Friday, April 16, 2010

LZ 127 interrupted Flight

The Graf Zeppelin  was almost lost on its second trip "1. Amerikafahrt 1929" to the United States on 16th May 1929. Shortly after dark on the first night of the flight , the airship lost two of its five engines while over the Mediterranean off the southwest coast of Spain forcing Dr. Eckener to abandon the trip and return to Friedrichshafen. While flying up the Rhône Valley in France against a stiff headwind the next afternoon, however, two of the remaining three engines also failed and the airship began to be pushed backwards toward the sea.

As Dr. Eckener desperately looked for a suitable place to crash-land the airship, the French Air Ministry advised him that he would be permitted to land at the Naval Airship Base at Cuers-Pierrefeu about ten miles from Toulon to use the mooring mast and hangar of the lost airship Dixmude (France's only dirigible which crashed in the Mediterranean in 1923 resulting in the loss of 52 lives) if the Graf could reach the facility before being blown out to sea. Although barely able to control the Graf on its one remaining engine, Eckener managed to make a difficult but successful emergency night landing at Cuers.  After making temporary repairs, the Graf finally returned to Friedrichshafen on 24 May.
Cover flown on the interrupted American Flight.  Cover was postmarked on board the Graf Zeppelin on 16.5.1929.  Also has the circular special
"1. AMERIKAFAHRT 1929" cachet in blue
Cover bears the one lined "interrupted flight" cachet.
This cover is from my collection
Mail carried on the flight received a one-line cachet in German reading "Delivery delayed due to cancellation of the 1st America trip" and was held at Friedrichshafen. On 1st August 1929, the airship made another attempt to cross the Atlantic for Lakehurst, arriving there on 4 August 1929. Four days later, the Graf Zeppelin departed Lakehurst for another daring enterprise — a complete circumnavigation of the globe.

 Reverse of the above cover showing New York backstamp of Aug 5 1929. 3AM.

The Graf Zeppelin's return flight from Lakehurst  to Friedrichshafen was  on August 8, 1929 piloted by Dr Hugo Eckener, arriving there on August 10th   It carried a crew of forty with twenty
two passengers and thousands of pieces of mail.  This was the first leg of the Round World flight of the Graf Zeppelin.

Lakehurst became the official point of origin for the round-the-world trip. William Randolph Hearst  paid $100,000 dollars to finance this round-the-world trip on the proviso that the flight would be considered as started from the US when it passed the Statue of Liberty in New York.  

The Graf Zeppelin round-the-world trip can be viewed from two perspectives. The Americans  viewed the round-the-world flight from Lakehurst to Lakehurst. The Germans saw the round-the-world flight from Friedrichshafen to Friedrichshafen

A cover flown from Lakehurst on the round the world flight

 US mails were stamped with a circular cachet in red

LZ-5 and LZ-127 "Graf Zeppelin" on Czech stamps issued to publicize PRAGA 1978

Graf Zeppelin on 1976 issue of Upper Volta

Graf Zeppelin on a 1981 Hungarian issue

Graf Zeppelin over Brasov, Romania -  part of 1978 issue

Graf Zeppelin over Sibiu, Romania -  part of 1978 issue.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Graf Zeppelin flights

The centenary of the first Zeppelin flight was commemorated by several countries.

 Souvenir sheet issued by Bhutan in 2000 showing the LZ 1 and Count Zeppelin

Souvenir sheet issued by Bhutan in 2000 showing the LZ 129 "Hindenburg" and Count Zeppelin

Souvenir sheet issued by Bhutan in 2000 showing the LZ 130 and Count Zeppelin

Graf Zeppelin carried a great deal of mail.  Mails flown on all major flights were suitably endorsed and special postmarks and commemorative cachets were applied to all flown items.  Besides philatelic mail, commercial mail was also sent by zeppelin because it was the fastest way to send mail across the ocean at that time.  LZ-127’s service to South America cut mail time from weeks to days and was especially popular among businessmen. Postal revenue from these items financed much of the cost of operating the zeppelins. 

Many countries issued special stamps to commemorate the visit of the Graf Zeppelin and her sister airship the Hindenburg.  Zeppelin covers and cards were very popular at that time and are highly prized even today.  Thousands of covers and cards were flown on various flights vut they are very scarce today and command high prices.

March 25-28, 1929 to the near east.  Postage rates were 1M for post cards and 2M for letters.  Mails were stamped Friedrichshafen and a special cachet was applied in shades of red and violet.  4796 pieces of mail were carried.

 A cover flown on the Mediterranean flight. 


