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Gallery » Danzig Report 140 - April, May, June 2008 » Airship vs. aeroplane, 1911

Airship vs. aeroplane, 1911 

Amazing, isn't it that only three years before the start of the first world war that aviation was still in itas infancy. Evidently, there was a debate between the two divisions of the science that was simitar to our own experience during development of color television, back in the 1960s. Neil Smart explains it best, "competition between airship and aeroplane for state aid with development costs now growing. Count Zeppelin's first airship LZ1, had made her maiden flight in 1900 and had been dismantled in 1901. Her successor, LZ2 first flew in 1905. Storm damaged, she was forced down and wrecked in 1906, salvaged components being incorporated into LZ3, launched the same year. More successful...she made flights around Lake Constance ... The War Ministry acquired the ship and ran a series of trials from March until May, 1909, spent the following years in a hangar, and was dismantled in 1913. Next came the LZ4 in June, 1908, and trials had the ship fly to Switzerland and stopping at Echterdingen on the way home. It was here that a gale tore into her mooring, crashing and burning, a total loss to the Count, who had not yet turned the ship over to the War Ministry, amd only the generosity of the public saved him from financial disaster. LZ5 completed her flight tests and was handed over to the Army on August 5, 1909. Her end came after only eleven flights during heavy gales near Limburg / Lahn.
"Although mail drops were occasionally made from the ships, such pieces are identifiable only from the message or from the type of card used. No 'on board' cachets or other distinguishing marks were applied. Such items are, of course, extremely rare...and offer great scope for forgers. Expertization is essential for early Zeppelln material !
With the launch of the LZ6, the pattern changed. Even before she was completed, LZ6 had been given her own identifying handstamp - a two-ring circular stamp inscribed between the rings:

.                               LUFTSCHIFF    -    SIGNAL POST
With her own designated Army number Z III within the center circle, this handstamp was applied to all official ship's papers. With no trained Army crew available, LZ6 carried a civilian crew when she took part in the 1909 manoeuvers, with Count Zeppelin himself coming from the Airship Exhibition (I.L.A.) to take command. How¬ever, the ship's performance failed to meet the Army's acceptance criteria and she was rejected, the handstamp being then withdrawn." ... from Nell Smart's book
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The Dilemma

On Page 5, you will find a color reproduction of the cover that was printed in black & white on Page 26 of our most recent Report, DR-139. A most unusual cover, there is a  photocard attached to the back, showing the 12-127 over the beaches of Zoppot. It is one of a short series of cards that show the Graf Zeppelin over familiar sites in Danzig. We know that the airship was present at the LUPOSTA exhibition held at the Casino Hotel which can be seen under the nose of the 12-127 in this photo. One problem in authenticating this shot is that the Grafs photo is separate and is part of a photo-montage. Hans George Mencke, who is a member of the ARGE, has been studying this dilemma for years and has a report in the study group's Rundschreiben 993 [Dec. 1999]; two other editions of Zepp information are in subsequent years. On Page 5, the attached card is slightly enlarged to show more detail. Other examples follow, indicating that the artist had the skill of a surgeon with scalpel.

Danzig Report 140, 2008, Page 4.


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Added: 22/03/2008
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