Zeppelin Constructs the First Dirigible That Flies (Great Events from History II: Science and Technology Series)
Article abstract: Zeppelin devised the first prototype of the rigid airship, which played a major role in World War I and in international air traffic until 1938.
Summary of Event
The history of rigid airships is directed largely by attempts to extend the military potential of lighter-than-air crafts by propulsion and directed flight. After the Montgolfier brothers’ balloon launch in 1783, engineers—especially in France—began to focus on how the direction of balloon flight could be influenced by machines. Ideas ranged from rowing through the air with silk-covered oars or movable wings to using a rotating fan, an airscrew, or a propeller powered by a steam engine (1852) or an electric motor (1882). The internal combustion engine, introduced at the end of the nineteenth century and promising higher speeds and more power, was another major step toward the realization of dirigible balloons. These, however, were not rigid yet.
Rigidity had the advantage of permitting larger airships with a wider range. Around 1890, the Austro-Hungarian War Ministry turned down a design for a rigid airship devised by the Dalmatian David Schwarz; however, the Soviet government accepted it in 1892. During trials in St. Petersburg in 1893, flaws that became apparent during inflation kept the airship on the ground. Therefore, Schwarz took his plans to a third sponsor and succeeded, in 1894, in convincing a Prussian aeronautical...
(The entire section is 1921 words.)
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