Airships in International Affairs, 1890–1940 by John Duggan, Henry Cord Meyer (auth.)

By John Duggan, Henry Cord Meyer (auth.)

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Zeppelin now had the advantage of an emerging favourable public image: the genial, stalwart, dignified loner still enduring after 15 years of unrequited endeavour. Following upon the brief successful trial flights of LZ3, the Count appealed to the German Minister of the Interior. Here he argued that LZ3 and its improved successors were most likely to challenge successfully the French military semi-rigids and lead Germany towards world supremacy. 13 The upshot was that Zeppelin’s venture would be supported financially by the Empire for its cultural, technological, and military importance; it was also decided that the Count’s invention should be considered for purchase by the Reich, once the rigid airship had completed a 24-hour flight over a prescribed course.

Other Germans could cheer the industrial workers’ contribution to the greater technological glory of the Vaterland. 21 Into this environment of fresh self-awareness came a vivid reversal of roles for the Kaiser and the Aeronaut.

He went up to Howden and was taken into R33, and he must say that it was simply like stepping into fairyland. 34 American engineer and businessman Harry Vissering had the same experience travelling with LZ120 Bodensee as Richmond had had. Indeed, airship voyaging had a collective fascination for the entire airship crew. Towards the end of the zeppelin era, after its crews had languished and chafed at the bit awaiting helium for LZ130 Graf Zeppelin II, the word came to fly again with hydrogen for the Luftwaffe.

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