LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin

LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin

Infobox Aircraft
name=LZ 127 "Graf Zeppelin"

type=Passenger airship
national origin=Germany
manufacturer=Luftschiffbau Zeppelin
designer=Ludwig Dürr
first flight=18 September avyear|1928
retired=18 June avyear|1937
status=Scrapped March 1940
primary user=
more users=
number built=1
variants with their own articles=

The D-LZ127 "Graf Zeppelin" was a large German passenger carrying rigid airship which operated commercially from 1928 to 1937. It was named after the German pioneer of airships, Ferdinand von Zeppelin, who held the rank of Graf or Count in the German nobility. During its operating life the great airship made 590 flights covering more than a million miles.

Design and development

The D-LZ127 ("Deutsche Luftschiff Zeppelin #127") was originally planned to exploit the latest technology in airships, building on the advances of the earlier D-LZ126. Dr. Hugo Eckener had to campaign for its construction and only after two years of lobbying did that proceed at the Zeppelin works, Luftschiffbau Zeppelin, at Friedrichshafen in Germany.

It flew for the first time on 18 September 1928Puget Sound Airship Society 2007] and, with a total length of convert|236.6|m|ft and volume of convert|105000|m3|cuft, was the largest airship up to that time. It was powered by five Maybach convert|550|hp engines that could burn either Blau gas or gasolineScherz 2003] . The ship achieved a maximum speed of 128 kilometres per hour (80 mph, 70 knots) operating at total maximum thrust of convert|2650|hp, which reduced to the normal cruising speed of 117 km/h (73 mph, 63 knots) when running with normal thrust of convert|2150|hp, ignoring wind speeds. Some flights were made using only Blau gas, and for this purpose 12 gas cells were used with a total volume up to 30,000 cubic metres. That amount allowed around 100 hours at cruising speed. The fuel tank had a maximum capacity for 67 hours cruise. Using both gasoline and Blau gas could give 118 hours cruise.

Generally the D-LZ127 had a usable payload capacity of 15,000 kilograms for a 10,000 kilometres cruise.

Initially it was to be used for experimental and demonstration purposes to prepare the way for regular airship traveling, but also carried passengers and mail to cover the costs.

Two small wind power generators were attached to the main gondola on swinging arms, one of which served the radio room. Accumulators stored the electrical energy produced so that radio operation was independent of airspeed. The other generator served for passenger lighting and as a reserve.Busch 2006] The main electricity generating plant was located inside the hull comprising two fuel-burning generators.Pilot und Luftschiff. [http://www.pilotundluftschiff.de/Galerie001.htm LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin : Bilder aus dem Luftschiff] (Photograph "Elektrozentrale")] The gondola also had a gasoline emergency generator.

Gondola layout

Behind the front command cabin through a door lay the map room, with two large open access hatches to allow the command crew to communicate with the navigators. From the map room ascending a ladder allowed access to a keel corridor inside the hull. The map room had two large windows, one on each side. A rear door led from the map room to a central corridor with the three-man radio room to the left and the electric kitchen to the right, and a short passage to the main entrance-exit door on the right (when facing front). The corridor ended at a door that opened into the main dining and sitting room, with four large windows. At the rear of this room a door opened into the long corridor to access the passenger's cabins and washrooms and toilet facilities. Each passenger cabin by day was set with a sofa which by night the crew would convert to two beds, one above the other. The crew's quarters were inside the hull reached by a catwalk. The kitchen was equipped with a single electric oven with two compartments and hot plates on top.

Radio equipment

of 500 to 3,000 metre. An emergency transmitter with 70 Watt antenna power was available for both telegraph and radio telephone, using 300 to 1,300 metre wavelengths, powered either by the accumulator or the gasoline generator.

The main antenna comprised two 120 metre long wires, with lead weights at their ends. They could be lowered by electric motor or hand crank. The emergency antenna was a 40 metre wire stretched from a ring on the airship hull. Three high quality receivers, each with six valves, served the wavelength ranges 120 to 1200 metre (Medium frequency), 400 to 4000 metre (Low frequency) and 3,000 to 25,000 metre (overlapping Low frequency and Very low frequency). Additionally the room had a shortwave receiver for wavelengths 10 to 280 metre (High frequency).

