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. !