122 years ago, on June 2, 1900, on Lake Constance on the border of Germany and Switzerland, Ferdinand von Zeppelin’s first “air train” took off – Zeppelin LZ 1.
The experimental airship, created by engineer Theodor Kober, had a length of 128 m, a diameter of almost 12 m, and could lift 12.5 tons of payload into the air. Zeppelin LZ 1 had two engines with a power of only 14.2 hp. each of which allowed the airship to accelerate to a speed of 27 km/hour. During the first test, LZ 1 lifted five people to a height of 410 m and covered a distance of 6 km in 17 minutes.
The first Zeppelin was followed by others, then they became bombers that terrorized Londoners. After the war, Zeppelins tried to take over the role of long-distance passenger aviation. They flew across the Atlantic, to South America, to the Middle East, even to the pole and around the world (a ticket for such a trip in 1929 cost $3,000 (about $51,000 in 2022). And then there was the infamous LZ 129 Hindenburg disaster and the era of airships ended.
A total of 131 airships were built under the Zeppelin brand. The last one was never completed.
Since September 1997, new “Zeppelins” – Zeppelin NT (Neue Technologie – new technology) have appeared in the skies of Germany. These are the largest modern serial airships. Unlike the classic models of Ferdinand von Zeppelin, this is a semi-rigid airship. These 75-meter ships are primarily for pleasure. They have a cabin for 12 passengers and, if necessary, can accelerate to a speed of 125 km/h. A total of 7 Zeppelin NT units were built.
Photo: USS Macon airship over New York, 1933. USS Macon is a US Navy airship built after studying Zeppelin technology. Zeppelin L 49, captured almost intact in 1917 in France, acted as a sample.