Carl Berg (airship builder)
Carl Berg was a German entrepreneur
An entrepreneur is an owner or manager of a business enterprise who makes money through risk and initiative.The term was originally a loanword from French and was first defined by the Irish-French economist Richard Cantillon. Entrepreneur in English is a term applied to a person who is willing to...

 and airship
An airship or dirigible is a type of aerostat or "lighter-than-air aircraft" that can be steered and propelled through the air using rudders and propellers or other thrust mechanisms...


Berg came from a commercial iron-works family. His great grandfather founded a button-making factory on 1786 in Lüdenscheid. In the following generations the factory developed into an important metal-working company. Among others it incorporated a brass works and an iron works in Eveking (today Werdohl)
Werdohl is a town in the district Märkischer Kreis, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.-Geography:Werdohl is located in the hills of the Sauerland, at a double meander of the river Lenne and its confluent, the Verse...


After his father's death Carl Berg, at the age of 20, took over the firm and expanded it further. Early on he recognised the opportunities in the electrical industries and delivered special wire for the Post to use for telegraph and telephone. Other non-ferrous metals were developed.

Berg founded as subsidiaries the copperworks "Deutschland" in Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 and "Österreich" in Außig (part of Cavertitz) (Bohemia). Above all he realised the advantages of aluminium as a light building material and his Lüdenscheid firm became a pioneer of the aluminium industry.

In 1892 Berg delivered material to the airship constructor David Schwarz
David Schwarz (aviation inventor)
David Schwarz was a Hungarian aviation pioneer of Jewish descent.Schwarz created the first flyable rigid airship. It was also the first airship with an external hull made entirely of metal. He died before he could see it finally fly...

 for his first aluminium rigid dirigible in Russia 1892 to 1894, and also for Schwarz's second aluminium airship in Berlin, 1895 to 1897. Berg's firm constructed the framework and separate parts. After Schwarz's death, Carl Berg worked with the Schwarz' widow to complete construction of the second airship up to its partially successful test flight.

By the end of 1897 Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin
Ferdinand von Zeppelin
Ferdinand Adolf Heinrich August Graf von Zeppelin was a German general and later aircraft manufacturer. He founded the Zeppelin Airship company...

 had discussed possible airship design with Berg and together with Philipp Holzman in May 1898 they formed the joint stock company Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Luftschiffart. Zeppelin contributed 800,000 Marks, almost half the capital. After building the first Zeppelin in a floating hangar on Lake Constance and three test flights, the shareholders were reluctant to invest more and the company was liquidated in 1900.

Berg continued to provide materials for Zeppelin's airships.

Aluminium alloys

For the Schwarz airship Berg used an alloy of unknown composition named Viktoria aluminium. For the Zeppelin LZ1, Zeppelin's first, he used pure aluminium. For Zeppelin LZ2 to LZ25 Berg used aluminium alloyed with zinc and zinc-copper. Berg also produced duralumin
Duralumin is the trade name of one of the earliest types of age-hardenable aluminium alloys. The main alloying constituents are copper, manganese, and magnesium. A commonly used modern equivalent of this alloy type is AA2024, which contains 4.4% copper, 1.5% magnesium, 0.6% manganese and 93.5%...

 - invented by Alfred Wilm
Alfred Wilm
Alfred Wilm , was a German metallurgist, who invented the alloy Al-3.5–5.5%Cu-Mg-Mn, now known as duraluminium, which is used extensively in aircraft....

 - an alloy with copper, manganese and magnesium. Zeppelin immediately wished to use this superior alloy but it had technical difficulties not satisfactorily resolved until 1915 when it was used in LZ26.


After Berg's death in 1906, Zeppelin became the customer of Carl Berg AG (operated from 1906 until 1926).

Other reading

  • Wilhelm Schulte: Westfälische Köpfe. Münster, 1977. S.23f. ISBN 3-402-05700-X
  • Hans G. Knäusel: Unternehmen Zeppelin. Bonn, 1994. S.21. ISBN 3-7812-1366-8
  • Nikolaj Müller-Wusterwitz: Die Unternehmen der Familie Berg : Chronik ab 1787. Lüdenscheid, 1999. ISBN 3-921595-30-4
  • Eckhard Trox (Hrsg.): Der Traum vom Fliegen : Carl Berg und die Luftschiffidee von Lüdenscheid bis Lakehurst. Lüdenscheid, 2000. ISBN 3-929614-43-X
  • Eckhard Trox, Der unterschätzte Industrielle Carl Berg (1851–1906) : Aluminiumlegierungen, diffizile Geschäftsbeziehungen und Zeppeline, in: Der Märker. Landeskundliche Zeitschrift für den Bereich der ehemaligen Grafschaft Mark und den Märkischen Kreis, Altena 2001, S. 57-67 ISSN 0024-9661

External links

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