The airship "Hindenburg" leaving the hangar in the spring of 1936. Perfect airship was the pride of Nazi Germany. The length of the gigantic airship was 804 ft, that is greater than the length of any of the warships. His dressing was required over 7 million cubic feet of gas. The largest airship "Hindenburg" (the world had more like him) was intended for regular flights across the Atlantic ocean.
Unprecedented comfort and gourmet
The spacious cabin of the airship, made of aluminum, were placed from the comfort of 72 passengers. They all enjoyed a gourmet meal. In the passenger compartment, their services were specially made aluminum piano, the weight of which was only 360 pounds. The airship "Hindenburg", which struck us with its unprecedented chic, had a specially designed viewing window, protected from possible damage that opened the panorama of earth floating below. On the airship, even had its own postmark. The kitchen is on the "Hindenburg" was fully electrified. Smoking room, was carefully isolated, were allowed to use only electric lighters. The designers of most feared fire, because the airship was filled with millions of cubic feet of flammable hydrogen. The slightest spark could lead to disaster.
The airship "Hindenburg" looked safe as a house. In 1936, he symbolized the future of air transport. Having speed of 80 miles per hour, it could cross the Atlantic in two days, which is twice faster than the steamer. Four of the diesel engine allowed the "Hindenburg" cover the distance in 8.5 thousand miles. On Board was dominated by a sense of confidence. But soon everything changed. What was supposed to be another transatlantic flight ended in the biggest catastrophe in the history of aviation. Huge air ship was destroyed in circumstances which were never clarified. The last flight and crash of the airship "Hindenburg" is still shrouded in mystery.
How it all began
Then the era of Aeronautics numbered less than fifty years. The first was a semi-rigid airships, like Santos-Dumont, built in the late 19th century. The father of airships of a rigid structure was the German count Ferdinand von Zeppelin. His first model of this type – the LZ 1 – took to the skies in July 1900. A fourth airship, LZ 4, in July 1906, made the twelve-hour flight from Germany to Switzerland. In one night, count von Zeppelin became a worldwide celebrity, and his aircraft became known as the Luftschiffbau-Zeppelin. Despite the large size, these devices were fragile. The pilots were not only to manage the latest technology, but to be able to adapt to weather conditions. Management of Luftschiffbau Zeppelin was similar to sailing, but the pilots of the airships rose to the occasion. During the first four years had an accident, but no casualties. Germany was the world leader in the construction of airships.
The first Champions
Transatlantic flight paved the way for commercial flights, has made the English airship R-34. The aircraft stayed in the air 109 hours, breaking all world records. When R-34 landed, dumping its water ballast to slow the rate of decline, the future of the Zeppelin looked bright. But with each new disaster, hopes were fading. In August 1921, the British airship R-38, the tested in the USA, broke in half and collapsed into the waters of the Humber river (England), forty-four crew members died. After that, the U.S. Navy refused British participation and have begun to create their own airships.
The rivalry of designers
In 20-e years of the last century a competition was held for the best model. Had to build two airships: one, R-100, a subsidiary company of Vickers, the other, R-101, at the state aircraft factory in Cardington. It was a classic rivalry between the private and public enterprises. Unfortunately, all ended in failure. In the UK, there simply was not high level designers and engineers for the implementation of both projects. Most talented specialists gathered in the company Vickers, the head of this group was Barnes Wallis during the Second world war, he created the famous Bouncing bomb.
In the summer of 1930 R-100 twice successfully crossed the Atlantic ocean, and in Cardington not everything went smoothly. It was assumed that the R-101 will open an air line from the Metropolis to India. The airship had to make my route in October 1930, and to return to London before the conference, to which were invited all the premiers of the British dominions. But the R-101 suffered failure at the last moment even had to reduce the length of the airship, and to the belly to attach additional gas cylinders. The shell of the airship began to crack. The unit R-101 was not tested at high speed or in bad weather, its capacity was insufficient, it was overloaded with fuel. Disaster seemed imminent. Experts are not advised to lift the airship into the air, but politicians insisted.
The disaster of the British machine
R-101 were prepared for departure, additionally, it downloaded a huge red carpet that is designed to meet the important persons on Board the airship after landing. On 2 October the Ministry of aviation held the final meeting, Lord Christopher Thomson, the one who put forward the idea of competing models, insisted on a speedy departure. In the end the flight was scheduled for 4 October. Head of the Department of civil aviation sir Sefton Brancker expressed his doubts – he was a well-known design flaws of the R-101, but Thomson told him: "If you are afraid, do not fly." However, Sefton Brancker flew. At 20.00, a huge airship left London, over the French territory was raging rain and strong wind. In bad weather the airship was out of control, he's covering accumulated tons of water, and R-101 crashed near Beauvais in Northern France. Lord Thomson was burned alive, only six crew members managed to escape. After the funeral finished R-100 was scrapped. Britain is forever abandoned the construction of airships.
