Crew Areas and Keel

Other than the control car, the crew and work areas aboard Hindenburg were primarily located along the keel, including officer and crew sleeping quarters, the radio room, post office, electrical room, work rooms, and rope handling areas for the mooring lines.

Hindenburg keel - plan view (Drawing courtesy David Fowler)

Hindenburg keel – plan view (Drawing courtesy David Fowler)

Fuel, fresh water, and ballast tanks were also located along the keel, as were cargo storage areas. The keel also offered access to the engine cars, and the auxiliary control and docking station in the tail, and ladders at Rings 62, 123.5, and 188 offered access to the axial catwalk at the center of the ship.  A section of B Deck included Hindenburg’s kitchen and separate mess areas for the officers and crew.

Hindenburg Radio Room, Electrical Room, and Crew Sleeping Quarters

The area along the keel toward the bow of the ship included Hindenburg’s radio room, electrical room, and sleeping quarters for certain members of the crew.

Hindenburg keel, forward

Hindenburg keel, forward

Radio Room

Hindenburg Radio Room

Hindenburg Radio Room

Hindenburg’s radio room contained both long wave and short wave 200 watt radios, powered by batteries, which allowed the ship to communicate both telegraphically (by morse code) and also by voice.

Hindenburg’s long wave trasmitter had a 120 meter (393 foot) trailing antenna which could be deployed or retrieved with an electrically-powered winch; the short wave transmitter had a 26 meter (85 foot) trailing antenna which was manually deployed.  The ship also had a 15 meter (50 foot) fixed antenna which was used only for receiving.

In case of radio or electrical failure, there was also a small emergency radio set in the bow which was powered by a stationary bicycle attached to a small generator.

Hinenburg’s radio equipment also included direction finding navigation radios, which were located in the navigation room of the control car.

Electrical Room

Electrical power for the ship was provided by two 50-65 h.p. Daimler-Benz “OM-65” diesel engines connected to Siemens generators, located in an electrical room. The generators could produce 35 KW of electricity which was fed through two systems, one at 220 volts and one at 24 volts. Either motor by itself could produce enough electricity for the ship’s needs, allowing one to be shut down for maintenance without affecting the operation of the ship.

Hindenburg Electrical Room

Hindenburg Electrical Room

The electrical room also contained the ship’s master gyro compass and a 5.7 million candlepower Hefner searchlight which could illuminate the ground or sea below the ship.

The room was make of thick aluminum sheets and was entered through an airlock; the room was kept at positive pressure to prevent any free hydrogen from entering the room.  The electrical room also had a hatch for access to the outside when the airship was on the ground.

Sleeping Quarters for Officers and Crew

Sleeping quarters for the officers and crew were located within the hull of the ship along the keel. The officers shared a compartment with twelve bunks, located in Bay 14 just forward of the control car, and the commander had a private cabin in the same area. There was a 22-bunk sleeping area for the crew in Bay 11, just aft of the passenger accommodations, and there were twelve additional bunks located toward the stern in Bay 5.

Hindenburg Crew Bunks

Hindenburg crew bunks, along the keel

Hindenburg Cargo Storage

The Hindenburg’s keel also contained several areas for storage of cargo and freight.

Cargo storage along Hindenburg's keel

Cargo storage along Hindenburg’s keel

Hindenburg B Deck: Kitchen and Mess Areas

The port section of B Deck, just below the main passenger deck, housed the ship’s kitchen, connected by a dumbwaiter to the serving pantry on A Deck, and separate mess areas for the officers and the crew.

B Deck (Drawing courtesy David Fowler)

Hindenburg galley on B Deck

Hindenburg galley on B Deck


Hindenburg galley on B Deck

B Deck: Crew mess, with photographs of Hitler and Hindenburg (left); Officers mess (right)

B Deck: Crew mess, with photographs of Hitler and Hindenburg (left); Officers mess (right)

64 Comments on "Crew Areas and Keel"

  1. 1.Using modern avionics and material now available would it be possible with either helium or hydrogen to build a working airship using the Hindenburg design.

