• Zeppelin!!! - rogrus72
  • no, this is NOT a Zeppelin. it is neither rigid, nor manufactured by the Zeppelin company. - Nathan J Shaulis
  • This whole blimp is probably filled with hydrogen. These blimps were considered death traps because the hydrogen would spontaneously combust sometimes. - sammy07ut
  • They made barrage balloons in Paris, Tenn., too. I learned about them when I was a reporter there ... I think they were to fake out enemy pilots or cause some sort of disruption in line of sight. - patsycat01
  • This photo was taken in 1942, no airships were using hydrogen at that time. - Kutulhu1
  • No gondola - no power module. Looks like a barrage balloon. Filled with helium, the guy wires were meant to snare low-flying enemy planes. - Maddog Jack

Parris Island, S.C., barrage balloon (LOC)

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Palmer, Alfred T.,, photographer.

Parris Island, S.C., barrage balloon

1942 May

1 transparency : color.

Title from FSA or OWI agency caption.
Transfer from U.S. Office of War Information, 1944.

United States.--Marine Corps
World War, 1939-1945
Barrage balloons
Air bases
United States--South Carolina--Parris Island

Format: Transparencies--Color

Rights Info: No known restrictions on publication.

Repository: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA, hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

Part Of: Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Collection 12002-32 (DLC) 93845501

General information about the FSA/OWI Color Photographs is available at hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.fsac

Higher resolution image is available (Persistent URL): hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsac.1a35101

Call Number: LC-USW36-226

clariposa, minions & myrmidons, and 409 other people added this photo to their favorites.

View 13 more comments

  1. person araujo [deleted] 97 months ago | reply


  2. msokal 97 months ago | reply


  3. kenfrombavaria 96 months ago | reply

    TOP photo

    my Photos only black & with

  4. djbodoo 96 months ago | reply

    thank You Library, for sharing these pure history moments. i am inspired and calm now.

  5. kibishipug 95 months ago | reply

    Love this shot

  6. sammy07ut 91 months ago | reply

    Blimps back during World I were used for fighting but in World War II they were just used to either distract eh enemy or to just observe what was going on in the battle field on ground or on the sea.

  7. Plastic Madness 91 months ago | reply

    I love this picture, though a little dark. Barrage balloons are an anti aircraft device mostly used in WWII. It's not a Zeppelin and it has nothing to do with a Zeppelin!

  8. can'book 90 months ago | reply

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Kcity, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

  9. shooter963 75 months ago | reply

    Barage balloons were tethered over military targets, usually in clusters. The cables that tethered them could sever the wings or severely damage attacking planes and/or disrupt the trajectory of falling bombs. They gained popularity when aerial bombing was in its infancy so pilots had to fly below the level of the balloon for reasonable accuracy. Planes at that time were made of canvas stretched over wood frames.

    Relatively few barage balloons were used by the end of WWII because aerial bombing had become a science and targets could be accurately bombed from far above the barage balloon.

    The image is dark because color slide/transparency film is very sensitive to exposure setting (shutter speed and lens aperture setting) Light meters were separate from cameras and frequently photographers relied on "standard" settings that worked for most situations. That means that frequently the exposure setting was close enough, but not perfect.

  10. buycameras 74 months ago | reply

    In WW II barrage baloons were valuable as a defense during troop landings - Normandy, etc. when you could prevent hit and run straffing of your troops bunched up on beaches and roads - the baloons were emplaced at right angles to where the planes would need to take their runs... The cables easily cut plane bodies and metal wings, or tossed them out of control, etc, when hit at 300+ mph

  11. COLT BOWDEN 68 months ago | reply

    This just reminds me of Dr. Who

  12. ShenSpirit 66 months ago | reply

    One of the tags says, "I think they were to fake out enemy pilots or cause some sort of disruption in line of sight." Another says, "This whole blimp is probably filled with hydrogen. These blimps were considered death traps because the hydrogen would spontaneously combust sometimes." They weren't blimps, and though filled with hydrogen, they weren't "death traps" because they were unmanned. They were "aerostats," meaning essentially tethered balloons. Their purpose wasn't "to fake out enemy pilots or cause some sort of disruption in line of sight"; in fact, the cable to which they were attached was the purpose: the idea was that when a lot of these balloons were tethered around what might be a bombing target--a harbor, a city, or an industrial complex--the cables would prevent low-flying aircraft, which weren't susceptible to antiaircraft fire, from getting through. Forced to fly higher, the planes could more easily be targeted by ack-ack fire. Hence the chief purpose they served was deterrence.

