Text below via Project
Gutenberg -- George Whale (Late Major, R.A.F.):
Airships, Past / Present / Future
"The first rigid airship bearing any resemblance to those
of the present day was designed by David Schwartz, and
was built in St. Petersburg in 1893. It was composed of
aluminium plates riveted to an aluminium framework. On
inflation, the frame-work collapsed and the ship was unusable.
In 1895 he designed a second rigid airship, which was
built in Berlin by Messrs. Weisspfennig and Watzesch.
The hull framework was composed of aluminium and was 155
feet long, elliptical in cross section, giving a volume
of 130,500 cubic feet. It was pointed in front and rounded
off aft. The car, also constructed of the same material,
was rigidly attached to the hull by a lattice framework,
and the whole hull structure was covered in with aluminium
sheeting. A 12 horse-power Daimler benzine motor was installed
in the car, driving through the medium of a belt twin
aluminium screw propellers; no rudders were supplied,
the steering being arranged by means of a steering screw
placed centrally to the ship above the top of the car.
Inflation took place at the end of 1897 by a method of
pressing out air-filled fabric cells which were previously
introduced into the hull. This operation took three and
a half hours. On the day of the first flight trials there
was a fresh wind of about 17 miles per hour. The airship
ascended into the air, but, apparently, could make little
headway against the wind. During the trip the driving-belt
became disengaged from the propellers and the ship drifted
at the mercy of the wind, but sustained little damage
on landing. After being deflated, the hull began to break
up under the pressure of the wind and was completely destroyed
by the vandalism of the spectators.
In 1898 Graf F. von Zeppelin, inspired by the example
of Schwartz, and assisted by the engineers Kober and Kubler,
conceived the idea of constructing a rigid airship of
Text below from Dr. Hugo Eckener:
Count Zeppelin: The Man and His Work, translated
by Leigh Fanell
London -- Massie Publishing Company, Ltd. -- 1938
It may not be out of place to deal here shortly with
a legend which continued to circulate in well-dispoded
and other quarters untill quite recently, and afetr the
Zeppelin triumphs, -- the legend, namely, that Count Zeppelin
derived many of his ideas from a less fortunate rival,
the Dalmation timber-merchant, David Schwarz. The story
is connected with certain happenings during the years
we have just traversed. David Schwarz, in collaboration
with a far-seeing Westphalian aluminium manufacturer,
Carl Berg, had constructed an alumunium airship, which
in 1896 made an unsuccessful attempt to fly from the Tempelhof
field and crashed. The experiment appeared to have ended
and Count Zeppelin negotiated with Herr Berg's firm for
the purchase of the aluminium for his own ship. The firm,
however, was under contract to supply aluminium for airships
exclusively to the Schwarz undertaking. It had to obtain
release from this contract by an arrangement with Schwarz'
heirs before it could deliver aluminium to Count Zeppelin.
That is the origin of the legend. It is obvious at the
first glance that the Zeppelin ship had nothing but its
aluminium in common with the Schwarz machine, not to mention
that Count Zeppelin had fixed the essential features long
beforeSchwarz' ship appeared. It is admitted that Coundt
Zeppelin benefited from certain structural experiences
of the Berg firm, just as Schwarz' machine did, too. Moreover,
Herr Berg did exceedingly valuable work for Count Zeppelin,
as we shall see later.
We have often been told that the idea of a dirigible
balloon first occured to Count Zeppelin when in early
youth he made a balloon ascent in America, or at any rate
during the Franco-German war, when he saw balloons going
up in Paris. There is no evidence of this. He may, like
so many others, have given passing thought on such occasions
to the value of a dirigible balloon, especially as many
known attempts in this direction has already been made.
But the first positive indication that the problem was
occupying him personally is contained in his carefully
kept diary, dated March 25th, 1874, under the heading:
"Thoughts about an airship." These thoughts had been suggested
suggested by a lecture from the Postmaster-General Stephan
on "internarional post and aviation." The entry is as
"The machines must have the dimensions of a
big ship. The gas-chambers so calculated as to carry the
machine except for a slight overweight. Elevation will
then be obtained by starting the engine, which will drive
the machine, as it were, towards the upward-pointed wings.
Arriving at the desired height, the wings will tend to
flatten out so that the airship remains on the horizontal
plane. To drop, the wings will be flattened out still
further or the speed be reduced....
" The gas-chambers should, whenevere possible, be divided
into cells, which can be filled and empied separately.
The engine must always be able to replace gass.
"Parachutes, if they can be used at all, could be attached
as part of the ceiling of the passenger compartment
and be detachable by the application to them of a person's
Thus there are already three original ideas in these
firt plans which mark an advance on earlier attempts and
come more and more to form the distinctive features of
the Zeppelin airship.
1. It must have the dimensions of a "big ship;"
2. It must be driven dynamically;
3. Division into separate gas-cells.