    • Bartholomew Busby | May 31, 2017 at 2:10 pm | Reply

      With advances in solar electricity collection and computer navigation, another Hindenburg disaster would be nearly impossible, even without using non-flammable helium, by removing all combustion aspects from the plans. Alas, it would be like rebuilding the Titanic, the ships are obsolete, too expensive, too temperamental, and too slow

  2. I understand that the original mast on the top of the Empire State Building was intended to be a mooring mast for dirigibles. If this was true, how did the passengers (or even the crew) embark or disembark from the ship? It would seem to me that you would have to have a lounge, or at least a walkway at the same level as the passenger area, where people would walk on, and it doesn’t seem that this would have been possible if you just had the ship tied up to a mast on the top of a skyscraper, for example.

    • The Empire State building was never intended as a mooring mast for airships. The problem, however, wasn’t necessarily the ability to board or disembark through the bow; although neither Graf Zeppelin nor Hindenburg had passenger access at the bow, the British airships did board and disembark passengers exactly that way.

    • The observation level on floor 102 of the Empire State Building was intended to be the embarkment / disembarkment walkway. (Info from Wikipedia).

      • “Info from Wikipedia” says it all. 🙂

        • Beg to differ,

          “Alfred E. Smith, the leader of a group of investors erecting the Empire State Building,” announced that the height of the building would be increased by 200 feet so that a mooring mast for dirigibles could be installed. Smith noted that passengers would exit the airship down a gangplank, and a mere seven minutes later could be on the street, ready to experience everything Manhattan had to offer.

          Link to the Air and Space magazine article online

          Also the NY Times Article online

          Was it a workable plan? Probably not for routine travel with the complexities of mooring a dirigible, but it was a plan and there were attempts made.

          • Richard Aiken | October 6, 2016 at 2:33 am | Reply

            Considering that midair refueling at jet cruising speeds is a fairly routine procedure for modern air forces, you could probably manage to moor an airship to the Empire State building without too much trouble (assuming you first dealt with the various antennas now in the way). For example, the end of a lightweight messenger cable from the mast could be sent out attached to a small drone, the airship catches the drone, then reels in the actual mooring cable, then the mast reels in the airship. Of course, you would want to include a set of hoses to accept any vented water ballast or you would get complaints (and probably law suits) from the folks below. NOTE: If you’re a fan of the Fringe T.V. series, in the alternate reality of that show, the Empire State building actually does have a functioning airship terminal on it’s observations deck. There is at least one scene (although I forget the episode number) in which we see characters making a rendezvous there, as passengers debark in the background.

  3. Barry V Redmond | May 15, 2015 at 11:28 am | Reply

    What a great informative insight into the Hindenberg. The photos of the interior are priceless. Such a refined civilized way to travel, no jetlag, comfortable surroundings, and just such a shame it had a disastrous ending. It will forever be remembered like the Titanic.Thank you for compiling this amazing webpage.Cheers!!!

  4. Mickey Hanson | May 2, 2015 at 2:48 pm | Reply

    I understand meals were served in shifts. What were the shifts?

  5. Sunday, 29 Mar 2015.

    My left eye is on the Smithsonian Channel Hindenburg video and my right eye is deep in this website. Absolutely fascinating!

  6. I have been very keen listening, watching films and reading stories about the Hindenburg Air Ship. I have grown to be very interested in the history.
    So I have decided to build a radio control model which I commenced two years ago and still in construction. My aim to introduce the air craft in flight
    The size of the ship is 2.6 metres long by 0.5 metres wide
    Cannot wait until the day arrive to complete

    Louis Brewsell

  7. Nathan Van Coops | March 24, 2014 at 8:48 pm | Reply

    Hello Dan,

    Great photos and information. Your site and Patrick Russell’s have been extraordinary in their explanations. I have two questions that I have not been able to find answers to so I thought I would ask. #1 Is there any information on the second dog being carried on board? I know that Ulla was a German Shepherd or Alsation belonging to Spah, but was curious to know if there was any more information about the second dog. I read on Patrick’s site that it was going to a Fred Muller in PA but no other details. Question #2- Was the car you posted photos of in the cargo area on board the airship on the final flight?
    Appreciate any info you can share. Thanks for sharing the hard work you’ve done here so far. Fascinating stuff.

    • Hi Nathan,

      I’m glad you like the blog. I’m always glad to see that folks are finding it and learning new things from it.

