Hindenburg Statistics

Size comparison between LZ-129 Hindenburg and Boeing 747

Size comparison between LZ-129 Hindenburg and Boeing 707

LZ-129 Hindenburg statistics:

  • Length: 803.8 feet
  • Diameter: 135.1 feet
  • Gas capacity: 7,062,000 cubic feet
  • Lift: 511,500 lbs
  • Cruising Speed: 125 km/h (76 MPH)
  • Maximum Speed: 135 km/h (84 MPH)
  • Main Powerplant: 4 Daimler-Benz 16-cylinder LOF 6 (DB 602) Diesels
  • Crew: 40 flight officers and men, 10-12 stewards and cooks
  • Passengers: 50 sleeping berths (1936); 72 sleeping berths (1937)
  • First flight: March 4, 1936
  • Final flight: Crashed, May 6, 1937

Additional specifications and technical details are available on the following pages of this website:

Relative sizes of LZ-11 Viktoria Luise, LZ-120 Bodensee, LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin. and LZ-129 Hindenburg

Relative sizes of LZ-11 Viktoria Luise, LZ-120 Bodensee, LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin. and LZ-129 Hindenburg

caprip

Hindenburg profile, showing major elements and numbering system for gas cells and frames. Drawing courtesy David Fowler. (click to enlarge)

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{ 75 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen McGuire April 16, 2014 at 11:26 pm

The Hindenburg is so amazing. I wish I was there in 1930′s to witness it magnificence. Thanks to this article. Very interesting!

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Martin September 19, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Just a thought, consider the ramifications of using several airships in tandem with a platform and selling the idea to NASA or the military as a platform for space travel. This moves the public safety factors due to a different set of regulations that the Military and NASA use and it will drasticly reduce the amount of fuel to leave the earth’s gravity. My thoughts are based on 1940-1950 sci-fi, but the theory is still sound. Add that to the fact that only the government will spend $2500 on a toliet seat.

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Cody November 8, 2013 at 2:55 pm

At sea level every liter of helium is about 1 gram lighter then the air it replaces. As you get higher, the air is thinner and thus weighs less. If you gain only half a gram since the air your replacing is lighter, you wont have enough lift to lift the ship. You still have to factor in the weight of the ship. As you get higher it becomes harder to lift the ship. The good year blimps have a service ceiling of 10,000 feet and cruise at 3000. To make a space ship would be almost impossible.

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jack June 27, 2014 at 2:33 pm

You are missing the point. If you can lift a rocket to 18000 feet for example, you are above 50 percent of the mass of the atmosphere. SO you use dramatically lees fuel.

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Dave November 10, 2013 at 11:20 pm

Hi Martin,

What kind of altitude are you expecting to achieve by this method, and what would be on the platform?

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Rob November 12, 2013 at 4:21 am

That very idea has been studied in the US and USSR multiple times over multiple decades. It is very hard to do with a useful sized booster rocket. Among other issues ground handling remains an immense problem for any large airship and making the airships rigid enough to withstand the stress concentrations involved in hanging large suspended live loads. Airships also only give you height, and only then perhaps 20,000-25,000ft with a reasonable airship with a reasonable payload to justify bothering trying, they do not give you velocity like an air launch plane does at potentially much greater heights. Sure you can build balloons to go much higher, but this runs into its own worlds of pain. If you want crack smoking nonsense taking to the extreme, look up the ‘Ascender airship’. It was never going to work but the concept is comical awesome.

Overall space access is one of the most studied and least built topics in scientific history, and the reason is simply that nothing actually works that much better then large multiple stage rockets with present day technology.

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Francisco Carvallo August 24, 2013 at 12:52 am

Dan,
Please don’t forget to add the height of the Hindenburg: I found it the ship was 149 feet tall.
Best Regards,

Francisco

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roger April 30, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Remember this old airships was running weekly between europe-south ameica and europe-new york for a decade without any crash before hindenburg burn up in new york with dangerous gas, now days they use safe gas. So why should it happen something .a crash, now days. People flying ballons all over the world wish are much more dangerous, with few incidents.

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roger April 30, 2013 at 5:16 pm

If they could build a Hindenburg for 80 years ago, of course you can do better and cheaper nowdays.They were using animal skins to cover the balloon, aluminium was a problem,old engines etc…. Forget cabins and long hauls flights between newyork and london.There is nothing to see. But short trips between london and paris and paris to milano over the alps will be something very special, cruising in around 150km per hour with no noise and calm. Or travelling over the mediterranien for a week with cabins. champagne , nice lunch etc…I think it can happen very soon.

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douglas prosser March 7, 2013 at 10:57 pm

Dear Sir I remember the airship going over my house in Brecon I was 9 year old my father and me coould hear music in it. it was very large there was a large wood by my home and the air ship was bigger.it was a lovely evening about 9pm. Youre Truly Douglas

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Dan B. March 11, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Mr. Prosser,

I was just viewing a program on television on the Hindenburg. When I saw your post I found it quite intriguing that you have so accurately described the sheer size of the airship as well as being able to hear music as it flew over. I’m sure that was a very special evening for you and your father.

Best Regards,

Dan Bissett

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Anthony Chiofalo February 14, 2013 at 11:15 am

As an AM in the Navy I attended LTA non-pilot School at Lakehurst NJ in early 1952 when the Hindenberg mast still stood and Admiral Rosendahl was in residence on the base. I was a rigger in my Squadron, ZP-4 stationed in Weeksville NC, flying K ships and training for ASW even though we knew the Airship future was limited and helicopter were already preparing to usurp our rescue mission.

The proximity to the Hindenberg mast, the hangar (stil standing) and the history of the Hindenberg which I saw over New York City early on its final day as a child has held keen interest for me ever since, Thanks for all the fascinating chat on this site.

TONY CHI

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Rod Burgess January 19, 2013 at 2:36 pm

There’s much discussion here on the viability of large passenger or freight airships today. Sadly, much of that discussion is well-meaning but I feel that a lot of it misses the point.

I have had a lifelong fascination with the great rigid ships of the past; I have almost 1,000 flight hours as an airship pilot with Airship Industries on the Skyship 500, 500HL and 600, though, sadly, I now fly boring old big jets. I live 400 yards from the old First World War airship station at Howden in Yorkshire, England, where the R100 was built. No-one, and I mean no-one, would love more than I to see a rebirth of the giant rigids. Sadly, I think there is utterly no chance of this ever happening.

To get a project such as a new aircraft up and running, the idea needs:

1. to be feasible from an engineering point of view (we know this is so: our forefathers did it with much less advanced materials and techniques than we now have),

2. to attract enough money to fund it (more of a problem, especially if investors see no hope of a return once the ship is flying),

3. to be acceptable to the public and regulators, so that the project is not blocked (crash another Hindenburg and no government on Earth would let you continue), and

4. either to make a profit or so to catch the imagination that people will continue to fund a loss-making operation (even more difficult).

Examine those requirements one at a time…

1. There is no question that we have the technology to build a 300m-long, rigid airship. The learning curve would be steep, since all the expertise gained between 1900 and 1940 has been lost. However, modern advances in composites and alloys, computing (not least for structure design and stress analysis), engines, propulsor technology, control systems, avionics etc, would make a lighter, stronger, more damage tolerant, more controllable aircraft than Hugo Eckener and Ludwig Durr could ever have imagined.

