Zeppelin
Overview
 
A Zeppelin is a type of rigid airship
Rigid airship
A rigid airship is a type of airship in which the envelope retained its shape by the use of an internal structural framework rather than by being forced into shape by the pressure of the lifting gas within the envelope as used in blimps and semi-rigid airships.Rigid airships were produced and...

 pioneered by the German Count
Count
A count or countess is an aristocratic nobleman in European countries. The word count came into English from the French comte, itself from Latin comes—in its accusative comitem—meaning "companion", and later "companion of the emperor, delegate of the emperor". The adjective form of the word is...

 Ferdinand 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...

 in the early 20th century. It was based on designs he had outlined in 1874 and detailed in 1893. His plans were reviewed by committee in 1894 and patented in the United States on 14 March 1899. Given the outstanding success of the Zeppelin design, the term zeppelin in casual use came to refer to all rigid airships. Zeppelins were operated by the Deutsche Luftschiffahrts-AG (DELAG).
Encyclopedia
A Zeppelin is a type of rigid airship
Rigid airship
A rigid airship is a type of airship in which the envelope retained its shape by the use of an internal structural framework rather than by being forced into shape by the pressure of the lifting gas within the envelope as used in blimps and semi-rigid airships.Rigid airships were produced and...

 pioneered by the German Count
Count
A count or countess is an aristocratic nobleman in European countries. The word count came into English from the French comte, itself from Latin comes—in its accusative comitem—meaning "companion", and later "companion of the emperor, delegate of the emperor". The adjective form of the word is...

 Ferdinand 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...

 in the early 20th century. It was based on designs he had outlined in 1874 and detailed in 1893. His plans were reviewed by committee in 1894 and patented in the United States on 14 March 1899. Given the outstanding success of the Zeppelin design, the term zeppelin in casual use came to refer to all rigid airships. Zeppelins were operated by the Deutsche Luftschiffahrts-AG (DELAG). DELAG, the first commercial airline
Airline
An airline provides air transport services for traveling passengers and freight. Airlines lease or own their aircraft with which to supply these services and may form partnerships or alliances with other airlines for mutual benefit...

, served scheduled flights before World War I. After the outbreak of war, the German military made extensive use of Zeppelins as bombers and scouts.

The World War I defeat of Germany in 1918 halted the airship business temporarily. But under the guidance of Hugo Eckener
Hugo Eckener
Dr. Hugo Eckener was the manager of the Luftschiffbau Zeppelin during the inter-war years, and was commander of the famous Graf Zeppelin for most of its record-setting flights, including the first airship flight around the world, making him the most successful airship commander in history...

, the deceased Count's successor, civilian zeppelins became popular in the 1920s. Their heyday was during the 1930s when the airships LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin
LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin
LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin was a German built and operated passenger-carrying hydrogen-filled rigid airship which operated commercially from 1928 to 1937. It was named after the German pioneer of airships, Ferdinand von Zeppelin, who was a Graf or Count in the German nobility. During its operating life,...

 and LZ 129 Hindenburg
LZ 129 Hindenburg
LZ 129 Hindenburg was a large German commercial passenger-carrying rigid airship, the lead ship of the Hindenburg class, the longest class of flying machine and the largest airship by envelope volume...

 operated regular transatlantic flight
Transatlantic flight
Transatlantic flight is the flight of an aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean. A transatlantic flight may proceed east-to-west, originating in Europe or Africa and terminating in North America or South America, or it may go in the reverse direction, west-to-east...

s from Germany to North America and Brazil. The Art Deco spire of the Empire State Building was originally if impractically designed to serve as a dirigible terminal for Zeppelins and other airships to dock. The Hindenburg disaster
Hindenburg disaster
The Hindenburg disaster took place on Thursday, May 6, 1937, as the German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed during its attempt to dock with its mooring mast at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station, which is located adjacent to the borough of Lakehurst, New Jersey...

 in 1937, along with political and economic issues, hastened the demise of the Zeppelin.

Principal characteristics

The most important feature of Zeppelin's design was a rigid light-alloy skeleton, made of rings and longitudinal girders. The advantage of this design was that the aircraft could be much larger than non-rigid airship
Non-rigid airship
A blimp, or non-rigid airship, is a floating airship without an internal supporting framework or keel. A non-rigid airship differs from a semi-rigid airship and a rigid airship in that it does not have any rigid structure, neither a complete framework nor a partial keel, to help the airbag...

s (which relied on a slight overpressure within the single gasbag to maintain their shape) because the light-alloy used for the structure, (usually Magnesium
Magnesium
Magnesium is a chemical element with the symbol Mg, atomic number 12, and common oxidation number +2. It is an alkaline earth metal and the eighth most abundant element in the Earth's crust and ninth in the known universe as a whole...

 or Aluminium
Aluminium
Aluminium or aluminum is a silvery white member of the boron group of chemical elements. It has the symbol Al, and its atomic number is 13. It is not soluble in water under normal circumstances....

 alloys), enabling Zeppelins to lift heavier loads and be fitted with more engines and/or more powerful engines.

The basic form of the first Zeppelins was a long cylinder with tapered ends and complex multi-plane fin
Fin
A fin is a surface used for stability and/or to produce lift and thrust or to steer while traveling in water, air, or other fluid media, . The first use of the word was for the limbs of fish, but has been extended to include other animal limbs and man-made devices...

s. During World War I, as a result of improvements by the rival firm Schütte-Lanz
Schütte-Lanz
Schütte-Lanz is the name of a series of rigid airships designed and built by the Luftschiffbau Schütte-Lanz company from 1909 until the last LS22 was delivered in 1917. One research and four passenger airships were planned for post-war use, but were never built...

 Luftschiffbau, the design was changed to the more familiar streamlined shape and empennage
Empennage
The empennage , also known as the tail or tail assembly, of most aircraft gives stability to the aircraft, in a similar way to the feathers on an arrow...

 of cruciform
Cruciform
Cruciform means having the shape of a cross or Christian cross.- Cruciform architectural plan :This is a common description of Christian churches. In Early Christian, Byzantine and other Eastern Orthodox forms of church architecture this is more likely to mean a tetraconch plan, a Greek cross,...

 fins used by almost all airships ever since. Within this outer envelope, several separate balloons, also known as "cells" or "gasbags", contained the lighter-than-air gas usually hydrogen
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

 but in America was mostly only helium
Helium
Helium is the chemical element with atomic number 2 and an atomic weight of 4.002602, which is represented by the symbol He. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, inert, monatomic gas that heads the noble gas group in the periodic table...

. For most rigid airships the gasbags were made of many sheets of goldbeater's skin
Goldbeater's skin
Goldbeater's skin — the outer membrane of calf's intestine — is a parchment traditionally used in the process of making gold leaf by beating, reducing gold into mere 1μm-thick leaves....

 from the intestines of cows. About 200,000 were needed for a typical World War I Zeppelin. The sheets were joined together and folded into impermeable layers. Non-rigid airships do not have multiple gas cells.

Forward thrust was usually provided by several internal combustion engine
Internal combustion engine
The internal combustion engine is an engine in which the combustion of a fuel occurs with an oxidizer in a combustion chamber. In an internal combustion engine, the expansion of the high-temperature and high -pressure gases produced by combustion apply direct force to some component of the engine...

s, mounted in nacelle
Nacelle
The nacelle is a cover housing that holds engines, fuel, or equipment on an aircraft. In some cases—for instance in the typical "Farman" type "pusher" aircraft, or the World War II-era P-38 Lightning—an aircraft's cockpit may also be housed in a nacelle, which essentially fills the...

s, or engine cars, attached to the structural skeleton. The Zeppelin company tended to use spark-ignition engines fuelled by Blaugas, a form of liquefied Naphtha
Naphtha
Naphtha normally refers to a number of different flammable liquid mixtures of hydrocarbons, i.e., a component of natural gas condensate or a distillation product from petroleum, coal tar or peat boiling in a certain range and containing certain hydrocarbons. It is a broad term covering among the...

, named after its inventor Dr. Hermann Blau rather than its colour, which had the advantage of being stored in a gaseous state at roughly the same density as air, resolving issues of buoyancy and trim found when using liquid fuels. In comparison the British airship, R101
R101
R101 was one of a pair of British rigid airship completed in 1929 as part of a British government programme to develop civil airships capable of service on long-distance routes within the British Empire. It was designed and built by an Air Ministry-appointed team and was effectively in competition...

, introduced Diesel
Diesel
Diesel fuel in general is any liquid fuel used in diesel engines. The most common is a specific fractional distillate of petroleum fuel oil, but alternatives that are not derived from petroleum, such as biodiesel, biomass to liquid or gas to liquid diesel, are increasingly being developed and...

 engines with the Beardmore Tornado
Beardmore Tornado
-Further reading:* Gunston, Bill. World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines. Cambridge, England. Patrick Stephens Limited, 1989. ISBN 1-85260-163-9* Gunston, Bill. Development of Piston Aero Engines. Cambridge, England. Patrick Stephens Limited, 2006. ISBN 0-7509-4478-1* Lumsden, Alec. British Piston...

  which, although much safer to use in the Hydrogen rich atmosphere on board an airship, tended to have a low power to weight ratio, limiting the payload of the weight conscious airships, as well as proving unreliable due to lack of development.

Apart from the fins, zeppelins were also steered by adjusting and selectively reversing engine thrust.

A comparatively small compartment for passengers and crew was built into the bottom of the frame, but in large Zeppelins this was not the entire habitable space; they often carried crew or cargo internally for aerodynamic reasons.

The first generations

Count Ferdinand 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...

 became interested in constructing a "Zeppelin balloon
Balloon (aircraft)
A balloon is a type of aircraft that remains aloft due to its buoyancy. A balloon travels by moving with the wind. It is distinct from an airship, which is a buoyant aircraft that can be propelled through the air in a controlled manner....

" after the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

 of 1870–1871, where he witnessed the French use of balloons to transport mail
Balloon mail
Balloon mail refers to the transport of mail carrying the name of the sender by means of an unguided hydrogen or helium filled balloon. Since the balloon is not controllable, the delivery of a balloon mail is left to good fortune; often the balloon and postcard are lost...

 during the early part of the war. He had also encountered Union Army
Union Army Balloon Corps
The Union Army Balloon Corps was a branch of the Union Army during the American Civil War, established by presidential appointee Thaddeus S. C. Lowe...

 balloons in 1863, during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, where he was a military observer. He first wrote of his dirigible interest in 1874 and began to seriously pursue his project after his early retirement from the military in 1890 at the age of 52.

Convinced of the potential importance of aircraft designs, he started working on various designs in 1891. He had already outlined an overall system in 1874, and detailed designs in 1893 that were reviewed by committee in 1894, and that he patented on 31 August 1895, with Theodor Kober producing the technical plans. After hearing about the rigid airship constructed by 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...

 and witnessing its trial flight at the Tempelhof Airfield near Berlin on November 3, 1897, he proceeded to buy the patent rights from the widow of the prematurely deceased Schwarz, in order to allow Carl Berg
Carl Berg (airship builder)
Carl Berg was a German entrepreneur and airship builder.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...

 to supply aluminium. However, Schwarz's design was "radically different from Zeppelin's" and in December 1897 Zeppelin admitted the Schwarz design could not be developed. Sean Dooley speculates on the indirect benefits Zeppelin gained from Carl Berg and Schwarz's work. In 1899, Zeppelin started constructing his first airship from his own designs.

One unusual idea, which never saw service, was the ability to connect several independent airship elements like train wagons; indeed, the patent title called the design Lenkbarer Luftfahrzug (steerable air train).

An expert committee to whom he had presented his plans in 1894 showed little interest, so the count was on his own in realizing his idea. In 1898 he founded the Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Luftschiffahrt (Society for the promotion of airship flight), contributing more than half of its 800,000 Mark
Mark (money)
Mark was a measure of weight mainly for gold and silver, commonly used throughout western Europe and often equivalent to 8 ounces. Considerable variations, however, occurred throughout the Middle Ages Mark (from a merging of three Teutonic/Germanic languages words, Latinized in 9th century...

 share capital himself. He assigned the technical implementation to the engineer Theodor Kober
Theodor Kober
Theodore Kober was a twentieth century German aviation engineer who contributed to the building of the first Zeppelin. As an engineer Kober had worked for a balloon manufacturer and in the 1890s Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin enlisted him to produce designs for his airship concept. After several...

 and later to Ludwig Dürr
Ludwig Dürr
Ludwig Dürr was an airship designer.-Life and career:After completing training as a mechanic, Dürr continued his training at the Höhere Maschinenbauschule in Stuttgart, an affiliate of the Königliche Baugewerkschule...

