Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight

Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight

Jacob Miller - October 19, 2017

A Zeppelin was a rigid airship named after the German Count Ferdinand Von Zeppelin who pioneered the development of the airships at the beginning of the 20 century. Zeppelin conceived of the plans in 1874 and developed them in detail in 1893. The designs were patented in Germany in 1895 and in the United States in 1899.

Zeppelins were first flown commercially in 1910 by Deutsche Luftschiffahrts-AG, the world’s first airline in revenue service.

During World War I, the German military made extensive use of Zeppelins as bombers and on reconnaissance missions, killing over 500 people in bombing raids in Britain. The defeat of Germany in 1918 hindered the airship business. All German ships had to be surrendered under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, which also prohibited Germany from building large airships. One exception was made which allowed the construction of one airship for the US Navy. In 1926 the restrictions on airship construction were lifted and construction began on the famed Graf Zeppelin.

During the 1930s the airships Graf Zeppelin and the Hindenburg operated regular transatlantic flights from Germany to North America and Brazil. The Art Deco spire of the Empire State Building was originally designed to serve as a mooring mast for Zeppelins but it was found that the high winds made this impossible.

On May 6, 1937, while landing in Lakehurst, NJ after a transatlantic flight, the tail of the famed Hindenburg caught fire. Within seconds the Zeppelin burst into flame, killing 35 of the 97 people on board. The investigation into the accident found that static electricity ignited the hydrogen which had leaked from the gasbags.

The Graf Zeppelin retired one month after the Hindenburg wreck and was turned into a museum.

Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
La France, a French Army airship, was the first fully controllable airship, designed by Captain Charles Renard and Lieutenant Arthur Krebs, seen here in 1884. Gizmodo
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
La Ville de Paris, a very early dirigible balloon, built by Henri Deutsch, a French petroleum businessman, circa 1904. Library of Congress
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
German military officer Count Ferdinand Zeppelin, with Countess Zeppelin. Getty Images
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
July 4, 1908- The most famous of all airships, the Zeppelin, invented by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin (1838 – 1917). This dirigible rigid airship first flew on July 2, 1900. Library of Congress
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
German engineers discovered sausage skins were the perfect material to make Zeppelin gas-bags. These came from the intestines of animals, and it took the guts of more than 250,000 cows to make a single airship.Intestines became so precious that German sausage-making was banned for a while during the war. BBC
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
September 1912- Military personnel prepare to take off in an army airship. Getty Images
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
A German zeppelin caught in the searchlights during a bombing raid in 1916. Getty Images
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
A German zeppelin dirigible flies over Balkan terrain during World War I, 1910s. To boost the sagging morale of their troops, the Germans sent these vulnerable airships for publicity flights. They were also used for reconnaissance missions.
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
Crater of a Zeppelin bombing in Paris, 1916. Wikipedia
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
The wreckage of Zeppelin L31 or L32 shot down over England 23 Sept 1916. Wikipedia
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
1917- A British airship attached to its mooring. Getty Images
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
March 1919- The British airship R33 in its hangar as it prepares for its first-ever flight at an aerodrome in Barlow, Yorkshire. Getty Images
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
The interior of a zeppelin gas bag being patched at Short Brothers Works in 1919. Getty Images
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
Two women who worked at Short Brothers Works building zepplins, in 1919. Getty Images
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
August 1919- Model of the British R-34 airship at the Woolwich carnival. The R-34 made the first airship crossing of the Atlantic in July. Getty Agency
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
February 1919- The frame of a zeppelin under construction at Short Brothers Works in Belfast. Getty Images
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
Group of men on board an airship sometime between 1915 and 1925. Library of Congress
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
February 1923- A helium-filled US Navy dirigible, the Los Angeles, formerly the ZR3, was built by the Germans as part of their war reparations. Getty Images
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
A 785-foot dirigible US Navy air cruiser, the USS Akron. The USS Akron was in its third year of flight when a violent storm sent it crashing tail-first into the Atlantic Ocean shortly after midnight on April 4, 1933, of the New Jersey coast. The disaster claimed 73 lives, more than twice as many as the crash of the Hindenburg, four years later. National Naval Aviation Museum
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
The USS Los Angeles, a US Navy airship built by the Zeppelin Company. Wikipedia
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
German boys with a toy Zeppelin (1928). Getty Images
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
September 1928- The Graf Zeppelin (D-LZ 127, i.e Deutsches Luftschiff Zeppelin #127) under construction. Getty Images
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
Gondola of LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin. airships
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
As seen in the deck plan of the German Graf Zeppelin included in this 1934 brochure, the ship’s control room was located at the very bow of the gondola, just ahead of the chart room, radio room, and kitchen. airships

Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
The control room contained rudder and elevator control wheels, gas and water ballast release controls, engine telegraphs, and flight and navigation instruments. airships
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
Graf Zeppelin Control Room. airships
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
Chart Room of Graf Zeppelin. airships
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
Radio Room of Graf Zeppelin. airships
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
Across from the radio room was a small kitchen containing electric burners and ovens, an electric water heater, a refrigeration unit, and compact storage and preparation areas. Obviously, no open flames were allowed on the hydrogen-filled Zeppelin. airship
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
Aft of the kitchen was a combination lounge/dining room, approximately 16′ square, which was the only public passenger space aboard the ship. While the surroundings were luxurious, they were also unheated, and during the winter months, or when the ship flew over the North Atlantic, or during the flight over Siberia as part of the 1929 Round-the-World flight, passengers often spent much of their time wrapped in heavy winter coats or covered by layers of blankets while ice crystals formed on the windows.
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
Circa 1925- The lounge of the British airship R101. These passenger quarters were the most spacious ever provided in an airship. Getty Images
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
“We have a million cubic feet of gas but no heat. . . . Merciless cold driving through the canvas walls of this flying tent. … I have visualized myself gracefully draped over a saloon window ledge romantically viewing the moonlit sky. The men . . . have reminded each other not to forget evening jackets and boiled shirts in their baggage. We have drawn ourselves lovely pictures of dining elegantly in mid-air with Commodore Eckener at the head of a flower-decked table . . . but . . . leather coats, woollies, and furs will be our evening dress. Hot soup and steaming stew more welcome than cold caviar and chicken salad.” – Lady Grace Drummond Hay. Airships
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
Dinner on the Graf Zeppelin. airships
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
Graf Zeppelin China. airships
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
Accommodation for the ship’s twenty passengers was provided in ten small cabins, containing upper and lower berths similar to those aboard a railroad sleeping car, and which could be arranged for daytime or nighttime use. Like the rest of the ship, the cabins were unheated. The cabins were located on a narrow corridor, at the end of which were separate washrooms for men and women. airships
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
Steward making up a bed. airships
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
A sleeping cabin and the kitchen area on the Graf Zeppelin (1928). Getty Images
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
Passenger Cabin of Graf Zeppelin. airships
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
Passenger Corridor on Graf Zeppelin. airships
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
Women’s Washroom on Graf Zeppelin. airships
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
October 9th, 1929- Passengers playing cards and watching the view over Yorkshire on the verandah aboard R100. Getty Images
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
A maid prepares a dish in the kitchen of airship R 100, at Howden, Yorkshire. Getty Images
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
Passengers surveying the scene from the verandah deck of the British R100 Airship, built to compete with the great ocean liners of the day. Getty Images
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
Members of the Dominion Legislative Conference dine on board the luxurious R101 airship. Getty Images

 

Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
1929- The British airship R-100 flies through a thick layer of clouds. She was scrapped after the crash of her sister ship, the R-101, in 1930. Getty Images
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
October 1929- The airship R101 flying over the British town of Bedford on its first flight. Getty Images
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
April 1930- An aerial view of the Graf Zeppelin flying over Wembley Stadium in London during the 1930 FA Cup Final. Getty Images
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
The Graf Zeppelin over Jerusalem, 1931. Library of Congress
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
1931 stereograph reads: The Graf Zeppelin’s rendezvous with the eternal desert and the more than 4,000-year-old pyramids of Gizeh, Egypt. Library of Congress
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
A small airship did manage to tie onto the Empire State Building for three minutes after a half-hour struggle. uh.edu
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
1937- The German-built airship Hindenburg (D-LZ-129) flies over Manhattan on May 6, 1937. A few hours later, the ship burst into flames in an attempt to land at Lakehurst, USA. AP
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
1937- The Hindenburg disaster at Lakehurst, New Jersey, which marked the end of the era of passenger-carrying airships. The Zeppelin caught fire and crashed, killing 36 people aboard. Arthur Cofod
Photographing the Golden Age of Zeppelin Flight
The Hindenburg on fire in 1937. Wikipedia
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