National Geographic: Hindenburg


But airships had other uses

besides carrying passengers.

And with the beginning

of World War One,

airship construction became

a military priority.

Nothing gets developed as fast as

what things do during a war.

Okay, we experience it even today.

So the First World War definitely

saw a dramatic size increase.

The airships went from something like

to two-and-a-half million just within

the span of four years.

The Zeppelins were soon transformed

into weapons of war,

first as observation platforms,

then in a new role:

as the world's first strategic

bomber fleet.

But they demonstrated their

vulnerability as well:

high-flying fighter planes

brought down dozens of Zeppelins

in fiery explosions,

fueled by hydrogen.

In the years after the war,

airship technology would find champions

around the world.

In the U.S., the Navy developed

its own military airships.

The way the Navy used

these big airships

was the way the Germans had used them

in World War I.

And this was to send the airship

itself out to scout.

Well, an airship is an easy thing to

see, and it can easily be shot down.

Partly to protect their airships,

the Navy transformed them into

flying aircraft carriers,

outfitting them with small

fighter-reconnaissance biplanes.

They put a trapeze on the underside

of the airship.

And the airplane would come up

and land on it

by hooking the hook on a bar

at the end of this trapeze,

which would then pull the airplane up

to a hangar inside the ship.

They made the hangar large enough to

accommodate five small fighters.

But there would be problems:

the Navy's American-built airships

were plagued by freakish accidents

and three of them met tragic ends.

The first, the Shenandoah, broke apart

in a thunderstorm and crashed in 1925,

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"National Geographic: Hindenburg" STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 10 Jul 2020. <>.

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