.

Construction of the first Zeppelin began in 1899 in a floating assembly hall on Lake Constance
Lake Constance
Lake Constance is a lake on the Rhine at the northern foot of the Alps, and consists of three bodies of water: the Obersee , the Untersee , and a connecting stretch of the Rhine, called the Seerhein.The lake is situated in Germany, Switzerland and Austria near the Alps...

 in the Bay of Manzell, Friedrichshafen
Friedrichshafen
This article is about a German town. For the Danish town, see Frederikshavn, and for the Finnish town, see Fredrikshamn .Friedrichshafen is a university city on the northern side of Lake Constance in Southern Germany, near the borders with Switzerland and Austria.It is the district capital of the...

. This location was intended to facilitate the difficult launching procedure, as the hall could easily be aligned with the wind. The prototype
Prototype
A prototype is an early sample or model built to test a concept or process or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from.The word prototype derives from the Greek πρωτότυπον , "primitive form", neutral of πρωτότυπος , "original, primitive", from πρῶτος , "first" and τύπος ,...

 airship LZ 1 (LZ for Luftschiff Zeppelin, or "Airship Zeppelin") had a length of 128 metres (419.9 ft), was driven by two 14.2 hp Daimler
Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft
Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft was a German engine and later automobile manufacturer, in operation from 1890 until 1926. Founded by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach, it was based first in Cannstatt...

 engines and was controlled in pitch by moving a weight between its two nacelle
Nacelle
The nacelle is a cover housing that holds engines, fuel, or equipment on an aircraft. In some cases—for instance in the typical "Farman" type "pusher" aircraft, or the World War II-era P-38 Lightning—an aircraft's cockpit may also be housed in a nacelle, which essentially fills the...

s.

The first Zeppelin flight occurred on 2 July 1900 over Lake Constance (the Bodensee). After it was placed back in the hangar an apparatus used to suspend it broke. Upon repair, rigid airship technology proved its potential in subsequent flights (the second and third flights were on 17 October 1900 and 24 October 1900) beating the 6 m/s velocity record of the French airship La France by 3 m/s. Despite this performance, the shareholder
Shareholder
A shareholder or stockholder is an individual or institution that legally owns one or more shares of stock in a public or private corporation. Shareholders own the stock, but not the corporation itself ....

s declined to invest more money, and so the company was liquidated, with Count von Zeppelin purchasing the ship and equipment. The Count wished to continue experimenting, but he eventually dismantled the ship in 1901.

It was largely due to support by aviation enthusiasts that von Zeppelin's idea got a second (and third) chance and would be developed into a reasonably reliable technology. Only then could the airships be profitably used for civilian aviation and sold to the military.

Donations, the profits of a special lottery
Lottery
A lottery is a form of gambling which involves the drawing of lots for a prize.Lottery is outlawed by some governments, while others endorse it to the extent of organizing a national or state lottery. It is common to find some degree of regulation of lottery by governments...

, some public funding, a mortgage of Count von Zeppelin's wife's estate and a 100,000 Mark contribution by Count von Zeppelin himself allowed the construction of LZ 2, which took off for the only time on 17 January 1906. After both engines failed, it made a forced landing in the Allgäu
Allgäu
The Allgäu is a southern German region in Swabia. It covers the south of Bavarian Swabia and southeastern Baden-Württemberg. The region stretches from the prealpine lands up to the Alps...

 mountains, where the anchored ship was subsequently damaged beyond repair by a storm.

Incorporating all usable parts of LZ 2, the successor LZ 3 became the first truly successful Zeppelin, which by 1908 had travelled a total of 4398 kilometres (2,732.8 mi) in the course of 45 flights. The technology then interested the German military, who bought LZ 3 and redesignated it Z 1. She served as a school ship
School ship
A training ship is a ship used to train students as sailors. The term is especially used for ships employed by navies to train future officers. Essentially there are two types: those used for training at sea and old hulks used to house classrooms....

 until 1913, when she was decommissioned as obsolescent.

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
Leinfelden-Echterdingen
Leinfelden-Echterdingen is a town in the district of Esslingen, in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is located approx. 10 km south of Stuttgart, near the Stuttgart Airport...

 near Stuttgart
Stuttgart
Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The sixth-largest city in Germany, Stuttgart has a population of 600,038 while the metropolitan area has a population of 5.3 million ....

. 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. No one was seriously injured, although two technicians repairing the engines escaped only by making a hazardous jump. 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
Luftschiffbau Zeppelin
Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH is a German company which, during the early 20th century, was a leader in the design and manufacture of rigid airships, specifically of the Zeppelin type. The company was founded by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin...

(Airship Construction Zeppelin Ltd.) and a Zeppelin Foundation.

Before World War I

Before World War I, a total of 21 Zeppelin airships (LZ 5 to LZ 25) were manufactured. In 1909 LZ 6 became the first Zeppelin used for commercial passenger transport. The world's first airline
Airline
An airline provides air transport services for traveling passengers and freight. Airlines lease or own their aircraft with which to supply these services and may form partnerships or alliances with other airlines for mutual benefit...

, the newly founded DELAG
DELAG
DELAG, an acronym from was the world's first airline to use an aircraft in revenue service. It was founded on November 16, 1909 with government assistance, and operated airships manufactured by Zeppelin Corporation...

, bought seven Zeppelins by 1914. The airships were given names in addition to their production numbers, four of which were LZ 8 Deutschland II (1911), LZ 11 Viktoria Luise (1912), LZ 13 Hansa
Zeppelin LZ13
The Zeppelin LZ 13 Hansa was a German civilian rigid airship first flown in 1912 with a volume of 18,700 cubic metres. It was first operated by DELAG to carry passengers and post and flew the first scheduled international passenger flights...

 (1912) and LZ 17 Sachsen (1913). Seven of the twenty-seven were destroyed in accidents, mostly while being moved into their halls. There were no casualties. One of them was LZ 7 Deutschland which 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
Bad Iburg
Bad Iburg is a town in the district of Osnabrück, in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated in the Teutoburg Forest, 16 km south of Osnabrück....

 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.

The German Army
German Army
The German Army is the land component of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany. Following the disbanding of the Wehrmacht after World War II, it was re-established in 1955 as the Bundesheer, part of the newly formed West German Bundeswehr along with the Navy and the Air Force...

 and Navy
German Navy
The German Navy is the navy of Germany and is part of the unified Bundeswehr .The German Navy traces its roots back to the Imperial Fleet of the revolutionary era of 1848 – 52 and more directly to the Prussian Navy, which later evolved into the Northern German Federal Navy...

 purchased 14 Zeppelins, who labeled their airships Z 1/2/... and L 1/2/..., respectively. During the war, the Army changed their scheme twice: following Z XII, they switched to using LZ numbers, later adding 30 to obscure the total production. When World War I broke out, the military also took over the three remaining DELAG ships. By this time, it had already decommissioned three other Zeppelins (LZ 3 "Z 1" included). Before the war the Army had lost three zeppelins to accidents, in which two people had died. The Navy lost two, both in 1913: a storm forced Navy Zeppelin LZ 14 or "L 1" down into the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

, drowning 14; LZ 18 or "L 2" burst into flames following an engine explosion, killing the entire crew. These accidents deprived the Navy of a large number of experienced personnel.

By 1914, state-of-the-art Zeppelins had lengths of 150 to 160 m (492.1 to 524.9 ft) and volumes of 22,000–25,000 m3, enabling them to carry loads of around 9000 kilograms (19,841.6 lb). They were typically powered by three Maybach
Maybach
Maybach-Motorenbau GmbH is a German luxury car manufacturer. It was founded in 1909 by Wilhelm Maybach and his son. The company was originally a subsidiary of Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH and was itself known as Luftfahrzeug-Motorenbau GmbH until 1912.Today, the ultra-luxury car brand is owned by...

 engines of around 400 hp each, reaching speeds of up to 80 kilometres per hour (49.7 mph).

During World War I

The German airships were operated by both the Army and Navy as two entirely separate divisions. Over the course of World War I, the Zeppelins were mainly used in reconnaissance missions for the Navy. Bombing missions, especially those targeting London, captured the public's imagination, but in the end proved to have only psychological value, and were not a military success. These were executed by both Navy and Army aircraft.

1914-1918 naval patrols

The main use of the craft was in reconnaissance over the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

 and the Baltic
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

, where the endurance of the craft led German warships to a number of Allied vessels. Zeppelin patrolling had priority over any other airship activity. The majority of airships manufactured were commissioned by the Navy. During the war almost 1,000 patrols were made over the North Sea alone, compared to about 50 strategic bombing raids. The German Navy had some 15 Zeppelins in commission in 1915 and was able to have two or more patrolling continuously at any one time, almost regardless of weather. They prevented British ships from approaching Germany, spotted when and where the British were laying mines and later aided in the destruction of those mines. Zeppelins would sometimes land on the sea next to a minesweeper, bring aboard an officer and show him the mines' locations. Before the widespread availability of incendiary ammunition
Incendiary ammunition
-World War I:One of the first uses of incendiary ammunition occurred in World War I. At the time, phosphorus—the primary ingredient in the incendiary charge—ignited upon firing, leaving a trail of blue smoke. They were also known as 'smoke tracer' for this reason. The effective range of...

 made commerce raiding
Commerce raiding
Commerce raiding or guerre de course is a form of naval warfare used to destroy or disrupt the logistics of an enemy on the open sea by attacking its merchant shipping, rather than engaging the combatants themselves or enforcing a blockade against them.Commerce raiding was heavily criticised by...

 too risky, they would also land or hover close to a merchant ship suspected of carrying contraband, order all ship's hands to leave in boats, then inspect the ship, and either destroy it or take it back to Germany as a prize
Prize (law)
Prize is a term used in admiralty law to refer to equipment, vehicles, vessels, and cargo captured during armed conflict. The most common use of prize in this sense is the capture of an enemy ship and its cargo as a prize of war. In the past, it was common that the capturing force would be allotted...

.

1915 bombing raids

At the beginning of the conflict the German command had high hopes for the aircraft, which were almighty compared to the contemporary light fixed-wing machines – they were almost as fast, could carry machine guns (even multiple ones), had a greater bomb
Bomb
A bomb is any of a range of explosive weapons that only rely on the exothermic reaction of an explosive material to provide an extremely sudden and violent release of energy...

-load and enormously greater range and endurance. Contrary to the previous beliefs, it was not easy to ignite the hydrogen using standard bullets and shrapnels. Later in the war, only with the invention of incendiary ammunition
Incendiary ammunition
-World War I:One of the first uses of incendiary ammunition occurred in World War I. At the time, phosphorus—the primary ingredient in the incendiary charge—ignited upon firing, leaving a trail of blue smoke. They were also known as 'smoke tracer' for this reason. The effective range of...

 Allies started to exploit the Zeppelin's great weakness of flammability.

At the beginning of the war, Captain Ernst A. Lehmann
Ernst A. Lehmann
Captain Ernst August Lehmann was a German Zeppelin captain. He was one of the most famous and experienced figures in German airship travel.- Pre-war experience :...

 and Baron Gemmingen, Count Zeppelin's nephew, developed an observation car
Spy basket
The Spy gondola, Spy basket, Observation car or sub-cloud car was a byproduct of Peilgondel development . They were used almost entirely by the Germans in the First World War on their military airships...

 for use by Zeppelin dirigibles. The car was equipped with a wicker chair, chart table, electric lamp, and compass, with telephone line and lightning conductor part of the holding cable. The car's observer would relay navigation and bomb dropping orders to the Zeppelin flying within and above the clouds to avoid precise location by ground artillery units.

