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Text below via Project Gutenberg -- George Whale (Late Major, R.A.F.):
British 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 considerable dimensions."

Text below from Dr. Hugo Eckener:
Count Zeppelin: The Man and His Work, translated by Leigh Fanell
London -- Massie Publishing Company, Ltd. -- 1938

pgs 210-211

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.

pgs 155-157

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 follows:

"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 weight."

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.

Last update: 10 January 2003