      Unfortunately, I’ve never found much information about Fred Muller’s dog, who was lost along with Spah’s dog Ulla in the Hindenburg crash. Other than the fact that Mr. Muller was from, I believe, Philadelphia, the only other information I ever found was in Dieter Leder’s exceptional book, “LZ-129 HINDENBURG, ZEPPELIN CRASH MAIL.” In it he mentions the fact that Spah and the two dogs (which Herr Leder erroneously mentions as having both belonged to Spah) arrived along with a last minute batch of freight and mail on the very last airplane from Berlin just prior to the Hindenburg’s flight. In fact, the Hindenburg delayed its originally scheduled 8:00 PM departure time to await the arrival of this plane and its contents.

      However, I’ve never found out what sort of dog it was, or how it came to be shipped to Mr. Muller aboard the Hindenburg. I’m sure there was a story there to be found at one time, but it’s probably lost to history by now.


  9. So the radio room had batteries and these were wired up to the radios which were in turn connected to very long trailing antenna.

    Or should I say, lightening rod?

    Given what we are finding out with the Dreamliner batteries, how about this scenario. Lightening hits the antenna, travels into the radio room and explodes the batteries, starting the fire. Alternatively, wouldn’t there also be batteries for starting the diesel engines? Or for powering the lights on board. What if those batteries, near the engine fumes exploded and cause the fire.

    As far as I can see the hydrogen had nothing to do with disaster. Hydrogen floats upward. Once an air sac was ruptured, it would quickly fly upward. The only effect of this would have been to allow the craft to gently float down and save many lives.

    Call me a revisionist, but I wonder if it was the batteries that killed people and the hydrogen that saved a few!

    • No it wouldn’t “Float upward” the ignition of the H would have completely travel throughout the air sacs as seen by the thrust of flame through the nose in the video(film) of the disaster. You are not a revisionist just another unscientifically informed individual! More than likely another conspiracy theorist! We do have enough of those. Seen any flying saucers lately?

    • The Hindenburg’s radio room was near the forward control cab of the airship, almost 600 feet away from the place where witnesses saw fire erupt initially on 6 May, 1937. The fire was first seen just forward of the upper fin of the Hindenburg and was likely ignited by static electricity just after the Hindenburg dropped her mooring lines into the wet earth below. Perhaps when the ships static charge which she accumulated during the passage through the ionized air of the recent thundershower discharged when the mooring lines touched the ground, that may have been the impetus of the arcing across her wet outer hull that started the fire. No radio aerial dangling from the Hindenburg touched the ground during that landing maneuver and would have been wound in during the landing.

      • Interesting theories. There is film of them trying to shoot down airships in WW1 with incendiary bullets. They could shoot a flaming bullet through the hydrogen bladder and out the other side without damaging the ship. There is no oxygen in the bladder so the hydrogen will not burn. In order to get it burning, enough hydrogen has to be trapped in an open area with air (not in the bladder), and an ignition source has to be applied. Note how careful they were to keep the engine rooms isolated with air locks and positive pressure. I am curious how the fire got started. Like John said, free hydrogen outside – perhaps being release to decrease buoyancy during landing – would quickly float upward and away from danger. Some other flammable material – fuel? may have started or accelerated the thing. Batteries? Well, maybe, but despite the Dreamliner problem with lithium batteries, older lead acid batteries used before that have been plenty safe in planes for decades. Electrical short starting something else on fire? maybe.

  10. peter petraccoro | September 15, 2012 at 11:23 pm | Reply

    where are the names of the deceased at ground zero at lakehurst? i have been at the site and there is no mention of anyone that perished. what happened to the mooring mast and the wreckage? this site is a memorial?
    peter petraccoro

  11. Carl Seitz STS 3 SS | June 11, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Reply

    On photos #19 and #20 which show the first and second shots of the explosion, two cylindrical/tank shaped objects are seen falling from the Airship. I think I read somewhere that these were the water ballast tanks, is this in fact what they are? This submarine sailor is very curious too know the correct answer.

    • One of the two (the one further forward) is definitely a 2500 liter waste water tank. The aft-most one is probably either a ballast water or drinking water tank, but since it was in a cluster with fuel and lubrication oil tanks and that part of the ship was smashed up so badly, there’s no way to tell for sure from the wreckage photos what tank was missing from that area of the ship.