From 1915, a number of Zeppelin raids were conducted. The majority were against Britain, leading the way in bombing techniques and also forcing the British military to bolster its air defences. The possibility of airship raids was approved by the Kaiser on 19 January 1915, although he excluded London as a target and further demanded that no attacks be made on historic, government buildings, or museums. The night-time raids were intended to target only military sites on the east coast and around the Thames estuary, but after blackout
Blackout (wartime)
A blackout during war, or apprehended war, is the practice of collectively minimizing outdoor light, including upwardly directed light. This was done in the 20th century to prevent crews of enemy aircraft from being able to navigate to their targets simply by sight, for example during the London...

s became widespread, many bombs fell at random on East Anglia
East Anglia
East Anglia is a traditional name for a region of eastern England, named after an ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom, the Kingdom of the East Angles. The Angles took their name from their homeland Angeln, in northern Germany. East Anglia initially consisted of Norfolk and Suffolk, but upon the marriage of...

.

The first attack was planned for 13 January 1915. Four Zeppelins were launched but bad weather forced all the craft to abandon the raid. The first successful raid was on the night of January 19–20, 1915, in which two Zeppelins, L.3 and L.4, were directed towards the Humber but, diverted by strong winds, dropped twenty-four 50 kg high explosive bomb
Bomb
A bomb is any of a range of explosive weapons that only rely on the exothermic reaction of an explosive material to provide an extremely sudden and violent release of energy...

s and ineffective 3 kg incendiaries on Great Yarmouth
Great Yarmouth
Great Yarmouth, often known to locals as Yarmouth, is a coastal town in Norfolk, England. It is at the mouth of the River Yare, east of Norwich.It has been a seaside resort since 1760, and is the gateway from the Norfolk Broads to the sea...

, Sheringham
Sheringham
Sheringham is a seaside town in Norfolk, England, west of Cromer.The motto of the town, granted in 1953 to the Sheringham Urban District Council, is Mare Ditat Pinusque Decorat, Latin for "The sea enriches and the pine adorns"....

, King's Lynn
King's Lynn
King's Lynn is a sea port and market town in the ceremonial county of Norfolk in the East of England. It is situated north of London and west of Norwich. The population of the town is 42,800....

 and the surrounding villages. In all 4 people were killed and 16 were injured. Monetary damage was estimated at £7,740.

The Kaiser allowed the bombing of London docks from February 1915, but no raids took place on London until May. The first two London raids failed owing to poor weather – L.8 crashed near Ghent
Ghent
Ghent is a city and a municipality located in the Flemish region of Belgium. It is the capital and biggest city of the East Flanders province. The city started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Lys and in the Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of...

 on 26 February and a four airship raid by the Army ran into fog on 17 March and was abandoned. One Army airship was damaged on landing and three more were lost in the next few weeks. With two Navy raids failing due to bad weather on 14 April and 15, it was decided to hold off further action until the more capable P-class Zeppelins were in service. The Army received its P-class Zeppelins first and undertook the first raids. Erich Linnarz commanded LZ.38 on a raid over Ipswich
Ipswich
Ipswich is a large town and a non-metropolitan district. It is the county town of Suffolk, England. Ipswich is located on the estuary of the River Orwell...

 on April 29–30 and again on May 9–10, attacking Southend; it also attacked Dover
Dover
Dover is a town and major ferry port in the home county of Kent, in South East England. It faces France across the narrowest part of the English Channel, and lies south-east of Canterbury; east of Kent's administrative capital Maidstone; and north-east along the coastline from Dungeness and Hastings...

 and Ramsgate
Ramsgate
Ramsgate is a seaside town in the district of Thanet in east Kent, England. It was one of the great English seaside towns of the 19th century and is a member of the ancient confederation of Cinque Ports. It has a population of around 40,000. Ramsgate's main attraction is its coastline and its main...

 on May 16–17, before returning to bomb Southend on May 26–27. These four raids killed 6 people and injured 6, causing property damage estimated at £17,000. Twice Royal Naval Air Service
Royal Naval Air Service
The Royal Naval Air Service or RNAS was the air arm of the Royal Navy until near the end of the First World War, when it merged with the British Army's Royal Flying Corps to form a new service , the Royal Air Force...

 (RNAS) aircraft tried to intercept LZ 38 but on both occasions the zeppelin was either able to outclimb the aircraft or was already at too great an altitude for the aircraft to intercept – the BE2 took some fifty minutes to climb to 10000 feet (3,048 m).

The Kaiser extended the, so far theoretical, ambit of the London raids in May 1915, allowing attacks anywhere east of the Tower of London
Tower of London
Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space...

. On 31 May Captain Linnarz again commanded LZ.38 on the first London raid; LZ.37 was also to be part of the raid but suffered structural damage early on and returned to Namur
Namur (city)
Namur is a city and municipality in Wallonia, in southern Belgium. It is both the capital of the province of Namur and of Wallonia....

. Flying from Evere
Evere
Evere is one of the nineteen municipalities located in the Brussels-Capital Region of Belgium. On January 1, 2006 the municipality had a total population of 33,462...

 LZ.38 crossed the English coast near Margate
Margate
-Demography:As of the 2001 UK census, Margate had a population of 40,386.The ethnicity of the town was 97.1% white, 1.0% mixed race, 0.5% black, 0.8% Asian, 0.6% Chinese or other ethnicity....

 at 21:42 before turning west once over Southend. London police were warned of an incoming raid around 23:00; a few minutes later small incendiaries began to fall. The devices were a simple metal canister filled with a mix of thermite
Thermite
Thermite is a pyrotechnic composition of a metal powder and a metal oxide that produces an exothermic oxidation-reduction reaction known as a thermite reaction. If aluminium is the reducing agent it is called an aluminothermic reaction...

, tar
Tar
Tar is modified pitch produced primarily from the wood and roots of pine by destructive distillation under pyrolysis. Production and trade in tar was a major contributor in the economies of Northern Europe and Colonial America. Its main use was in preserving wooden vessels against rot. The largest...

, and benzol
Benzene
Benzene is an organic chemical compound. It is composed of 6 carbon atoms in a ring, with 1 hydrogen atom attached to each carbon atom, with the molecular formula C6H6....

; the exterior was wrapped in tarred rope and a simple fuse was fitted. In total some 120 devices were dropped, totalling 3000 pounds (1,360.8 kg), including 91 incendiaries, 28 bombs and two 'grenades'. 7 people were killed, 35 were injured; forty-one fires were started, burning out seven properties, damage was priced at £18,596. The RNAS had fifteen aircraft in the air, but only one even sighted the Zeppelin; no ground-based guns fired and no searchlights found the airship. This marked failure by the capital's defences led to the British government implementing strong press restrictions on the reporting of air-raids.

The Naval airships also tried to raid London. L.10 attempted to reach the city on 4 June, strong winds led the commander to misjudge his position and the bombs were dropped on Gravesend
Gravesend, Kent
Gravesend is a town in northwest Kent, England, on the south bank of the Thames, opposite Tilbury in Essex. It is the administrative town of the Borough of Gravesham and, because of its geographical position, has always had an important role to play in the history and communications of this part of...

. L.9 was also diverted by the weather on June 6–7, attacking Hull instead of London and causing considerable damage. On the same night an Army raid of three Zeppelins also failed because of the weather; in an added blow, as the craft returned to Evere they coincided with a pre-planned raid by RNAS aircraft flying from Furnes
Veurne
Veurne is a city and municipality in the Belgian province of West Flanders. The municipality comprises the town of Veurne proper and the settlements of Avekapelle, Booitshoeke, Bulskamp, De Moeren, Eggewaartskapelle, Houtem, Steenkerke, Vinkem, Wulveringem, and Zoutenaaie.-Origins in the 15th...

, France. LZ.38 was destroyed on the ground while LZ.37 was intercepted in the air by R. A. J. Warneford
Reginald Alexander John Warneford
Reginald Alexander John Warneford, VC was a Royal Naval Air Service officer who received the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.-Background:Warneford was born in Darjeeling, India,...

 in his Morane Parasol
Morane-Saulnier Type L
-Bibliography:* Bruce, J.M. The Aeroplanes of the Royal Flying Corps . London:Putnam, 1982. ISBN 0 370 30084 x.* Green, William and Swanborough, Gordon. The Complete Book of Fighters. New York: Smithmark, 1994. ISBN 0-8317-3939-8....

, he dropped six 20 pounds (9.1 kg) Hales bombs on the zeppelin which caught fire and crashed into the convent school of Sint-Amandsberg
Sint-Amandsberg
Sint-Amandsberg is a sub-municipality of Ghent, Belgium. The municipality was formed in 1872 after splitting from Oostakker.During the First World War, on 7 June 1915, the German airschip LZ37 crashed after being destroyed by Reginald Warneford. A street was named Reginald Warnefordstreet in...

. Two nuns were killed and the entire crew of the Zeppelin also died except for one man. Flight S/L Warneford was awarded the Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

 for his achievement. As a further consequence of the raid both the Army and Navy withdrew from all bases in Belgium; the vulnerability of such sites was now clear.

The short summer nights discouraged further raids for some months, after an ineffective attack by L.10 on Tyneside
Tyneside
Tyneside is a conurbation in North East England, defined by the Office of National Statistics, which is home to over 80% of the population of Tyne and Wear. It includes the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and the Metropolitan Boroughs of Gateshead, North Tyneside and South Tyneside — all settlements on...

 on June 15–16. In the same period the remaining Army Zeppelins were re-assigned to the Russian Front. The Navy returned to raids on Britain in August. On August 9–10 four Zeppelins were directed against London; none reached their target and one, L.12, was damaged by ground fire while near Dover and ditched into the sea off Zeebrugge
Zeebrugge
Zeebrugge is a village on the coast of Belgium and a subdivision of Bruges, for which it is the modern port. Zeebrugge serves as both the international port of Bruges-Zeebrugge and a seafront resort with hotels, cafés, a marina and a beach.-Location:...

. Despite eight attacks by RNAS aircraft the craft was towed into Ostend
Ostend
Ostend  is a Belgian city and municipality located in the Flemish province of West Flanders. It comprises the boroughs of Mariakerke , Stene and Zandvoorde, and the city of Ostend proper – the largest on the Belgian coast....

 where it was abandoned and later dismantled. The four-Zeppelin raid was repeated on August 12–13; again only one craft made landfall, L.10 dropped its bombs on Harwich
Harwich
Harwich is a town in Essex, England and one of the Haven ports, located on the coast with the North Sea to the east. It is in the Tendring district. Nearby places include Felixstowe to the northeast, Ipswich to the northwest, Colchester to the southwest and Clacton-on-Sea to the south...

. A third four-Zeppelin raid again tried to reach London on August 17–18, two turned back with mechanical problems, one bombed Ashford, Kent
Ashford, Kent
Ashford is a town in the borough of Ashford in Kent, England. In 2005 it was voted the fourth best place to live in the United Kingdom. It lies on the Great Stour river, the M20 motorway, and the South Eastern Main Line and High Speed 1 railways. Its agricultural market is one of the most...

 on 10 August in the belief it was Woolwich
Woolwich
Woolwich is a district in south London, England, located in the London Borough of Greenwich. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.Woolwich formed part of Kent until 1889 when the County of London was created...

, but L.10 became the first Navy airship to reach London. L.10 was also misnavigated, mistaking the reservoirs of the Lea Valley
Lea Valley
The Lea Valley, the valley of the River Lea, has been used as a transport corridor, a source of sand and gravel, an industrial area, a water supply for London, and a recreational area...

 for the Thames, and consequently dropping the bombs on Walthamstow
Walthamstow
Walthamstow is a district of northeast London, England, located in the London Borough of Waltham Forest. It is situated north-east of Charing Cross...

 and Leytonstone. 10 people were killed, 48 injured, property damage was estimated at £30,750 by the London Fire Brigade. A number of guns fired at L.10 and a few aircraft were launched (two Caudron G.3
Caudron G.3
The Caudron G.3 was a single-engined French biplane built by Caudron, widely used in World War I as a reconnaissance aircraft and trainer. In comparison to its competitors, it had a better rate of climb and it was considered especially suitable in mountainous terrain.-Development:The Caudron G.3...

s crashed on landing after their search), but the Zeppelin suffered no damage in the raid (L.10 was destroyed a little over two weeks later in a thunderstorm over the North Sea; it crashed off Cuxhaven and the whole crew was killed).

