Cruising the Past: The Hindenburg. Color video of the great airship. Memories of the fastest way to “cross the pond” during the 1930s. 2 and 1/2 Days. And the most expensive way to go!

Cruising the Past: The Hindenburg. Color video of the great airship. Memories of the fastest way to “cross the pond” during the 1930s.  2 and 1/2 days!  And the most expensive way to go!

The Airship Hindenburg was the last great passenger zeppelin.

1937 Video of the Zeppelin Hindenburg – new color footage of the airship, including the Hindenburg burning.

We would like to thank Dan Grossman for permitting us to use many of the photos from his excellent website on the Hindenburg. Click here to visit his fascinating story of the great air ship.

The fastest and most comfortable way to cross the Atlantic in its day was the great airship Hindenburg.

The great airship is better remembered today for the film of its fiery crash at Lakehurst, New Jersey, and for its association with the Nazi regime, than for its technological achievements.

Passengers disembarking from the great airship in New Jersey after trans-Atlantic flight.

Though it would probably have been made obsolete within a few years by the advancing technology of heaver-than-air flight (Pan Am Clipper flying boats were crossing the Atlantic by 1939) it was a remarkable achievement for its time.

The Hindenburg’s size in comparison to the RMS Titanic and a Boeing 747.

In 1936, the Zeppelin Company, with the financial aid of Nazi Germany, built the Hindenburg (the LZ 129), the largest airship ever made.

Named after the late German president, Paul von Hindenburg, the Hindenburg stretched 804-feet-long and was 135-feet-tall at its widest point.

That made the Hindenburg just 78-feet shorter than the Titanic and four times larger than the Good Year blimps.

The Hindenburg was a rigid airship definitely in the Zeppelin design. It had a gas capacity of 7,062,100 cubic feet and was powered by four 1,100-horsepower diesel engines.

Menu, deck plan and photo of cabin.

Though it had been built for helium (a less flammable gas than hydrogen), the United States had refused to export helium to Germany (for fear of other countries building military airships).

Thus, the Hindenburg was filled with hydrogen in its 16 gas cells.

North Atlantic and South America fares and service information.

On the outside of the Hindenburg, two large, black swastikas on a white circle surrounded by a red rectangle (the Nazi emblem) were emblazoned on two tail fins.

Also on the outside of the Hindenburg was “D-LZ129″ painted in black and the airship’s name, “hindenburg” painted in scarlet, Gothic script.

For its appearance at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin in August, the Olympic rings were painted on the side of the Hindenburg.

The inside of the Hindenburg surpassed all other airships in luxury.

Though most of the airship’s interior consisted of gas cells, there were two decks (just aft of the control gondola) for the passengers and crew.

These decks spanned the width (but not the length) of the Hindenburg.

Deck A (the top deck) offered a promenade and a lounge on each side of the airship which was nearly walled with windows (which opened), allowing passengers to watch the scenery throughout their trip. In each of these rooms, passengers could sit on chairs made of aluminum.

The lounge even featured a baby grand piano that was made of aluminum and covered in yellow pigskin, weighing only 377 pounds.

Between the promenade and the lounge were the passenger cabins. Each cabin had two berths and a washbasin, similar in design to a sleeping room on a train.

But in order to keep weight to a minimum, the passenger cabins were separated with only a single layer of foam covered by fabric. Toilets, urinals, and one shower could be found downstairs, on Deck B.

* Deck B (the lower deck) also contained the kitchen, and the crew’s mess.

Plus, Deck B offered the amazing amenity of a smoking room. Considering that hydrogen gas was extremely flammable, the smoking room was a novelty in air travel.

Connected to the rest of the ship through an air-lock door, the room was specially insulated to keep hydrogen gases from leaking into the room. Passengers were able to lounge in the smoking room day or night and freely smoke (lighting from the only lighter allowed on the craft, which was built into the room).

The Hindenburg, a giant in size and grandeur, first emerged from its shed in Friedrichshafen, Germany on March 4, 1936.

Two birth cabin on the Hindenberg.  A wash basin was included in each small cabin, with the toilets and shower on another deck.

After only a few test flights, the Hindenburg was ordered by the Nazi propaganda minister, Dr. Joseph Goebbels, to accompany the Graf Zeppelin over every German city with a population over 100,000 to drop Nazi campaign pamphlets and to blare patriotic music from loudspeakers.