Ships as badly designed and poorly engineered as the R38/ZR2 or the R101 would never be allowed out of the hangar today. In those pre-computer days, stress calculations were a nightmare and the resulting component design was largely a matter of inspired guesswork and over-engineering (read Neville Shute’s “Slide Rule”). The inadequacy of the flight testing of these two ships in particular beggars belief and would not be repeated under present conditions.

Many of the great ships fell victim to primitive weather forecasting and knowledge of atmospheric phenomena. Our current level of skill and knowledge in this area might have avoided the loss of the ZR4 and ZR5, the R101 and even, possibly the LZ129 herself.

Verdict: Requirement 1 can be met.

2. The cost of the build would be truly breathtaking! First, you either obtain the use of one of the very few airship sheds still in existence (eg Lakehurst, Cardington, Moffet, Weeksville) and spend a king’s ransom refitting it to suit the construction of your behemoth, or you buy land, clear your flying field, build your shed from scratch, construct mooring mast and handling facilities, lay in road and rail access, design and fabrication facilities, domestic accommodation etc, and build a gas manufacture and/or storage plant.

Now you can start to build the ship! That will be even more expensive. You’ll be using a lot of new technology so R&D will be a major factor. Things never go according to plan, so expect huge cost and time overruns (ask Boeing about the B787 or Airbus about the A380).
In sum, you’re going to be looking for many hundreds of millions (in any currency you choose). So you need either a Bill Gates who thinks it would be fun to spend his hard-earned cash on a novelty project or commercial investment from hard-nosed individuals and corporations who see a realistic possibility of making a profit in a reasonable length of time. I think we can rule out national governments forking out unless they see huge military potential, which is vanishingly unlikely (witness the USN/NASP experience with the ill-fated Sentinel programme).

Verdict: Requirement 2 is unlikely to be met.

3. The outside world and especially the authorities would need to be convinced that your airship is safe (they don’t want it falling out of the sky on London or New York; they don’t want it breaking up and killing its crew and passengers), environmentally sound (I can’t see them letting you line the gasbags with cow intestines, or fuel your engines with high-sulphur coal, and your construction methods must be ‘clean and green’), and socially responsible (you can’t have third-world children in sweatshops stitching the outer cover, or make so much noise and nuisance that the public complain; you can’t drop ballast or dump fuel all over the place).

The regulators would require vast insurance indemnity against third party claims. Try insuring any prototype and they laugh at you; try insuring what they would see as a totally untried technology demonstrator with the potential to kill hundreds and wreck several city blocks and they’ll have apoplexy! Having no insurance for a thing like this almost certainly means no government permission to build, let alone fly it.

Verdict: Requirement 3 is possibly unlikely to be met.

4. Running costs are where things really fall apart! Notwithstanding the problems with Requirements 2 and 3, if there’s a profit to be made, someone will manage to go ahead and build the thing. In our mercenary world, without the reasonable certainty of a profit, you can forget the whole idea. If it is clear that losses will continue, nobody will fund the project, however romantic the image of a great silver liner of the skies.

In the UK, public subscription and philanthropic contributions have permitted a group of dedicated enthusiasts to keep one retired, cold war era Vulcan heavy bomber flying at airshows for a few years. The costs have been immense, despite volunteers working for no pay, despite suppliers donating equipment, services and consumables. The whole thing captured the public imagination and millions have been given to keep this national symbol in the air. Nevertheless, shortage of funds and the cost of the operation mean it will come to an end next year. Despite precedents such as the funding of the LZ127 by the German public, no modern airship programme could be started or continued unless an operating profit were almost certain.

Despite the ‘Concorde syndrome’ novelty value and the possible social cachet of cruising in style and luxury from Europe to America, or from America to Japan, there is a limit to what a relatively small pool of potential customers would pay for their tickets. As for freight, the only market would be for items too large or heavy to travel on an aeroplane such as the Antonov 124 and which could not be delivered by sea. Again, a relatively small pool. In both cases, you are looking at a small number of high-value transactions. The income from passengers would never be sufficient to turn a profit. Freight might just hold out some hope: huge sums will be paid where absolutely no other transport solution is possible, as in the case of ocean tugs and giant oil platforms.

There has been much argument here about fuel consumption and costs, with disagreement about how to compare efficiency of airships and jumbo jets and even about what units to use. The two aircraft are chasing different markets. What actually matters is a comparison between total cost per passenger kilometre and achievable ticket income per passenger kilometre (for freight read ‘cost per tonne kilometre’ and ‘income per tonne kilometre’). In other words: “How much will enough people pay to fly in luxury from Frankfurt to New York or to cruise the Greek islands and will that ticket price cover my costs?”

The costs of running a passenger aircraft of any type are far more than the price of the fuel. You have to figure in construction and R&D loan interest repayments, airship capital value depreciation or lease charges, insurance, admin and support costs (office staff and equipment, design staff, construction staff and tooling, training, testing, regulatory and certification charges), passenger handling costs (terminal buildings, ticketing, advertising, in flight catering etc), employment costs for support staff, ground, engineering and flight and cabin crew, maintenance, overhaul and repair of the ship, spare parts holdings, fuel and other consumables, tax – and on and on! Someone has to launder the passengers’ bedding; someone has to drive the fuel truck; someone has to answer the phone. Remember that many of these costs are incurred even if the ship is on the ground, and they start long before first flight.

The number of people directly involved in operating the ship (ground crew, flight crew, cabin crew) was huge in the days of the Hindenburg. Modern technology would reduce the number of technical crew greatly but a large number of flight attendants would still be needed (ask the captain of a cruise liner what percentage of his crew are sailors and engineers and what percentage are in the passenger service department). Fuel is expensive but people are too.

I believe it costs about US$150,000 per month to lease a 15-20 year old Boeing 767 and almost US$1.5 million per month to lease a new 787! The 767 might have a resale value of around US$700 million, while our 300m airship might be worth 20-30 times as much. Those are dry lease charges: they do not include fuel, consumables or crew costs, nor insurance or engineering. Some twenty years ago, I got a very good deal on one flying hour in a Boeing 757 at UK£5,500! That would equate to around UK£38,500 to carry around 200 pax across the North Atlantic in around seven hours, or just under UK£200 per ticket. The same trip would cost much less fuel per hour but much more in wages and fixed charges per flight hour for around 100 hours by airship. Off the top of my head, I would estimate the costs of the trip for a 200-passenger airship to be fifty to seventy-five times those for the aeroplane! That’s maybe as much as UK£15,000 per ticket to break even. Are you really going to find 200 people per week with that kind of money to splash out? If not, you cannot even support a one-ship operation on the route.

Verdict: Requirement 4 has no hope of being met.

Ergo, a modern scheduled-service, 200-passenger airship is economically totally unviable and therefore unlikely ever to see the light of day. It breaks my heart to say it, but it’s true: we’ll never see a Graf Zeppelin 3.

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Wyatt Rehder February 11, 2013 at 8:28 am

That is a very good analysis on the possibilities of a practical commercial airship service. Well done!