Two Army Zeppelins successfully bombed London on September 7–8, SL.2 dropped bombs on the Isle of Dogs
Isle of Dogs
The Isle of Dogs is a former island in the East End of London that is bounded on three sides by one of the largest meanders in the River Thames.-Etymology:...

, Deptford
Deptford
Deptford is a district of south London, England, located on the south bank of the River Thames. It is named after a ford of the River Ravensbourne, and from the mid 16th century to the late 19th was home to Deptford Dockyard, the first of the Royal Navy Dockyards.Deptford and the docks are...

, Greenwich
Greenwich
Greenwich is a district of south London, England, located in the London Borough of Greenwich.Greenwich is best known for its maritime history and for giving its name to the Greenwich Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time...

 and Woolwich. LZ.74 was forced to drop weight on its approach and scattered 39 bombs over Cheshunt
Cheshunt
Cheshunt is a town in Hertfordshire, England with a population of around 52,000 according to the United Kingdom's 2001 Census. It is a dormitory town and part of the Greater London Urban Area and London commuter belt served by Cheshunt railway station...

, before heading on to London and dropped devices on Bermondsey
Bermondsey
Bermondsey is an area in London on the south bank of the river Thames, and is part of the London Borough of Southwark. To the west lies Southwark, to the east Rotherhithe, and to the south, Walworth and Peckham.-Toponomy:...

, Rotherhithe
Rotherhithe
Rotherhithe is a residential district in inner southeast London, England and part of the London Borough of Southwark. It is located on a peninsula on the south bank of the Thames, facing Wapping and the Isle of Dogs on the north bank, and is a part of the Docklands area...

 and New Cross
New Cross
New Cross is a district and ward of the London Borough of Lewisham, England. It is situated 4 miles south-east of Charing Cross. The ward covered by London post town and the SE 14 postcode district. New Cross is near St Johns, Telegraph Hill, Nunhead, Peckham, Brockley, Deptford and Greenwich...

. Eighteen people were killed and 28 injured, property damage totalled £9,616. Fog and mist prevented any aircraft being launched, but a number of anti-aircraft guns fired at LZ.74 with no effect.

The Navy attempted to follow up the Army's success the following night. Three Zeppelins were directed against London and one against an ironworks at Skinningrove
Skinningrove
Skinningrove is a village in the borough of Redcar and Cleveland and the ceremonial county of North Yorkshire, England.This name is Viking influenced and is thought to mean Skinners grove or pit...

. L.11 turned back early with engine trouble; L.14 suffered the same problem while over Norfolk, its bombs were dropped on East Dereham and the Zeppelin returned home. L.13 reached London, approaching over Golders Green
Golders Green
Golders Green is an area in the London Borough of Barnet in London, England. Although having some earlier history, it is essentially a 19th century suburban development situated about 5.3 miles north west of Charing Cross and centred on the crossroads of Golders Green Road and Finchley Road.In the...

, Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Mathy began bombing around 22:40. Amongst the bomb-load was a 300 kilograms (661.4 lb) device, the largest yet carried by a significant margin. It exploded on Bartholomew Close, did much property damage, gouged a crater eight feet deep and killed two men. The Zeppelin was repeatedly caught by searchlights and all twelve anti-aircraft emplacements in London were active – but every shell exploded too low and the falling shrapnel caused both damage and alarm on the ground. Three aircraft were in the air. None even saw the Zeppelin; one crashed on landing killing the pilot. The raid took 22 lives and injured 87. The wavering line of destruction through central London caused damage estimated at £530,787.

After three more raids were scattered by the weather a five-Zeppelin raid was launched by the Navy on 13 October, the "Theatreland Raid." Arriving over the Norfolk coast around 18:30 the Zeppelins encountered new ground defences installed since the September raid under the guidance of Sir Percy Scott
Percy Scott
Admiral Sir Percy Moreton Scott, 1st Baronet GCB KCVO was a British Royal Navy officer and a pioneer in modern naval gunnery.-Early years:...

. These new gun sites proved ineffectual. Indeed a 13-pounder near Broxbourne
Broxbourne
Broxbourne is a commuter town in the Broxbourne borough of Hertfordshire in the East of England with a population of 13,298 in 2001.It is located 17.1 miles north north-east of Charing Cross in London and about a mile north of Wormley and south of Hoddesdon...

 was actually put out of action by three bombs dropped from L.15. L.15 continued on to London and began bombing over Charing Cross
Charing Cross
Charing Cross denotes the junction of Strand, Whitehall and Cockspur Street, just south of Trafalgar Square in central London, England. It is named after the now demolished Eleanor cross that stood there, in what was once the hamlet of Charing. The site of the cross is now occupied by an equestrian...

, the first bombs striking the Lyceum Theatre and the corner of Exeter and Wellington Streets, killing 17 and injuring 20. Further bombs were dropped on Holborn, as the airship neared Moorgate
Moorgate
Moorgate was a postern in the London Wall originally built by the Romans. It was turned into a gate in the 15th century. Though the gate was demolished in 1762, the name survives as a major street in the City of London...

 it was engaged by a new 75 mm gun sited at the Honourable Artillery Company. L.15 quickly recognised this new threat and dumped ballast, dropped only three more bombs (one landing on Aldgate High Street causing much damage) before departing, having suffered some engine damage from the shells. L.13 dropped its bombs around Guildford and later near Woolwich. L.14 dropped bombs on Otterpool Army Camp, killing 14 soldiers and injuring 12, and later bombed Tonbridge and East Croydon. Both the other Zeppelins, L.16 and L.11, were even further off course, L.16 dropped up to fifty bombs on Hertford
Hertford
Hertford is the county town of Hertfordshire, England, and is also a civil parish in the East Hertfordshire district of the county. Forming a civil parish, the 2001 census put the population of Hertford at about 24,180. Recent estimates are that it is now around 28,000...

 and L.11 scattered a few bombs over Norfolk before heading home. In total 71 people were killed and 128 injured. This was the last raid of 1915, as bad weather coincided with the new moon in both November and December 1915, and continued into January 1916.

There were twenty raids in 1915, in which 37 tons of bombs were dropped, killing 181 people and injuring 455.

1916 raids

British ground defences were divided between the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 and the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 at first, before the Army took full control in February 1916, and a variety of sub 4-inch (less than 102 mm) calibre guns were converted to anti-aircraft use. Searchlight
Searchlight
A searchlight is an apparatus that combines a bright light source with some form of curved reflector or other optics to project a powerful beam of light of approximately parallel rays in a particular direction, usually constructed so that it can be swiveled about.-Military use:The Royal Navy used...

s were introduced, initially manned by police. By mid-1916 there were 271 anti-aircraft guns and 258 searchlights across England.

Aerial defences against Zeppelins were haphazard, and divided between the RNAS and the Royal Flying Corps
Royal Flying Corps
The Royal Flying Corps was the over-land air arm of the British military during most of the First World War. During the early part of the war, the RFC's responsibilities were centred on support of the British Army, via artillery co-operation and photographic reconnaissance...

 (RFC), with the Navy engaging enemy craft approaching the coast while the RFC took responsibility once the enemy had crossed the coastline. The lack of an interrupter gear
Interrupter gear
An interrupter gear is a device used on military aircraft and warships in order to allow them to target opponents without damaging themselves....

 in early fighter
Fighter aircraft
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets...

s meant the basic technique of downing them was to drop bombs on them (a technique which was to resurface in the Second World War). Initially the War Office also believed that the Zeppelins used a layer of inert gas to protect themselves from incendiary bullets, and discouraged the use of such ammunition in favour of bombs. The initial trials of incendiary bullets in mid-1915 were unimpressive. Incendiary ammunition also underwent several separate development tracks. The first bullet was designed by John Pomery, but by mid-1916 the RFC also had Brock, Buckingham and 'Sparklet' incendiary cartridges. Ten home defence squadrons were organised from February 1916, with London's defences assigned to No. 19 RAS at Sutton's Farm
RAF Hornchurch
RAF Hornchurch was an airfield in the south of Hornchurch in what is now the London Borough of Havering. Known as Sutton's Farm during the First World War, it occupied of the farm of the same name and was situated east north-east of Charing Cross...

 and Hainault Farm (renamed No. 39 (Home Defence) Squadron in April 1916, who were also allocated North Weald Bassett
North Weald Bassett
North Weald Bassett is a village and civil parish in the Epping Forest district of the county of Essex, England. It is located east of Epping, south-east of Chipping Ongar and south of Harlow....

 airfield in August 1916). The actual number of aircraft varied: in February there were only eight squadrons and less than half the number of aircraft expected, and by June the number of squadrons had been cut to six and only No. 39 Squadron was at full strength and equipped with newer aircraft – BE12
Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.12
|-See also:-External links:*...

s with interrupter gear and Lewis gun
Lewis Gun
The Lewis Gun is a World War I–era light machine gun of American design that was perfected and widely used by the British Empire. It was first used in combat in World War I, and continued in service with a number of armed forces through to the end of the Korean War...

s firing a mix of explosive, incendiary and tracer rounds.

Raids continued in 1916. In December 1915 new Q-class airships were delivered to both the German Army and Navy as well as additional P-class Zeppelins. The Q-class simply added two more gas cells to the P-class, lengthening the craft to 585 feet (178.3 m), adding 100000 cubic feet (2,831.7 m³) of gas, and improving both ceiling and bomb-load.
The first raid of 1916 was organised by the Navy. Nine Zeppelins were sent to Liverpool over the night of 31 January – 1 February. A combination of poor weather, difficult navigation and mechanical problems scattered the aircraft across the English Midlands
English Midlands
The Midlands, or the English Midlands, is the traditional name for the area comprising central England that broadly corresponds to the early medieval Kingdom of Mercia. It borders Southern England, Northern England, East Anglia and Wales. Its largest city is Birmingham, and it was an important...

 and several towns were bombed. A total of 61 people were reported killed and 101 injured by the raid. 15 of these fatalities occurred in the town of Tipton
Tipton
Tipton is a town in the Sandwell borough of the West Midlands, England, with a population of around 47,000. Tipton is located about halfway between Birmingham and Wolverhampton. It is a part of the West Midlands conurbation and is a part of the Black Country....

.

Despite ground–fog, twenty-two aircraft were launched to find the Zeppelins but none succeeded. In attempting to land in the poor conditions, sixteen aircraft suffered various degrees of damage and two pilots were killed. One airship, the L.19
Zeppelin L.19 (LZ 54)
The airship L.19 was a World War I, Zeppelin of the German Kaiserliche Marine . While returning from her first bombing raid on the United Kingdom in early-1916, she came down in the North Sea...

, crashed in the North Sea because of engine failure and damage from Dutch ground–fire; all 16 crew were lost. Further raids were curtailed by an extended period of poor weather and also by the withdrawal of the majority of Naval Zeppelins in an attempt to identify and resolve the recurrent mechanical failures. Three P-class Zeppelins did attack Hull on March 5–6, causing significant property damage.

On July 28–29 the first 'Super Zeppelin', the 650 ft M-class L.31, appeared in English skies. Powered by six engines and capable of operating at 13000 ft (3,962.4 m), (with another 5000 ft (1,524 m) to its maximum ceiling), while carrying up to four tonnes of bombs. Part of a ten-Zeppelin raid that achieved very little, four returned home early and the rest wandered over a fog-shrouded landscape before giving up. Adverse weather dispersed the next raid on July 30–31 and again on August 2–3. On August 8–9 two M-class Zeppelins were part of a nine craft raid that did much damage to Hull
Kingston upon Hull
Kingston upon Hull , usually referred to as Hull, is a city and unitary authority area in the ceremonial county of the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. It stands on the River Hull at its junction with the Humber estuary, 25 miles inland from the North Sea. Hull has a resident population of...