A modern direction finder, as was then used for radio navigation in large passenger ships, used a steerable ring antenna to determine the airship's position from any two radio transmitters either land or ship-based. During the airship's transatlantic flight to the United States in October 1928, the radio room sent 484 private telegrams and 160 press telegrams.

Operational history

, the Graf saw nearly nine years of uninterrupted service, totaling nearly two years in the air and traveling 1.7 million kilometres.Brewer 1991, p. 2.] Its seventh flight was its first Atlantic crossing,Michel, Carolyn. [http://www.wingnet.org/rtw/rtw001j.htm Round-the-World Flights] ] thereafter it made regular flights across the South Atlantic to Brazil, one round the world tour, a polar expedition, two roundtrips to the Middle East, and a few within Europe. While the "Graf Zeppelin" only visited the United States five times (twice during the "Round the World Flight"), the airship made a total of 64 flights to South America.

First intercontinental passenger airship flight



In addition to the passengers and crew, there was also a stowaway on the fight, 19-year old Clarence Tehune, who had secreted himself onboard the "Graf Zeppelin" at Friedrichshafen and appears in a Gaumont Graphic Newsreel working for his passage in the airship's kitchen. Terhune was returned to Europe on the French liner SS Ile de France along with a number of airship crewmembers. [Brandes, Markus. [http://www.autogramme.ch/html/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2&Itemid=29 Autographs of Count Zeppelin and Hugo Eckener] 2004.] [ITN Source, [http://www.itnsource.com/en/Entire-Archive/Search/ShotListDigitised/?ref=/RTV/1928/01/01/BGT407131213.htm BGT407131213] ] [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,846291-2,00.html "Big Flight".] "Time", 11 March 1929.]

The "Interrupted Flight"

in France against a stiff headwind the next afternoon, however, two of the remaining three engines also failed and the airship began to be pushed backwards toward the sea.

As Dr. Eckener desperately looked for a suitable place to crash land the airship, the French Air Ministry advised him that he would be permitted to land at the Naval Airship Base at Cuers-Pierrefeu about ten miles from Toulon to use the mooring mast and hangar of the lost airship "Dixmude" (France's only dirigible which crashed the Mediterranean in 1923 with the loss of 52 lives) if the Graf could reach the facility before being blown out to sea. Although barely able to control the Graf on its one remaining engine, Eckener managed to make a difficult but successful emergency night landing at Cuers. ["Zeppelin Battles Gale to Safety; Reaches Cuers, France, on One Motor; Eckener and Crew Avert Disaster" "The New York Times", 18 May 1929.] After making temporary repairs, the Graf finally returned to Friedrichshafen on May 24. Mail carried on the flight received a one-line cachet reading "Due to mishap the flight was delayed for the first America trip" and was held at Friedrichshafen until 1 August 1929, when the airship made another attempt to cross the Atlantic for Lakehurst arriving on 4 August 1929. Four days later, the "Graf Zeppelin" departed Lakehurst for another daring enterprise — a complete circumnavigation of the globe.

Round-the-World Flight

, on board, who thereby became the first woman to circumnavigate the globe by air.

Starting there on 8 August, "Graf Zeppelin" flew back across the Atlantic to Friedrichshafen to refuel before continuing on August 15 across the vastness of Siberia to Tokyo (Kasumigaura Naval Air Station), a nonstop leg of convert|6988|mi|km, arriving 3 days later on 18 August. Dr. Eckener believed that some of the lands they crossed in Siberia had never before been seen by modern explorers. After staying in Tokyo for five days, on 23 August, the "Graf Zeppelin" continued across the Pacific to California flying first over San Francisco before heading south to stop at Mines Field in Los Angeles for the first ever nonstop flight of any kind across the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific leg was convert|5998|mi|km and took three days. The airship's final leg across the United States took it over Chicago before landing back at Lakehurst NAS on 29 August, taking two days and covering convert|2996|mi|km. [Geisenheyer, Max. "Mit 'Graf Zeppelin' Um Die Welt: Ein Bild-Buch". Frankfurter Societäts-Druckerei G.m.b.H., Frankfurt am Mein (Germany), 1929.]