However, I can provide a circumstance in which requirement 4 could be met. In rural Alaska (“Bush Alaska”) There is several hundred small communities that are:
1. Not connected to any road system
2. Intermittently connected by water
3. Primary access by air

The primary method of receiving freight is by small freight aircraft (cessna caravan, king air, etc.)

The diesel fuel to run the town, heat homes, cars, is delivered all at once during the summers. Only when a fuel barge is able to make it through the limited season during the summer. Because of this the costs for fuel, groceries, freight; are significantly higher than the average costs in the area. A gallon of milk can easily cost upwards of $13 a gallon, with a gallon of gasoline from $9-$15 a gallon. Also if the barge is unable to make it to the community the fuel must then be flown in by small freight aircraft which becomes unimaginably expensive.

This I think, is an area where a large airship could be profitable. First you don’t have any service staff costs since you are only running freight. Just ground crew at each location. (You could likely work out a deal with the local airports to share crew since most airports in these towns only have air service a few days a week). You have relatively short runs (avg. 100-200 miles between communities).

This might actually be a area where it would be possible to get a government agency to subsidize the development of the Zeppelin, since there are already major subsidizes paid out to existing airlines and freight companies make bush living feasible.

While I would agree that this is a rather specific case, and we will likely not see widespread adoption of large zeppelins, there might actually still exist a chance to see a Graf Zeppelin 3.

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200kt October 6, 2014 at 2:19 am

Roger

I think modern airships are feasible – I would certainly pay to ride in one.

I believe the dangers of airships are overstated – one overlooks how safe they can be

- A Goodyear blimp crashed over New York City with no fatalities

-The Hindenburg only used hydrogen because they were forced to: America refused to sell Helium to the Nazis: No Nazis = No Hindenburg crash – how about that?

- Many on board (62%) survived the crash of an aircraft that caught fire and was totally destroyed on landing – try that in a jet!

“Of the 97 people on board (36 passengers and 61 crewmen), there were 35 fatalities of whom 13 were passengers and 22 were crewmembers” -Wikipedia

I think weather is more of a problem : What are the weather – related risks regarding airships? Turbulence can get very bad in commercial airliners, however they are built out of metal. How will a large airship of blimp fare in turbulent weather – won’t they be torn apart, and can bad weather be avoided – in a slow airship?

Your experience with airships and airliners would mean you have some insight into this?

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Dan Grossman October 7, 2014 at 3:12 pm

The American refusal to sell helium had nothing to do with the Nazis. And I can’t resist noting the irony of citing Wikipedia for information about the Hindenburg while on this website. :-)

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Eddie Spirito December 29, 2012 at 12:36 pm

I didn’t read every post here, so I’m not certain what has been decided in regards to airship travel in the 1930′s versus today. There was speculation regarding what, how and why things would be different between an airship then and now. Just a thought, but has anyone tried to contact the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company for information?

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David Minnich September 6, 2012 at 12:29 pm

1st thing that struck me about the Hindenburg statistics – you have almost as many in the crew as you do passengers! This is critically, since crew costs, passengers pay. Obviously this would not be replicated – today’s technologies would replace much of the crew, leaving room for more passengers.

The other problem with 1930s airships – a lot of lift power was wasted on ballast. Modern pivot engines coupled with lift-gas compression can eliminate the need for wasteful ballast.

With modern pivot engines, digital control technologies, and composite construction techniques, an airship the size of the Hindenburg could carry many more paying passengers.

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Lincoln F. Freire May 14, 2012 at 10:27 am

Hello!
(About Hindenburg)
How many litres of oil lubricant for engines were needed for a trip from Europe to Rio de Janeiro – BRAZIL?
Best regards,
Lincoln F. Freire

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Stu June 15, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Lincoln;
I couldn’t find any data on the Rio runs, but for the Frankfurt to Lakehurst, NJ run, the Hindenburg carried 3400 kg of lube oil and consumed 1305 kg. She flew 7238 km (3920 nautical miles) for a duration of 78.5 hours.

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Andrew May 9, 2012 at 7:18 pm

I’ve seen several laments for the return of airships for economic reasons so I’ve run the numbers on fuel consumption. The Hindenburg burnt 130kg fuel per hour to carry 72 passengers at 125km/hr. That equates to 1.73 l per passenger per 100km. A modern long haul jet is below 5l/p/100km. The A380 is 3l/p/100km. The Dreamliner 787 is less again I am sure. Although nearly double the fuel rate a jet liner does many trips for every one of an airship and a fraction of the crew and people accomodation costs. The cost of cabins compared with cattle grade seating in a jet must be huge. The jet gets several passengers through each seat in the same operational time.
So I’m sorry to those wanting an airship ride. I do not see it as a comercial reality. Airships at best will be like an amusment park ride for the rich like cruse ships are.
PS. I’d still like to ride one though…. I just don’t expect to get the chance.

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mike May 13, 2012 at 5:49 pm

I’d like to point out that these days the engines and frames would be significantly lighter. Engines would be much more fuel efficient. The engines in those days must of been massive and very very heavy.

I would think, but don’t know for sure, that with modern technology and design cruising speed and payload could be faster and greater, respectively. I’d be really interested in knowing what an airship made of modern materials with lightweight modern engines could do.

I wonder if these would be good for such things as moving military equipment around. I know that some tanks can’t be shipped via air, but they could be with airships. Unfortunately you wouldn’t be able to get them too close to the front, I would imagine it would be pretty easy to shoot down a relatively slow moving hydrogen airship with just a few incendiary rounds.

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Stu May 16, 2012 at 11:08 am

Andrew; I see your point but what’s missed is the fact that airships will never compete with jet airliners for the “cattle hauling” business of packing souls into pressurized cabins and speeding them across long distances at high speeds efficiently and economically. There’s no argument possible there at all.

The airship is about an alternate experience, one that purposely offers a totally civil, slow paced, and relaxed way to travel. The airship celebrates the actual experience of flying and is a viable sell to folks wanting to offer travelers another way to get there, or simply a unique vacation experience. It’s the same type of traveler that prefers to take a train, drive or take a cruise somewhere that will look into the possibility to travel in a large, luxury airship. They won’t mind the small cabins, the limited water and lack of pools, hot tubs, discos, gambling and and other amenities found on cruise ships.

Proof of this is the Concorde which became profitable when they marketed the plane not as a competitor to slower, larger capacity wide body jet aircraft. They offered and marketed the Concorde as a unique jet liner with some snob appeal – namely New York to London or Paris in slightly half the time. They marketed the snob appeal of traveling first class at twice the speed of sound on the upper fringes of the atmosphere. The Concorde’s cabin was tight and cramped, however the seating was first class. A velocity indicator in the passenger cabin told the flyers when they passed Mach one, and champagne was served when the sound barrier was broken. The roughly $5000 ticket was worth every penny to the discerning traveler who could of sat with 300 or so others on a 747 for far, far less in cost, however happily chose to sit with 100 or so others on the Concorde for the experience of a lifetime. It became a bragging right to say “I flew on the Concorde”.

That’s the reason airships stand a chance in the future. You really can’t put them up against a jetliner. They are total opposites in the type of service they offer. Besides, how many jetliners can land in any open field of your choosing, or on the water safely? Think of the air ventures that could be obtained with a floating hotel with a zero velocity stall speed?