. The sixth successful London raid was on August 24–25, thirteen Navy Zeppelins were launched and Heinrich Mathy's L.31 reached London, flying above low cloud, thirty-six bombs were dropped in ten minutes on West Ferry Road, Deptford Dry Dock, the station at Norway Street and homes in Greenwich
Greenwich
Greenwich is a district of south London, England, located in the London Borough of Greenwich.Greenwich is best known for its maritime history and for giving its name to the Greenwich Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time...

, Eltham and Plumstead
Plumstead
Plumstead is a district of south London, England, located in the London Borough of Greenwich. Plumstead is a multi cultural area with large Asian and Afro-Caribbean communities, in similarity to local areas such as Woolwich and Thamesmead...

. 9 people were killed, 40 injured and £130,000 of damage was caused. L.31 suffered no damage in the attack but several weeks of repair-work was needed following a rough landing.

The biggest raid so far was launched on September 2–3, twelve Navy craft and four rigid airships from the Army took part. A combination of rain and snowstorms scattered the craft while they were still over the North Sea. None of the Naval craft reached London. Only the Army's LZ.98 and the newly commissioned Schütte-Lanz
Schütte-Lanz
Schütte-Lanz is the name of a series of rigid airships designed and built by the Luftschiffbau Schütte-Lanz company from 1909 until the last LS22 was delivered in 1917. One research and four passenger airships were planned for post-war use, but were never built...

  SL.11 achieved their objective. SL.11 came in over Foulness with the intention of looping around and attacking the capital from the north-west. The craft dropped a few bombs over London Colney
London Colney
London Colney is a village and civil parish in Hertfordshire, England. It is located to the north of London, at Junction 22 of the M25 motorway....

 and South Mimms
South Mimms
South Mimms, sometimes spelt South Mymms, is a village and civil parish forming part of the Hertsmere district of Hertfordshire County Council in the East of England although geographically and historically is in the County of Middlesex.-History:...

. At about 01:50 it was picked up by a searchlight over Hornsey
Hornsey
Hornsey is a district in London Borough of Haringey in north London in England. Whilst Hornsey was formerly the name of a parish and later a municipal borough of Middlesex, today, the name refers only to the London district. It is an inner-suburban area located north of Charing Cross.-Locale:The ...

 and subjected to an intense but ineffective barrage. Sl.11 was lost in cloud over Wood Green
Wood Green
Wood Green is a district in north London, England, located in the London Borough of Haringey. It is situated north of Charing Cross. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of the metropolitan centres in Greater London.-History:...

 but rediscovered by the searchlights at Waltham Abbey
Waltham Abbey, Essex
Waltham Abbey is a market town of about 20,400 people in the south west of the county of Essex, in the East of England region. It is about 24 km north of London on the Greenwich Meridian and lies between the River Lea in the west and Epping Forest in the east. It takes its name from The Abbey...

 as it bombed Ponders End
Ponders End
Ponders End is a place in the London Borough of Enfield, North London located in an area generally known as the Lea Valley. It is roughly located in the area either side of Hertford Road between The Ride and the Boundary Public House and Wharf Road and the Southbury railway station/Kingsway...

. At around 02:15 one of the three aircraft in the sky that night finally came into range – a BE2c piloted by Lt. William Leefe Robinson flying from Suttons Farm. Robinson fired three drums of ammunition from his Lewis gun, one on each of three passes. After emptying the third drum the airship began burning from the stern and was quickly enveloped in flames. It fell to the ground near Cuffley
Cuffley
Cuffley is a village in the Welwyn Hatfield district of south-east Hertfordshire located between Cheshunt and Potters Bar. It has a population of just over 4,000 people. Politically, Cuffley is part of Broxbourne Constituency in the House of Commons, and sends a Councillor to Hertfordshire County...

. There were no survivors. Four Naval Zeppelins which had regrouped over Hertfordshire saw the fate of SL.11 and quietly slipped away. For the first rigid airship downed on British soil and the first 'night fighter' victory Leefe Robinson received the Victoria Cross. The pieces of SL.11 were gathered up and sold by the Red Cross to raise money for wounded soldiers.

The loss of SL.11 ended the Army's interest in raids on Britain. The Navy remained aggressive and a twelve Zeppelin raid was launched on September 23–24, eight older craft bombing targets in the Midlands and four M-class Zeppelins (L.30, L.31, L.32, and L.33) attacking London. L.30 did not even cross the coast, dropping its bombs at sea.

L.31 approached London from the south, dropped a few bombs on Kenley
Kenley
Kenley is a district in the south of the London Borough of Croydon. It borders Purley, Coulsdon, Riddlesdown, Caterham and Whyteleafe. Kenley is situated 13 miles south of Charing Cross. The 2001 census showed Kenley having a population of 13,525....

 and Mitcham
Mitcham
Mitcham is a district in the south west area of London, in the London Borough of Merton. A suburban area, Mitcham is located on the border of Inner London and Outer London. It is both residentially and financially developed, well served by Transport for London, and home to Mitcham Town Centre,...

 and was picked up by a number of searchlights. Forty-one devices were then dropped in rapid succession over Streatham
Streatham
Streatham is a district in Surrey, England, located in the London Borough of Lambeth. It is situated south of Charing Cross. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.-History:...

, killing 7 and wounding 27. More bombs were dropped on Brixton before crossing the river and dropping ten bombs on Leyton
Leyton
Leyton is an area of north-east London and part of the London Borough of Waltham Forest, located north east of Charing Cross. It borders Walthamstow and Leytonstone; Stratford in Newham; and Homerton and Lower Clapton in the London Borough of Hackney....

, killing another 8 people and injuring 30. L.31 then headed home. Also coming in from the south was L.32, running late due to engine problems, it dropped a few bombs on Sevenoaks
Sevenoaks
Sevenoaks is a commuter town situated on the London fringe of west Kent, England, some 20 miles south-east of Charing Cross, on one of the principal commuter rail lines from the capital...

 and Swanley
Swanley
Swanley is a town and civil parish in the Sevenoaks District of Kent, England. It is located on the south-eastern outskirts of London, north of Sevenoaks town. The town boundaries encompass the settlements of Swanley itself, Hextable and Swanley Village...

 before crossing Purfleet at about 01:00. The Zeppelin then came under anti-aircraft fire as it dropped bombs on Aveley and South Ockendon. Shortly thereafter, at 01:10, a BE2c piloted by 2nd Lieutenant Frederick Sowrey
Frederick Sowrey
Major Frederick Sowrey began his career as a World War I flying ace credited with thirteen aerial victories. He was most noted for his first victory, when he shot down Zeppelin L32 during its bombing raid on England...

 engaged L.32. He fired three drums of incendiaries and succeeded in starting a blaze which quickly covered the entire craft. The Zeppelin crashed to earth at Snail's Hall Farm, Great Burstead
Great Burstead
Great Burstead is an urban settlement in Essex, England - it is contiguous with the town of Billericay.By tradition, the origins of the church, St Mary Magdalene, at Great Burstead are linked to Saint Cedd. Cedd, a missionary monk and later Bishop of the East Saxons, was trained by the Celtic Saint...

. The entire crew was killed, with some, including the commander Oberleutnant-zur-See Werner Peterson, chosing to jump rather than burn.

L.33 dropped a few incendiaries over Upminster
Upminster
Upminster is a suburban town in northeast London, England, and part of the London Borough of Havering. Located east-northeast of Charing Cross, it is one of the locally important district centres identified in the London Plan, and comprises a number of shopping streets and a large residential...

 before losing its way and making a number of turns, heading over London and dropping bombs on Bromley at around midnight. As the bombs began to explode, the Zeppelin was hit by an anti-aircraft shell fired from the guns at either Beckton
Beckton
Beckton is part of the London Borough of Newham, England, located east of Charing Cross.Its boundaries are the A13 trunk road to the north, Barking Creek to the east, the Royal Docks to the south, and Prince Regent Lane to the west. The area around Prince Regent Lane is also known as Custom House...

, Wanstead
Wanstead
Wanstead is a suburban area in the London Borough of Redbridge, North-East London. The main road going through Wanstead is the A12. The name is from the Anglo-Saxon words wænn and stede, meaning "settlement on a small hill"....

, or Victoria Park despite being at 13000 feet (3,962.4 m). Dropping bombs now to shed weight, a large number fell on homes in Botolph Road and Bow Road. As the craft headed towards Chelmsford it continued to lose height, coming under fire at Kelvedon Hatch
Kelvedon Hatch
Kelvedon Hatch is a village and civil parish in the Borough of Brentwood in south Essex, England. It is situated just north of Pilgrims Hatch, approximately to the north of Brentwood and is surrounded by Metropolitan Green Belt. The village today is no longer a rural backwater with a large...

 and briefly exchanging fire with a BE2c. Despite the efforts of the crew, L.33 was forced to the ground at around 01:15 in a field close to New Hall Cottages, Little Wigborough. The Zeppelin was set alight and the crew headed south before being arrested at Peldon by the police. A close inspection of the wreckage enabled the British to understand where their own rigid airship designs had been deficient. Furthermore, one 250 hp engine recovered from the wreck subsequently substituted for two (of four) 180 hp engines on a Vickers
Vickers Limited
Vickers Limited was a famous British engineering conglomerate that merged into Vickers-Armstrongs in 1927.-Early history:Vickers was formed in Sheffield as a steel foundry by the miller Edward Vickers and his father-in-law George Naylor in 1828. Naylor was a partner in the foundry Naylor &...

-built machine, the hitherto underpowered R.9.
The next raid came on 1 October 1916. Eleven Zeppelins were launched at targets in the Midlands and at London. As usual weather played a major role and only L.31 under the experienced Heinrich Mathy, on his fifteenth raid, reached London. Approaching from Suffolk, L.31 was picked up by the searchlights at Kelvedon Hatch around 21:45; turning away, the craft detoured over Harlow, Stevenage and Hatfield before cutting its engines and drifting with the wind over Hertford. As the airship neared Cheshunt
Cheshunt
Cheshunt is a town in Hertfordshire, England with a population of around 52,000 according to the United Kingdom's 2001 Census. It is a dormitory town and part of the Greater London Urban Area and London commuter belt served by Cheshunt railway station...

 at about 23:20 the engines were restarted and the craft was quickly picked up by six searchlights. Three aircraft of No. 39 Squadron were in the air and closed on L.31. Mathy ordered the dumping of bombs, (fifty fell on Cheshunt), in order to gain altitude. A BE2c piloted by 2nd lieutenant Wulstan Tempest engaged the Zeppelin around 23:50; three bursts were sufficient to set L.31 ablaze and it crashed near Potters Bar with all nineteen crew dying – although again many decided to jump rather than burn (including Mathy, whose body was found near the wreckage, embedded some four inches in the softened earth). Tempest had had to dive out of the way of the stricken craft and, over-wrought, had crashed on landing, suffering minor injuries.

With the next raid on November 27–28, the Zeppelins avoided London for targets in the Midlands. But again the aircraft and the incendiary bullet proved lethal – L.34 was shot down over the mouth of the Tees and L.21 was attacked by two aircraft and crashed into the sea off Lowestoft
Lowestoft
Lowestoft is a town in the English county of Suffolk. The town is on the North Sea coast and is the most easterly point of the United Kingdom. It is north-east of London, north-east of Ipswich and south-east of Norwich...

. There were no further raids in 1916 although the Navy lost three more craft, all on 28 December – SL.12 was destroyed at Ahlhorn by strong winds after sustaining damage on a poor landing, and at Tondern L.24 crashed into the shed while landing and the resulting fire destroyed both L.24 and the adjacent L.17.

There were 23 airship raids in 1916 in which 125 tons of ordnance were dropped, killing 293 people and injuring 691.

1917 raids

Anti-aircraft defences were becoming tougher and new Zeppelins were introduced with an increased operating altitude of 16500 feet (5,029.2 m) and a maximum ceiling of 21000 feet (6,400.8 m). The first S-class Zeppelins entered service in February 1917. They were largely a modification of the M-class, sacrificing weight for improved altitude. The surviving M-class Zeppelins were converted to S-class, notably by reducing the number of engines from six to five. To avoid searchlights, they flew above the clouds whenever possible, lowering an observer through them in a Spähkorb (observation gondola) to direct the bombing. The improved safety was counteracted by the extra strain on the airship crews who became more prone to altitude sickness and exposure to extreme cold and high altitude winds.

