- Sep 14, 2020
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BackgroundMost of the background for the Hindenburg can be found here, I will abridge thusly.
Wouldn't be a SH post without at least some reference to a flag with an eagle on it
So not only did the Hindenburg represent the finest in air travel, it also represented the finest in Nazi propaganda. They pretty much used it like Goodyear uses their blimp -- at sporting events, rallies, and other events where the Nazis wanted to show off their prowess.Actual construction of LZ-129 began in the Fall of 1931, but progress lagged due to a severe lack of funds during the Depression. At first, the Nazi Party’s assumption of power in January, 1933 had little effect on the fortunes of the Zeppelin Company, partly due to Air Minister Hermann Göring’s dislike of lighter-than-air flight. But Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels was aware of the potential symbolic value of LZ-129 as a showcase for German strength and technology, and in 1934 Goebbels offered Hugo Eckener 2 million marks toward the completion of LZ-129.
So for those that haven't looked much into it, it is clear that the Hindenburg had already established a track record of successful transatlantic flights with no issues.By the end of 1936, Hindenburg had crossed the Atlantic 34 times, carrying over 3,500 passengers and more than 66,000 pounds of mail and freight, and the ship’s highly successful 1936 season seemed to indicate that regular transatlantic air service had arrived.
Imagine a world in which luxury travel was not only available to everyone, but was also affordable. In its day, airship travel was twice as fast as steamship travel and didn't require one to spend days adjusting to the tossing and turning of the ocean. You could leisurely float ~500-1000ft above the ocean in your transoceanic journey. Here is a translated except from the Hindenburg welcome brochure:
A Life of Luxury
A Life of Luxury
You open your suit case and arrange your clothes in the wardrobe. At last, your shaving kit, hair brushes and other articles of toilet are displayed upon the toilet stand. At once, your cabin acquires a homely personal atmosphere. You listen for the roar of the engines, or the fierce rush and vibration of the air, but apart from a distant quiet murmur, everything is tranquil and peaceful. You feel that nothing will disturb your sleep. Your steward appears and explains to you the arrangement of the handles and switches for light, heat, and ventilation. You are shown the bell-push in your cabin which will bring him to your side at any time during the day or night. Before he leaves), he reminds you to leave your shoes outside your cabin door for cleaning. You begin to feel that nothing has been overlooked to ensure your comfort.
Nazi regalia aside, sign me up! Its the first class experience that airplanes can only dream of providing. But I didn't make this post to oogle at the marvel that is luxurious travel, we need to talk about the design and implementation of airship technology.
As a matter of fact, according to the writings of Kenneth Price Jr, 1lb of coal could carry one person and their luggage from Berlin to NYC at the cost of $1/lb!
So not only do airships like the Hindenburg utilize anti-gravity tech (Helium is lighter than air), they are also more fuel efficient than any modern jet airliner or vehicle!
Each of Hindenburg’s four LOF-6 (DB-602) 16-cylinder engines had an output of 1320 hp @ 1650 RPM (maximum power), and 900 hp @ 1480 RPM.
The normal cruise setting was 1350 RPM, generating approximately 850 hp, and this setting was usually not adjusted during an ocean crossing. The engines were started with compressed air, and could be started, stopped, and reversed in flight.
Using 2:1 reduction gearing, each engine drove a 4-bladed, fixed-pitch, 19.7′ diameter metal-sheathed wooden propeller (created from two 2-bladed props fused together).
An engine designed to burn the valved hydrogen? That's damn near a free energy device, or about as close as you can get when it comes to travel of this scale.There were plans, never implemented, to add a fifth engine car, containing a Daimler-Benz diesel adapted to burn hydrogen. The proposed installation would have been an experiment to improve the ship’s economy and efficiency by burning hydrogen which would otherwise have been valved. (Hindenburg valved between 1 and 1-1/2 million cubic feet of hydrogen on an average north Atlantic crossing.)
Did you know:
- One ton of coal has the same thermal energy as 188 gallons of petroleum?
- The Hindenburg was capable of flying around the world in 1936 without stopping for fuel?
- One modern Airbus carries enough fuel to power the Hindenburg 6 times across the Atlantic?
- So its safe, efficient, cheap, luxurious, and well received by the public. What could possibly go wrong?