  12. I have always wondered, what kind of food was served during the flights? Is there a website or book with some of the menu listing for the Graf Zeppelin or the Hindenburg?

    • They ate very well aboard both the Hindenburg and the Graf Zeppelin which were both run by the same corporation, Deutsche Zeppelin Reederei. The fare was comperable to that of any first rate restaurant or hotel in Germany at the time.

      Here’s a sampling from a menu off the Graf Zeppelin on her around the world tour;

      On Board
      Airship Graf Zeppelin
      Tokyo – Los Angeles

      Sixth Day – Dinner

      Fillet of Anchovies, Pate de foie gras,,(obscured)
      Beef Tea
      Cold “Kamakura” Ham
      Asparagus Tips
      Cheese and,,(obscured)

      A typical Atlantic crossing on the Hindenburg used up 440 pounds of fresh meat and poultry, 800 eggs, and 220 pounds of butter.

      One account from a traveler on the Graf;
      “We found ourselves in a pleasant room getting aquainted over a midnight supper of lamb chops and peas, caviar, and white wine. No steamship ever rode more evenly in a calm sea.”

      The fare was served on custom-designed flatware ornamented with the Zeppeling corporate logo trimmed with gold, all over a white linen tablecloth with service provided by white jacketed waiters. It was top brow and was the Concorde of the day.

      Sources: (my coffee table LTA books)
      1. The Giant Airships – Douglas Botting (Time Life Books)
      2. The Hindenburg – an illustrated history – Rick Archbold

  13. In 1926 Graf Zeppelin was in need to rise funds for its operation. One of the strategy that servers as a double purpose: to rises the funds and to prove that this transportation were save is to travel around the globe. He needs $250,000.00. Mr Randolph Hearts put $150,00.00 provide his was allow to record the trek. the rest of th funds came from the mail.

    I wonder if you can tell me where I can buy a copy of that picture.

  14. This website is a mine of info, but there’s always something else!

    Q1. Was there a strict no-smoking policy for Hindenburg’s crew, with matches and lighters being handed in before flight, as with the passengers? Or was a blind eye turned to crew members smoking in certain places, e.g. the Elecrtic Room, which was pressurised like the passengers’ Smoking Room?

    Q2. Was all the cooking done by electricity?

    • I have heard conflicting reports about crew smoking. The cooking was definitely all electric.

    • The Hindenburg sported a pressurized smoking room on “B” deck with it’s own little bar. The lighters were electric like what would be found in a car and were attached to cords. Since the passengers would smoke freely in the smoking lounge, it wouldn’t be beyond the realm of imagination that the officers (whose ward room was close by on “B” deck also) might wander into the smoking room too and share a smoke with the passengers. I doubt the crew was permitted to mingle with or access the smoking room and I seriously doubt they would sneak a smoke somewhere in the ship. Would you play with matches in the middle of an oil storage tank?

  15. Walter Allen | August 6, 2011 at 7:44 am | Reply

    Im a big fan and collecter of Airship Akron memorabelia but have long been curious of the Hindenburg’s interior. This site has answered every question. Thank you so very much for this information.

    • There’s a full scale replica in Europe of the Hindenburg’s “A” and “B” decks complete with a lower section of the hull and the aluminum fold down stairs recreated in detail. You get to climb the stairs just like passengers did and explore half of the passenger accommodations. The replica is located in the Zeppelin Company Museum in Friedrichschafen, Germany. Look up a tourist’s video of his exploration of the replica on YouTube.

  16. What great article .. Keep up the good work .. You have one of the best blogs …

  17. Count me as another novelist who found your website invaluable, Dan. For my 1937-set adventure novel on Kindle, The Terrible Troll, my original research had given me only the haziest idea of how B Deck was laid out; you set me straight. The automobile traveling as freight made its way into the story in later drafts, and the story of the captain jumping off the keel walkway. Your readers would recognize where I took liberties (such as a passenger tour going up into the axial passage) for the sake of plot or character, but I hope that’s forgiven for the sake of showcasing the Hindenburg for three chapters.

