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On This Day… The Last Zeppelin

Written by: George Chittenden : 03 Jun 2019

It was on this day, 14th Sept, back in 1938 when the last German rigid airship ever produced made her debut flight, the Graf Zeppelin II. In design she was virtually identical to the Hindenburg but featured a few improvements. The plan was for her to replace the aging LZ127 Graf Zeppelin on flying the South American transatlantic route while the Hindenburg would continue flying the North American route.

As you can imagine, the Hindenburg disaster was a wake-up call for her designers and that terrible incident led the commander of the Graf Zeppelin, Hugo Eckener to vow to never use hydrogen in a passenger airship again. So instead he modified the ship to be inflated with helium, but the only source of helium in such quantities was America and as soon as Germany annexed Austria in March 1938 that source of helium dried up overnight.

So, what happened to the Graf Zeppelin II? Well initially she was handed over to the Reich Air Ministry and she flew propaganda flights for the Third Reich and the National Socialist Party. Then in In April 1940, Hermann Göring gave the order to dismantle her and the materials were used for the construction of war planes.

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