The first raid of 1917 did not occur until March 16–17 and the five high flying Zeppelins encountered very strong winds and none reached their targets. This experience was repeated on May 23–24. Two days later twenty-one Gotha bomber
Gotha G.IV
|-See also:...

s attempted a daylight raid on London. They were halted by heavy cloud but the effort led the Kaiser to announce that airship raids on London were past; under pressure he later relented to allow Zeppelin attacks to continue under "favourable circumstances".

On June 16–17 another Zeppelin raid was attempted, only two out of six Zeppelins reached England in the face of strong winds. L.42 bombed Ramsgate
Ramsgate
Ramsgate is a seaside town in the district of Thanet in east Kent, England. It was one of the great English seaside towns of the 19th century and is a member of the ancient confederation of Cinque Ports. It has a population of around 40,000. Ramsgate's main attraction is its coastline and its main...

, hitting a munitions store. The month-old L.48, commanded by Korvettenkapitän Franz Eichler, but with Korvettenkapitän Viktor Schutze also on board, suffered from both engine problems and compass malfunction. It was forced to drop to 13000 feet (3,962.4 m) where it was caught by four aircraft and destroyed, crashing near Theberton
Theberton
Theberton is a village in Suffolk, England. It is located northeast of Saxmundham, its post town. Located within the village is a National school for both sexes and Theberton Hall...

, Suffolk. This was the last Zeppelin raid to explicitly target London.

After ineffectual raids on the Midlands and other targets in the north of England on August 21–22 and September 24–25 the last major Zeppelin raid was launched on October 19–20 with thirteen airships headed for Sheffield
Sheffield
Sheffield is a city and metropolitan borough of South Yorkshire, England. Its name derives from the River Sheaf, which runs through the city. Historically a part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, and with some of its southern suburbs annexed from Derbyshire, the city has grown from its largely...

, Manchester
Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

 and Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

. Two Zeppelins did not launch and the remainder quickly found themselves badly affected by powerful headwinds which made navigation extremely difficult. L.45 was trying to reach Sheffield, instead it dropped bombs on Northampton and London. Undetected and with no warning its bombs did great damage – the first few fell on Hendon Aerodrome
Hendon Aerodrome
Hendon Aerodrome was an aerodrome in Hendon, north London, England that, between 1908 and 1968, was an important centre for aviation.It was situated in Colindale, seven miles north west of Charing Cross. It nearly became "the Charing Cross of the UK's international air routes", but for the...

 but the rest, dropped at random from 16000 feet (4,876.8 m), struck in Piccadilly
Piccadilly
Piccadilly is a major street in central London, running from Hyde Park Corner in the west to Piccadilly Circus in the east. It is completely within the city of Westminster. The street is part of the A4 road, London's second most important western artery. St...

, Camberwell
Camberwell
Camberwell is a district of south London, England, and forms part of the London Borough of Southwark. It is a built-up inner city district located southeast of Charing Cross. To the west it has a boundary with the London Borough of Lambeth.-Toponymy:...

 and Hither Green
Hither Green
Hither Green is a district in south east London, England, located in the London Borough of Lewisham. It is situated 6.6 miles south east of Charing Cross, and on the Prime Meridian....

. L.45 then reduced altitude to try to escape the winds but was forced back into the higher air currents by a BE2e. The craft then had mechanical failure in three engines and was pushed by the wind out over France, eventually coming down near Sisteron
Sisteron
Sisteron is a commune in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in southeastern France.Sisteron is situated on the banks of the River Durance just after the confluence of the rivers Buëch and Sasse...

; it was set ablaze and the crew surrendered. L.44, L.49, and L.50 were also lost to anti-aircraft fire or the weather over France. L.55 was badly damaged on landing and later scrapped.

There were no more raids in 1917, although the airships were not abandoned but refitted with new, more powerful engines.

1918 raids

There were only four raids in 1918, all against targets in the Midlands and northern England. The final raid on 5 August 1918 resulted in the loss of L.70 and the death of its entire crew under the command of Frigattenkapitän Peter Strasser
Peter Strasser
Peter Strasser 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....

, head of the Imperial German Naval Airship Service and the Führer der Luftschiffe. Crossing the North Sea during daylight, the airship was intercepted by a Royal Air Force DH.4 biplane
Biplane
A biplane is a fixed-wing aircraft with two superimposed main wings. The Wright brothers' Wright Flyer used a biplane design, as did most aircraft in the early years of aviation. While a biplane wing structure has a structural advantage, it produces more drag than a similar monoplane wing...

 piloted by Major Egbert Cadbury
Egbert Cadbury
Air Commodore Sir Egbert Cadbury DSC, DFC was a First World War pilot who shot down two Zeppelins over the North Sea: L21 on 28 November 1916, and L70 on 6 August 1918: the latter while flying a De Havilland DH.4 with Robert Leckie as Observer/Gunner.The son of George Cadbury and Dame Elizabeth...

, and shot down in flames.

On 5 January 1918 a fire at Ahlhorn destroyed four of the specialised double sheds along with four Zeppelins and one Schütte-Lanz. The British had begun bombing the Zeppelin production lines and their sheds in Cologne and Düsseldorf as early as September/October 1914. This was followed by the Cuxhaven Raid
Cuxhaven Raid
The Cuxhaven Raid was a British ship-based air-raid on the German naval forces at Cuxhaven mounted on Christmas Day, 1914.Aircraft of the Royal Naval Air Service were carried to within striking distance by seaplane tenders of the Royal Navy, supported by both surface ships and submarines...

, which included Zeppelins as its targets, on Christmas Day 1914. In July 1918, the Tondern Raid
Tondern raid
The Tondern raid, officially designated Operation F.7, was a British bombing raid mounted by the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force against the Imperial German Navy's airship base at Tondern in Germany. It was the first attack in history made by aircraft flying from a carrier flight deck. On 19 July...

 conducted by the RNAS, destroyed two Zeppelins in their sheds.

Supply

In 1917, the German High Command made an attempt to deliver much needed supplies using a dirigible to Lettow-Vorbeck's
Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck
Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck was a general in the Imperial German Army and the commander of the German East Africa campaign. For four years, with a force that never exceeded about 14,000 , he held in check a much larger force of 300,000 British, Belgian, and Portuguese troops...

 East African Campaign
East African Campaign (World War I)
The East African Campaign was a series of battles and guerrilla actions which started in German East Africa and ultimately affected portions of Mozambique, Northern Rhodesia, British East Africa, Uganda, and the Belgian Congo. The campaign was effectively ended in November 1917...

 in German East Africa
German East Africa
German East Africa was a German colony in East Africa, which included what are now :Burundi, :Rwanda and Tanganyika . Its area was , nearly three times the size of Germany today....

. L.59 Zeppelin
Zeppelin LZ104
Zeppelin LZ 104 , designated L.59 by the German Imperial Navy and nicknamed Das Afrika-Schiff , was a German dirigible during World War I, famed for attempting a long-distance resupply mission of the beleaguered garrison of Germany's East Africa colony.-Africa flight :The L.59 was a naval airship...

 travelled over 6400 km (3,976.8 mi) in 95 hours, but in the end failed to deliver the supplies. The craft had been purpose-built and was intended to be broken up and used on arrival. It never attempted the mission again, and was converted into a bomber.

Technological progress

Strategic issues aside, Zeppelin technology improved considerably as a result of the increasing demands of warfare.

The pre-war M-class designs were quickly enlarged, first to the 530 feet (161.5 m) long duralumin
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%...

 P-class, which increased gas capacity from 880000 cubic feet (24,918.8 m³) to 1130000 cubic feet (31,998 m³), introduced a fully enclosed gondola, and extra engines. these modifications added 2000 feet (609.6 m) to the maximum ceiling, over 10 mph to the top speed, and greatly increased crew comfort and hence endurance. Twenty-two P-class craft were ordered and the first, LZ.38, was delivered to the Army on 3 April 1915.

In 1916 the Zeppelin Company
Luftschiffbau Zeppelin
Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH is a German company which, during the early 20th century, was a leader in the design and manufacture of rigid airships, specifically of the Zeppelin type. The company was founded by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin...

, having spawned several dependencies around Germany with shipyards closer to the fronts than Friedrichshafen, delivered airships of around 200 m (660 ft) in length (some even more) and with volumes of 56,000–69,000 m3. These M-class dirigibles could carry loads of 3–4 tons of bombs and reach speeds of up to 100 to 130 km/h (62.1 to 80.8 mph) using six Maybach
Maybach
Maybach-Motorenbau GmbH is a German luxury car manufacturer. It was founded in 1909 by Wilhelm Maybach and his son. The company was originally a subsidiary of Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH and was itself known as Luftfahrzeug-Motorenbau GmbH until 1912.Today, the ultra-luxury car brand is owned by...

 engines of 260 hp each.

To avoid enemy defences such as British aircraft, guns and searchlights, Zeppelins became capable of much higher altitudes (up to 7600 metres (24,934.4 ft)) and they also proved capable of long-range flights. For example, LZ.104 L.59, based in Yambol
Yambol
Yambol is a city in southeastern Bulgaria, an administrative centre of Yambol Province. It lies on both banks of the Tundzha river in the historical region of Thrace. As of February 2011, the town has a population of 72,843 inhabitants. It is occasionally spelt 'Jambol'.The administrative centres...

, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

, was sent to reinforce troops
Schutztruppe
Schutztruppe was the African colonial armed force of Imperial Germany from the late 19th century to 1918, when Germany lost its colonies. Similar to other colonial forces, the Schutztruppe consisted of volunteer European commissioned and non-commissioned officers, medical and veterinary officers. ...

 in German East Africa
German East Africa
German East Africa was a German colony in East Africa, which included what are now :Burundi, :Rwanda and Tanganyika . Its area was , nearly three times the size of Germany today....

 (today Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

) in November 1917. The ship did not arrive in time and had to return following reports of a German defeat by British troops, but it had traveled 6757 kilometres (4,198.6 mi) in 95 hours and thus had broken a long-distance flight record.

A considerable, frequently overlooked, contribution to these technological advancements originated from Zeppelin's only serious competitor, the Mannheim
Mannheim
Mannheim is a city in southwestern Germany. With about 315,000 inhabitants, Mannheim is the second-largest city in the Bundesland of Baden-Württemberg, following the capital city of Stuttgart....

-based Schütte-Lanz
Schütte-Lanz
Schütte-Lanz is the name of a series of rigid airships designed and built by the Luftschiffbau Schütte-Lanz company from 1909 until the last LS22 was delivered in 1917. One research and four passenger airships were planned for post-war use, but were never built...

 airship construction company. While their dirigibles never became comparably successful, Professor Schütte's more scientific approach to airship design led to a number of important innovations copied, over time, by the Zeppelin company. These included the streamlined hull shape, the simple yet functional cruciform fins (replacing the more complicated box-like arrangements of older Zeppelins), individual direct-drive engine cars, anti-aircraft machine-gun positions, and gas ventilation shafts which removed excess hydrogen.

End of the war

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
War reparations
War reparations are payments intended to cover damage or injury during a war. Generally, the term war reparations refers to money or goods changing hands, rather than such property transfers as the annexation of land.- History :...

. Specifically, the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

 contained the following articles dealing explicitly with dirigibles:

Article 198:The armed forces of Germany must not include any military or naval air forces. [...] No dirigible shall be kept.
Article 202:On the coming into force of the present Treaty, all military and naval aeronautical material [...] must be delivered to the Governments of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers. [...] In particular, this material will include all items under the following heads which are or have been in use or were designed for warlike purposes:
[...]
  • Dirigibles able to take to the air, being manufactured, repaired or assembled.
  • Plant for the manufacture of hydrogen.
  • Dirigible sheds and shelters of every kind for aircraft.
Pending their delivery, dirigibles will, at the expense of Germany, be maintained inflated with hydrogen; the plant for the manufacture of hydrogen, as well as the sheds for dirigibles may at the discretion of the said Powers, be left to Germany until the time when the dirigibles are handed over. [...]