The flying time for the Lakehurst to Lakehurst legs was 12 days and 11 minutes. The entire voyage took 21 days, 5 hours and 31 minutes including the initial and final trips between Friedrichshafen and NAS Lakehurst during which time the airship travelled 49,618 km (30,831 miles) whereas the distance covered on the designated "Round the World" portion from Lakehurst to Lakehurst was 31,400 km (19,500 miles). One of Hearst's guests on board was the newlywed couple; the Arctic explorer Sir Hubert Wilkins and his bride Suzanne Bennett. The trip was given to them as a wedding gift.

A . [Measuring Worth - Relative Value of US Dollars. [http://www.measuringworth.com/uscompare/] (Current data is only available till 2007)]

The Polar Flight

; this had already been a dream of Count Zeppelin 20 years earlier, which could not, however, be realized at the time due to the outbreak of war.

In July 1930, Hugo Eckener had already piloted the Graf on a three-day trip to Norway and Spitsbergen, in order to determine its performance in this region. Shortly after Eckener made a three day flight to Iceland, both trips completed without technical problems.

The initial idea was to rendezvous with the ill-fated "Nautilus", the U-boat of polar researcher George Hubert Wilkins, who was attempting a trip under the ice. This plan was abandoned when the U-boat encountered recurring technical problems, leading to its eventual scuttling in a Bergen fjord. [Ahern, J.J. [http://www.amphilsoc.org/library/exhibits/nautilus/nautilus.htm "finally sunk on November 20, 1931".] "The Nautilus", American Philosophical Society, 2000. Note: The scuttling was mandated by US-UK treaty.]

Eckener instead began to plan a rendezvous with a surface vessel. He intended funding to be secured by delivering mail post to the ship. After advertising, around fifty thousand letters were collected from around the world weighing a total of about 300 kilograms. The rendezvous vessel, the Russian icebreaker Malygin, on which the Italian airshipman and polar explorer Umberto Nobile was a guest, required another 120 kilograms of post. The major costs of the expedition were met solely by sale of postage stamps. The rest of the funding came from Aeroarctic and the Ullstein-Verlag in exchange for exclusive reporting rights.

The 1931 polar flight took one week from 24 June 1931 until the 31st. The Graf traveled about 10,600 kilometres, the longest leg without refueling was 8,600 kilometres. The average speed was 88 km/h.

* Friedrichshafen–Berlin – 600 km in 8 hours (75 km/h)
* Berlin–Leningrad – 1,400 km in 16 hours (87 km/h)
* Leningrad–Kanin – 1,300 km in 12 hours (108 km/h)
* Kanin–Franz-Joseph-Land – 1,200 km in 18 hours (67 km/h)
* Franz-Joseph-Land–Nordland–Taimyr–Nowaja Semlja – 2,400 km in 32 hours (75 km/h)
* Nowaja Semlja–Leningrad – 2,300 km in 25 hours (92 km/h)
* Leningrad–Berlin – 1,400 km in 13 hours (108 km/h)
* Berlin–Friedrichshafen – 600 km in 8 hours (75 km/h)

* Test the Graf Zeppelin under Arctic conditions
* scientific and geographic research of large areas of the Arctic
** measurement of magnetic field changes
** meteorological measurements (including weather balloon launches)
** geo-photographic recording of large areas with a panoramic camera (that would take years if by ship or by land)All participants were satisfied after the trip: the airship demonstrated its usefulness in the Arctic.

Middle East flights

, just an hour over four days after departure. The trip took 97 hours, covered 9,000 kilometres and crossed 14 countries on three continents.The highlights were:
* Launched 9 April at 06:10, following the Rhone valley and over Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, and Malta. By 05:15 the following morning Graf reached the African coast at Tripoli near Bengasi, then on towards Alexandria, the Bucht von Sollum at 09:00, flying over Alexandria at 13:00, following the Nile towards Cairo.
* Flew 200 metres over the Giza pyramid complex, over the Pyramid of Cheops, then following the Nile towards Heluan. Late evening reached the pyramid of Saqqara.
* Nightflight northwards along the Nile towards Damietta.
* 11 April at 5:15 landed at Almaza (Almasy) airfield near Cairo. British air force soldiers comprising the ground crew. Thirty thousand curious onlookers must be held back with fire hoses.
* After a short stayover, relaunched eastwards over the Suez canal and the bight of Gaza, 10:00 arriving in Jerusalem
* 100 metres over the Church of the Holy Sepulchre the engines were stopped and the ship floated "still" for several minutes.
* Fly over Shechem, Emmaus, the limestone mountains over the desert, 16:00 arrived at Cairo, 17:00 landed at Almaza, half hour stayover, resuming flying towards Siwa Oasis, (Libyan Desert). In the desert villages, many people fled into their huts before the airship.
* Night: the airship crossed over Tripoli, by morning it was over Crete, then along the Albanian coast towards towards Split in Dalmatia. The ship flew 1700 metres over the Karst hills. By 21:30 Agram in Yugoslavia, midnight Vienna, Passau, Augsburg, Ulm
* 7:00 lands at Friedrichshafen.

