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A History of Aeronautics by Marsh and Vivian

Friedrichshafen being reached at about 7


'Its best performances were two long trips performed during the summer of 1908. The first, on July 4th, lasted exactly 12 hours, during which time it covered a distance of 235 miles, crossing the mountains to Lucerne and Zurich, and returning to the balloon-house near Friedrichshafen, on Lake Constance. The average speed on this trip was 32 miles per hour. On August 4th, this airship attempted a 24-hour flight, which was one of the requirements made for its acceptance by the Government. It left Friedrichshafen in the morning with the intention of following the Rhine as far as Mainz, and then returning to its starting-point, straight across the country. A stop of 3 hours 30 minutes was made in the afternoon of the first day on the Rhine, to repair the engine. On the return, a second stop was found necessary near Stuttgart, due to difficulties with the motors, and some loss of gas. While anchored to the ground, a storm arose which broke loose the anchorage, and, as the balloon rose in the air, it exploded and took fire (due to causes which have never been actually determined and published) and fell to the ground, where it was completely destroyed. On this journey, which lasted in all 31 hours 15 minutes, the airship was in the air 20 hours 45 minutes, and covered a total distance of 378 miles.

'The patriotism of the German nation was aroused. Subscriptions were immediately started, and in a short space of time a quarter of a million pounds had been raised. A Zeppelin Society was formed to direct the expenditure of this fund. Seventeen thousand pounds has been expended in purchasing land near Friedrichshafen; workshops were erected, and it was announced that within one year the construction of eight airships of the Zeppelin type would be completed. Since the disaster to 'Zeppelin IV.' the Crown Prince of Germany made a trip in 'Zeppelin No. 3,' which had been called back into service, and within a very few days the German Emperor visited Friedrichshafen for the purpose of seeing the airship in flight. He decorated Count Zeppelin with the order of the Black Eagle. German patriotism and enthusiasm has gone further, and the "German Association for an Aerial Fleet" has been organised in sections throughout the country. It announces its intention of building 50 garages (hangars) for housing airships.'

By January of 1909, with well over a quarter of a million in hand for the construction of Zeppelin airships, No. 3 was again brought out, probably in order to maintain public enthusiasm in respect of the possible new engine of war. In March of that year No. 3 made a voyage which lasted for 4 hours over and in the vicinity of Lake Constance; it carried 26 passengers for a distance of nearly 150 miles.

Before the end of March, Count Zeppelin determined to voyage from Friedrichshafen to Munich, together with the crew of the airship and four military officers. Starting at four in the morning and ascertaining their route from the lights of railway stations and the ringing of bells in the towns passed over, the journey was completed by nine o'clock, but a strong south-west gale prevented the intended landing. The airship was driven before the wind until three o'clock in the afternoon, when it landed safely near Dingolfing; by the next morning the wind had fallen considerably and the airship returned to Munich and landed on the parade ground as originally intended. At about 3.30 in the afternoon, the homeward journey was begun, Friedrichshafen being reached at about 7.30.

These trials demonstrated that sufficient progress had been made to justify the construction of Zeppelin airships for use with the German army. No. 3 had been manoeuvred safely if not successfully in half a gale of wind, and henceforth it was known as 'SMS. Zeppelin I.,' at the bidding of the German Emperor, while the construction of 'SMS. Zeppelin II.' was rapidly proceeded with. The fifth construction of Count Zeppelin's was 446 feet in length, 42 1/2 feet in diameter, and contained 530,000 cubic feet of hydrogen gas in 17 separate compartments. Trial flights were made on the 26th May, 1909, and a week later she made a record voyage of 940 miles, the route being from Lake Constance over Ulm, Nuremberg, Leipzig, Bitterfeld, Weimar, Heilbronn, and Stuttgart, descending near Goppingen; the time occupied in the flight was upwards of 38 hours.


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