On 23 June 1919, a week before the treaty was signed, many war Zeppelin crews destroyed their airships in their halls in order to avoid delivery. In doing so, they followed the example of the German fleet which had been scuttled
Scuttling of the German fleet in Scapa Flow
The scuttling of the German fleet took place at the Royal Navy's base at Scapa Flow, in Scotland, after the end of the First World War. The High Seas Fleet had been interned there under the terms of the Armistice whilst negotiations took place over the fate of the ships...

 two days before in Scapa Flow
Scapa Flow
right|thumb|Scapa Flow viewed from its eastern endScapa Flow is a body of water in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, United Kingdom, sheltered by the islands of Mainland, Graemsay, Burray, South Ronaldsay and Hoy. It is about...

. The remaining dirigibles were transferred to France, Italy, Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, and Belgium in 1920.

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 damage estimated at £1.5 million. It has been argued the raids were effective far beyond material damage in diverting and hampering wartime production, one estimate was that the due to the 1915-16 raids "one sixth of the total normal output of munitions was entirely lost."

Renaissance

Count von Zeppelin had died in 1917, before the end of the war. Dr. Hugo Eckener
Hugo Eckener
Dr. Hugo Eckener was the manager of the Luftschiffbau Zeppelin during the inter-war years, and was commander of the famous Graf Zeppelin for most of its record-setting flights, including the first airship flight around the world, making him the most successful airship commander in history...

, a man who had long envisioned dirigibles as vessels of peace rather than of war, took command of the Zeppelin business. With the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

 having knocked out their competitor Schütte-Lanz, the Zeppelin company and DELAG hoped to resume civilian flights quickly. In fact, despite considerable difficulties, they completed two small Zeppelins: 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
Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

.

However, in 1921, the Allied Powers demanded these two Zeppelins be delivered as war reparations, as compensation for the dirigibles destroyed by their crews in 1919. Further Zeppelin projects could not be realized, partly because of Allied interdiction. This temporarily halted German Zeppelin aviation.

Eckener and his co-workers refused to give up and kept looking for investors and a way 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
USS Shenandoah (ZR-1)
USS Shenandoah was the first of four United States Navy rigid airships. It was built in 1922-1923 at Lakehurst Naval Air Station, and first flew in September 1923. It developed the Navy's experience with rigid airships, even making the first crossing of North America by airship...

 (see below), and ordering another from the UK when the British R38 (ZR-2) was cancelled. However, the R38 (based on the Zeppelin L70, ordered as ZR-2) broke apart and exploded during a test flight above the Humber
Humber
The Humber is a large tidal estuary on the east coast of Northern England. It is formed at Trent Falls, Faxfleet, by the confluence of the tidal River Ouse and the tidal River Trent. From here to the North Sea, it forms part of the boundary between the East Riding of Yorkshire on the north bank...

 on 23 August 1921, killing 44 crewmen.

Under these circumstances, Eckener managed to acquire an order for the next American dirigible. Of course, Germany had to pay the costs for this airship itself, as they were calculated against the war reparation accounts, but for the Zeppelin company, this was secondary. So engineer Dr. Dürr designed LZ 126, and using all the expertise accumulated over the years, the company finally achieved its best Zeppelin so far, which took off for a first test flight on 27 August 1924.

No insurance company was willing to issue a policy for the delivery to Lakehurst
Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst
JB MDL Lakehurst is a United States Navy base located approximately south-southeast of Trenton, New Jersey. Lakehurst is under the jurisdiction of the Naval Air Systems Command...

, which, of course, involved a transatlantic flight
Transatlantic flight
Transatlantic flight is the flight of an aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean. A transatlantic flight may proceed east-to-west, originating in Europe or Africa and terminating in North America or South America, or it may go in the reverse direction, west-to-east...

. Eckener, however, was so confident of the new ship that he was ready to risk the entire business capital, and on 12 October 07:30 local time, the Zeppelin took off for the US under his command. His faith was not disappointed, and the ship completed her 8050 kilometres (5,002.1 mi) voyage without any difficulties in 81 hours and two minutes. American crowds enthusiastically celebrated the arrival, and President Calvin Coolidge
Calvin Coolidge
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was the 30th President of the United States . A Republican lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state...

 invited Dr. Eckener and his crew to the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

, calling the new Zeppelin an "angel of peace".

Under its new designation the ZR-3 USS Los Angeles
USS Los Angeles (ZR-3)
The second USS Los Angeles was a 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 former LZ 126), became the most successful American airship. She operated reliably for eight years until she was retired in 1932 for economic reasons. She was dismantled in August 1940.

Golden age

With the delivery of LZ 126, the Zeppelin company had reasserted its lead in rigid airship construction, but it was not yet quite back in business. Acquiring the necessary funds for the next project proved a problem in the difficult economic situation of post-World-War-I Germany, and it took Eckener two years of lobbying and publicity work to secure the realization of LZ 127.

Another two years passed before 18 September 1928, when the new dirigible, christened Graf Zeppelin
LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin
LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin was a German built and operated passenger-carrying hydrogen-filled rigid airship which operated commercially from 1928 to 1937. It was named after the German pioneer of airships, Ferdinand von Zeppelin, who was a Graf or Count in the German nobility. During its operating life,...

 in honor of the Count, flew for the first time. With a total length of 236.6 metres (776.2 ft) and a volume of 105,000 m3, she was the largest dirigible yet.

Eckener's initial concept was to use Graf Zeppelin for experimental and demonstration purposes to prepare the way for regular airship traveling, by carrying passengers and mail to cover the costs. In October 1928 the first long-range voyage brought her to Lakehurst, where Eckener and his crew were once more welcomed enthusiastically with confetti parades in New York and another invitation to the White House. Graf Zeppelin toured Germany and visited Italy, Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

, and Spain. A second trip to the United States was aborted in France due to engine failure in May 1929.

In August 1929 LZ 127 departed for another daring enterprise: a circumnavigation
Circumnavigation
Circumnavigation – literally, "navigation of a circumference" – refers to travelling all the way around an island, a continent, or the entire planet Earth.- Global circumnavigation :...

 of the globe. The growing popularity of the "giant of the air" made it easy for Eckener to find sponsors. One of these was the American press tycoon William Randolph Hearst
William Randolph Hearst
William Randolph Hearst was an American business magnate and leading newspaper publisher. Hearst entered the publishing business in 1887, after taking control of The San Francisco Examiner from his father...

, who requested the tour officially start in Lakehurst. As with the October 1928 flight to New York, Hearst had placed a reporter, Grace Marguerite Hay Drummond-Hay
Grace Marguerite Hay Drummond-Hay
Grace Marguerite, Lady Hay Drummond-Hay was a British journalist who was the first woman to travel around the world by air, in a Zeppelin...

, on board who therefore became the first woman to circumnavigate the globe by air. From there, Graf Zeppelin flew to Friedrichshafen, then Tokyo, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

, and back to Lakehurst, in 21 days 5 hours and 31 minutes. Including the initial and final trips Friedrichshafen–Lakehurst and back, the dirigible traveled 49618 kilometres (30,831.3 mi).

In the following year, Graf Zeppelin undertook a number of trips around Europe, and following a successful tour to Recife
Recife
Recife is the fifth-largest metropolitan area in Brazil with 4,136,506 inhabitants, the largest metropolitan area of the North/Northeast Regions, the 5th-largest metropolitan influence area in Brazil, and the capital and largest city of the state of Pernambuco. The population of the city proper...

, Brazil in May 1930, it was decided to open the first regular transatlantic airship line. This line operated between Frankfurt
Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main , commonly known simply as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2010 population of 688,249. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,300,000 in 2010...

 and Recife
Recife
Recife is the fifth-largest metropolitan area in Brazil with 4,136,506 inhabitants, the largest metropolitan area of the North/Northeast Regions, the 5th-largest metropolitan influence area in Brazil, and the capital and largest city of the state of Pernambuco. The population of the city proper...

 in 68 hours, and later, between Frankfurt and Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro , commonly referred to simply as Rio, is the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city of Brazil, and the third largest metropolitan area and agglomeration in South America, boasting approximately 6.3 million people within the city proper, making it the 6th...

, with a stop in Recife. Despite the beginning of the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 and growing competition from fixed-wing aircraft, LZ 127 would transport an increasing volume of passengers and mail across the ocean every year until 1936. The ship pursued another spectacular venue in July 1931 with a research trip to the Arctic
Arctic
The Arctic is a region located at the northern-most part of the Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The Arctic region consists of a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless permafrost...

. This had already been a dream of Count von Zeppelin twenty years earlier, which could, however, not be realized at the time due to the outbreak of war.

Eckener intended to supplement the successful craft by another, similar Zeppelin, projected as LZ 128. However the disastrous accident of the British passenger airship R101 on 5 October 1930 led the Zeppelin company to reconsider the safety of hydrogen-filled vessels, and the design was abandoned in favour of a new project. LZ 129 would advance Zeppelin technology considerably, and was intended to be filled with inert
Inert
-Chemistry:In chemistry, the term inert is used to describe a substance that is not chemically reactive.The noble gases were previously known as inert gases because of their perceived lack of participation in any chemical reactions...

 helium
Helium
Helium is the chemical element with atomic number 2 and an atomic weight of 4.002602, which is represented by the symbol He. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, inert, monatomic gas that heads the noble gas group in the periodic table...

.

Hindenburg, end of an era

Following 1933, the establishment of the Third Reich
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 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.

On the other hand, they were eager to exploit the popularity of the airships for propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

. As Eckener refused to cooperate, Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

, 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
Swastika
The swastika is an equilateral cross with its arms bent at right angles, in either right-facing form in counter clock motion or its mirrored left-facing form in clock motion. Earliest archaeological evidence of swastika-shaped ornaments dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization of Ancient...

 on their fins and occasionally tour Germany to play march music and propaganda speeches for the people from the air.

On 4 March 1936, LZ 129 Hindenburg
LZ 129 Hindenburg
LZ 129 Hindenburg was a large German commercial passenger-carrying rigid airship, the lead ship of the Hindenburg class, the longest class of flying machine and the largest airship by envelope volume...

 (named after former President of Germany
President of Germany
The President of the Federal Republic of Germany is the country's head of state. His official title in German is Bundespräsident . Germany has a parliamentary system of government and so the position of President is largely ceremonial...

 Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg , known universally as Paul von Hindenburg was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934....

 by Eckener) made her first flight. The Hindenburg was the largest airship ever built. However, in the new political situation, Eckener had not obtained the helium to inflate it due to a military embargo
Embargo
An embargo is the partial or complete prohibition of commerce and trade with a particular country, in order to isolate it. Embargoes are considered strong diplomatic measures imposed in an effort, by the imposing country, to elicit a given national-interest result from the country on which it is...

; only the United States possessed the rare gas in usable quantities. So, in what ultimately proved a fatal decision, the Hindenburg was filled with flammable hydrogen
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

. Apart from the propaganda missions, LZ 129 began to serve the transatlantic lines together with Graf Zeppelin
LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin
LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin was a German built and operated passenger-carrying hydrogen-filled rigid airship which operated commercially from 1928 to 1937. It was named after the German pioneer of airships, Ferdinand von Zeppelin, who was a Graf or Count in the German nobility. During its operating life,...

.

On 6 May 1937, while landing in Lakehurst
Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst
JB MDL Lakehurst is a United States Navy base located approximately south-southeast of Trenton, New Jersey. Lakehurst is under the jurisdiction of the Naval Air Systems Command...

 after a transatlantic flight, in front of thousands of spectators, the tail of the ship caught fire, and within seconds, the Hindenburg burst into flames, killing 35 of the 97 people on board and one member of the ground crew. The actual cause of the fire has not been definitively determined. Perhaps a combination of leaking hydrogen from a torn gas bag, and the vibrations caused by a swift rotation for a quicker landing started static electricity in the duralumin alloy skeleton. A flammable outer coating spread the fire from its starting point in the tail to engulf the entire airship in 34 seconds.

Despite the acknowledged danger, there remained a list of 400 people who still wanted to fly as Zeppelin passengers and had paid for the trip. Their money was refunded in 1940.

