Military Review

Ferdinand von Zeppelin: the struggle with life-long elements

The twenties and thirties of the last century became the golden era for airships. And the main star of that time was the Graz Zeppelin LZ 127 aircraft. During its long life, the airship spent more than 17 thousands of hours in the air, made almost 600 sorties, breaking the order of 1,7 a million kilometers. Just imagine: "Count Zeppelin" 143 times crossed the Atlantic and 1 times - the Pacific!

Journalists did not get tired of singing the praises of the aircraft, its popularity was considered mystical. At the same time, people were well aware of the fact that airships were probably the most dangerous of the existing vehicles. Indeed, in those years, people could not seriously resist weather conditions. Therefore, accidents often happened, but the Germans stubbornly and meticulously created new ships.

This went on until 6 in May 1937, when the Hindenburg crashed LZ 129. The tragedy caused a great public outcry. Due to the outbreak of scandal, the airships were deprived of the status of passenger vehicles. Not even spared the veteran "Count Zeppelin", turning it into a museum. When World War II began, this vessel, like its closest relative, the Graf Zeppelin II (LZ 130, built in 1938), was dismantled for parts. At this era of airships over.

No wonder the vessels bore the name of Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin. This man has devoted his whole life to the realization of a dream - to make airships safe. Going to the intended goal of the graph was hard, mistakes and failures followed him literally at every turn. But Ferdinand von Zeppelin with fanatical obstinacy argued to the whole world that if you believe and work, everything will work out.

[/ b] Suicide squad [b]

It seemed the 1896 year would be a breakthrough for aeronautics. When Dr. Welfer managed to get off the ground and soar to the clouds on a machine with an internal combustion engine Daimler and Benz, the engineers and designers were elated, thinking that the right road had been found. But the second flight crossed the previous success. From the exhaust pipe of the power unit flew a spark. And everything would be fine, but hydrogen was seeping through the shell. The airship literally tore into pieces due to a powerful explosion. The creator died along with his brainchild ...

The disaster did not put an end to the evolutionary path of airships. Largely due to Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, a native of the city of Konstanz.

By 1863, a twenty-five-year-old man was behind the military academy and the rank of lieutenant of the Württemberg army. But the military drill bored him. Ferdinand took a vacation and went to the University of Tübingen to master the social and political sciences, and at the same time chemistry and engineering. In 1863, he was sent to the United States as a military observer. At that time, the US was shaken by the war between North and South. There, in a foreign land, Ferdinand made the first flight. More precisely, the flight can be called a stretch. Von Zeppelin just flew on a tied aerostat. One such "flight" was sufficient. The German suddenly realized that he could no longer live without the sky.

In the mid-sixties of the 19-th century, he had to return home. First, von Zeppelin took part in the Prussian-Austrian, and then in the Franco-Prussian wars. In the latter, he proved to be a good scout. During the fighting with the French Ferdinand actively used balloons. They turned out to be very convenient for observing the enemy.

A little later, Ferdinand met with the report of Heinrich von Stefan - the man who was the father of the Universal Postal Union. In that document, he proposed to use aerostats for faster mail delivery. The emerging prospects so impressed Zeppelin that he decided to devote his life to creating such flight machines.

The first pancake

In 1887, Ferdinand sent a special letter to King Würtenberg, in which he described in detail his idea of ​​creating a whole fleet huge airships. Explained von Zeppelin and the fact that he cares about the highest military power in Germany. And without the "heavenly host" to become a leader will not work. In addition, in the dreams of the designer, the airships could facilitate the development of not only Africa, but even the North Pole.

That message (memorandum) was perceived ambiguously by the press and the public. Some laughed, others criticized, still others skeptically shook their heads. But Zeppelin was not one of those who immediately give up.

... As time went on. In 1891, von Zeppelin retired as adjutant to the King of Württemberg. Since there was a lot of free time, Ferdinand decided to devote his life to his main business. The accumulated funds went to the construction of a specialized workshop near Lake Constance, as well as to pay for the services of talented engineers. At the head of the group of inventors stood Theodore Kober.

A few years have passed, no major progress in the work on the airship did not occur. Local people began to actively laugh at the fanatical old man and his "kompashka". Especially poisonous public reacted to the idea of ​​creating an "air train". Zeppelin proposed to combine several spherical balloons with each other, seeing in this project great potential. But the academic council and the press had a different opinion. Instead of approval, Ferdinand received ridicule and offensive caricatures.

Painful search

Pursuing the idea of ​​an “air train”, von Zeppelin and his team paid no attention to a competitor. In early November, 1897, the designer David Schwartz created a novelty - a rigid design airship. And not on paper, the ship took off! Before Schwartz, no one tried to make the airship hard. They were either soft or semi-rigid. And suddenly such a breakthrough! In his creation, Schwartz hid cylinders inside a special aluminum frame. The airship itself was covered with fabric and had a standard cigar-like shape. Thanks to this design, there is no need to pump hydrogen under high pressure, reliability has increased dramatically. Schwartz was on the right track, but ... he soon died. Zeppelin bought from the widow all the developments. And the “design bureau” got some food for thought.

The project required a lot of money. Zeppelin was supported by the Union of German Engineers, together they organized the Joint Stock Company for the Development of Managed Aeronautics. The initial capital - approximately 400 of thousands of marks - Ferdinand singled out from his personal savings. That was enough to start the work.