Golden age

, "Flying down to Rio" on board the giant liner of the skies, the GRAF-ZEPPELIN] .

Almost every flight had a reporter on board, who would radio a report to the ground via Morse Code. Such articles made Lady Drummond-Hay famous, and she would be pictured in advertisements featuring the Graf.Post & Tele Museum Danmark. [http://www.postogtelemuseet.dk/zeppex/en/enSkyNews.html News from the Sky] Lady Drummond advertising Lucky Strike cigarettes: "I smoke a Lucky instead of eating sweets"]

In October 1933, the "Graf Zeppelin" made an appearance at the Century of Progress World’s Fair in Chicago, after circling over the fair, [bomberguy 2008 from 09:00 to 09:30 circles then lands] then landing and relaunching 25 minutes later. Despite the beginning of the Great Depression and growing competition by fixed-wing aircraft, D-LZ127 would transport an increasing number of passengers and mail across the ocean every year until 1937. Post and cargo provided most of the income for operating the Graf. In one transatlantic flight the Graf would carry 52,000 postcards and 50,000 letters, and by its last flight it had carried 53 tonnes of mail. Since 1912 Zeppelins were allowed to postmark and sort mail onboard and the Graf managed to deliver South America-bound about a week faster than by ship. [Post & Tele Museum Danmark. [http://www.postogtelemuseet.dk/zeppex/en/enSkyOffice.html Luftskibet Kommer] images and movies on mail and cargo handling with the Graf] However in general the Deutsche Zeppelin Reederei made a loss each year. When the Hindenburg entered service in 1936 prospects became better and a profit was expected for 1937 by delivering mail on both it and the Graf, but the "Hindenburg's" loss in May 1937 put an end to all commercial Zeppelin service. [Jensen, Erik. [http://www.postogtelemuseet.dk/zeppex/en/article/DanishMailPerAir.html#_ftn10 Dansk Postbefordring med Luftskib] ]

uccessor abandoned

Dr. Eckener intended to supplement the successful craft by another, similar Zeppelin, projected as D-LZ128. However the disastrous accident of the British passenger airship "R101" in 1931 led the Zeppelin company to reconsider the safety of hydrogen-filled vessels, and the design was abandoned in favor of a new project. D-LZ129, which was to eventually be named the "Hindenburg", would advance Zeppelin technology considerably and was intended to be filled with helium. After the Hindenburg disaster the story arose that an embargo imposed by the United States because of the looming war prevented German access to the required large quantities of helium, leading to the conversion of the Hindenburg to a hydrogen design. However it is now known that Eckener was successful in lobbying the U.S. government for the purchase of helium but ruled it out on financial grounds.Fact|date=January 2008

End of an era

After the "Hindenburg" disaster in 1937, public faith in the safety of dirigibles was shattered, and flying passengers in hydrogen-filled vessels became untenable. D-LZ127 "Graf Zeppelin", which would have been incapable of flying with helium,Fact|date=July 2008 was retired one month past the disaster and turned into a museum. The end for the "Graf Zeppelin" came with the outbreak of World War II. In March 1940, Hermann Göring, the German Air Minister "(Reichsluftfahrtminister)", ordered the destruction of the remaining dirigibles, and the duralumin parts were fed into the German war industry.


During its career, the ship flew more than one and half million kilometres (thus becoming the first aircraft in history to fly over a million miles), 590 flights, and made 144 ocean crossings (143 across the Atlantic, one across the Pacific) carrying 13,110 passengers with a perfect passenger safety record, making it the most successful rigid airship ever built.

