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In the early 20th century, Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin founded a commercial airline called DELAG and an airship construction business.

These dirigible airships were lighter-than-air craft using a rigid frame construction with an aerodynamic outer envelope and several separate balloons called 'cells' containing the lighter-than-air gas hydrogen contained completely within the frame. A comparatively small compartment for passengers and crew was built into the bottom of the frame. Several internal combustion engines provided motive power.

The Zeppelin business was successful up to the 1930s when the Great Depression and the rise of the Nazi party in Germany both had negative effects. The business was nationalized by the German Government in the mid-1930s and closed down a few years later, after the Hindenburg disaster.

However, during approximately 20 years of private operation as an airline, it was at least somewhat profitable, and had a perfect safety record until the Hindenburg crash.

Zeppelins were used as long range bombers against England during World War I but were not notably successful. Their slow speed, large size, and highly flammable hydrogen lifting gas made them easy targets for anti-aircraft guns as well as gunfire from airplanes.

Airships using the Zeppelin construction method are sometimes referred to as zeppelins even if they had no connection to the Zeppelin business. Several airships of this kind were built in the USA, Britain, Italy, and the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s. A series of fatal crashes halted this effort.

Zeppelins should not be confused with non-rigid construction airships, commonly known as blimps.


U.S. Navy zeppelin (looks like Moffet Field, CA?)

Public domain image from NASA

External links

Led Zeppelin is the name of a famous rock band and is not to be confused with.

see Led Zeppelin