Graf Zeppelin completed more flights, though not for overseas commercial flights to the U.S., and was retired one month after the Hindenburg wreck and turned into a museum. Dr. Eckener kept trying to obtain helium gas for Hindenburg
Hindenburg disaster
The Hindenburg disaster took place on Thursday, May 6, 1937, as the German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed during its attempt to dock with its mooring mast at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station, which is located adjacent to the borough of Lakehurst, New Jersey...

's sister ship, Graf Zeppelin II, but due to political bias against the airship's commercial use by the Nazi leadership, coupled with the inability to obtain helium gas in sufficient quantities due to an embargo by the United States, his efforts were in vain. The intended new flagship Zeppelin was completed in 1938 and, inflated with hydrogen, made some test flights (the first on 14 September), but never carried passengers. Another project, LZ 131, designed to be even larger than Hindenburg and Graf Zeppelin II, never progressed beyond the production of some single skeleton rings.

The career of Graf Zeppelin II was not over. She was assigned to the Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

and performed about 30 test flights prior to the beginning of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Most of those test flights were carried out near the Polish
Second Polish Republic
The Second Polish Republic, Second Commonwealth of Poland or interwar Poland refers to Poland between the two world wars; a period in Polish history in which Poland was restored as an independent state. Officially known as the Republic of Poland or the Commonwealth of Poland , the Polish state was...

 border, first in the Sudeten mountains
Sudeten mountains
The Sudetes is a mountain range in Central Europe. It is also known as the Sudeten or Sudety Mountains....

 region of Silesia, then in the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 region. During one such flight LZ 130 crossed the Polish border near the Hel Peninsula
Hel Peninsula
Hel Peninsula |Nehrung]]) is a 35-km-long sand bar peninsula in northern Poland separating the Bay of Puck from the open Baltic Sea. It is located in Puck County of the Pomeranian Voivodeship.- Geography :...

, where she was intercepted by a Polish Lublin R-XIII
Lublin R-XIII
The Lublin R-XIII was the Polish army-cooperation plane , designed in the early-1930s in the Plage i Laśkiewicz factory in Lublin. It was the main army cooperation plane in the Invasion of Poland...

 aircraft from Puck
Puck, Poland
Puck is a town in northwestern Poland with 11,350 inhabitants. It is in Gdańsk Pomerania on the south coast of the Baltic Sea . Previously in the Gdańsk Voivodeship , Puck has been the capital of Puck County in the Pomeranian Voivodeship since 1999.-History:The settlement became a marketplace...

 naval airbase and forced to leave Polish airspace. During this time, LZ 130 was used as an electronic scouting airframe and was equipped with various telemetric equipment. From May to August 1939, she performed flights near the coastline of Great Britain in an attempt to determine whether the 100-metre towers erected from Portsmouth
Portsmouth
Portsmouth is the second largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of England. Portsmouth is notable for being the United Kingdom's only island city; it is located mainly on Portsea Island...

 to Scapa Flow
Scapa Flow
right|thumb|Scapa Flow viewed from its eastern endScapa Flow is a body of water in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, United Kingdom, sheltered by the islands of Mainland, Graemsay, Burray, South Ronaldsay and Hoy. It is about...

 were used for aircraft radio localization. Photography, radio wave interception, magnetic and radio frequency analysis were unable to detect operational British Chain Home
Chain Home
Chain Home was the codename for the ring of coastal Early Warning radar stations built by the British before and during the Second World War. The system otherwise known as AMES Type 1 consisted of radar fixed on top of a radio tower mast, called a 'station' to provide long-range detection of...

 radar
Radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

 due to searching in the wrong frequency range. The frequencies searched were too high, an assumption based on the Germans' own radar
Radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

 systems. The mistaken conclusion was the British towers were not connected with radar operations, but formed a network of naval radio communications and rescue.

After the German invasion of Poland
Invasion of Poland (1939)
The Invasion of Poland, also known as the September Campaign or 1939 Defensive War in Poland and the Poland Campaign in Germany, was an invasion of Poland by Germany, the Soviet Union, and a small Slovak contingent that marked the start of World War II in Europe...

 started the Second World War on 1 September, the Luftwaffe ordered LZ 127 and LZ 130 moved to a large Zeppelin hangar in Frankfurt
Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main , commonly known simply as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2010 population of 688,249. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,300,000 in 2010...

, where the skeleton of LZ 131 was also located. In March 1940 Göring ordered the destruction of the remaining airships and the Duralumin
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%...

 fed into the Nazi war industry. In May a fire broke out in the Zeppelin facility, which destroyed most of the remaining parts. The rest of the parts and materials were soon scrapped, with almost no trace of the German "giants of the air" remaining by the end of the year.

Non-German Zeppelin-type airships

Airships using the Zeppelin construction method are sometimes referred to as zeppelins even if they had no connection with the Zeppelin business. Several airships of this kind were built in the USA and Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 in the 1920s and 1930s, mostly imitating original Zeppelin designs derived from crashed or captured German World War I airships.

The British R33 and R34, for example, were near identical copies of the German L-33, which crashed virtually intact in Essex on 24 September 1916. Despite being almost three years out of date by the time they were launched in 1919, these sister ships were two of the most successful in British service. On 2 July 1919, R34 began the first return crossing of the Atlantic
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 by aircraft
Aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

. She landed at Mineola, Long Island on 6 July 1919 after 108 hours in the air. The return crossing commenced on 8 July because of concerns about mooring the ship in the open, and took 75 hours. Their success led to proposals for a fleet of airships to link far-flung British colonies, but unfortunately post-war economic conditions resulted in most airships being scrapped and trained personnel dispersed, until design and construction of the R100
R100
HM Airship R100 was a privately designed and built rigid airship made as part of a two-ship competition to develop new techniques for a projected larger commercial airship for use on British empire routes...

and R101
R101
R101 was one of a pair of British rigid airship completed in 1929 as part of a British government programme to develop civil airships capable of service on long-distance routes within the British Empire. It was designed and built by an Air Ministry-appointed team and was effectively in competition...

commenced in 1925 as part of the Imperial Airship Scheme
Imperial Airship Scheme
The British Imperial Airship Scheme was a project to improve communication with the far corners of the British Empire by establishing air routes using airships...

.

Another example was the first American-built rigid dirigible ZR-1 USS Shenandoah
USS Shenandoah (ZR-1)
USS Shenandoah was the first of four United States Navy rigid airships. It was built in 1922-1923 at Lakehurst Naval Air Station, and first flew in September 1923. It developed the Navy's experience with rigid airships, even making the first crossing of North America by airship...

, launched in September, 1923, while the USS Los Angeles (ZR-3)
USS Los Angeles (ZR-3)
The second USS Los Angeles was a 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...

 was still under construction. The ship was christened on 20 August in Lakehurst
Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst
JB MDL Lakehurst is a United States Navy base located approximately south-southeast of Trenton, New Jersey. Lakehurst is under the jurisdiction of the Naval Air Systems Command...

, New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

 and was the first to be inflated with helium, which was still so rare at the time that Shenandoah contained most of the world's reserves. When Los Angeles was delivered, she was at first filled with helium borrowed from ZR-1. Other airships were the USS Akron (ZRS-4)
USS Akron (ZRS-4)
USS Akron was a helium-filled rigid airship of the United States Navy that was lost in a weather-related accident off the New Jersey coast early on April 4, 1933, killing 73 of the 76 crew and passengers on board...

 and the USS Macon (ZRS-5)
USS Macon (ZRS-5)
USS Macon was a rigid airship built and operated by the United States Navy for scouting. She served as a "flying aircraft carrier", launching Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawk biplane fighters. In service for less than two years, in 1935 Macon was damaged in a storm and lost off California's Big Sur coast,...

.

Cultural influences

Zeppelins have been an inspiration to music, cinematography and literature. In 1934, the calypsonian Attila the Hun
Attila the Hun (calypsonian)
Attila the Hun , was a calypsonian from Trinidad.-Person:Atilla the Hun began singing in 1911 and was at his most prominent in the 1930s and 1940s. He was one of the pioneers in spreading awareness of calypso beyond its birthplace in Trinidad and Tobago...

 recorded "Graf Zeppelin", commemorating the airship's visit to Trinidad. In the American science fiction series Fringe
Fringe (TV series)
Fringe is an American science fiction television series created by J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. The series follows a Federal Bureau of Investigation "Fringe Division" team based in Boston, Massachusetts under the supervision of Homeland Security...

, zeppelins are a notable historical idiosyncrasy that helps differentiate the series' two parallel universes
Parallel universe (fiction)
A parallel universe or alternative reality is a hypothetical self-contained separate reality coexisting with one's own. A specific group of parallel universes is called a "multiverse", although this term can also be used to describe the possible parallel universes that constitute reality...

.

Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin were an English rock band, active in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. Formed in 1968, they consisted of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham...

, a rock band, used a picture of a burning zeppelin as an album cover.

Modern era

Since the 1990s Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik, a daughter enterprise of the Zeppelin conglomerate that built the original German Zeppelins, has been developing Zeppelin "New Technology" (NT) airships. These vessels are semi-rigids based partly on internal pressure, partly on a frame.

The Airship Ventures
Airship Ventures
Airship Ventures Inc. is a private company offering sight-seeing rides in a 12-passenger Zeppelin NT out of a World War II United States Navy hangar at Moffett Federal Airfield near Mountain View, California....

 company recently re-introduced zeppelin passenger travel to California with one of these Zeppelin NT
Zeppelin NT
The Zeppelin NT is a class of airships being manufactured since the 1990s by the German company Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH in Friedrichshafen. The initial model is the NT07...

 airships.

In May 2011 Goodyear announced that they will be replacing their fleet of blimps with Zeppelin NT's. This will be resurrecting their partnership that ended over 70 years ago. They will also be building the ships in America.

See also

  • Buoyancy compensator (aviation)
    Buoyancy compensator (aviation)
    The static buoyancy of airships during a trip is not constant. It is therefore necessary to take measures to control the buoyancy and thus the altitude, the so-called buoyancy compensation.-Changes which have an effect on buoyancy:...

  • Lane hydrogen producer
    Lane hydrogen producer
    The Lane hydrogen producer was an apparatus for hydrogen production based on the steam-iron process and water gas invented in 1903 by Howard Lane.-History:...

  • List of Zeppelins
  • List of airships of the United States Navy
  • List of Schütte-Lanz airships
  • Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen
    Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen
    The Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen at Lake Constance chronicles the history of the Zeppelin airships in the city where they were born. The museum, housed inside the former Hafenbahnhof , opened in 1996....

  • Airship hangar
    Airship hangar
    Airships are sheltered in airship hangars during construction and sometimes also for regular operation, particularly at bad weather conditions. Rigid airships always needed to be based in airship hangars because weathering was a serious risk.- History :...


Further reading

  • Rich Archbold and Ken Marshall, Hindenburg, an Illustrated History, 1994 ISBN 0-446-51784-4
  • William F. Althoff, USS Los Angeles: The Navy's Venerable Airship and Aviation Technology , 2003, ISBN 1-57488-620-7
  • Peter Brooks, Zeppelin: Rigid Airships 1893–1940 , 2004, ISBN 0-85177-845-3
  • Manfred Griehl and Joachim Dressel, Zeppelin! The German Airship Story, 1990 ISBN 1-85409-045-3
  • Ces Mowthorpe, Battlebags: British Airships of the First World War, 1995 ISBN 0-905778-13-8
  • McPhee, John, The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed, 1992 ISBN 978-0374516352
  • Ian Castle, London 1914–17 – The Zeppelin Menace, ISBN 978-184603-245-5

Danish Post & Tele Museum Zeppelin articles

— An online exhibition about zeppelins by Post & Tele Museum, Denmark

Patents

, "Navigable balloon". 14 March 1899. Ferdinand Graf Zeppelin., "Method of destroying aircraft", Filed 11 April 1916. Joseph A. Steinmetz, "Light weight girder". Filed 28 June 1920. Karl Arnstein., "Airship". Filed 19 Aug 1922; Issued 20 November 1923. Julius Erhardt, "Rigid airship with separate gas cells". Filed 27 November 1922; Issued August 1929. Hugo Eckener

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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