The story of the Hindenburg crash is all that remains of the history of this incredible flying machine. Let's start with the "official" explanation.
The Hindenburg disaster at Lakehurst, New Jersey on May 6, 1937 brought an end to the age of the rigid airship.
The disaster killed 35 persons on the airship, and one member of the ground crew, but miraculously 62 of the 97 passengers and crew survived.
After more than 30 years of passenger travel on commercial zeppelins — in which tens of thousands of passengers flew over a million miles, on more than 2,000 flights, without a single injury — the era of the passenger airship came to an end in a few fiery minutes.
And that was the last time anyone ever saw commercial airship travel. No, seriously. It was over after this, after hundreds of successful flights and a track record for safety (pretty amazing that anyone survived that crash, they were clearly designed with safety in mind) airship travel was, on the whole, removed from the public.Almost 80 years of research and scientific tests support the same conclusion reached by the original German and American accident investigations in 1937: It seems clear that the Hindenburg disaster was caused by an electrostatic discharge (i.e., a spark) that ignited leaking hydrogen.
The spark was most likely caused by a difference in electric potential between the airship and the surrounding air: The airship was approximately 60 meters (about 200 feet) above the airfield in an electrically charged atmosphere, but the ship’s metal framework was grounded by its landing line; the difference in electric potential likely caused a spark to jump from the ship’s fabric covering (which had the ability to hold a charge) to the ship’s framework (which was grounded through the landing line). A somewhat less likely but still plausible theory attributes the spark to coronal discharge, more commonly known as St. Elmo’s Fire.
The following section is the high octane speculation and ruminations on stolen history that I created this post for.
Oil Barons: Mucking thing up for everyone, all the timeYou can't really get very far into topics like these without inevitably hitting the brick wall that is Oil Interests of the 19th and 20th Century. These are your Rockefellers, Standard Oil, etc. Others have been blamed for the conspiracy to destroy the Hindenburg - - even the FBI investigated the matter and speculated that the plot was designed by anti-fascist Communists (full disclosure: I only skimmed the FOIA report linked above, perhaps someone braver than I could dive deeper and find some gems in there, as I didn't see much). However when it comes to events like this, one must always ask: Qui Bono?
If you've made it this far in this post, you could see how a technology like the Hindenburg threatens the petroleum oligopoly of the day. Moreover, there was a symbolic issue here - - the Hindenburg was the crown jewel of the Nazi party which to some was not exactly kosher. It is hardly a secret that many businessman of the day had deals with Nazis just as soon as anyone else, but this threat was on a different level because it represented a potential end to the Oil Oligarchy.
Isn't it a bit curious that right after the Titanic and Hindenburg disasters you have a concerted effort to standardize transportation to running off petroleum almost exclusively? And that standard has neither changed nor evolved in over 100 years?
Kenneth Price brings up some questions that I ask anyone who is going to do further research on the topic to look into and see if you can answer for yourself:
Why was the public never shown one single photographic picture that showed the beginning of Hindenburg‘s fire even though there were 22 professional photographers at the event to film her docking?
Why were there so many photographers there to film the Hindenburg's arrival into Lakehurst, Va. when she had already completed 34 successful transatlantic crossings the prior year?
Why was a “static spark ” theory selected as Hindenburg’s nemesis when there was no evidence to support the occurrence of a static spark in the first place since it had never occurred in the four previous decades of flying hydrogen-filled zeppelins?
Why did all nations stop building rigid airships after the burning of the Hindenburg when she and Graf Zeppelin had clearly demonstrated an effective form of anti-gravity resulting in extreme fuel efficiency?
Why does hydrogen continue to be shunned as a gas that is flammable when modern airliners and passenger cars continue to carry a fuel that is not only volatile but even more dangerous?
PostscriptI am totally open to this topic weaving towards the direction of this discussion towards "rediscovered" technology. While I didn't necessarily find a ton of evidence to support the model that airship tech was the stolen product of a past civilization, that doesn't mean its not out there. I highly recommend checking out the work of Kenneth M. Price, as his research is responsible for this post today.
Note: Archived SH.org replies to this OP: Hindenburg: Was Zeppelin technology a threat to the 20th century?