Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Zeppelins - the Golden Age of Airships

 Stamp issued by Germany in 1934 showing Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin and the LZ 127

In an earlier post I had referred to David Schwarz who had built a rigid airship in 1897.  Unfortunately, he did not live to see the fruit of his experiment.  It was a partial success and he might have improved on it had he lived.   After his death, his wife, Melanie Schwarz, was paid 15,000 marks by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin for information about the airship.
David Schwarz & Count von Zeppelin shown on a Hungarian stamp issued in 1948

Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, a retired German military officer,  began experimenting with rigid airship designs in the 1890s. He invented a rigid framed dirigible or airship that became known as the Zeppelin. Count Zeppelin flew the world's first untethered rigid airship, the LZ-1, on July 2, 1900, near Lake Constance, or Boden See, between Germany & Switzerland, carrying five passengers.
First Zeppelin flight shown above a boat at Lake Constance

The LZ1 was 128 metres (420 ft) long, 11.7 metres (38 ft) in diameter and weighed 13 tons and had two 15-hp Daimler internal-combustion engines, each rotating two propellers.  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 11,300 cubic metres (400,000 cu ft).  Passengers and crew were carried in two 6.2 metre long aluminum gondolas suspended forward and aft.

At its first trial the LZ1 carried five persons attaining an altitude of 400 metres (1,300 ft) and flew a distance of 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) in 18 minutes, but the wind then forced an emergency landing on the water.

After repairs the ship flew two more times showing its potential, beating the speed record then held by the French Army airship, La France, of 6 metres per second (22 km/h) by 3 metres per second (11 km/h), but this could not convince the possible investors. Because funding was exhausted, Graf von Zeppelin had to dismantle the prototype.  However, he was soon working on the next model the more successful LZ2 (1906).

However, the flight of LZ1 signaled the beginning of the  "Golden Age of Airships"  and led to the most successful airships of all time: the Zeppelins. As is evident they were named after Count von Zeppelin.  The story of the Zeppelins and other airships continues in the next post.

Luftschiffs (Airships) LZ1 & LZ3  shown on a Cuban souvenir sheet issued in 2000.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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