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Twelve-Thousand Mile Trip on Goodyear Balloon Tires

Updated: more photos added. Mark L. Mooney was an American automobile dealer who owned Chrysler, Packard and Fiat dealerships in Shanghai, China. Not much is known about him at this time, although apparently he was well connected in both the automobile industry and in political circles in the US and China.

There is no documentation accompanying today’s set of photos other than the fact that the pictures are Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company promotional images. It appears the company was involved in sponsoring a twelve-thousand mile trip in the US in which Mooney and his family traveled in a Chrysler sedan with the “Shanghai III” trailer in tow. The man with his hat in hand in the lead image appears to be a Goodyear representative. The automobile is equipped with a set Goodyear’s “Air Wheels,” view other balloon tires here produced in the early-1930s.

The photographs courtesy of the USC Libraries were taken in a hanger for the “Defender” airship in Akron, Ohio, in front of the rubber-covered hanger, and out on the road.

17 responses to “Twelve-Thousand Mile Trip on Goodyear Balloon Tires

  1. Very nice pictures !!

    The CHRYSLER looks like a 1933, either a Royal or Imperial with bumperettes.
    The trailer has inscribed: WANDERER III
    SHANGHAI
    CHINA

  2. “Oh, the humanity”,,,strange how back then, they thought these airships would be the wave of the future, and in a way, they were. 50 years from now, will future generations look at what we fly around in today, and say, “what were THEY thinking?” I wonder what that big tube coming down behind the propeller did? Bathroom drain, perhaps?

    • The tube probably ducted warm air from the air-cooled radial engine to the inside of the airship, not only to keep it warm but also to provide a little extra lift.

    • Good sighting Howard. Since the prop would have blown in that direction, I wonder if it wasn’t some way to ventilate the area inside the blimp where the gas bags were. Either that, or some device to “de-ice’ the engines?

      Just a guess, of course. As usual David comes up with something intriguing.

      FIFTH PICTURE: It amazes me how little is required to anchor such a huge airship. Hard to tell if the crewmembers are “leaning” against the cabin rail” or are actively holding it down (maybe at the photographer’s request to get as much as possible in the picture.) The short anchor ropes already on the sandbags suggest that.

      • Might I commend Airships .net .This type of balloon tyre found favour on Scammell lorries here in the Uk.Never common but a premium type.

  3. My dad lived in Akron near the blimp hangar for a while as a kid, and he had some great stories about it and the different airships they made. One story was about an airplane flying through the hangar ! Howard Arbiture, that big pipe might be the air conditioning intake picking up all that wonderful fresh air from that radials exhaust and “fan”, ha ! As always, great stuff David, thanks so much. This ones special.

  4. I think that this large tube possibly leads to “ballonet” air bags which are inside the envelope of the airship. They used a combination of “regular” air and helium together in order to inflate the airship. When filled or emptied, these internal bags helped maintain the shape of the airship, and assist with trim and weight distribution of the craft during flight. There probably was an air valve and blower, which allows the pilot to exhaust air from these “ballonet” air bags, or the pilot could add air from the propeller wash through this large tube when flying the airship.

  5. Mr. Mooney must have been a man of means and a valuable customer for Goodyear. That is a first class visit to Akron. Mr. and Mrs. Mooney visited home and took the kids. No doubt they were treated well at Chrysler too. The time, travel and expense from China to the US and return in 1933 staggers my mind.

    The color photo of the Model A is like surprise in your chocolate.

  6. Goodyear built a series of blimps in the 1930s for publicity events. They were named after Americas Cup winners. The “Defender” was the first to have neon tubes installed on the sides that spelled out, (of course) Goodyear.

  7. Interesting Tidbits: For years, Goodyear has fitted its blimps with a night sign. From neon tubes, to incandescent lamps to LEDs, these signs have helped the company advertise its products and also deliver public service messages from various organizations such as local governments.

    Neon-O-Gram Originally called NeonGoodyear, was first fitted on Defender in the 1930s. Neon tubes on the sides of the blimp which usually spelled out ‘Goodyear’.

    The blimps, including Defender, were named after America’s Cup winners.

    • Five cylinders indicates the original Wright Whirlwind R540 (165hp) engines installed in Defender. Early in 1932 it was reported that Packard DR 980 (225 hp 4 stroke diesel 9 cylinder radial) were fitted to Defender for test purposes. Pictures of Defender fitted with the Packard radials are available online.

  8. The ducts in the prop wash led to two ballonet bags inside the envelope. Inflating the air bags increased the ship weight and controlled buoyancy. Each bag had a very sensitive atmospheric valve to control the buoyancy. The engines were Continental R-670 radials of 210 HP. Thanks for the tour of the airdock.

    • A quick Google search shows the Continental R-670 has seven cylinders. The engines here have five. Looks more the like the Wright.

  9. The Chrysler is a 1933 Royal Eight CT seven passenger sedan on 128.5 inch wheelbase, one of 246 built. The telltales are the longer front door and rear quarter windows.

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