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Dirigible Hangar B -Tillamook

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Dirigible Hangar B, Tillamook

Statistics

  • Built: 1943
  • Address: 6030 Hangar B Road
  • Builder: Sound Construction and Engineering Co.
  • Designation: National Register of Historic Places

Significance

Hangar B was constructed at Naval Air Station Tillamook for the mooring and maintenance of blimps during World War II. Using over 3.3 million board feet of lumber, Hangar B is considered to be one of the largest wood clear span buildings in the entire world and is reportedly one of only seven similar blimp hangars remaining in the United States.

History

Naval Air Station Tillamook’s Hangar B is highly significant for its role in World War II national defense as well as its unique design characteristics. Completed on August 15, 1943, Hangar B was one of two identical blimp hangars built in Tillamook to house a squadron of blimps, ZP-33, that patrolled the coastline from California to the Canadian border during World War II.

The eight “K” series blimps housed in Tillamook during the war years were 252 feet long and were armed with four depth chargers and two 50‐caliber machine guns. Hangar B was decommissioned in 1948 and became Tillamook Air Museum in 1994.

Structurally, Hangar B is one of the largest wood buildings in the world, measuring 1,072 feet long, 296 feet wide and 192 feet high. According to the National Register nomination, “Pressure-treated Pacific Northwest lumber was used for the vast number of structural framing members with the object of conserving steel for the overseas war effort. The roof support system, consisting of nearly parabolic open-web truss arch ribs on reinforced concrete bents spaced at 20-foot intervals, tested building technology of the day.” The identical Hangar A was destroyed by fire in 1992.

Why it’s Endangered

Located within the Port of Tillamook Bay Industrial Park, Hangar B is in dire need of rehabilitation. While additional assessments are needed, a 2011 study identified that the 430,000 sq. ft roof needs replacement due to rusting and rapid deterioration caused by recurrent heavy rains and high winds. The immense doors on the south end of the hangar have become inoperable, and the north end doors need immediate repair to maintain operability. Estimates for rehab are approximately $15 million. While the building will continue to serve as Tillamook Air Museum until the current tenant’s lease ends in 2016, the cash flow generated by the museum is insufficient to cover even a fraction of the mounting repair bill.

Our Near-term Goals

Funding for the phased rehabilitation of Hangar B is critical if the building is to survive into the future. With the pending relocation of private planes housed in the Air Museum, an updated plan for building use and outside financial support must be identified.

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