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Andrew May 16, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Yep
“Think of the air ventures that could be obtained with a floating hotel with a zero velocity stall speed?”

See my last comment “Airships at best will be like an amusement park ride for the rich like cruse ships are.
PS. I’d still like to ride one though…. I just don’t expect to get the chance.”

So we agree. And yet the Concorde has gone. We do have cruise liners getting around the nice places of the world. There may be a place for a few airships to I hope. I’m just putting the reality out there for anyone thinking an airship is so fuel saving it is cost effective.
I chuckle at comments of “worth every penny for the discerning traveller” as this only works if you have the money at hand. And anyone who says you just have to save for it has clearly not experienced running out of money and having to make do just to keep going with a roof and food on the table and looking at bills that keep you cleaned out of cash. Which still where most of the worlds population is at.
I really like machines. Bigger and/or the faster the better. But alas I’ve not had the cash around for a Concorde ride or a time on a cruise ship. Maybe one day my business will do so well that I can.
How much money do you spend on these super rides? Anyone else game to jump in re costs? (This is a dare….)

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Stu May 16, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Actually cruise ships have become the recreation of all types and income levels, and are accessible to many. There’s the Cunard line for the discerning traveler with cash to unload, and the Carnival line for the budget oriented folks who aren’t interested in high end luxury and sophistication. All offer the same experience, and all make their profits in a increasingly competitive industry. Celebrity offers cruises in remote regions like the Galapagos Islands in small, luxurious cruise ships. There is also a company that gives cruises along famous rivers in Europe on long craft designed specifically for rivers. There’s a cruise line that has sail powered ships that offer similar amenities to a larger ship, just without the huge quantities and massive scale.

So there are niche markets out there for folks who want to do something “different” just as there’s markets out there for folks who just want to go cruising and don’t care about, or want to pay for, a unique experience. It’s that niche market, one that is highly profitable, and one that has proven to be successful even in these tight economic times, that the airship will find a place.
It may be a pipe dream, but so was the first airplane.

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jacob December 16, 2012 at 10:11 pm

hey Andrew i am planning on building a zeppelin approximately 800 ft long and 100 ft high and 100 ft wide the biggest ever made and once i win the lottery i shall make this dream come true if you ever see a enormous zeppelin powered entirely by solar panels and wind power i will gladly take you.

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Kirby Nelson April 6, 2013 at 5:48 pm

On a drive back from Atlanta I told my wife when she asked what would I do if I won the powerball and when I said build a new Zeppelin, she said no I would not. She said that it was a stupid waste of money. I told her I can spend my fantasy money the way I want to. When I asked her she said she would pay off the house and her folks, buy a new car, and help the poor. I said “like that ant a waste of money, you gonna just buy them all dinner. Where do you think that 160 million came from?”
Its a long way from Atlanta to Jacksonville.

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Geo June 4, 2012 at 8:42 pm

I think you under estimate the airship’s potential for long haul freight. I have seen reports stating that airships are 3x -5x faster than cargo ships and a third cheaper per mile than airfreight. If you can get over the hump imposed by the sunk cost of creating not only a fleet of airships but the infrastructure needed to support them, you should be able to run a self sustaining operation.

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jacob December 15, 2012 at 10:25 pm

If you will wait a couple years i will win the lottery and my dream is to create an airship to the specifications of the hindenburg but with compressors to take gas out of the cells and compressed into tanks for landing so that it wont have to be tied down and i sincerely recomend you read a book series by a man named kenneth oppel 1st book is called airborn 2nd is called sky breaker that is where i got my dream. when i have created my airship i will take you to what ever country you wish

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Giorgos March 24, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Hello,
I am watching the site for some time now and it is very helpful with nice information and pictures and i would like to learn some more stuff about airships!
Im an architecture student and i am doing a project about Zeppelins.
Among other programs and uses of the whole project there will be a big testing place where people will be able to test their model airships (from scientists to small children).
Im trying to find out information about how much space do they need for turns, for take of and landing for models that have length range from 1.5m to 3m.
If somebody has any information or links or books that could recommend i would be very very happy and thankful for the help!

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Stu May 25, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Study the Zeppelin NT Giorgos. She has the ability to pivot in place thanks to her twin propellers at her stern – one’s used as a pusher, the other as a sideways thruster, much like the bow thrusters on most recreational boats and commercial ships. The Zeppelin NT is the first step towards modern, rigid airship technology and she’s a phenomenal first step.

I am also an architect in the USA. What school are you attending?

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alternotre September 7, 2011 at 1:41 am

Hello,

I am looking for an information about the relative weight of accomodation and living quarters compared to the rest of the LZ 129 Structure.

Many times I read that LZ 129 payload capacity was only 10 Tons of freight. For me, such a calculation is not an absolute result considering tha Hindenburg was a Passenger ships. So, if you remove the accomodation quarters, restaurant, saloon, water for the passengers, foodstuff etc…. We should get to a different figure.

I wonder what a LZ129 “Freight version” would have been able to achieve… 80 100 Metric tons payload ?

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Stu April 2, 2012 at 8:10 pm

I couldn’t find anything on the Hindenburg, but the ZRS-4 and 5 which were similarly sized to the Hindenburg, and were not meant for passenger use could be used to give you an idea as to the lifting capacity of an airship.

The ZRS-4 Akron had the following design characteristics;
Total Lift based on nominal gas volume: 403,000 lbs
Deadweight of Structure: 242,356 lbs
Useful Lift (including crew, fuel, ballast, etc) 160,644 lbs

Now, the Akron carried five FC9 planes, plus crew for the planes.
Curtiss FC9-2 (gross wt.) 2770 lbs
Total compliment of airplanes carried: 13,850 lbs
Estimated weight of trapeze, and hanger 8,000 lbs
Total for heavier than air section: 21,580 lbs

The Akron could lift over 150,000 pounds, however if you deduct the heavier than air craft she carried for her scouting missions, that only saves a little over 20,000 pounds or so. The rest of her useful lift was her 70 crew and fuel for her eight engines, oil, and water ballast.

Today’s airships don’t need engineers to tend the engines all the time, and are made with lighter materials like carbon fiber. Gas cells are now made with poly-type products instead of doped cotton or linen. Your exercise in what a heavy lift cargo carrying airship would be one of starting with a blank sheet of paper and going from there. The Hindenburg, the latest design of her type and time, would be a relic today had she survived with antiquated, heavy and brittle aluminum structure. doped cotton covering and silk gas cells.
The future is bright for such a craft, however the airship’s real ability is in endurance – the ability to remain in flight, aloft without having to consume copious amounts of power. That makes the airship ideal for slow, hovering tasks, as well as long distance travel with ease.

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Bridgebury August 13, 2011 at 3:08 pm

I’ve just come across this website (ok, ok, I’ve been reading my way through it for the last week or so) and it is exactly the information I was looking for. I’m working on a novel set in a steampunk far future universe that focuses almost entirely on the crew of a zeppelin. This has been a great help to me, and will help me write a much more accurate depiction of life on a zeppelin.

I have only one question: What exactly were the rudders and elevators? What did they look like? I’ve come across a lot of information about the controls, but not exactly a lot about what the controls controlled. Maybe I missed something somewhere. Can anyone help me here?