A year later, “Luftschiffbau Zeppelin” (LZ-1) was built. Its length was 128 meters, in diameter - about 12 meters. The aircraft turned out gigantic. And in 1900, the count himself rose into the air on his brainchild.

The first pancake was lumpy. A few months the airship repaired and brought to mind. The second flight was more successful, but the trouble came from the other side. At first, the Joint-Stock Company for the Development of Managed Aeronautics went bankrupt, then the military refused to finance it. Then a strong hurricane almost destroyed LZ-1. There was no money left to repair the old graph. You could fall into despair, but Ferdinand held out.

After 4, after the disaster, in 1905, the king of Württemberg seemed to take pity on Zeppelin. He organized a charity lottery, wanting to support ballooning. The graph got hold, though a small, but very necessary amount. After selling part of the property, as well as the remnants of LZ-1, he managed to collect 400 thousands of marks. They went on to create LZ-2.

Angry rock was following in the wake of Zeppelin. First, the airship fell into the lake. Then it picked up during ... Until mid-January 1906, the vessel was repaired. But as soon as it was ready, a hurricane hit and destroyed Zeppelin's brainchild. The people said that he was cursed. Probably at that moment Ferdinand himself believed it.

Having managed to endure another blow of ridicule and censure, von Zeppelin laid his property, and invested the money in the creation of LZ-3. And in early October 1906, the airship was ready. Finally, the graph was lucky. The third in a row his work was successful. True, for the whole year the device was continually upgraded and brought to mind. But the result exceeded all expectations, the troika managed to hover in the air for eight hours! This success could not help but notice the military. Soon they ordered the Zeppelin Airship Design Bureau, highlighting the necessary 400 thousand marks for the inventor. Some time later, they were generous with a fantastic sum for those times — over a million marks.

By June 1908, the LZ-4 was ready. And in July, the king and queen of Wurttemberg, along with the count, took the airship up into the air. The old inventor waited for his finest hour and received the Order of the Black Eagle. Then he did not suspect that quite a bit remained before the tragedy ...

LZ-4 burned 5 on August 1908 of the year. More than 40 thousands of spectators gathered in the Rhine Valley to watch the airship. On that fateful day, the ship was to go on its first long-haul flight on the route Friedrichshafen-Strasbourg-Mannheim-Mainz. But a strong gust of wind hit the airship against a tree. The ship instantly broke out ... It seemed that the inventor would not survive this blow. But help suddenly came from the side from which he had not expected. Ordinary Germans decided to raise money to create the "five".

Soon von Zeppelin received about eight million marks. This amount allowed the graph not only to return their property, but also to help other pioneers of aeronautics. For example, he helped Kober so that he could start creating seaplanes.

In late May, the fifth brainchild of Zeppelin rose into the air. The airship LZ-5 became the creator stories - he was officially taken to the army. And even though a year later the ship crashed, the graph put the production of airships on stream.

By the beginning of World War I, Germany was armed with eight aircraft. The money received from the military allowed Zeppelin to organize the production of devices throughout the country. The military airships of the count could carry a deadly cargo of up to a ton and were equipped with several machine guns. In May 1915, they were the ones who dropped bombs on London.

New orders poured into Zeppelin. The customers were not even embarrassed by the fact that airships were easily damaged by incendiary bullets and aviation machine guns. And by 1917 the Germans had lost more than a hundred Zeppelin.

Earl died in the year 1917. The following year, Germany surrendered and signed the Treaty of Versailles. By its terms, the country was forbidden to build, as well as operate airships. Those few devices that managed to survive the war, took the winners. It seemed that the case of the old earl was dead. But his former press officer managed to find a way out of the situation. Americans helped him. They were interested in airships, and they made an order. So in the year 1920 appeared LZ-126. It differed from the “source code” in that safe helium, rather than hydrogen, was pumped into the cylinders. The German child had customers to taste. Soon a co-production of Goodyear-Zeppelin was born. It did not last long - the global economic crisis affected. Therefore, the designers managed to create only one airship: "Akron" with a length of 239 meters (crashed in the 1933 year).

And in the 1928 year, eighty years after the earl’s birth, the LZ-127 “Graf Zeppelin” soared into the air. It was this aircraft that made the round-the-world trip, having packed in twenty one days.

By the way, in German the word "airship" does not occur at all. Instead, the zeppelin ...


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  1. parusnik
    parusnik 21 September 2017 07: 50
    But the life of the "zeppelins" continues ...
  2. Monarchist
    Monarchist 21 September 2017 09: 33
    Zepelin, Kober, Welfer and many others were crazy in a good sense of the word fanatics. Thanks to such fanatics, progress is moving.
    Even in the 21st century, hang gliders are used, and an airship can also show itself
  3. BAI
    BAI 21 September 2017 11: 40
    And what does the photo of the American airship of the 40s do here?
  4. alatanas
    alatanas 21 September 2017 13: 13

    Cepellin over Sofia 16 Oct. 1929
  5. andrewkor
    andrewkor 21 September 2017 14: 59
    The anthem of aeronautics "War in the Air" by Herbert Wells 1908 A wonderful novel!
  6. Some kind of compote
    Some kind of compote 21 September 2017 19: 08
    Comrade went down in history good
  7. Petrol cutter
    Petrol cutter 21 September 2017 22: 13
    Thank you for the article. Once upon a time I had a book on airships. Something similar was described there. Yes, she was lost for a long time.
    1. andrewkor
      andrewkor 22 September 2017 11: 44
      Everything is on the Internet only hammer the name in Yandex, for example.