Maritime Monday for September 16th, 2012: Gasbags; A blog about (air) ships, Part 2

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September 16, 2012


In case you missed it:
Maritime Monday for Sept. 10th, 2012:
Gasbags; A Blog About (Air) Ships (Part One)


ein Prall-Luftschiff System Parseval (1910 – 1914)


1911: Luftfahrzeug-GmbH(Parseval) Broschuere Titelblatt
(1,526 × 1,038)


L: German Empire; Zeppelin, Color Postcard
R: Graf Zeppelin, Swiss Postcard
more zeppelin postcards on German Postal History


Ferdinand Adolf Heinrich August Graf von Zeppelin

(also known as Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin, Graf Zeppelin and in English, Count Zeppelin) (8 July 1838 – 8 March 1917) was a German general and later aircraft manufacturer. He founded the Zeppelin Airship company.

Ferdinand von Zeppelin served as a volunteer in the Union Army during the American Civil War. In 1863 Zeppelin took leave to act as an observer for the northern troops of the Union’s Army of the Potomac in the American Civil War against the Confederates, and later took part in an expedition with Russians and Indians to the source of the Mississippi river and he made his first ascent with Steiner’s captive balloon.



2 July 1900: First Zeppelin LZ1; ascent at Lake Constance

The airship rose from the ground and remained in the air for 20 minutes,
but wrecked when landing.

The LZ1 was 126 m (420 ft) in overall length, 11.4 m (38 ft) in diameter and weighed 13 tons.

It was constructed using a cylindrical framework covered with smooth surfaced cotton cloth. Inside was a row of 17 gas cells each covered in rubberized cloth. The hydrogen gas capacity totaled 12,000m3 (400,000cubic ft).

The airship was steered by forward and aft rudders and propulsion was provided by two 15-hp Daimler internal-combustion engines, each rotating two propellers. The airship also employed a 130 kg weight suspended beneath the hull that could be slid forward or aft to control its attitude and about 300 kg ballast.

At its first trial the LZ-1 carried five people attaining an altitude of 410 m (1300 ft) and flew a distance of 3.7 miles (5.95 km) in 17 minutes, but the wind then forced an emergency landing on the water. Unable to convince possible investors, Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Luftschiffart funding was exhausted and Graf von Zeppelin had to dismantle the prototype, sell the scrap and tools and liquidate the company.

The second version of his airship was entirely financed through donations and a lottery. By 1914, the German Aviation Association (Deutsche Luftschiffahrtsgesellschaft or DELAG) transported 37,250 people on over 1,600 flights without an incident. The zeppelin revolution had begun.

List of Zeppelins on wikipedia


RPPC showing German military Zeppelin bombing France in WWI
with inset portrait of Graf Zeppelin

see also:
Postcard showing German military Zeppelin in joint operation with the Imperial fleet


Kaiser Wilhelm II visits the Manzell hangar housing the LZ-3, 10 November 1908
– (1024 x 723) –

set: Luftschifffeiertagserinnerungsfotoalbum


Zeppelin LZ 4 with stabilizers, 1908
747 × 589
see also: Wreckage of LZ 4, destroyed when a storm broke the Zeppelin from its mooring, causing it to crash into a tree and catch fire


Vintage picture postcard:
City of Mannheim with combined street/tramway/railway bridge and Zeppelin airship

This historic picture postcard has been sent from Mannheim to Altona (near Hamburg) in 1909. The lady who wrote the postcard message to her mother mentions that she actually saw the airship “Z III” in Mannheim, but only from the distance. Apparantly it came up the river Rhine. (1661 x 1057)


vintage postcards: Zeppelins, 1908-27 eleven PPCs with Zeppelin and other Airships

Eight are German (three real photographs incl one of Graf Zeppelin himself), six postally used with range German frankings (incl Bavaria). Also two French photos depicting the Clement-Bayard and posted within France. (Image 1) – (Image 2) – (Image 3) – (Image 4) – (Image 5) – (Image 6) – (Image 7) – (Image 8) – (Image 9) – (Image 10) – (Image 11) – (Image 12)


LZ7: damaged beyond repair in an accident above the Teutoburg Forest on 28 June 1910
1828 × 1292


Knights of the Air: Peter Strasser on Dieselpunks

image47_thumb_thumb_thumbPeter Strasser (1 April 1876 – 6 August 1918) was chief commander of German Imperial Navy Zeppelins during World War I, the main force operating bombing campaigns from 1915 to 1917. He was killed when flying the war’s last airship raid over Great Britain.