As evidence of how it caught the imagination of the world, a number of countries issued postage stamps either commemorating flights of the Zeppelin or for use on this (and later) airships. Some are fairly common, others quite rare. A considerable number of covers (envelopes) carried on flights still exist and are avidly collected.


met or eng?= met
capacity=20 passengers
length m=236.53
length ft=776
length in=0
span m=
span ft=
span in=
swept m=
swept ft=
swept in=
rot number=
rot dia m=
rot dia ft=
rot dia in=
dia m= 30.48
dia ft= 100
dia in= 0
width m=
width ft=
width in=
height m=
height ft=
height in=
wing area sqm=
wing area sqft=
swept area sqm=
swept area sqft=
rot area sqm=
rot area sqft=
volume m3= 105,000
volume ft3= 3,700,000
aspect ratio=
empty weight kg=
empty weight lb=
gross weight kg=
gross weight lb=
lift kg= 60,000
lift lb= 132,000
eng1 number=5
eng1 type=Maybach engines
eng1 kw= 410
eng1 hp= 550
eng1 kn=
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eng1 kn-ab=
eng1 lbf-ab=
eng2 number=
eng2 type=
eng2 kw=
eng2 hp=
eng2 kn=
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max speed kmh=128
max speed mph=80
max speed mach=
cruise speed kmh=
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range km=
range miles=
endurance h=
endurance min=
ceiling m=
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glide ratio=
climb rate ms=
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ee also

see also=
* D-LZ130 Graf Zeppelin II
similar aircraft=
* List of Zeppelins




* Archbold, Rick. "Hindenburg: An Illustrated History". Toronto: Viking Studio/Madison Press, 1994. ISBN 0-670-85225-2.
* Bomberguy. [http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=oVP2pZX2yGo Graf Zeppelin] Bomberguy Aviation History, selected clips. Retrieved: 11 June 2008.
* Botting, Douglas. "Dr. Eckener's Dream Machine: The Great Zeppelin and the Dawn of Air Travel." New York: Henry Holt & Co., 2001. ISBN 0-80506-458-3.
* Brewer, G. Daniel. "Hydrogen Aircraft Technology". Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 1991. ISBN 0-84935-838-8.
* Busch, Heinrich. [http://www.seefunknetz.de/lzzep.htm "Funkverkehr auf dem Luftschiff LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin".] (in German), 14 August 2006. Retrieved: 5 July 2008.
* Dick, Harold G. and Douglas H. Robinson. "The Golden Age of the Great Passenger Airships Graf Zeppelin & Hindenburg." Washington, D.C. and London: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1985. ISBN 1-56098-219-5.
* Duggan, John. "LZ 129 "Hindenburg": The Complete Story". Ickenham, UK: Zeppelin Study Group, 2002. ISBN 0-9514114-8-9.
* Geisenheyner, Max. "Mit 'Graf Zeppelin' Um Die Welt: Ein Bild-Buch." Frankfurt am Mein, Germany: Frankfurter Societäts-Druckerei G.m.b.H., 1929.
* "Honors to Dr. Hugo Eckener: The First Airship Flight Around the World." "National Geographic Magazine" Vol. LVII, No. 6, June 1930, pp. 653–688.
* Lehmann, Ernst. "Zeppelin: The Story of Lighter-than-air Craft". London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1937.
* Puget Sound Airship Society. [http://www.pugetairship.org/zeppelins/list_3.html "Zeppelin Airships 1918-1940", 2007.] Retrieved: 5 July 2008.
* Scherz, Walter. [http://jadu.de/luftfahrt/zeppelin/text/bau/bau.html "Bau und Einrichtung des Luftschiffes "Graf Zeppelin" (in German)- LZ127 in construction] JADU 2003. Retrieved: 2 June 2008.

External links

* [http://www.ezep.de/index.html eZEP.de] — The webportal for Zeppelin mail and airship memorabilia
* [http://rick_oleson.tripod.com/index-53.html Private photographs of Graf Zeppelin over Chicago’s World’s Fair, 1933]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVP2pZX2yGo The Graf Zeppelin] , courtesy of [http://www.youtube.com/user/Bomberguy Bomberguy]

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