  13. SteampunkBetties 63 months ago | reply

    Nathan J Shaulis
    If this blimp is American, it probably doesn't have any hydrogen in it!! That goes doubly so if it's a military craft.
    The primary use of helium in the 1940's was as a lifting gas. It was rare, but the United States started large scale production of helium in 1921 for the US Navy. In 1925, Congress passed the Helium Act, creating a helium reserve and other measures to ensure the availability of helium for military and research purposes. A good deal of tension leading up to WWII was caused by the United States not wanting to share their recipe for helium with other countries. Helium was rare, but the US government took measures to make sure they had it.

  14. Ryan (LOC P&P) 63 months ago | reply

    Lots of good information in the discussion of barrage balloons here. I just wanted to point out a series of photographs available in our online catalog: www.loc.gov/pictures/ under the the keyword "barrage balloons" with details of their manufacture and use. One photo caption notes that the balloon will be filled with "helium in service."

  15. raymerriam 62 months ago | reply

    Please, everyone, if you are GUESSING at what the picture is about, then don't say anything. Almost every comment here that is trying to correct what someone else has said about the subject is WRONG. A few got some of the details right, but they didn't stop with what they had a reasonable knowledge about, they went on to guess at other things. The barrage balloons were filled with helium, not hydrogen. They were used to deter low-flying aircraft and were used in groups around important military and industrial targets. They were NOT used to defend ships at sea, a very popular misconception. The photos of ships with barrage balloons flying above them were merely transporting the balloons for use on an invasion beach or inland. By having the balloons already inflated, it saved considerable time in making them operational once they reached land. The balloons shown flying above ships are too low to be effective against ANY aircraft. And flying them higher, because of the motion of the ships, puts too much strain on the steel cables, which could cause them to snap, thus not only losing the balloon, but the snapped cable could injure or kill men on the ships. Most barrage balloons were transported uninflated along with the equipment needed to inflate, raise them and secure them. The balloons had to be periodically lowered, more helium added, and then raised again. They were not used to "deflect bombs." (Seriously?!) They were not used to fake out pilots or cause disruption of line of sight (you're confusing the balloons with camouflage). Also, you can't have anti-aircraft weapons and barrage balloons in the same vicinity - the guns could inadvertently destroy the balloons. The two are dispersed in rings around a potential target so that each can do its job without being impeded by the other. And the balloons could not be "placed at right angles" on the landing beaches. The balloons could not be "aimed" in a certain direction. It wasn't the balloons themselves that planes were afraid of (which could be easily seen by the pilots and aircrews) - it was the cable beneath the balloon which could damage or destroy an aircraft when hit. The balloons were even used during the defense of London against the V1 flying bombs - at least one was brought down by a balloon. How do I know all this? Because I published a book, "The U.S. Army Barrage Balloon Program" by James Shock, the current 4th edition was released in 2006 (first published in 1997) and is still available from my company, Merriam Press, you can view sample pages at GoogleBooks. Shock received the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award from The Lighter-Than-Air Society, having researched, studied and written about all types of LTA topics since high school and served in the US Army during WWII. Google the book's title and you'll see a number of web sites/pages that reference the book and/or the author. The book is a revised and expanded version of his article that appeared in the Spring 1989 issue of the AAHS (American Aviation Historical Society) Journal. The book is still available new from Merriam Press; currently it is not in distribution and so is not available from Amazon or other online booksellers at this time (I'm working on putting it into the distribution system, but that takes time and money); as I write this someone is offering a copy on Amazon for almost twice the retail price of the paperback.

  16. FriedGizzard 52 months ago | reply

    Ray Merriam

    BINGO! Thank you, raymerriam. I guess everyone is getting their information from Wikipedia...That's easier than reading a book, or going to the library and doing some real research.

    Thanks again for the clarifications, raymerriam.

    By the way, Thank you LOC for these amazing pics!

  17. Duffy'sTavern 50 months ago | reply

    If you download the photo and run it through Photoshop, you can bring out some of the details in the shadow areas pretty easily, and without making it look un-naturally re-lit (you can also adjust the color to remove the overall purple cast, which is a result of 70 years of fading chemistry, and not how it originally looked). The exposure is a compromise one, to get both sky and land, true, but those old-time photographers knew what they were doing, and so the detail is indeed on the transparency, waiting to be revealed. I would guess that when the image was projected with a good lamp, the detail would be more visible.

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