Graf Zeppelin

Graf Zeppelin
Japanese inks on Red Star Peking rice paper
70cm x 137cm


The Zeppelin is a type of rigid airship pioneered by the German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin in the early 20th century. It was based on designs he had outlined in 1874 and detailed in 1893.  Given the outstanding success of the Zeppelin design, the term zeppelin in casual use came to refer to all rigid airships.  After the outbreak of war, the German military made extensive use of Zeppelins as bombers and scouts.
The World War I defeat of Germany in 1918 halted the airship business temporarily. But under the guidance of Hugo Eckener, the deceased Count's successor, civilian zeppelins became popular in the 1920s. Their heyday was during the 1930s when the airships LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin and LZ 129 Hindenburg operated regular transatlantic flights from Germany to North America and Brazil. The Art Deco spire of the Empire State Building was originally if impractically designed to serve as a dirigible terminal for Zeppelins and other airships to dock.  The Hindenburg disaster in 1937, along with political and economic issues, hastened the demise of the Zeppelin.
LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin operated commercially from 1928 to 1937. It was named after the German pioneer of airships himself.   During its operating life, the airship made 590 flights covering more than a million miles.

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