  18. WARREN SMITH | June 19, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Reply

    Just wonderful! I remember seeing the USS Akron and Macon flying around San Diego in the early thirties. Unforgetable! While at Douglas Aircraft Product Support I was assigned to participate in an airship study in late 1969! I spent 7-years near Zeppelinheim, Germany and visited the museum at Friedrichshafen. I even rode the Goodyear blimp Europa in 1973. What a great way to travel if one has the time and money. I just visited Akron, OH and saw the airdock for the first time. I had seen the hangar at Sunnyvale, CA several times. It is encouraging to note Lockheed-Martin has an airship concept under developement and is hiring people at the Akron site. You have done very well – Keep it up – – Warren

  19. I’m curious about a couple of things: I assume that the cargo areas and crew bunks in the keel were enclosed rooms, but what about the walkway? Was it open to the rest of the ship? And was the bulk of the hull taken up by gas cells, or were there large open areas traversed by the axial catwalk? What an amazing experience it must have been to go for a stroll in that cavernous space.

    And finally, I’ve seen astonishing pics of crew members on the outside of a rigid airship’s hull in midflight, lowering another crew member (who must have drawn the short straw) down the hull to repair a tear. I assume those weren’t staged. Did the crew of the Hindenburg ever have to go outside in midflight? If so, how did you access the outside? Ladders from the axial catwalk to some kind of trap door?

    Wonderful site, by the way. Is there a book out that contains pics and large diagrams of airships such as the ones you have on your site? The best I’ve found is the Time-Life book. Many thanks.

    • The keel was an open area; crew bunks provided some privacy as seen in the photos. The axial walkway went through the center of the gas cells and access was limited to the riggers. There were several hatchways at various places in the hull.

  20. Neat!!! I have looked for years for a set of plan drawings showing how these ships were laid out! Thanks for including them. I found them hard to see and make sense of so… are full sized drawings available?

  21. What are the issues restricting building these airships today for passenger, freight and tourism purposes? Would seem that the designs are scalable and the lifting gases vastly more safe, affordable and transportable. I would see using these for airlifting large, heavy objects like modular housing into remote areas. Or, tourists on close proximity / low impact tours of African wildlife or Carribbean reefs.

    • The issues restricting airships is lack of public knowledge. If someone can prepare a marketing package based on good research that can outline and introduce people to another way to travel. Jet flights are now akin to riding a transit bus and flying heavier than air craft is no longer the romantic event as it was before. The world at 36,000 feet altitude is not the world in which we live. The land 3500 feet below is still within the senses of the flyer with sights, smells and even sounds that can be shared from below.
      This marketing package should drive interest in investment towards passenger-carrying airships that are more than just 8 passenger, hour long joy rides. The Zeppelin NT adds a measure of decency with operable windows, a rear “window” seat, and even a privy with a view. Given the success of this little ship, the future is bright for this very green way of getting somewhere in a far more relaxed, less crowded and more intimate manner.
      The challenges towards the development of the large passenger airship are numerous, but not insurmountable. The first is the financial factors – airships are cheap to operate when considering fuel and maintenance costs. Storage sheds, fabrication facilities are practically non-existent and will have to be reallocated from what clear area is left for development. A possible solution is a floating hanger in a round, man-made lake allowing 360 degree rotation to the local winds like the Count did over a 100 years ago.
      Another challenge is available landing sites, passenger embarking / disembarking sites. Large airships can operate out of airports, providing there is equipment to handle them and secure them to the ground. The USN perfected the short mast, and it would work here again to great advantage. The short mast is portable and can turn a basic open field into a mooring field in a day.
      The last challenge is to seek the clients who will want to pay the premium to fly slower, lower and longer. The trick is to make that longer, slower experience as enjoyable as possible in ways not typical to cruise ships. Water usage would be limited as what is used must be lifted ultimately.
      The future is certainly ripe for this to happen. The public, (seniors, flight enthusiasts, business venture explorers, and global travelers) would see this means of going somewhere as a wonderful way to travel for simple doing it differently. The possibility to migrate south with the geese at their altitude, or to see the coast of Greek Islands.