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Dan (Airships.net) August 14, 2011 at 2:50 pm

A detailed discussion of Hindenburg’s flight controls and flight operations can be found at these pages:

http://www.airships.net/hindenburg/interiors/control-car-flight-instruments

http://www.airships.net/hindenburg/flight-operations-procedures

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Stu August 30, 2011 at 10:50 am

Not to steal Dan’s thunder, but the rudders and elevators are the directional and vertical control surfaces of the airship, usually located on the tail fins in the after-portions of the airship. The elevators are the horizontal tail fins that nave control surfaces on them to direct airflow off the tail fin either up or downwards to lift of drop the tail of the airship and change it’s pitch. The rudders are the same except in the vertical plane, where they push the tail of the airship right or left. In the old, grand rigid airships of the 20′s and 30′s, the elevator and rudder controls were separately manned and operated.

Airships back then were commanded, not piloted. The “flight deck” of control room of the airship was run very much like the bridge or wheelhouse of a steamship of the day. A commanding officer would direct three to four persons in the control room to fly the airship. The rudderman’s post was at the forward-most part of the control gondola, and the elevatorman’s post was usually located just aft, on the port or left side of the control car, facing out the left side of the control car, not forward. There was also a crewman who monitored the engine telegraphs which sent messages to the individual engine cars from the control room. Lastly, there was a crewman who monitored the ballast panel and kept the ship’s static condition in check. There was also a navigator located nearby as well as a radio man, again, all set up based on the operational methodology of a ship at sea, not a piloted aircraft.

All the men in the control room were usually officers of some sort or another. It took years of training to man these posts. The elevatorman in the Hindenburg earned his pay by keeping the ship absolutely level while in flight to prevent glasses and things from falling off tables. That was a bragging point for the airship against the steamship passenger liner – no seasickness!

The large control surfaces of these airships were controlled by cables that were run the length of the ship through a complicated series of sheaves and pulleys. Large counterweights attached to the control surfaces balanced the huge fins so that human arms could operate the fins. They can be seen on the USS Akron and Macon. There was no electrical or hydraulic assist on these control surfaces, and many times, two men had to handle the controls in heavy weather. It was a laborious task to hold the rudder and elevator wheels from spinning out of control against the wind forces acting on the fins. When catastrophe happened, the cables linking the control surfaces to the gondola’s control room typically carried away, and the steering wheels inside the gondola spun uselessly. This was a sure indication to those in the control room that something bad was happening aft.

Lastly, men in the control room stood at their posts during their entire watch. There were no huge banks of gauges and dials like in a old B-17 bomber in the control room of an airship. Contrast this to the flight deck of the Zeppelin NT, which has a seated pilot / copilot positions with joystick controls much like an airplane.

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kushibo June 15, 2011 at 11:03 pm

I pose this question over at the post on the Graf Zeppelin’s interior, but I thought I’d ask it here as well.

On the question of the future of the dirigible, here is a real-world academic exercise for those who feel it is viable.

I am a grad student in Hawaii, where travel between islands is an expensive proposition due to the cost of air travel and the lack of maritime options. A few years back, we thought we had a solution with the Hawaii Superferry, which was to include one vessel going to/from Honolulu and Maui and then to/from Honolulu and Kauai. Another vessel was to go to/from Honolulu and the Big Island (Hawaii Island).

Owing to a successful legal challenge regarding the lack of a proper environmental impact assessment, the Hawaii Superferry was suddenly shut down and the boat owners went elsewhere. Now, other than airplanes, we have no alternatives.

So, this is the “exercise”: Would it be viable, affordable, and practical to operate dirigible service between Honolulu and Maui, and/or Honolulu and the Big Island (Kauai residents generally were unwilling to have Superferry service, so let’s forget about that). Let’s say Kahului on Maui and Kailua-Kona on the Big Island.

For comparison, the Superferry took about two hours between Honolulu and Kahului on Maui (95 miles), and I believe it would have taken three hours between Honolulu and Kailua-Kona (175 miles). The passenger fare was $60 to $70. Automobiles were also allowed ($70?), but I’m guessing that’s not feasible with a dirigible (is it?). About 200 people could ride at one time, since the short trips did not require sleeper cars or any accommodation like that.

It would seem that if the dirigibles could offer something comparable, they would be advantageous over a maritime ferry because (a) they are cheaper to accommodate than what is required for a ferry dock, and (b) they don’t impact sea life. It would seem they are also more flexible in terms of docking.

So, what do you think?

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Stu August 5, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Assuming the Akron (ZRS-4) had 6,850,000 cubic feet of helium with a total lift of about 411,000 pounds, less her structure, envelope and machinery (258,350 pounds) her useful lift was 152,600 pounds for fuel, aircraft, ballast, crew and provisions.

A inter-island passenger airship would have smaller parameters than the Akron (ZRS-4) and need only lift for 200 passengers and crew and fuel. Assume that would be almost 100,000 pounds. Assuming a dead weight of hull, engines, and equipment of 200,000 pounds (80% the weight of Akron’s dead loads) the ship would have to be a 5 million cubic foot capacity. Assuming the Akron’s hull shape and proportions, assume that the ship would be around 650 feet in length.

If we assume that the ship will cruise at 70 mph, it would fly the 95 mile hop in under 90 minutes. The 175 mile leg would take 3 hours.

Airships need large areas to land, and would be finicky in the strong, but steady trade winds in that area. An airship would burn about 150 – 250 gallons of fuel per hour, perhaps more than the ferry, but at 70 mph, that 150 – 250 gallons per hour is at twice the velocity of the ferry.

The constant temperatures of the region would also make for stable lifting conditions. Aside from the trade winds, the idea would be possible if there was someone to finance the venture.

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Andrew January 17, 2011 at 8:18 pm

I think that people are ignoring something- SOLAR POWER. Companies are developing flexible solar panels, and with the HUGE size of an Airship’s skin, it would be far more economical to simply coat it with solar panels and use electric engines and fuel cells. Given the uncertain future of hydrocarbon fuels, a solar-electric airship could easily be viable. Besides, using electric power allows you to dispense with fuel, saving weight and reducing the necessary ballast- the main reason for venting gas was to compensate for fuel burned.

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Tael Neilan March 24, 2011 at 10:18 pm

The lithium-Ion batteries that would be used in a solar-electric Zeppelin would probably weigh as much as if not more than the same volume of fuel tanks in a regular fossil fuel powered one. That doesn’t make it any less viable but you wouldn’t be saving any weight.

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Andrew March 27, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Yes, but there are two advantages:
1. constant (mostly) weight- one of the major reasons the Hindenburg had to vent gas was to adjust for the lost weight of the spent fuel
2. charge in flight- solar cells could recharge the batteries in flight, so the airship could theoretically remain aloft indefinitely, which is very good for recon purposes

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Tael Neilan March 27, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Those are some good reasons, it would greatly reduce the amount of lifting gas needed to “top off” the gas cells between passages. I don’t think it would be very difficult convincing the U.S. Navy to re-adopt the rigid airship with a few more points like those.

