development of seaplane carriers and regular aircraft carriers at the beginning of World War I.

Early history

The first known usage of balloons from a ship goes back to July 12, 1849, when the deck rigging to accommodate the gas generators and apparatus of balloons. From this ship, professor Thaddeus S. C. Lowe, Chief Aeronaut of the Union Army Balloon Corps, made his first ascents over the Potomac River and telegraphed claims of his successful aerial venture. Other barges were converted to assist with the other military balloons transported about the eastern waterways. None of these Civil War craft ever sailed on the high seas.


Balloons launched from ships led to the formal development of balloon carriers, or balloon tenders, during World War I, by the navies of Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, and Sweden. About 10 such balloon tenders were built with their main objective being aerial observation posts. These ships were either decommissioned or converted to seaplane tenders after the War.[2]


  1. ^ Carriers: Airpower at Sea
  2. ^ Carriers: Airpower at Sea
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