Saturday, April 10, 2010

LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin

The first stamps depicting the Graf Zeppelin were issued by Germany in 1928 showing the airship flying across the Atlantic Ocean.  The stamp bears the inscription 'DEUTSCHE LUFTPOST AMERIKA-EUROPA'

The most famous and successful of airships was the LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin which flew for the first time on 18th September 1928.  It was named after the  pioneer of airships, Ferdinand von Zeppelin, who held the rank of Graf or Count in the German nobility. The great airship flew more than a million miles in the course of 590 flights.  The Graf Zeppelin made first commercial passenger flight across the Atlantic in fact she made more than a hundred Atlantic crossings. 

In 1929, Graf Zeppelin made a historic Round the World flight of around 21,000 miles which included a non-stop flight from her base in Friedrichschafen, Germany to Tokyo, Japan, which made aviation history.  This stage was almost 7000 miles, and aroused intense public enthusiasm around the globe.

The LZ 127 was the largest airship at that time with a total length of 236.6 metres (776 ft) and volume of 105,000 cubic metres (3,700,000 cu ft). It was powered by five Maybach 550 horsepower (410 kW) engines that could burn either Blau gas or gasoline.

The ship achieved a maximum speed of 128 kilometres per hour (80 mph, 70 knots) operating at total maximum thrust of 2,650 horsepower (1,980 kW), which reduced to the normal cruising speed of 117 km/h (73 mph, 63 knots) when running with normal thrust of 2,150 horsepower (1,600 kW.  Some flights were made using only Blau gas, for which 12 gas cells were used with a total volume up to 30,000 cubic metres which allowed around 100 hours at cruising speed. At maximum capacity, the fuel tank allowed 67 hours' cruising. Using both gasoline and Blau gas could give 118 hours' cruising.

 A spectacular research flight which was a dream of Count Zeppelin was made  to the North  Pole in July, 1931.  This event was philatelically commemorated by overprinting the 1928 set with 'POLAR FAHRT 1931'.

Dr. Eckener  planned to fund this expedition by delivering mail post to the ship. An advertising campaign resulted in collection of around fifty thousand pieces of mail from around the world weighing around 300 kgs. Another 120 kgs of mail was carried for the Russian icebreaker Malygin, on which the Italian airshipman and polar explorer Umberto Nobile was a guest. The major cost of the expedition was met solely by sale of postage stamps. The rest of the funding came from Aeroarctic and the Ullstein-Verlag in exchange for exclusive reporting rights.

Mails were stamped with a Special German semi-circular cachet in red depicting the zeppelin passing through the rays of the sun and inscribed on the top 'LUFTSCHIFF GRAF ZEPPELIN'  and "POARFAHRT 1931" at the botton

A set of 4 special stamps were issued by Russia on 25th July, 1931 for  the polar flight of Graf Zeppelin flight to the North Pole. Stamp shows the Zeppelin flying over an arctic scene with the icebreaker "Malygin" and a polar bear on an ice flow gazing at the graf Zeppelin.
Stamps were issued both imperforated & perforated

Card flown from Leningrad

Mails at Leningrad were stamped with a special ornamental postmark "PAR AVION ZEPPELIN" with the date between outline of an airship.  A special three lined cachet in red was also applied.

Stamps are from my collection.  I wish I had these covers but the scans are from the internet.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Easter

I wish you a Happy Easter and all the blessings of the Risen Lord. !

Monday, March 29, 2010

Ville de Lucerne dirigible

Stamp depicting the Ville de Lucerne issued by Switzerland on 13th February, 1975.

Excerpt from Airship and Balloon News of  August 27, 1910

" V i l l e de L u c e r n e " a Success.
DURING the month that the airship " Ville de Lucerne " has
been in commission she has regularly made daily trips, except, of
course, when the weather has been bad. On several days more
than one trip has been made—as, for instance, on the 8thinst.,
when five excursions were made, the total number of persons carried
during the day being 48. On the third trip the passengers included
two little children, one 5 and the other 3 years old. In 15 days
21 ascents were made, and there was no difficulty in obtaining the
full complement of passengers at .£8 a head.
On the 14th inst. four trips were made in various directions over
the different lakes, and also over the city of Berne.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Airships after World War I

Stamps issued by Togo showing the LZ 4, at bottom left is the Henri Giffard airship also Charles's balloon

Stamps were issued in 1964 to commemorate first flight of the national air carrier AIR TOGO

A plaque, located at 61 Farringdon Road, London, commemorating a World War I Zeppelin raid on London.

Post World War I, the Allies demanded that the zeppelins built in 1920/21 be delivered to them as war reparations.  This temporarily brought to a halt further zeppelin manufacture.  However, Dr Hugo Eckener & his team kept looking for ways to circumvent Allied restrictions,  Their opportunity came in 1924 

The United States had started to experiment with rigid airships, constructing one of their own, the ZR-1 USS Shenandoah. They ordered another from the UK when the British R38 (ZR-2). However, the R38 (based on the Zeppelin L70, ordered as ZR-2) broke apart and exploded during a test flight above the Humber on 23 August 1921, killing 44 crewmen.