We who strike the enemy where his heart beats have been slandered as ‘baby killers’ … Nowadays, there is no such animal as a noncombatant. Modern warfare is total warfare.”

—Peter Strasser

above rt: Peter Strasser with Gen.-Lieut. Ferdinand Count von Zeppelin, c. 1915


open control gondola of an M-class Zeppelin – (1280×769) & more

see also: stricken L12 being towed back to Ostend


September 1924: Berlin; Zeppelin-Luftschiff Z.R. III (full size)


1915: London attacked from the air by German Zeppelins

The most successful zeppelin raid was on London on 8th of September 1915. This raid caused more than half a million pounds of damage, almost all of it from the one Zeppelin, the L13, which managed to bomb central London. This single raid caused more than half the material damage caused by all the zeppelin raids against Britain in 1915 …more


Constructions of Military Aircraft on Vintage Aviator



1909: Zeppelin LZ-5 before launch, Manzell, Lake Constance, Germany
– 5,353 × 3,835 pixels –
see alsoand here


“Painting depicts aerial battle with airplanes and airships”

(detail) 1914 lithograph describing modern aerial warfare; Bibliodyssey


1914: German airship bombing Warsaw


Zeppelin caught in searchlights over London during the First World War
world’s biggest collection of airship memorabilia goes on sale


Zeppelin L10, the first of the Naval Airship Division airships to bomb London, L10 entered service in May 1915, based at Nordholz. She participated in five raids on England before lightning destroyed her on 3 September 1915 – more on Airships During the First World War; Imperial War Museum, London

see also: Air Raid Damage in the UK During the First World War


1917 … zeppelin bridge
– (2393 x 1724) –


1917 watercolour by Felix Schwormstädt – (2634 x 1900)

translated title: “In the rear engine gondola of a Zeppelin airship during the flight through enemy airspace after a successful attack on England” more


1917: Crater of a Zeppelin bomb in Paris


1918: View from French dirigible; War Pictorial magazine


End of the ‘Baby-Killer’It is far better to face the bullets


Wind tunnel testing of design for LZ120 Bodensee

Used by DELAG until 1921, then ordered to be transferred war reparations to Italy, renamed Esperia. Arrived in Rome from Staaken on 25 December 1921. (List of Zeppelins)


1923: VI Oktyabr was the first Soviet airship. It was build of makeshift materials in Petrograd

About Soviet Airships” on English Russia

Soviet and Russian airships on wikipedia


Zeppelin LZ 126 at first take-off in Friedrichshafen, Germany 1924 (3465 x 2310)

USS Los Angeles (ZR-3) – rigid airship, designated ZR-3, that was built in 1923–1924 by the Zeppelin factory in Friedrichshafen, Germany, where it was originally designated LZ-126. The airship was given to the United States by the German Government, as it was partially funded by war reparations from World War I.


LZ-126 on US delivery flight

more: Airships of the Past Flickr set (191 photos)


Italian airship Norge at Spitsbergen, May 1926

On May 12, 1926 the airship Norge, designed and commanded by Umberto Nobile, became the first aircraft to reach the North Pole, on an expedition organized by Norwegian Roald Amundsen and American Lincoln Ellsworth.

Airships and the North Pole


The Norge was a semi-rigid Italian-built airship that carried out what many consider the first verified overflight of the North Pole on May 12, 1926. It was also the first aircraft to fly over the polar ice cap between Europe and America. (image)

see also: Norge airship on ground 1926


1930s cigarette card


Nobile in Airship Italia; Disaster at the Pole: The Crash of the Airship Italia

Against the backdrop of Mussolini’s rising power, one of Italy’s premier aeronautical engineers, Umberto Nobile, gained acclaim by crossing the North Pole in a dirigible. Buoyed by this success, Nobile decided in 1928 to raise the ante and take his newly designed airship to the North Pole, land it, and then return to base. But what started in glory turned to disaster when the airship crashed some three hundred miles from civilization…

article: Umberto Nobile’s reputation plumeted with his doomed airship ‘Italia’


The Zeppelin Grows Up; Popular Science
October 1929 – Cover illustration by Herbert Paus


USSR Propoganda Poster

“Society for the Promotion of Defense, Aviation and Chemical Construction supports peaceful labor and the defense of the USSR”. The bottom line reads:
“Give [i.e., let there be] a Soviet dirigible!”



