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Garland Fulton Collection

Fulton, Garland, 1890-1974  Search this
United States. Navy -- General subdivision--Aviation  Search this
20.8 Cubic feet (45 boxes)
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Technical reports
bulk 1918-1945
The Garland Fulton Collection consists of material gathered by Captain Garland Fulton.
Scope and Contents:
The Garland Fulton Collection consists of material gathered by Captain Garland Fulton, USN (1890-1975), naval officer and proponent of lighter than air (LTA) flight. The collection was originally donated by Fulton's estate to the U.S. Naval Historical Foundation of Washington D.C. in 1979, and was transferred to the National Air and Space Museum as a permanent deposit in 1982. The collection was formally donated to NASM in May of 2000. Comprising 16 cubic feet, the Fulton Papers includes correspondence and memoranda regarding the US Navy's LTA program from the 1920s to the beginnings of the expansion of the Navy's LTA program prior to World War II. There is also extensive material on Naval airship policy, and on defense policy between the world wars. As head of the Lighter-Than-Air Design Section of the Bureau of Aeronautics, Fulton was an insider in the art of defense procurement and spending --his memoranda and letters provide an illuminating look into defense policy and congressional affairs between the World Wars. Of particular interest is Fulton's correspondence from his service as Inspector of Naval Aircraft during the construction of the USS Los Angeles in Friedrichshafen, Germany, 1922-1924. His correspondence with other leading figures in LTA and naval affairs --William A. Moffett, Ernest J. King, Jerome Hunsaker, Karl Arnstein, Hugo Eckener, F.W. von Meister, and Charles E. Rosendahl are an invaluable resource of the heroic period of airship development.

The collection also includes technical data on airships, airship design, and naval architecture. There are many photographs, including photos documenting the construction of the Los Angeles.

The collection includes books on lighter-than-air history naval history, and engineering. A number of the books have been transferred to the NASM branch of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries; others were transferred with the permission of the Fulton family to other institutions. Several books with personal inscriptions were retained with the collection.

The collection also includes a series of photographs of airships, including many detailing the construction and first flight of the Los Angeles.
The Garland Fulton Collection is arranged in the following series:

Series I: Personal Files, Correspondence, Fulton's Writings

Subseries 1 --Biography, personal papers

Subseries 2 --Correspondence

Subseries 3 --Papers, articles, and notes by Garland Fulton

Series II: Lighter Than Air (LTA)

Subseries 1 --Navy airships; Navy LTA policy and doctrine

Subseries 2 --Civilian and foreign airships

Subseries 3 --LTA, general

Subseries 4 --LTA articles, papers and data

Subseries 5 --LTA general publications

Subseries 6 --LTA gases

Series III: Aeronautics, general

Series IV: Publications, Papers, Reports, Journals

Subseries 1 --Arranged by organization and/or individuals

Subseries 2 --Technical papers, reports, journals

Subseries 3 --Magazines, journals, papers, reports

Subseries 4 --Newspapers, clippings

Series V: US Navy, general

Series VI: Miscellaneous documents

Series VII: Photographs

Series VIII: Books

Series IX: Oversized Material
Biographical / Historical:
Captain Garland Fulton, USN, one of the U.S. Navy's leading proponents of lighter-than-air (LTA) flight, was born in University, Mississippi on May 6, 1890. He was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1908. His roommate at the Academy was Richard E. Byrd (1888-1957), and another classmate was Donald W. Douglas, later founder of the Douglas Aircraft Company. Serving at the Academy during Fulton's career as a midshipman was Lieutenant Ernest J. King, later head of the Bureau of Aeronautics (BuAer), 1933-1937, and Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet (COMINCH) during World War II. An early advocate of naval aviation, King sparked Fulton's interest in aeronautics. Fulton graduated from the Naval Academy in 1912. Following duty with the fleet, Fulton attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), studying naval architecture and, under Commander (and Dr.) Jerome C. Hunsaker, aeronautical engineering. Fulton received his master's degree in 1916. Fulton entered the Naval Construction Corps in 1915, serving in the Industrial Department at the New York Navy Yard, where, during World War I, he was in charge of mounting guns on armed merchant ships. In May 1918, Fulton asked to be assigned to aeronautical engineering duties in the Aviation Section of the Navy's Bureau of Construction and Repair. Fulton transferred to the Bureau of Aeronautics when that organization was founded in 1921. In 1922, now a lieutenant commander, Fulton was sent to Europe to assist in the negotiations for the purchase of the "Reparations Airship" to replace the German rigid airships that had been awarded to the United States by the Versailles Treaty but were destroyed by their crews before transfer to the US. As Inspector of Naval Aircraft (INA), Fulton served at the Zeppelin works (Luftschiffbau-Zeppelin) at Friedrichshafen, Germany during the construction and flight trials of the rigid airship LZ 126. Assigned the service designation ZR-3, the airship was christened the USS Los Angeles upon its delivery to the US Navy at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station, NJ in 1924. Fulton resumed his service at the Bureau of Aeronautics in Washington DC after the completion of Los Angeles. As head of the Bureau's Lighter-Than-Air Design Section until his retirement, Fulton oversaw the design and construction of the USS Akron (ZRS-4) and the USS Macon (ZRS-5), and worked actively to help further the acceptance of large airships in both the Navy and in commerce. Under Fulton's guidance, expansion of the Navy's non-rigid airship (blimp) program was initiated in the years prior to the United States' entry into World War II.

Garland Fulton retired from the Navy with the rank of captain in 1940 and joined the Cramp Shipbuilding Company of Philadelphia as a director. After retirement from Cramps as vice president in charge of engineering in 1947, Fulton served on several corporate boards of directors. In later years, Fulton was a frequent unofficial consultant to the Navy and industry on LTA issues. He continued to correspond with other participants of the airship age, including Admiral Thomas G.W. "Tex" Settle, Admiral C.E. Rosendahl, Commodore George H. Mills (NASM Collection 1994-0022), Jerome C. Hunsaker (NASM Collection XXXX-0001), Karl Arnstein, and F.W. "Willy" von Meister. As the dean of American airshipmen, Fulton frequently served as a source of information to airship historians like Douglas Robinson, Richard Smith, Robin Hingham, and William Althoff. Fulton wrote extensively on LTA and aeronautical history, and planned to write a history of U.S. Naval Aviation until prevented by failing health. Garland Fulton died on October 24, 1974 --the same day as his friend George Mills. They were buried on the same day in Arlington National Cemetery.
Naval Aviation History Foundation, Gift, 1981
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Material is subject to Smithsonian Terms of Use. Should you wish to use NASM material in any medium, please submit an Application for Permission to Reproduce NASM Material, available at
USS Los Angeles ( ZR-3)  Search this
Aeronautics  Search this
USS Akron (ZRS-4)  Search this
Airships  Search this
USS Macon (ZRS-5)  Search this
Technical reports
Garland Fulton Collection, Accession XXXX-0101, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
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