808 Feet Long and It Flies

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by jason_els, Jun 26, 2008.

  1. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    Or did.

    It's LZ 129 and 72 years ago it was launched to fly up to seventy of the rich and fabulous all over the world. She was the largest aircraft ever flown.

    What many don't know is that LZ 129 had a successful career prior to her last voyage. Tickets were very expensive for the day. A ticket from Frankfurt to New York was US$400 (US$5900 in today's money), but the trip was a mere 60 hours and that was its main attraction.

    At the time, LZ 129 was a marvel of technology. She was built entirely of aluminum. The galley was aluminum, the pots were aluminum, the furnishings were aluminum, the flatware was aluminum. She even had a piano made entirely of aluminum. About the only thing not aluminum were the seating and sleeping surfaces. Believe it or not, there was a smoking room aboard. The room maintained a positive pressure so no leaking gas could get in and had a car cigarette lighter element device with which to light smoking materials.

    Accomodations were tiny by today's standards but LZ 129 was the Concorde of her day. Passengers would sacrifice first class amenities common on ships for the unprecedented speed with which LZ 129 could travel.

    The more I look at LZ 129's interior, the more I'm taken by how beautiful it was and what a staggering accomplishment of modernism the passenger accomodations were. The designer, Fritz August Breuhaus de Groot, was born at the wrong time. His modernist sensibilities were deeply censored by the Nazi regime which favored the more prosaic architecture of neoclassical and country rustic. Many of his attempts at modernism required some bow to the Nazi regime. There had to be classical columns, a few eagles, even a bust of Hitler now and again. He was contrained and his work showed that.

    But not on LZ 129.

    Because the ship was so sensitive to weight, even the Nazi cultural watchdogs had to relent and admit that stylistic Nazi touches had to go. The result is one of the clearest designs of German art deco we have record of. In the first part of the century, German and Austrian designers were at the forefront of style. This leap from the complicated classical forms that dominated styles such as Art Nouveau transformed into Art Deco, and more importantly, the Bauhaus. The Nazis hated Bauhaus architecture and so killed (within their borders) what was arguably, the greatest stylistic movement of the early 20th century. Prior to 1933, Germany and Austria were the cultural capitals of Europe.

    So here are some interior shots of LZ 129. Think about just how old these pictures are and then look at how clean and spare yet elegant the designs are. This ship was designed 77 years ago and even today its elegance has not faded.

    LZ 129, also known as Hindenburg, ended her life most infamously in Lakehurst, NJ in 1937 due to what was likely the combination of a gas leak, flammable coatings, and static electricity after over a year a many successful transatlantic and intercontinental flights totalling 191,000 miles.

    Take a moment to marvel at what she was before the famous crash as she soars over Manhattan. We may never see her like again.
     
  2. vince

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    Marvelous. The silk paintings are very beautiful and I'd love to have some of those smoking chairs.

    It's such a shame Germany went down the road she went. All that creativity was channeled into death and destruction.
     
  3. Jovial

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    Bring back the airships!
     
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