A Niche in Time: Behemoths of the Sky

Zeppelin LZ-1 flying over Lake Constance.

Part 1 of 5

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Six months into a new century in an age already known for astounding technological progress, a strange cigar-shaped vehicle slowly rose from a shed on Lake Constance in southern Germany and began to move forward.

Stretching 128 meters (420 feet) from bow to stern, the LZ-1 (Luftschiff Zeppelin, or “Airship Zeppelin”) consisted of a cylindrical aluminum frame covered in fabric with two gondolas suspended below it. Lift was provided by 17 gas bags made of rubberized cotton that contained 11,298 cubic meters (399,000 cubic feet) of flammable hydrogen. The LZ-1 was propelled forward by a pair of 11 kW (14 hp) Daimler engines.

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