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David Erskine April 22, 2011 at 4:40 am

As a rule of thumb, allow ten square metres of solar panel per kilowatt of power, in full sunlight. How much do solar panels weigh? 200 metres by 20 metres of panels on the top of a large rigid airship gives four thousand square metres or 400 kilowatts of power.

I am sure it could be done, but I suggest no batteries, to save weight. The electric motors only run for about 6 hours, 3 before midday, 3 after, because solar power is low at morning and evening. There would need to be petrol engines to provide power when there is no sun, so total engine weight is substantial.

Solar panels are certainly useful for auxiliary power, that is power needs apart from propulsion.

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Stu August 5, 2011 at 10:02 pm

The problem with solar panels is the weight on the ships hull. Also where that weight is on the upper portions of the hull would offset the ship’s center of gravity making it unstable and tending to roll over and show the solar panels to the ground. Solar panels would be good on control surfaces, and small sections of the hull for house power and secondary sourcing of energy, but not for motive power. Airships have their heavy weights purposely located on the lower, shaded sphere of the hull for good reason.

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Tony Holroyd November 8, 2010 at 2:26 pm

I am presently engaged in writing an article concerning the use of new generation rigid airships as a partial replacement for jet airliners in the global passenger market.

The economics of a rigid airship would be dominated by the number of passengers that it could carry, which in turn depends upon disposible lift.

Does anyone have any information of the tensile strength of the specific alloys used in the Hindenburg, Graf Zeppelin or R101?

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Stu August 30, 2011 at 11:09 am

Hi Tony – a late reply, but I enjoy the interplay of this fantastic site.

I cannot see airships ever replacing the jet liner. Jet liners are now basically airborne commuter trains. Aside from the first class and business class accommodations on longer flights, they offer no more than a seat to sit in while rubbing elbows with the passenger next to you.

I firmly believe the large rigid airship’s future lies with the sightseeing, vacationing traveler. The same folks who want to fly a helicopter over Hawaii’s cliffs, the Grand Canyon, or take river boat tours or even cruise ships, would enjoy the airship’s abilities. It would not be a competitive alternate to the cruiseship as airships are limited to their onboard capabilities. Cruiseships can make their own water, while airships have to carry thier’s aloft. That equates to short showers and no pools.

The airship traveler of the future will be one who wants to connect with the nostalgia of flight that has been erased with the TSA pat downs, long lines at airports, and tiny seats in packed, cramped cabins. They want to take their time going someplace and leisurely look at the countryside passing beneath them while sipping a cocktail. Making a connection at LAX is far less important than spotting a pod of whales broaching under them, or seeing the water casade off Niagra Falls from under a thousand feet above. It’s not when you get there, it’s all bout HOW you get there that will make the airship traveler of the future pay the premium (yes, it will be a costly affair as it was before) to fly someplace for the sake of flying.

The marketplace is ripe for this alternate way of traveling. The folks who are tired of fighting for a spot to toss a carry on bag into overhead storage, tired of getting a small cup of soda and a bag of peanuts tossed at you for a meal will be very interested in checking into a small, private room, walking to the forward lounge, or visiting the aft observation deck, and eating a gourment meal served at a sit down table with one hell of a view.

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rick V June 18, 2010 at 12:18 pm

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’m also curious as to why the keel did not go all the way to the tail. 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) Hope my bombardment with questions isn’t too annoying.

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cole December 15, 2010 at 12:44 pm

total tragic.

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Sean June 3, 2011 at 11:15 am

The ovals are fuel and ballast storage. (I think.) Most of the water ballast was stored in canvas bags, but I believe that there were a few tanks as well.

There were several ladders that ran from the lower keel to the axial to the upper skin of the hull. These were used to monitor the gas bags and valves.

It may be that, on that illustration, at that scale, the keel would just get lost in the framing of the tail fins. You could, also descend into the lower rear fin to the auxiliary control station at its tip. At any rate, once you’re back that far in the ship, it’s a quick climb from the lower to the axial to proceed all of the way to the tail where, yes, there is an observation point.

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Stu August 5, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Those little ovals were probably ballast and fuel tanks which where spaced along the keel to distribute the weights along the ship’s length. They were also located not far from the engines that they served. Ballast bags were distributed evenly along the keel for trimming the ship.

The Hindenburg had a typical lower central keel as well as central keel running the length of the ship from the rudder post to the bow. The lower keel stopped at the lower fin. The middle keel ran to the rudder post aft. The last bay of the ship had no aft platform and was dedicated to a gas cell. There may have been a small platform back there.

The Hindenburg had 3 ladders leading up to the control valves located at the top of the ship.

The Akron and Macon were military ships and had a full platform aft that was serviced by a lower single lower keel. It was designated as an “observation” platform. The Akron and Macon both had three keels, one each side, located up each side of the hull where the engines were. There was also a keel running along the top of the hull with access to a forward “observation” platform. There was no lower, central spine of a keel on those ships. To get anywhere vertically, the crew would climb the central rings (deep triangular round rings every 22 meters. These rings would connect all three keels along the ship’s length. The top keel ran from the leading edge of the top rudder fin to about 23 meters back from the bow. The side keels also ran from 23 meters from the bow to the tail fins.

The Hindenburg had a very small platform in the lower fin for observation. The Akron and Macon had a auxiliary control station located in the leading edge of the lower tail fins.

Crewmen of those ships were called riggers, and for good reason. You had to have the skills of those who climbed the rigging of the square riggers of old sailing days inside the tangle of wires and girders of a rigid airship hull.

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Pete Blair May 1, 2010 at 10:41 am

This site is great.I a was writing a paper about airships and this site was my primary source.

However, i just started having a thought. What if, zeppelins were reintroduced into airtravel, and were fitted with Pratt & Whitney JT9D’s as opposed to propeller engines. Would the zeppelin reach a higher speed, and mabye even replace commercial jets?

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Luke Fredenburg September 1, 2010 at 2:35 pm

The problem with the added thrust is the strain on the airframe. That with the added weight of an increased supply of fuel needed for a jet engine to push a Zeppelin shape through the air would make it impractical with out re designing the entire aerodynamic shape.

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Stu August 5, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Not to mention that the heat from the jet’s exhaust would melt the envelope near the engines. A turbo prop might work for lightweight power much like the articulated large bladed fans of the V22 Osprey at the expense of rapid fuel use.

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Jim Richards January 4, 2010 at 10:37 am

The only thing I either haven’t seen or just plain missed is, what was it’s cruising altitude, generally?

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Dan (Airships.net) January 6, 2010 at 8:53 am

Hindenburg’s cruising altitude is discussed here, on the page about Hindenburg Flight Operations. Thanks for your question!

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Amanda January 3, 2010 at 1:27 pm

This website really helped me out. I am doing the Hindenburg for a multi-genre project, and needed more info. This helped me get the info I need. Thanks.

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D. Frank Robinson December 29, 2009 at 11:06 am

You have a well done site. I’ll be baaack! for info.

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Malcolm Gunstone September 19, 2009 at 8:24 am

I remember seeing a large airship flying in a westerly direction over the Bristol Channel in U.K. at the age of 10 or 11, on a Sunday afternoon in 1936/7.
Is it possible that someone has a flight plan of the course taken on a flight from Frankfurt to New York, which might prove to me that it was the “Hindenburg”?

