Zeppelins in WWII

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Totalkrieg
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Zeppelins in WWII

Post by Totalkrieg » 19 Apr 2004 02:17

There were any action taken by Zeppelins in WWII?

I've heard they were forbidden by the Geneva treaty, is that true? It sound nosense to me.

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Re: Zeppelins in WWII

Post by ChrisMAg2 » 19 Apr 2004 06:22

Totalkrieg wrote:There were any action taken by Zeppelins in WWII?

I've heard they were forbidden by the Geneva treaty, is that true? It sound nosense to me.
1. AFAIK, no. All german Zeppelins were civil/ commercialy used only, except maybe the secrect intelligence/ reconnaisance action against british RADAR. The remaining Zeppelin LZ 129 "Graf Zeppelin" and their hangars at Frankfurt/Main were scrapped by mid 1940.

2. The military use was restricted/ forbidden, but not the civil/ commercial.

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Christian M. Aguilar

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Totalkrieg
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Post by Totalkrieg » 19 Apr 2004 20:40

Was the military use forbidden by the Geneva Treaty? Why?

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ChrisMAg2
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Post by ChrisMAg2 » 20 Apr 2004 08:44

IIRC, the restriction of the military power is due to contract of Versailles and not of Geneva.
Reason: in general to prevent Germany gaining new military forces to start a new war.
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Christian M. Aguilar

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Post by Jon G. » 21 Apr 2004 05:12

Under the conditions of the Versailles Treaty, Germany was not allowed to have any kind of air force - airships or otherwise. Possibly the Zeppelin menace from WWI was a reason behind this ban; I think zeppelins would have been much too vulnerable to be of much use in WWII.

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Post by MAX_theHitMan » 21 Apr 2004 11:14

As far as my knowledge goes, the zeppelin was only used for commercial purposes and not military. Although some "air-ballons" were used for defencive as well as military uses, but not many.
I agree with what ChrisMAg2 posted...

1. AFAIK, no. All german Zeppelins were civil/ commercialy used only, except maybe the secrect intelligence/ reconnaisance action against british RADAR. The remaining Zeppelin LZ 129 "Graf Zeppelin" and their hangars at Frankfurt/Main were scrapped by mid 1940.

2. The military use was restricted/ forbidden, but not the civil/ commercial.
cheers
MAX
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Alter Mann
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Zeppelins in WWII

Post by Alter Mann » 22 Apr 2004 15:46

I've certainly never heard of Germany using them during WWII, but the US used dirigibles for submarine hunting in US coastal waters with some success.

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Zeppelins in WWII

Post by Alter Mann » 22 Apr 2004 18:14

Oddly enough, just after my last post a special came on the Discovery Channel that covers some Zeppelin history that I wasn't aware of.

It said that the Versailles Treaty was the one that made the Germans get rid of, or destroy, most of their Zeppelins and at least 80 hangers including the original on Lake Constance. The US Navy received one Zeppelin from them as 'war reparations' and it was taken into naval service. The Germans convinced the Allies to drop the restriction on Zeppelin construction in 1925 and ran Zeppelins successfully in civilian service. The Hindenberg crashed in 1937, I think, after 18 successful Atlantic crossings. Germany blamed the loss of life on the US because they knew that hydrogen was dangerous, but the US would not allow them to have helium for their airships. (Helium is inert, and, although it doesn't provide quite as much lift as hydrogen, it doesn't burn.) The Germans kept producing Zeppelins until 1939 but in 1940 they blew up their last Zeppelin hangers at Rhine-Main because they felt that they would be an irresistable target for Allied bombers and they didn't want the airfield destroyed. With no hangers left, the Zeppelins were scrapped and the aluminum re-used for aircraft production.

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Re: Zeppelins in WWII

Post by Totalkrieg » 22 Apr 2004 20:11

Very good explanation Alte, thanks a lot.

I just didn't understand this part:
Alte Mann wrote: (Helium is inert, and, although it doesn't provide quite as much lift as hydrogen, it doesn't burn.)
Why wold US don't allow then to use Helium?

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Helium

Post by Alter Mann » 22 Apr 2004 23:04

I've read a few corroborative sources to the sales embargo, but never found an explanation. Sorry.

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Re: Zeppelins in WWII

Post by varjag » 23 Apr 2004 11:43

Totalkrieg wrote:There were any action taken by Zeppelins in WWII?