The promenade provided passengers with a spectacular view of the earth below.

The Hindenburg’s first real trip was as a symbol of the Nazi regime.

The adjacent dining area could accommodate all fifty passengers in one sitting.

On May 6, 1936, the Hindenburg initiated its first scheduled transatlantic flight from Europe to the United States.

Though passengers had flown on airships for 27 years by the time the Hindenburg was completed, the Hindenburg was destined to have a pronounced affect on passenger flight in lighter-than-air crafts when the Hindenburg exploded on May 6, 1937.

Writing and reading room aboard the Hindenburg (LZ 129) transatlantic airship of the Zeppelin Transport Company.

You might say that Lady Wilkins, wife of Sir Hubert Wilkins, is on the air as she sings during a concert aboard the Hindenburg. The air was the pillow of several thousand feet of atmosphere that kept the Hindenburg, world’s largest airship, out of danger. The concert took place during the maiden voyager of the air queen to the United States. Franz Wagner, noted European pianist is at the specially built lightweight piano. Later his Chopin Waltz was picked up by a radio network.

The smoking room, seemingly dangerous in an airship filled with hydrogen, was kept under positive pressure to prevent any of the gas from entering. A single electric lighter was provided to light your pipe, cigar or cigarette.

Hindenburg lounge was decorated with a large wall mural which traced the path of famous explorers. A Bluthner baby grand piano, made mostly of aluminum and covered with pigskin, was provided for the passengers’ entertainment.


About Michael L. Grace

MICHAEL L. GRACE is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. SNOOPY continues to be one of the most produced shows (amateur & stock) in America/Worldwide and has had long running productions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and in London's West End. There are over 100 individual productions every year. He has written movies for TV, including the award-winning thriller LADY KILLER, various pilots and developed screenplays for Kevin Costner and John Travolta. Besides co-writing and co-producing SNOOPY, he wrote and produced the one-man play KENNEDY. He produced P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD by pulitzer prize winning author James Kirkwood. He wrote the stage thriller FINAL CUT which had productions in the UK, South Africa and Australia. His one-man play, KENNEDY - THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH, was developed for HBO and has starred Andrew Stevens, Gregory Harrison and Joseph Bottoms. He has recently been involved in European productions with CLT-UFA, Europe's leading commercial television and radio broadcaster. He wrote MOWs THE DOLL COLLECTION, THE BOTTOM LINE and LAST WITNESS for German television. While in college and graduate school he worked as a foreign correspondent for COMBAT, the famous leftwing Paris daily, and as a travel writer. He visited more than 50 countries. He struggled as an actor, then joined the enemy and entered the training program at William Morris. He became a publicist and worked for Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager, at Paramount and MGM. He followed with a brief stint as a story executive, working in the frantic horror genre period of the early 80s and wrote THE UNSEEN. He went onto write for episodic television and develop series pilots. He was a continuing writer on such series such as LOVE BOAT, PAPER DOLLS, and KNOTS LANDING. He developed screenplays for such major award winning directors as Nicolas Meyers, Tony Richardson and J. Lee Thompson. He has written for all the major networks and studios. He has been hired numerous times as a script doctor, doing many uncredited rewrites on TV movies and features. He is currently writing A PERSON OF INTEREST, a thriller novel, and, IT'S THE LOVE BOAT... AND HOW IT CHANGED CRUISING BY SHIP a non-fiction book dealing with how the hit TV series as a major cultural phenomenon and altered the style of cruising by ship. He was raised in Los Angeles. He attended St. Paul's, USC and the Pasadena Playhouse. He received a B.A from San Francisco State University where he majored in theatre arts and minored in creative writing. He is listed as a SFSU leading alumni. He also apprenticed at ACT - The American Conservatory Theatre. For a brief period he had intentions of becoming an Episcopal(Anglican) priest and attended seminary at Kelham Theological College in the UK. When "the calling" wasn't there, he left seminary and did graduate work at the American University of Beirut. He has guest lectured at USC, UC San Diego, McGill, Univ. of London and the Univ. of Texas on the business aspects of making a living and surviving as a writer, focusing on development hell, in the Hollywood entertainment industry. Grace is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America, the Dramatist Guild and former regional chairman of the Steamship Historical Society of America. He resides in Palm Springs.

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