Passenger Ships: LZ130
Courtesy of Rick Zitarosa <RZita@aol.com> Nov 5, 1998
LZ130 was to be an "improved sister" of the LZ129 HINDENBURG, which, "as completed" carried 50 passengers and 45-50 crew members.
Taking advantage of hydrogen inflation in a large ship originally designed to be inflated with slightly heavier but non-flammable HELIUM gas, the Zeppelin people added nine more cabins to the HINDENBURG in early 1937, bringing her capacity up to 72 passengers. It was envisioned that LZ130 would carry 80-100 passengers, with a slight increase in the on-board service or "hotel" staff.
After the Lakehurst disaster, LZ130 was modified in construction for helium inflation and an assigned passenger capacity of 40 (though the reconstituted passenger cabins were roomier, had better lighting and four "luxury cabins" featured windows.) Other modifications included the fitting of "water recovery" units to condense water from fuel burned and help the ship maintain equilibrium without valving the expensive helium; also, as Rick Archbold points out, "heavy beer bottles were OUT " and were replaced with keg beer, one of the many weight saving measures necessitated by using helium.
The Zeppelin would still have had tremendous reserve lifting capacity for crossing oceans and making long flights; however, increasing international tensions made the American government change its mind about supplying helium to the Germans and the LZ130 (named GRAF ZEPPELIN II ) flew using hydrogen between 14 September, 1938 and 22 August, 1939. Under the circumstances, the German Air Ministry refused to allow paying passengers to be carried (though the ship's accomodations were much appreciated by special and VIP guests who were always aboard.) The airship was also generally forbidden to fly over "foreign" soil, though she did make a propaganda cruise over the soon-to-be-annexed Sudetenland and also several radar "spy flights" around England carrying electronic detection gear.
Plans for an LZ131, with an extra bay and carrying 100 passengers, were never far advanced. LZ130 was laid up in Hangar #2 at Rhein-Main Airfield, Frankfurt, with the outbreak of World War Two. Together with the original GRAF ZEPPELIN, the LZ127, the last and finest big rigid airship ever built was cut up for scrap in March 1940. Two months later, on 6 May, (the third anniversary of the HINDENBURG disaster) the expensive, new Zeppelin hangars at Frankfurt were leveled with dynamite on the excuse that they were a navigational hazard for military planes using the field.
The Zeppelin Company's hangars at Friedrichshafen and nearby Lowenthal were used for a variety of military production projects during the War and were considered legitimate military targets by Allied air forces; heavily damaged by increasing air raids in 1944, the big sheds were completely destroyed in a series of violent air raids in early 1945, along with a good section of "old Friedrichshafen" to the extent that much of the place was unrecognizable to pre-war visitors who came to see the place years later.