I've heard they were forbidden by the Geneva treaty, is that true? It sound nosense to me.
Not during - but before WW2, British sources claim that German airships droning their merry way on publicity flights over Britain during the thirties - took thousands of photographs with LW air reconnissance cameras - that were quietly stashed away 'for future use'. How much truth there is in this I do not know but given the exploits of one Col. Rowehl's alleged air-photography of other potential opponents of Germany during the same period - it seems likely.

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Re: Zeppelins in WWII

Post by Kakita Harry » 23 Apr 2004 12:26

Totalkrieg wrote:Very good explanation Alte, thanks a lot.

I just didn't understand this part:
Alte Mann wrote: (Helium is inert, and, although it doesn't provide quite as much lift as hydrogen, it doesn't burn.)
Why wold US don't allow then to use Helium?
Simply out of political reasons.

The director of the german airship-lines had in the early 1930's convinced the US-government to deliver Helium for filling the "Hindeburg" (which was constructed to be filled with He) and even a gas-cleaning-station was built in Frankfurt/Rhein (the main base of the Zeppelins), but after Hitler came to power und the first rumors of the german cruelties against the jews and the rapid german re- and uparming reached the US-government, it was decided to stop the the delivery of Helium to Germany.

So the "Hindenburg" was rebuilt for the use with hydrogen (9 additional passenger cabins were added).

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Alter Mann
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Zeppelins

Post by Alter Mann » 23 Apr 2004 15:19

Good info, Harry, but didn't the Hindenburg crash in 1937? I thought that the split between Germany and the US hadn't ocurred at that time.

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Re: Zeppelins in WWII

Post by Witch-King of Angmar » 23 Apr 2004 18:32

Alte Mann wrote:The Germans kept producing Zeppelins until 1939 but in 1940 they blew up their last Zeppelin hangers at Rhine-Main because they felt that they would be an irresistable target for Allied bombers and they didn't want the airfield destroyed. With no hangers left, the Zeppelins were scrapped and the aluminum re-used for aircraft production.
Only one more Zeppelin had been built after the Hindenburg debacle on May 6, 1937, and that was the LZ-130 Graf Zeppelin II. It should have been given a helium fill following re-negotiations between USA and Germany, yet Harold Ickes, US Secretary of the Interior, denied the delivery just after news of the Anschluss reached the USA. The airship was launched with hydrogen but did only a few test flights. It got scrapped together with LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin.

Interestingly, your reasoning is the only one, until now, which gives a logical reason for the destruction of both airships in service - while they could still be valuable as supply craft, due to their huge payload (50-100 tonnes or even more) in places where the rail lines did not reach or were destroyed.
Kakita Harry wrote:The director of the german airship-lines had in the early 1930's convinced the US-government to deliver Helium for filling the "Hindeburg" (which was constructed to be filled with He) and even a gas-cleaning-station was built in Frankfurt/Rhein (the main base of the Zeppelins)
The director was Dr. Hugo Eckener(1868-1954), a most popular man in the 1920s and early 1930s, when he performed the first commercial flights over the Atlantic. His plan, worked on tenaciously over years, had been to create a German-American joint-venture to exploit the commercial airship routes, since his company, Zeppelin Luftschiffbau, had been plagued by financial troubles all the time. He also ran against Hitler in the 1932 elections. In 1935, upon a suggestion from Goering, Hitler decided to form a state-controlled company, the Deutsche Zeppelin Reederei, to operate the LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin and the future LZ-129 Hindenburg; this brought the Doctor to a fierce quarrel with Goering, who threatened him with imprisonment, and only his worldwide reputation allowed him to remain at his job.
Alte Mann wrote:didn't the Hindenburg crash in 1937? I thought that the split between Germany and the US hadn't ocurred at that time
The split had occurred at the moment Frankie Roosevelt got elected - when you're aided and supported by the likes of Bernard Baruch or Henry Morgenthau, it's pretty hard to deal with Adolf Hitler :P

~Regards,

The Witch-King of Angmar

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Alter Mann
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Zeppelins in WWII

Post by Alter Mann » 23 Apr 2004 19:09

Thanks for the info, Witch-King, I couldn't remember Eckener's name but the TV show suggested that he was the one that made the negotiations in 1925 that ended the ban on Zeppelins.

Baruch and Morgenthau may have had influence over Roosevelt, but I had the impression that the US was actually pro-German until at least 1938. Then again, I wasn't there. ;}

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