The Zeppelin Evan Flanagan

History and Developement

A Zeppelin was a type of rigid airship named after the German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin. The reasoning for this was because he was one who pioneered the development of the rigid airship at the beginning of the 20th century. The idea for the Zeppelin was first thought through in 1874 but developed in detail in 1893. The Ferdinand designed Zeppelin was patented in Germany in 1895 and in the United States in 1899. After the overwhelming success of the design of the Zeppelin, all airships soon came to be known as a "Zeppelin".

How it's Made

The interior of a zeppelin was structured by large ring of metal girders and was filled to the brim with hydrogen in most of Europe while America favored more helium reliant power. These gases both being lighter than air made the ship fly. They were propelled by several engines, mounted on gondolas or engine cars which were attached to the outside of the structural framework. Some of these engines could provide reverse thrust for maneuvering while docking.

Role in WWI

Zeppelins quickly became weapons of mass destruction. Their sheer size alone was enough to terrify entire cities. Zeppelins would sail in over large cities and drop bombs. The first bombjng raid with zeppelins happened beginnning of 1915. Over 50 bombing runs happened during WWI focused mainly on England. These zeppelins killed many civilians on the ground making them machines of hatred and even earning the nickname "baby-killers". Although the effect of the raids was mostly focused on civilians and not military, they caused widespread alarm, leading to the diversion of resources from the Western Front and some disruption to industrial production.


Although these zeppelins caused wide spread destruction that effected not only the cities that were bombed but the resources being sent to the front hurting the war effort against Germans. Weather conditions and night flying conditions made airship navigation and maintaining bombing accuracy difficult. Bombs were often dropped miles off target and accurate targeting of military installations was impossible. One raid on London actually bombed Hull, a nearby city. Airships were often times fragile and flammable and had issues defending themselves. Airships soon became obsolete for wartime and focused mostly on passenger use. Airplanes soon took overall all bombing raids.

Airship docking and loading station
Passenger cabin of a airship
"It’s only natural that no-one should back me up, because no-one dares to take a leap in the dark. But my goal is clear and my calculations are correct.” -Ferdinand von Zeppelin

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