      • Tony Deakins | June 6, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Reply

        All are good points. When one consider how many regional airports and small town airports exist that do not or no longer have airline patronage, airships could be just the right thing. They would not have to lengthen their runways and there is not much traffic to interfer with landing and departure operations for the airshop. Also, there is this 500 mile gap between how far people will drive (1,000 miles). There are campaigns on now to fill this with high-speed rail. If we start today, that will take at least 50 years before rails and trains can be put into place. Worse, once they are, they are immovable. As demographics change, airship routes can be easily changed. Then there is the tourist value of flying low along the coastline or through the hils during the fall. The question remaining is; how is airship travel affected by weather since they cannot fly above turbulent conditions and they would be slow to navigate around fast-moving weather patterns?

        • Airships, like fixed wing aircraft are all affected by the weather. However an airship’s critical moments are when it’s close to the ground either in landing or take off maneuvers. That’s when accidents usually happen as is the case too with fixed wing aircraft.

          All the past disasters with airships that were directly related to weather were based on the fact that the crew of the airships had no direct or reliable weather data systems aboard besides what was telegraphed to them over the wireless (spotty reception during electrical discurbances) and direct visual observation (usually too late then). We now have doppler radar that is accessible through a nationwide net of systems giving instantaneous data to the airship as to the location of winds and turbulence, as well as instant data from the many, many more ground weather stations that are in place now as opposed to 80 years ago.

          The ability to foresee weather is 9/10ths of the battle in avoiding it, and creating seamless contingencies. And with a airship that has a phenominally low fuel consumption rate, the only issue with a delay in landing due to weather is if the champagne and beer run out before the fuel does.

  22. Excellent site!
    Is there a provisions list in existence for the Hindenburg for a typical voyage?

  23. Based on the diagrams of the Hindenburg that I’ve seen, it looks like the only way to get from the keel corridor was by walking through the purser’s cabin and the airlock. Was that true? Seems that like would have been an excessively tedious journey.

    • Yes, the purser’s cabin was the only access between the keel and the passenger accommodations; while it may have been inconvenient in some ways, the designers wanted strict control over access to the hull.

  24. I’ve been researching galleys on seafaring ships for a few weeks and stumbled on your blog. Although your galley pictures are from an airship, it was nice to see them included for comparison.

  25. Barry Hudson | July 18, 2010 at 6:48 pm | Reply

    What is the largest Zeppelin still inuse

  26. In your layouts of the Hindenburg, there are numerous oval-shaped objects along the Keel. Are those storage containers for fuel or something else entirely? I was also under the impression that there was a lookout post on the tail. Is that just something that was on American airships or am I off altogether? One last thing, on the vertical lines that are labeled as gas vents, were there also ladders there for crew to be able to go from the keel to the axial corridor, and then up to the top, or is that just Hollywood nonsense? (The Rocketeer)

  27. Allen Kretschmar | July 6, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Reply

    I am currently writing an adventure story in which part of the action takes place on a Zeppelin like the Hindenburg. I have a question–if someone on the airship wanted to blow it up intentionally, what would be the most dramatic or effective way to do this? (the villains are Nazis using Zeppelins for a bombing attack on England–I know the Hindenburg didn’t carry bombs–it’s just my model) Thanks in advance, and I’ll send you a free copy of the book when it comes out! Allen

  28. I’m contemplating writing a pulp adventure story set on a very “Hindenburg-esque” zeppelin. This site has been a fantastic resource. I was wondering if any details of the cargo areas are available, or at least how cargo was generally loaded? I’m purely an amateur who may not even get the story off the ground, so to speak, so I don’t need any great detail.

    Thanks in advance if anyone can lend a hand.

    • Cargo was loaded through hatches in the hull, and stored along the keel. I have photos of various items of cargo being winched aboard LZ-129 (including automobiles and aircraft), and if you get closer to writing your story and need additional information, let me know.

      • Very cool. Thank you. Basically at this point I just have scene in mind getting the ‘macguffin’ (a rather large crate) into the ship. If they were pulling autos up into the thing I’m sure my crate will fit nicely. Would of course love to see the pictures if you get a chance but that’s as much from a “want to see it ALL” standpoint as anything else. Thanks again.

  29. John Bennetts | June 17, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Reply

    Fascinating site. Thank you.

  30. Christian Hatton | June 3, 2010 at 12:54 am | Reply

    Hey there i was just woundering, is there a way for the men in the control car to get to the Hull(i know its a wierd question but i dont see a way to in the plans)

  31. What a way to travel

  32. They just don’t build ’em like they used to!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.