German air supremacy
Meanwhile, Germany was again engaged in the construction of aircraft. Led a programme of airship Hugo Eckener, the successor Zepellin. After the First world war Germany was forbidden to create new devices but in 1926 she returned to the airship. The first was built the LZ 127 "Graf Zeppelin". It made its first flight in September of 1926, followed by nine years of continuous operation, during which the airship LZ 127 "Graf Zeppelin" flew over a million miles. In 1929 the German airship set a world record, having flown about around the globe. He majestically sailed over Siberia, then crossed the Pacific ocean. It seemed that only the Germans know the secret of a successful accident-free flights.
First appearance in the light
In 1936 they created the project, R-129 – the Hindenburg. Funding for construction was provided by the Nazi government of Adolf Hitler. Hugo Eckener wanted to raise the airship in the air with helium, but only in the US produced this non-flammable gas. The us government has refused to export helium, fearing that it could be used for military purposes. So the Hindenburg had to be filled with flammable hydrogen. But this is not disturbed Eckener, he believed that the more serious the risk of fire associated with fuel for the engines, and not a danger of a gas leak. The first flight of the German airship "Hindenburg" has fulfilled on "perfectly", which brought him resounding success. By September 1937 it was planned to create another airship of this type. On the horizon loomed only one competitor – the American flying boat that has mastered TRANS-Atlantic route to the West coast of Ireland. But these aircraft could not offer the luxury that distinguishes the German airship "Hindenburg".
There were no signs of trouble
On may 3, 1937 the Hindenburg left the hangar in Frankfurt, preparing for the first transatlantic flight in the new season. The ultimate destination was the airfield at Lekkerste, new Jersey. The company "Zeppelin" got a few letters from anti-Nazi groups threatening sabotage if the "Hindenburg" will continue flights to the United States. Some of the letters were handed over to the American authorities through the German Embassy in Washington. But there is no evidence that the company took these threats seriously. After all, zeppelins made flights in 1900, and during that time not a single passenger died. Flight preparations continued. This time was filled with only 36 seats out of 72, but on the flight back from America all the tickets were sold.
The flight across the ocean completed
Flight to the USA was successful, the visibility was bad, the passengers most of the time relaxed in the bar, asleep or discussed the political situation in Germany. The Hindenburg flying over floating ice floes and icebergs, some of the passengers remembered the sad fate of "Titanic." The airship began to decline from long island. Over new York the machine was flying so low that passengers could see photographers gathered at the Empire State Building. Landing on the tarmac Leichert was scheduled for 16.00, but it was postponed because the airfield was going dark rain clouds. The commander of the airship Max Pruss decided to go back to ocean shores and wait until the storm passes. At 16.30, the passengers were served tea and sandwiches, and all the airship circled over the desert coast of the state of new Jersey. Passengers whiled away the time looking at rastilantie at the bottom of the forest. Finally the sky cleared up Lakerdom, and captain Pruss began to prepare for landing.
The last moments of life
At 19.10 the airship appeared over the airfield, in the room below the expectations of the passengers gathered, ready to fly the return flight from America. Photographers gathered on the roof to capture the landing, and journalists are ready to dictate your message. The Hindenburg approached the mooring mast. Dropping ballast, the airship descended to a height of 200 feet, the crew prepared to drop the ropes on the ground. Everything seemed normal when landing. The passengers craned their necks to better see it out the window, because now they set foot on American soil. When the steel rope for fixing the airship appeared from the bow, light rain began, and then the disaster struck. Radioreport Herbert Morrison passed from the scene: "the Airship caught fire. God, he's enveloped in flame. What a terrible catastrophe. Everything around is burning, it's falling on the landing mast. It's just awful. The flame rises into the sky at 400-500 feet. From the “Hindenburg” has only the frame, people burn. They die".
The investigation of the death of an airship
Witnesses of the events told about a small jet of flame near the top of the stabilizer. The seconds after this occurred the death of the largest airship "Hindenburg" – he turned into a giant torch. It only took 32 seconds, to a small fire destroyed a huge flying machine. The fire killed 36 people, including 22 crew members, 13 passengers and one person in ground services. Surprisingly, 61 people managed to escape. Why have a disaster of the airship "Hindenburg"? Only that this air-ship hovered in the sky, suddenly turned into a pile of rubble. The U.S. Department of Commerce has begun investigating the incident. After 18 days of hearing testimony, the investigation found a possible cause of the accident that caused the death of the airship "Hindenburg". Excessive static electricity caused the fire in the stabilizer apparatus. The surviving captain Max Pruss believed that aboard the airship there was a diversion. Whether the airship is the victim of sabotage or an accident, we'll never know. Mystery death of the airship "Hindenburg" remains unsolved.