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TonyHolroyd August 31, 2009 at 7:33 am

The Hindenburg was less fuel efficient than a modern jumbo jet. A jumbo jet consumes 16-17litres of fuel per kilometer travelled and carries 420 passengers. The distance between Frankfurt and New York is 6430km. So fuel consumption per passenger is 260kg. The Hindenburg carried 110 people and consumed 32,500kg fuel for the same trip. That is 295kg of fuel per person carried. If we only count the passengers, fuel cost goes up to 450kg each – 70% more than a jumbo jet. When one considers the additional embedded energy in the massive aluminium structure of the airship, it would be a fair estimate to say that total energy cost of a Hindenburg trip across the Atlantic was double that of a modern jumbo. High labour costs involved in operating and docking the ship damaged its economics even further.

Cutting the airship’s speed by 1/3rd would have reduced its fuel consumption by about half. Doubling the length of the ship would have similarly reduced fuel consumption by half.

There is some speculation that high fuel prices will result in a resurgance of the airship. This will only be the case if the new generation of airships are very large, they travel more slowly than Hindenburg and there are considerable reductions in the manning levels required to operate and dock them. Frankly, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

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Bryan McFarland November 10, 2009 at 6:43 pm

Just to compare apples to apples (or contemporary technologies), how does the Hindenburg’s consumption figures match up against a Boeing 314, Sikorsky S42, Short Sunderland, or Empire?

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Baloonist December 17, 2010 at 1:47 am

Good Question! (takes a deep breath):

Okay, let’s just establish a few standards: Modern jet fuel weighs 6.4 pounds/gallon (814 grams/liter). The density of No. 2 diesel fuel is 7.15 pounds/gallon (850 grams/liter). The Hindenburg used diesel fuel.

The Hindenburg carried a crew/kitchen staff of 52 men, and 72 passengers. Its cruising speed was 76mph (125km/h). I’m not sure what its standing cruising height or service ceiling were.

The Boeing 314 Clipper airboat carried 74 passengers and a crew of 11, had a service ceiling of 19,600 ft (5,980m), and had a fuel capacity of 3,525 gallons (13,344 liters) and a range of 3,685 mi (3,201 nm, 5,896 km) at normal cruising speeds of 188 mph (163 knots, 302 km/h) at 11,000 ft (3,400m). That’s about 1.04mi/gal (1.6 k/l), so a Frankfurt to NYC trip (3,995 miles/6,430 km)would necessitate at least one stop for refueling and would consume 4,155 gallons (10,288 liters) of fuel to carry 74 passengers, for a fuel consumption per passenger rate of 56 gallons/passenger (139 liters/passenger) or 400 lbs/passenger (118 kg/passenger). That compares very well to the 450kg/passenger of the Hindenburg’s figures that Tony Holroyd pointed out above.

The Sikorsky S42 flying boat carried 37 daytime passengers and a crew of 4, had a service ceiling of 15,700 ft (4,788m), a fuel capacity of 1,240 gallons (4,964 liters) and a range of 1,930 mi (3,088 km) at normal cruising speeds of 150 mph (241 km/h) at 11,000 ft (3,400m). That’s about 1.56 miles/gallon (2.26 l/km), so a Frankfurt to NYC trip (3,995 miles/6,430 km)would necessitate at least two stops for refueling and would consume 6,232 gallons (14,532 liters) of fuel to carry 37 passengers, for a fuel consumption per passenger rate of 168 gallons/passenger (393 liters/passenger) or 1201 lbs/passenger (319 kg/passenger). That compares very poorly to the 450kg/passenger of the Hindenburg’s figures that Tony Holroyd pointed out above.

The Short Sunderland, being a military flying boat, only carried a crew of 11 and about 24,000 pounds/10,700 kilos of fuel & cargo. It cruised at 178 mph (285 km/h) at a height of 5,000 feet (1,500 m), had a service ceiling of 16,000 feet, and a range of 1,780 miles (2,848 km) and a fuel capacity of 3037 gallons (11,602 liters). That’s an incredibly wasteful .58 miles per gallon (.25 km/liter). Without the weight of the fuel, that left about 3000 pounds for cargo. Pretend that cargo space was stuffed full of passengers standing up at an average of 175 pounds apiece, and we’re talking about a fictitious passenger load of 13. That’s 6887 gallons of fuel necessary to fly from Frankfurt to NYC, you’d have to stop for refueling three times, and that’s 2,591 pounds per passenger (if you pretend that the crew only needed to be 4 people for a non-wartime flight). That’s absolutely AWFUL compared to the Hindenburg.

More importantly, though, the Hindenburg was designed foremost for passenger comfort, not for passenger capacity. NO PLANE FLYING TODAY has the kind of square footage per passenger that the Hindenburg did, except, perhaps, a luxury plane like Air Force One, which has 4,000 square feet of interior floor space (the lower level of which is strictly cargo space, leaving only 3,000 feet for passengers) and carries 26 crew members and up to 70 passengers (. The Hindenburg, by comparison, had 4,500 square feet dedicated to its 110 passengers and included a salon (complete with grand piano), a writing room, a dining room, 34 private cabins each containing 2 beds, a hot & cold water wash basin, and closets). It had onboard showers, bathrooms, a smoking room, a kitchen, a mess area for the crew, and a full bar. And that was just where the wealthy passengers flew… there was an additional several thousand square feet of crew quarters, cargo areas, oxygen tank storage, generator room, radio room, post office, officers quarters, captain’s cabin, AND the control car gondala. A modern Southwest Airlines 737 flight has 1120 square feet of cabin space, and crams 137 passengers into it. That’s 5.2 square feet per passenger. The Hindenburg gave each of its 72 passengers a luxurious 62 square feet. Air Force One ranks a little lower at about 45 square feet per passenger, and a first-class seat on a really nice foreign airline gives you about 10-12 square feet.

The Hindenburg was more akin to a flying oceanliner than the modern squeezeboxes that pass for airliners today. If the Hindenburg was designed like a modern international airline 747 first-class section, with individual lie-flat sleeping chairs, it would still have enough room to have all the showers, kitchen, and dining room, but would fit about 400 passengers. Put THAT number into your calculator to get the real equivalent kilograms of fuel per passenger when comparing it to a 747 jumbo jet, and you wind up with 179 pounds (81kg) of fuel per passenger, or roughly 1/3 of the 747 that Tony contends is “more economical” — add in modern carbon-fiber construction, and modern turboprop engines like the Pratt & Whitney PW150A (which cruises at 3950 horsepower vs. the 850hp that each of Hindenburg’s 4 engines individually/3400hp total generated, and which use 1/3 the fuel of the Hindenburg’s primitive Daimler submarine motors), pop on modern 6-bladed reversible pitch composite propellers (like the ones used on the Bombadier Q400 turboprop passenger plane), and you’d have a faster, more fuel-efficient Hindenburg on which could easily double the entire crew/passenger quarters (due to the lighter carbon-fiber frame & compartment construction), allowing you to carry 800 passengers at roughly 1/2 the fuel consumption rate of the Hindenburg. That would knock that kg of fuel per passenger down to 1/4th of the Hindenburg’s, down to 45 pounds (20kg) of fuel per passenger, compared to that 747’s “economical” 573 pounds (260kg) of fuel per passenger.

