Graf Zeppelin’s Interior: The Gondola

The control room and passenger areas on the Graf Zeppelin were both located within the airship’s 98′ long gondola.

Gondola of LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin

Gondola of LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin.  (click all photos to enlarge)

As seen in the deckplan included in this 1934 brochure, the ship’s control room was located at the very bow of the gondola, just ahead of the chart room, radio room, and kitchen.

Deckplan of Graf Zeppelin's Gondola

Deckplan of Graf Zeppelin’s Gondola.  (click all photos to enlarge)

The Control Room, Chart Room, and Radio Room

The control room contained rudder and elevator control wheels, gas and water ballast release controls, engine telegraphs, and flight and navigation instruments.

Graf Zeppelin Control Room

Graf Zeppelin Control Room

Graf Zeppelin Control Room

Graf Zeppelin Control Room

Chart Room of Graf Zeppelin

Chart Room of Graf Zeppelin

Radio Room of Graf Zeppelin

Radio Room of Graf Zeppelin

The Kitchen

Across from the radio room was a small kitchen containing electric burners and ovens, an electric water heater, a refrigeration unit, and compact storage and preparation areas.  Obviously, no open flames were allowed on the hydrogen-filled airship.

Kitchen of Graf Zeppelin

Kitchen of Graf Zeppelin

The Passenger Lounge and Dining Room

Aft of the kitchen was a combination lounge/dining room, approximately 16′ square, which was the only public passenger space aboard the ship.

Lounge and Dining Area on Graf Zeppelin

Lounge and Dining Area on Graf Zeppelin

But while the surroundings were luxurious, they were also unheated, and during the winter months, or when the ship flew over the North Atlantic, or during the flight over Siberia as part of the 1929 Round-the-World flight, passengers often spent much of their time wrapped in heavy winter coats or covered by layers of blankets while ice crystals formed on the windows.

As frequent passenger Lady Grace Drummond Hay described it:

We have a million cubic feet of gas but no heat. . . . Merciless cold driving through the canvas walls of this flying tent. … I have visualized myself gracefully draped over a saloon window ledge romantically viewing the moonlit sky. The men . . . have reminded each other not to forget evening jackets and boiled shirts in their baggage. We have drawn ourselves lovely pictures of dining elegantly in mid-air with Commodore Eckener at the head of a flower-decked table . . . but . . . leather coats, woollies and furs will be our evening dress.  Hot soup and steaming stew more welcome than cold caviar and chicken salad.

Lounge and Dining Area on Graf Zeppelin

Lounge and Dining Area on Graf Zeppelin

Dinner on the Graf Zeppelin

Dinner on the Graf Zeppelin

Graf Zeppelin China

Graf Zeppelin China

The Passenger Cabins

Accommodation for the ship’s twenty passengers was provided in ten small cabins, containing upper and lower berths similar to those aboard a railroad sleeping car, and which could be arranged for daytime or nighttime use.  Like the rest of the ship, the cabins were unheated. The cabins were located on a narrow corridor, at the end of which were separate washrooms for men and women.

Steward making up berth

Steward making up berth

Passenger Cabin of Graf Zeppelin

Passenger Cabin of Graf Zeppelin

Passenger Cabin aboard LZ-127

Passenger Cabin aboard LZ-127 during the Day

Passenger berths aboard LZ-127

Passenger Cabin aboard LZ-127 at Night

Passenger Corridor on Graf Zeppelin

Passenger Corridor on Graf Zeppelin

Women's Washroom on Graf Zeppelin

Women’s Washroom on Graf Zeppelin

Deckplan of Graf Zeppelin's Gondola

Deckplan of Graf Zeppelin’s Gondola. (click all photos to enlarge)

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Dina Doering
Dina Doering

I had no idea at the extent of this airship. Thanks for informing us so throughly.

HORACIO CALLEGARI
HORACIO CALLEGARI

Estoy trabajando en un libro sobre la única llegada del Graf Zeppelin a Buenos Aires. Ello fue el 30 de junio de 1934.
Agradezco todos los comentarios, que me ayudan a conocer un poco más sobre la vida a bordo.
Gracias

Richard Jenkins
Richard Jenkins

My grandfather, Ralph A L Bogan, flew on the Graf Zeppelin in 1929 from the US to Europe, flying over Spain, Switzerland and Germany. I just watched about 18 minutes of 16 mm film he took while onboard. Most of the film is of the ground they covered. There is… Read more »

Thomas Krohn
Thomas Krohn

I love everything about the LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin. It was of course the most successful airship of all times. My special interest goes into the service passengers were offered and the cabins. With this footage of your grandfather you have a real gem, and even with a personal relation!… Read more »

CW Hawes

I love this site, Dan! I’ve come back time and again conducting research for my novels.

I was wondering if there was access to the keel from the gondola in the Graf Zeppelin and where would the access be. From the bridge area, perhaps?

Keep up the good work!

russell
russell

Would love to travel on one of these-but the negative aspect of this would be of course terrorism-what a huge and slow moving target!

Stu
Stu

The airship would be a tough kill for a militant with a shoulder-fired missile. First, the thing would be filled with helium which does not support combustion of any type. Secondly, with a light framework, the airship would take a long time to descend once it is holed by something.… Read more »

Antony
Antony

Hi Dan – a question/clarification. The layout of the cabins in your diagrams shows that two of the cabins had four berths with a table in the middle, with two cabins aft of the washrooms and toilets. However, the layout shown on p 109 of Rick Archbold’s book, Hindenburg: Reliving… Read more »

Mike Wallis
Mike Wallis

I am 75 and one of my dreams have been to fly in an airship. A couple of years back MTN brought one to South Africa and my son was able to have a short trip the lucky ****. Every body talks about using hydrogen or helium but I would… Read more »

Brian
Brian

My wife and I have just returned from Lake Constance in Germany, having stayed here on holiday. I was fortunate enough to visit the Zeppelin Museum in Freidricshafn, where remains of the Hindenburg, engine clothing seating and navigation equipment are on display. It is still possible today to take a… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew

The problem of a vacuum ship as I understand it is to do with materials strength against buckling. Not even diamond is strong enough!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum_airship#Material_constraints

Kyle
Kyle

I don’t mean to be a stickler but I am pointing out the elephant in the room nobody here seems to want to glance up at. I LOVE the idea of airships being used again and felt sad when I learned about their history just as much as any of… Read more »

Tommy
Tommy

Just shut up Kyle. You sound like nothing but a pretentious, moronic Redneck, with more stupidity than intellect.

People like you are the reason everybody gets p*ssed off with Americans. Idiot.

Matt
Matt

Well that was uncalled for. Maybe it would help if you understood what he was writing about before posting a personal attack on someone. Such posts speak much more about you rather than about the subject of your attack.

Kyle
Kyle

I also wonder if airplane parts like Boeing still get made in the USA or if they are shipped from China too whenever the next generation of airliners gets built. If it’s not too late already I hope Boeing doesn’t outsource their plant in Seattle. Man I am very sweaty… Read more »

Stu
Stu

Boeing did outsource it’s jobs from Seattle – to South Carolina, a right to work state.

Kyle
Kyle

I forgot the other big problem besides TSA security theater. The technology to make these *Green* airships will come from China which uses cheap labor (Slave labor actually) to make products and I will not put my life into their hands which uses the lowest quality materials that will break… Read more »

Stu
Stu

Kyle: A late reply but hopefully to educate a little here. The history of airships in the USA was based on foreign intervention. Let’s go ship by ship here; ZR-1: Built in the USA, a exact copy of an German WW-1 height climber design with American engines. At that time,… Read more »