Dr. Eckener managed to acquire an order for the next American dirigible. Germany had to pay the costs for this airship itself, as they were set off against the war reparation accounts. But this was secondary for the Zeppelin company which looked at the potential for future orders. Engineer Dr. Dürr designed LZ 126 using all the expertise accumulated over the years. The company achieved its best Zeppelin so far, which took off for a first test flight on 27 August 1924.

LZ 126 was renamed ZR-3 USS Los Angeles and took off on its Transatlantic delivery flight from  Friedrichshafen to Lakehurst, New Jersey on 12th October, 1924.  The airship flew 8,050 kilometres  without any difficulties in 81 hours and two minutes. American crowds enthusiastically celebrated its arrival, and President Calvin Coolidge invited Dr. Eckener and his crew to the White House, calling the new Zeppelin an "angel of peace".

 USS Los Angeles flying over southern Manhattan

ZR 3 USS Los Angeles depicted on a Bermuda stamp commemorating 50th anniversary of airmail by Airship Los Angeles

The airship was commissioned into the US Navy on November 25, 1924 and became the most successful American airship,  She operated reliably for 8 years and was finally dismantled in 1940
Stamp issued by Dominica in 1978 showing LZ 1

Stamp issued by Dominica in 1978 showing LZ 2

Friday, March 19, 2010

Zeppelins upto end of World War I

The Zeppelin companies based in Friedrichshafen, Germany, numbered their aircraft LZ1, 2 ..., with LZ standing for "Luftschiff [airship] Zeppelin". Airships used for civilian purposes were usually given a name.

Military airships, on the other hand, were given "tactical numbering":
  The German Army called its first Zeppelins Z I, II ... . During World War I they switched to using the LZ numbers, later adding 30 to obscure the total production.
 The German Navy Zeppelins were labeled L 1,2 ....

 LZ11 - "Viktoria Luise" first flew on 19th February, 1912

LZ 11 transported 9783 passengers in 489 flights, traveling 54,312 km.  Was taken over by the German military after outbreak of World War and used as a training airship and renumbered LZ III.  It  broke apart while being hauled into its hangar on 1st October ,1915.

LZ 13 "Hansa" over Heligoland,  first flew on 30th July, 1912.

LZ 13 "Hansa" made 399 flights, flew 44,437 km, made the first regular flight  outside Germany, commanded by Count Zeppelin, on a  visit to Denmark and Sweden on 19 September 1912.  It was taken over by German military at outbreak of World War I and was decommissioned in summer 1916.

LZ 15 was destroyed within two months of its first flight.

LZ 16 was taken over by the military and renumbered Z IV.  It performed some reconnaissance missions during World War I and attempted bombing of Warsaw and Lyck..  Later used as a training ship from 1915

LZ 17 "Sachsen" first flew on 3rd May, 1913

LZ 13 transported 9837 passengers in 419 flights, traveled 39,919 km, It was taken over by German military at the outbreak of World War I in 1914. This was Captain Lehmann's first command; it was fitted with bomb racks and bomb drop station, together with an improved radio room, machine guns in the cars below and a gunners nest on top of the tail. In its first attack on Antwerp it carried 1,800 pounds (820 kg) of bombs and spent 12 hours in the air.  It was Decommissioned in autumn of 1916 .

8 more airships were built till the World War I broke out and were all taken over by the military.

Zeppelins were used as bombers during World War I. At the beginning of the conflict the German command had high hopes for the craft, as they appeared to have compelling advantages over contemporary aircraft – they were almost as fast, carried many more guns, and had a greater bomb-load and enormously greater range and endurance. However, their great weakness was their vulnerability to incendiary ammunition.

The German airships were operated by both the Army and Navy as two entirely separate divisions.  The Naval and Army Air Services also directed a number of strategic raids against Britain, leading the way in bombing techniques and also forcing the British to bolster their anti-aircraft defenses.  The nighttime raids were intended to target only military sites on the east coast and around the Thames estuary, but after blackouts became widespread, many bombs fell at random on East Anglia.

A total of 84 Zeppelins were built during the war. Over 60 were lost, roughly evenly divided between accident and enemy action. 51 raids had been undertaken, in which 5,806 bombs were dropped, killing 557 people and injuring 1,358 while causing damages estimated at £1.5 million. It has been argued the raids were effective far beyond material damage in diverting and hampering wartime production, and diverting 12 fighter squadrons and over 10,000 personnel to air defenses.