When you compare apples to apples, the Hindenburg kicks the 747’s ass. When you then redesign that same apple with modern construction techniques and engines, you leave the 747 in the dust. Sure, it would take you 6x as long to fly from Frankfurt to NYC, but if you’ve got a salon and fine dining room, that might actually not be all that bad. :)

NOTHING can haul as much cargo as cheaply as a dirigible. We WILL see them again at some point in the future. This isn’t science-fiction, it’s just math.

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Ryan June 13, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Beautifully put. And I hope we do see them again.

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Stu August 5, 2011 at 10:37 pm

The Hindenburg burned 41,110 kg of diesel oil crossing the Atlantic in 1936 from Franfurt to Lakehurst, NJ. That was a distance of 7,238 km or 3920 nautical miles. She did that crossing in 78:30 hours, at an average speed of about 82 mph.
The jet’s faster but burns more fuel per km than the Hindenburg. The Graf Zeppelin crossed from Tokyo to Los Angeles (with landfall at San Francisco) without refueling.
Airships are the tortoise to the jet’s hare.

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Frighteous June 3, 2010 at 10:31 am

The Hindenburg wasn’t created for economy. It was created by Nazis for propaganda purposes, and to make people aware of what Germans are capable of building and to raise morale in Germany. No other nation had anything comparable to the Hinden. American sources such as Rockefeller and Carnegie funded the birth of Nazi Germany, and along with Henry Ford, more than likely paid for a good piece if not all of the Hindenburg.

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Mash February 8, 2011 at 2:20 pm

The “Hindenburg” wasn’t created by Nazis at all. The Nazis took the opportunity when the Zeppelin company was not able to pay their bills anymore. That’s all. “Graf Zeppelin” e.g. wasn’t painted with swastikas.

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Dan (Airships.net) February 18, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Both Graf Zeppelins (LZ-127 and LZ-130) did have swastika flags on their tail fins.

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Stu August 5, 2011 at 10:44 pm

Huge Eckener designed the Hindenburg first and only as a luxury passenger ship. In order to get financing and support for the venture, he had to filth her hull with swastikas. Believe me, Eckener hated the Hitler regime, but it was a marriage of necessity. Only Eckener’s immense popularity protected him from getting pinched by the Nazi SS which silenced dissension very efficiently. The Graf Zeppelin-2 was never used for long distance passenger flight as the Nazi Party gained more control of the airship works and used it for propaganda and radar recon missions over the English Channel probing the British coastal defenses in the months prior to the Battle of Britian. She was torn up by the Nazi’s after the Blitz of Poland and used for her aluminum. Such a sad use for such peaceful airships. Dr. Eckener stayed in Germany throughout the war, and managed to live through it miraculously enough considering his open feelings against Hitler’s regime.

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Baloonist December 16, 2010 at 3:28 pm

The Hindenburg’s engines were a product of their day, and nowhere near as efficient as a modern engine. Swapping out those engines with modern turboprops would drastically increase a modern Hindenburg’s fuel efficiency. Additionally, only a moron would make a modern Zeppelin with an aluminum frame… it would most definitely be a carbon fiber construction job, which would allow you to easily septuple (or more) the passenger/cargo carrying capacity on the same length Zeppelin, and if you made it twice as long (like you advise), a modern Zeppelin would carry up to 14x the cargo/passengers as the Hindenburg. Now we’re talking about 1,400 passengers or so. Difficult for me to see how any jumbo jet can compete with that on a fuel efficiency ratio alone. Speed, yes, fuel efficiency, no. Modern airship transport WILL happen… we just need an entrepreneur with the vision and drive to make it happen.

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David Erskine August 7, 2011 at 8:15 am

I suspect that the Hindenburg’s diesels were nearly as efficient as modern diesels and certainly better than modern spark ignition engines. High compression ratio is the point of a diesel. The big difference is the higher power to weight ratio of modern diesels. I also suspect that the Hindenburg’s diesels were more efficient than modern turboprop engines because the turbine blades are exposed to a constant stream of exhaust gas, so the temperature must not be too high. The advantage of a turboprop is the high power to weight ratio.

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Branislav Popkonstantinovic July 20, 2009 at 12:48 am

Some facts that could be interesting:
The Brake specific fuel consumption (BSFC) of each Hindenburg’s engine was 0.04 kg/(HP h) (calculated for 4 engines together: 0.16 kg/(HP h) ). Typically, Hindenburg was capable to complete an Atlantic crossing (from Frankfurt to New York) in 60 hours and consume only 32,500 kg of diesel fuel. On her last voyage, Hindenburg completed the Atlantic crossing in 77 hours due to the fact that headwind was very strong and burned 42 tonnes of crude oil. In comparison with modern large aeroplanes, which consumed more than 120 tonnes of cerosine in one single transatlantic voyage, that was highly eficient.

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miles May 17, 2009 at 10:49 pm

could you please email me those drawings as well?

Ever since i read the book “Airborn” which is a wonderful book, i have had an odd obsession with zeppelins and anything in relation to them.

Infact, i have created a few modern zeppelin designs myself, that use helium for their main lifting gas and a small gas bag filled with hydrogen located in the tail of the design. as i read on your site about how the zeppelin company would use blaugas as a fuel due to the fact it would not add extra weiht to carry and would not cause the ship o lose mass when burned off, i figured it would work even better if you used hydrogen as a fuel source. the advantage of hydrogen is that it is a lifting gas itself (which you obviously already know) and will contribute to the lift. However, with hydrogen, you could make it in the air as you fly, if you have solar panels on top of the ship to collect energy, you can use the system of electrolosis to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, you can pump the hydrogen into the gas bag and store the oxygen elsewhere to be used n high altitude flying.

This is a wonderful website, and of the other airship/zeppelin based websites i’ve visted, athis one ranks #1 in the amount of pictures and historical data. I’m marking it on my favorites list. very very interesting.

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Dylan September 20, 2012 at 11:10 pm

I am in the process of reading the Airborne series and I too have become entranced by the airship’s lure. I don’t know why…maby the author of that series just renewed a spark in me but I cant stop thinking about them! I love flying and I intend getting my pilots license and getting an Aerospace Engineering degree after I graduate this year and I cant help but wonder what flying or riding one of these would be like. I want to study airships in the future and this is an amazing site! I wonder if someday, the person who reignites (or strengthens) the airship passion and globalizes it will say… “I got my inspiration from this very website”.

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Jadan May 1, 2009 at 1:07 pm

I feel like I hit the mother load of info on airships and the history of the Zeppelin Co. Thank you for all this great stuff! I wanted to know if you have any clear, easy to read plans for any of the later airships, like the Graf or the Hindenburg. I ask because I am working on a short animated 3d film starring a rigid airship, and I really need to know what the flight cabin’s layout and accurate dimensions of the ship overall, so I can ensure historical accuracy of these beautiful giants. If you have any ideas for me, please let me know!

Thanks again for a wonderful site!
Jadan

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Dan (Airships.net) May 5, 2009 at 8:17 pm

@ Jadan:

I emailed you detailed drawings of the control car and a profile view. I hope they help!

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