Ludwig Dürr was the chief designer of all airships built by the Zeppelin Company with the sole exception of the very first zeppelin, LZ-1, which he helped build.
Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin made Dürr his chief designer when the Count’s first engineer, Kübler, who had designed LZ-1, refused to fly in his own creation. After Zeppelin was forced to dismantle his first ship and cease operations for lack of funds in 1900, Dürr was the sole employee who continued to work for Zeppelin, and he remained with the Zeppelin Company until 1945.
In addition to working as a designer, Dürr was also trained as an airship pilot, and he commanded the zeppelins LZ-5 (Z-II), LZ-6, and LZ-7 Deutschland.
In the very first ship he designed, LZ-2, Dürr made major and important engineering improvements, such as replacing the weak tubular girders of LZ-1, which had allowd the hull to twist and hog in flight, with triangular girders which provided the rigidity necessary for a successful airship.
Dürr was known for his conservative to approach to design, which was partly out of conviction, and partly because he recognized that his strength was in empirical design — learning from trial-and-error and previous experience — rather than a more theoretical or mathematical approach, which he left to others (such as Karl Arnstein for stress analysis, and Paul Jaray for aerodynamic design). But there is no doubt that Dürr’s commitment to using time-tested, tried-and-true designs resulted in strong, sturdy ships.
Ludwig Dürr was born on June 4, 1878, and died on January 1, 1956.