Ferdinand Graf Von Zeppelin Essay

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Ferdinand Graf Von Zeppelin

Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin

Probably hardly a shape of aviation history is part of as many legends as Ferdinand Graf
von Zeppelin. He was born on July 8, 1838 in Konstanz at the Bodensee. He was educated at
the Ludwigsburg Military Academy and the University of Tübingen. He entered the Prussian
army in 1858 and went to the United States in 1863 to work as a military observer for the
Union army and observed the Civil War. Zeppelin served in the Franco-German War of
1870-1871; he retired in 1891 with the rank of brigadier general. It was quite usual in
his noble and high-decorated family, that he chose a military career. And later explored
the headwaters of the Mississippi River, and made his first balloon flight while he was in
Minnesota . And on August 7, 1869, he was married to his wife Isabe. His military career,
however successful, did not run. He, along with others, at that time preferred modern
opinions over combat tactics, which brought his career into conflicts with the military
authorities. In the age of 52, he was prematurely retired in 1890 for his criticism of the
Prussian war office, giving him free time to work on his airship ideas.

Zeppelin now finally found the time to concern himself with his visions to the topic of
"Lenkbare Luftschiffe" or "guidable airships". This idea had always pursued him in the
last 20 years. It was particularly the success of the airship LA FRANCE, which had very
much impressed Zeppelin. In a letter to his king, Zeppelin referred, particularly, to the
possibilities of the military use of this technology. A meeting with the military
authorities, following on it, did not bring good results for it. The authorities
over-estimated the problem of air resistance as substantially higher than it really was.

Only in the year 1892, the concrete work on the project began. With the assistance of his
engineer, he set up a construction plan for an airship in a period of 2 years. It is to be
marked that Zeppelin had no concrete development realizations, or physical data. When he
wanted to present his new construction in 1894 to the military officials, it ended in a
clear reject. Particularly, the low rate of the missile was criticized.

In 1886 an electrolytic process by which aluminum could be produced in commercial
quantities was invented almost simultaneously by Paul Heroult in France and C. M. Hall in
the US. The introduction of this light, strong metal during the next few years opened up
new possibilities for designers of lighter-than-air craft. One of whom was Ferdinand Graf
von Zeppelin. The design used by Zeppelin was a tubular aluminum frame, but instead if
covering it with sheets of metal, he made a fabric cover not intended to be gas-tight. The
gas was enclosed in bags in compartments of the hull separated by transverse aluminum

In the year 1895 its missile under the designation "Luftzug" or "draft of air" was
patented. One year later the VDI (Verein Deutscher Ingenieure or association of German
engineers) was convinced of the plans of Graf Zeppelin. The association started a campaign
for the support of Zeppelin's projects. Thereupon, Zeppelin created in January 1898, the
"Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Luftschiffahrt" (society for the promotion of the
Air-Navigation). From this point on, the development preceded rapidly. In 1899, the first
bug rings were already installed. In the spring of the same year, the building of the
legendary "schwimmenden Halle" (swimming hall) began in one cell with Friedrichshafen. A
young engineer named Ludwig Dürr led the assembly of the first Zeppelins.

Zeppelin had spent nearly a decade working on his dirigible prior to his flight in 1900.
The ship was known as the LZ-1 and was 128 meters long and resembled a sausage shaped
balloon. It was created by combining the aerodynamics of kites with the aerodynamics of a
balloon. Built in a floating shed on Lake Constance near Friedrichshafen, LZ-1 had two
passenger cars and two 14.7-horse-power gasoline engines. From the hangar on the Bodensee,
a raft was pulled, on which the LZ-1 was situated. A short time later, the ship rose into
air. The first flight should take 18 minutes. "Count von Zeppelin, a stout 62-year-old
ex-cavalry commander with a white walrus mustache, twinkling eyes and a white yachting cap
perched on his round head" is how he was described on July 2, 1900, the date of his maiden
voyage. "I am not a circus rider who performs for the public," he had told a reporter. "I
am doing serious work for my country." Zeppelin was inspired of the successful ascent. The
ship achieved a rate of 30 km/h, whereby it proved an amazingly high controllability.
Expectations of the military observers were not fulfilled, however, which was to due to
the low engine performance of the Daimler Benz machines. After two further test flights,
the new company was actually bankrupt. It was liquidated and the LZ-1, the father of all
rigid airships, had to be wrecked.

Particularly for this purpose, an educated commission of the VDI now analyzed the results
obtained so far. The commission came to the conclusion that Zeppelin had carried out good
work, the Zeppelin-airships did not develop, however, technically, and no future prospects
would have. This was a complete setback for Zeppelin. Without cash, and with its only
remaining engineer, Ludwig Dürr, he made himself the design of a successor. He made
donation calls into newspapers and innumerable Bettelbriefe (Begging Letters) to wealthy
contemporaries, which only brought mockery to it.

Nevertheless the untiring zealot and missionary of the airship idea, went into the year
1905, with his second ship. The building of the LZ-2 became possible, due to his king and
the Prussian lottery, both of which put the necessary capital to it at his disposal.
Although the LZ-2 did not bring considerable successes, and because of substantial
defects, did not yield Zeppelin, but was wrecked later. Again it was a lottery, which made
necessary finances available. The crucial turn came in the year 1906.

As a special stroke of luck, Zeppelin met with Alfred Colsman, the son-in-law of his
deceased friend and sponsor, Carl Berg. Colsman, an experienced manager, who was inspired
by Zeppelin's ideas, now took over the consultation Zeppelin. In October 1906, two travels
with the new LZ-3 occur. These successful messages ensured the fact that tendencies
against Zeppelin began to slowly change. Zeppelin's former critic, Hugo Eckener, political
economist, became the most engaged lawyer for the thing of Zeppelins.

Suddenly Zeppelin's success curve moved steeply upward. The University of Dresden made
Zeppelin Dr. of Ingenuity and the government put to it, a half million Mark. Zeppelin was
lent the highest honor by the VDI. The government placed amounts to the building of his
next ship at million heights to the order and wanted to purchase the finished airships.
Additionally he received a personal remuneration for his past work.

With his new ship, the LZ-4 Graf Zeppelin, a 12 hour travel over Switzerland was achieved.
With large energy applied it gave 24-hour tours. But this project ended in a disaster.
During an intermediate stop to the engine repair, a violent gust of wind tore the ship
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