Designed by the Italian engineer Umberto Nobile. In October 1937 it set a new world record for airship endurance of 130 hours 27 minutes, beating the previous record by the German airship Graf Zeppelin.

During the flight, at 16:45 on 5 February 1938, the airship collided with the high ground near Kandalaksha, 280 km south of Murmansk. Of the 19 people on board, 13 perished. The official version of the accident determined that the “pre-revolutionary” chart being used had the wrong altitude marked on it. An unofficial version suggests instead that the crash was jointly due to the old charts, poor visibility, and human error. (1299 x 842)

Grave for Crew of Soviet Airship CCCP-B6

Soviet Zeppelins on Airmail Stamps


The advertising airship of the Raab-Katzenstein aircraft-factory (full size)
from Information about “Keel-Airships”
Raab-Katzenstein was a 1920s German aircraft manufacturer based in Kassel.


Scan of United States 65c airmail “LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin” stamp of 1930
(1200 × 561)

imageDespite the perils and failures, zeppelins performed some of the earliest trans-oceanic and trans-continental crossings. The most successful zeppelin ever built, the Graf Zeppelin, traveled completely around the world in a single voyage in 1929.

Publisher William Randolph Hearst placed a reporter (Grace Marguerite Hay Drummond-Hay) on board, thus permitting her to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe by air. Although unable to turn a profit, the Graf Zeppelin nevertheless logged more than a million miles on nearly 600 flights, without injury to any passenger.

also: Crew Risked Lives to Repair Graf Zeppelin (Jan, 1929) on Modern Mechanix


1931: Nautilus May Meet Zeppelin at Pole
on Modern Mechanix

Details of the methods by which the Graf Zeppelin and the Nautilus, Sir Hubert Wilkins’ polar submarine, hope to complete at the North Pole the most amazing rendezvous in all history, are pictured in the above drawing. The map shows the route these craft will follow. The Nautilus, described in detail in last month’s issue of Modern Mechanics and Inventions, is now on its way to the North Pole…

This rendezvous did not actually occur. But Wilkins bloody well gave it a go!


1936: Frankfurter Flughafen (later Rhein-Main Airbase) Opens

In 1909 Count von Zeppelin used Rhein-Main as a landing site for his dirigible Z-II. The facility was planned by Germany to be one of the most important European air terminals.

The base opened as a German commercial airport in 1936, with the northern part of base used as a field for airplanes and the extreme southern part near Zeppelinheim serving as a base for rigid airships. That section of Rhein-Main later became the port for the Graf Zeppelin, its sister ship LZ-130, and, until 6 May 1937, for the ill-fated Hindenburg.


Inspection Visit of the R101; From the British periodical
“War in the Air – Aerial Wonders of Our Time”, 1936.

When R101 was moored to her Cardington mast – 200 feet high, and equipped with a lift and staircase – the passengers and crew entered and left the ship via the mast itself and a gangway let down from beneath her nose. Above is a party of M.P.s entering R101 on an inspection visit. (1812 x 2296) — Flickr set: Zeppelinology (60 images)

It crashed on 5 October 1930 in France during its maiden overseas voyage,
killing 48 of the 54 people on board

R101 on wikipedia


Following 1933, the establishment of the Third Reich in Germany began to overshadow the Zeppelin business. The Nazis knew very well dirigibles would be useless in combat and thus chose to focus on heavier-than-air technology.


The Great Airship Hindenburg on Awesome Stories

On the other hand, they were eager to exploit the popularity of the airships for propaganda. As Eckener refused to cooperate, Hermann Göring, the German Air minister, formed a new airline in 1935, the Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei (DZR), which took over operation of airship flights. Zeppelins would now display the Nazi swastika on their fins and occasionally tour Germany to play march music and propaganda speeches for the people from the air.