The German defeat in the war also marked the end of German military dirigibles, as the victorious Allies demanded a complete disarmament of German air forces and delivery of the remaining airships as reparations.

Zeppelin technology improved considerably as a result of the increasing demands of warfare. Count von Zeppelin died in 1917, before the end of the war. Dr. Hugo Eckener, a man who had long envisioned dirigibles as vessels of peace rather than of war, took command of the Zeppelin business.   The Zeppelin company and DELAG hoped to resume civilian flights quickly.

  LZ 120 "Bodensee" first flew 20th August, 1919

Two small Zeppelins were built,  LZ 120 Bodensee, which first flew in August 1919 and in the following two years actually transported some 4,000 passengers; and LZ 121 Nordstern, which was envisaged being used on a regular route to Stockholm.

However, in 1921, the Allied Powers demanded these two Zeppelins be delivered as war reparations.  This temporarily halted German Zeppelin aviation industry.

My next post will be about the  Graf Zeppelin LZ 127 the most famous airship of all time.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Continuing the LZ story

On October 16, 1909 the German Airship Travel Corporation (Deutsche Luftshiffahrt Aktien Gesellschaft, DELAG) was created, the “first airline of any kind in aviation history.”  the newly founded DELAG, bought seven Zeppelins by 1914.  LZ 6 became the first Zeppelin used for commercial passenger transport.

LZ 9 over Friedrichshafen

LZ 9 was a Military airship rechristened ZII and first flew on 2nd october 1911 and was decommissioned on 1st August 1914.

LZ 10 was named Schwaben and first flew on 26th June 1911 and was flown by DELAG.  This airship transported 4354 passengers in 224 flights, traveling 27,321 km was destroyed on 28th June, 1912 in accident on the airfield in Düsseldorf.

LZ 10 shown on a Mautitanian stamp

Friday, March 12, 2010

Story of Zeppelins contd...

LZ2 over Rothenberg

Despite its potential,  the shareholders of  Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Luftschiffahrt, the company formed by Count von Zeppelin,  declined to invest more money in the development of airships after the breaking up of LZ1.  The Count wished to continue experimenting so with the support of aviation enthusiasts his idea got a second (and third) chance to be developed into a reasonably reliable technology.

The Zeppelin LZ2 was first flown in 1906. It was the true "prototype" of the Zeppelin airship. The major mistakes made by Kübler in the design of the LZ1 were taken into account while designing the LZ 2. . The designer, Ludwig Dürr, who was to head the design of all subsequent Zeppelins, used triangular-section girders instead of Kübler's flat girders, and elevators instead of a lead weight to control pitch. The final addition was a triangular keel which became a major structural element, as well as a walkway between the gondolas, allowing access to much of the ship.

LZ3 over Wurzburg
The life of the LZ2 was brief as only two flights were made. Its immediate successor, the LZ3, first flew on 9 October 1906 and it was purchased by the German Army in 1908 and operated  until 1913.  The LZ3 made many flights and carried a number of influential passengers, including the German Crown Prince beforeits sale to the Army,.
The military administration put the LZ3 to use as the renamed Z1. Starting in 1909, Zeppelins also were used in civilian aviation. The German Aviation Association (Deutsche Luftschiffahrtsgesellschaft or DELAG) transported 37,250 people on over 1600 flights uptol 1914 without an incident. Within a few short years the zeppelin revolution began creating the age of air transportation.

           LZ 4 over hangar 

The army was also willing to buy LZ 4, but requested a demonstration of her ability to make a 24-hour trip. While attempting to fulfill this requirement, the crew of LZ 4 had to make an intermediate landing in Echterdingen near Stuttgart. During the stop, a storm tore the airship away from its anchorage in the afternoon of 5 August 1908. She crashed into a tree, caught fire, and quickly burnt out. This accident would have certainly knocked out the Zeppelin project economically had not one of the spectators in the crowd spontaneously initiated a collection of donations, yielding an impressive total of 6,096,555 Mark. This enabled the Count to found the Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH (Airship Construction Zeppelin Ltd.) and a Zeppelin Foundation.

A total of 21 Zeppelin airships (LZ 5 to LZ 25) were manufactured before World War I. In 1909 LZ 6 became the first Zeppelin used for commercial passenger transport.  The airships were given names in addition to their production numbers.

LZ 7 - Deutschland
LZ 7 Deutschland made its maiden voyage on 19 June 1910. On 28 June it began a pleasure trip to make Zeppelins more popular. Among those aboard were 19 journalists, two of whom were reporters of well known British newspapers. LZ 7 crashed in bad weather at Mount Limberg near Bad Iburg in Lower Saxony, its hull getting stuck in trees. The crew then let down a ladder to allow all the passengers to leave the ship. One crew member was slightly injured on leaving the craft.