Dining room aboard the Hindenburg

The Hindenburg had a duralumin structure, incorporating 15 Ferris wheel-like bulkheads along its length, with 16 cotton gas bags fitted between them. The bulkheads were braced to each other by longitudinal girders placed around their circumferences. The airship’s outer skin was of cotton doped with a mixture of reflective materials intended to protect the gas bags within from radiation, both ultraviolet (which would damage them) and infrared (which might cause them to overheat). The gas cells were made by a new method pioneered by Goodyear using multiple layers of gelatinized latex.

The interior furnishings of the Hindenburg were designed by Fritz August Breuhaus, whose design experience included Pullman coaches, ocean liners, and warships of the German Navy.

The lower “B” Deck a smoking lounge. Harold G. Dick, an American representative from the Goodyear Zeppelin Company, recalled “The only entrance to the smoking room, which was pressurized to prevent the admission of any leaking hydrogen, was via the bar, which had a swiveling air lock door, and all departing passengers were scrutinized by the bar steward to make sure they were not carrying out a lighted cigarette or pipe.”

Herbert Morrison‘s recorded radio eyewitness report from the landing field

imageIn spite of the success of the Graf Zeppelin, the engineering problems persisted and many zeppelins met with tragic ends. The tide of public perception shifted dramatically in 1937 with the well-publicized crash of the LZ 129 Hindenburg in Lakehurst, New Jersey.

More cost-effective and less dramatic travel by commercial airlines was gaining wider acceptance and soon became commonplace.

By 1939, all commercial zeppelins had been withdrawn from service.

The Hindenburg (film) on wikipedia –
Hindenburg on IMDb –
Hindenburg disaster on wikipedia –

Airship Disaster Poetry Corner


imageFor the Ill-fated Akron’s Heroic Officers and Men, Seventy-four of Whom Perished in a Storm off Barnegat Light, April Fourth, A.D., 1933

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori

At midnight’s solemn hour of mystery,
With raging winds and lurid lightning’s flash,
From queenliest airship in all history,
Came the grave order: “Stand by for a crash!
As from his watery grave each head was showing,
Rang out in cheery tones ‘mid thunder’s roll,
“The best o’ luck – wherever you are going,”
The Morituri Salutamus of his soul.
Brave Admiral Moffett, whose pride was his air fleet
Has perished e’en as Icarus had done
When this first flyer, glorying in his flight,
Propelled his waxen wings too near the sun.
Immortals all! They’ve gone to their last rest.
Requiescant in pace! God knows best.

above right: authoress poet Lucy Byrd Mock
from the Journal of the Janus Museum


Will Navy airship pilot wings make a comeback?

The US Navy has not flown a blimp in over 40 years, and no Navy blimp pilots – with their distinctive single-winged pins and tales of performing high-performance “bag-overs” — remain on duty.


1959: End  of the Airship Era?

On 30 November 1959, the Airship Training Group at Naval Air Station (NAS) Glynco, Georgia, was decommissioned, bringing an end to lighter-than-air training in the United States Navy…

Gas Bag Beer Mats


Airship revival

A new generation of airship–cargo airships–might take to the skies one day soon and completely change how we transport oversize cargo and consumer goods. In March, Aviation Capital Enterprises Inc announced an agreement with Lockheed Martin to design and build a family of hybrid aircraft (filled with helium) for heavy lift cargo.

Barry Prentice, professor in transport economics at the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, says that airships are poised to make a huge comeback. “We’ve got to look for more fuel efficient, less polluting forms of transport, and airships are shining stars in that regard,” he says.

To start Prentice says cargo airships will likely have a 20-tonne lift capacity. But that could reach 150 tonnes as the technology develops. Once airships are big enough they will carry loads across the oceans more economically than airplanes. A trip from Montreal or Toronto to Europe might take anywhere from 24 hours to 36 hours, but it’s faster than an ocean-going cargo vessel…

keep reading


– illustration by Bowsprite

more gasbags:

Airships: The Hindenburg and other Zeppelins:
The Graf Zeppelin, Hindenburg, U.S. Navy Airships, and other Dirigibles

Faces of the Hindenburg

header image original


Adventures of the Blackgang on tumblr — (twitter)

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