Sunday, 5 July 2020

Zeppelin Museum, Fredrichshafen, Germany

The Zeppelin Museum is located in a former ferry terminal on the shores of Lake Constance in the German town of Fredrichshafen. Fredrichshafen is, of course, the home of the Zeppelin company. It was here in 1900 that Count Ferdinand Zeppelin constructed his first rigid airship on a floating shed. That first airship, the LZ1, only managed a short, unsuccessful flight before it was irreparably damaged in an accident, but it demonstrated untold possibilities at a time before heavier than air flight. 

The former ferry terminal is an excellent example of Bauhaus architecture from the 1920s.

Zeppelin Museum, Seestra├če 22, 88045, Friedrichshafen.

This photo from the late 1920s shows Zeppelin's greatest success, the LZ127 Graf Zeppelin, sailing over the former ferry terminal.

The scale of the Zeppelin airships is clear in this display in the entry hall. The museum building is at the bottom, beside a model of the Queen Mary. A jumbo jet looks like a toy beside the LZ129 Hindenburg.

The museum lobby.

A model of the Hindenburg.

Mission to the edge of Space capsule.

Fragments of the tail envelope of the Hindenburg

Another fragment of the Hindenburg's envelope that escaped the ship's destruction.

American memorabilia from the Hindenburg's last trip.

Flag from the Hindenburg in 1936.

Zeppelin was banned from building airships as part of the Treaty of Versailles. Their engine company, Maybach, was forced to find alternative uses for their engines. They built engines for ships, industrial engines, and inevitably, motor vehicles.

The pinnacle of their vehicle production was the Mayback Zeppelin, a massive 3 tonne monster powered by a 7 litre V 12. The Zeppelin was so heavy, drivers were required to hold a lorry license to drive one.

Fritz Lang's 'Metropolis' - part of the zeitgeist of the airship era.

"Three days to South America!"

"A pleasant trip to Germany"

The Nazi regime didn't particularly see much value in Zeppelin's except for use in propaganda.

Boarding the Hindenburg (well, a partial reproduction)

Model of the interior structure of the Hindenburg.

A reproduction of the Hindenburg's lounge. This was cutting edge, modernist design in the early 1930s, and it still looks modern today.

A feature of the lounge was the mural of the world with Zeppelin and other international routes marked.

Germany at the cutting edge of technology in the early 1930s. On the left is the Heinkel 70, record breaking mail and passenger plane. The Heinkel 70 entered service with Lufthansa in 1932 and at that time was the world's fastest commercial passenger aircraft. It achieved eight world speed records in 1933.  

The observation deck.

A view down on the Mayback from the Hindenburg's observation deck.

A passenger cabin. It is like a very modern train cabin.

Cabins were small, but comfortable.

One of the Hindenburg's seats which survived the fire.

Crew uniforms were distinctly nautical.

Captain Ernst Lehman's jacket from the Hindenburg crash. Lehman would later die of burns.

Part of the Hindenburg's frame

Police officer's kepi and behind, an airship trim or steering wheel.

Remains of one of the Hindenburg's engine gondolas.

Busts of Ferdinand Zeppelin and Dr Hugo Eckener. Hugo Eckner was the man responsible for making Zeppelin a success in the interwar years.

The museum has great models and original artifacts. Compare the chair here from the 1920s with the modern, steel tube chairs of the Hindenburg lounge.

Before Germany was formally banned from building airships in the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, Zeppelin's wartime chief designer, Paul Jaray, began work on two civilian passenger airships, the LZ120 Bodensee and the LZ121 Nordstern. The first of these, the Bodensee, began a passenger service between Fredrichshafen and Berlin, before being seized as war reparations by Italy. The Nordstern was seized by France in 1921. 

Paul Jaray was an aeronautical streamlining pioneer. He was responsible for developing the teardrop shape of the later Zeppelins. He later established patents for streamlined automobiles and design studio in Switzerland.

More models. Here we compare the world's most successful airship, the LZ127 Graf Zeppelin (centre) with the world's least, the British R101. The R101 crashed on her maiden voyage from Britain to India in 1930. Below is the Italian semi-rigid airship Italia, which crashed on expedition to the North Pole in 1928.

Maybach went on to building industrial engines, trains, and heavy materials.

Zahnradfabrik was established in the Zeppelinwerkes in Friedrichshafen. They manufactured steering boxes and gearboxes.

The Hindenburg's successor was the LZ130 Graf Zeppelin II. The LZ130 was an improved version of the Hindenburg, adapted for helium use, rather than flammable hydrogen. One of the visible differences between the two airships is the use of tractor engines in the LZ130.

After the Second World War, Zeppelin's prospects were not particularly good. This motorcycle trailer was among one of their products.

This single wheel motorcycle trailer is reminiscent of the IWL Campi trailer of East Germany.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Gothenburg Maritime Museum, Sweden

Gothenburg is Sweden's second largest city. It is situated on Sweden's south western coast, close to the border with Norway and only a short sea voyage south to Denmark and Germany. Because of its position it is a major port and industrial hub for Sweden. The enormous Volvo factory occupies a huge area north of the port facility and Saab, now defunct as an automaker, is located in the town Trollhatten, about half an hour further north.

With a maritime history going back more than a millennium, it should come as no surprise that Gotheburg has a fine maritime museum. The museum is located at Packhuskajen Quay, at the harbourside, a short ten minute walk from the Gothenburg central train and bus station, beside the Gothenburg Opera House. Interestingly, there is no barrier preventing you from viewing the collection from the quayside or on one of the many harbour tours.

For details of opening hours, ticket prices and activities, check their website:


Here is a mix of vessels, on the lee side of the barge is the Storm Princess, harbour vessel (, on the far side, the tugboat Hercules ( and behind, the destroyer HMS Smaland.

Lightship No 29 Fladen

Patrol boat HMS Hugin

The HMS Hugin was built in 1978 serving as a coastal and riverine fast patrol boat.

Ferry boats Juno and Wilhelm Tham

Steamer Bohuslan

The steamers

We also did a harbour cruise which gives you a good view of the fleet from the seaside.

This is one of the most interesting ships in the collection, the Monitor Solve.

The Solve was one of seven domestically built Hildur class coastal monitors constructed in Norrkoping in 1875. The Solve and her sisters were armed with a singe 9 inch gun in a small turret. They were on active service protecting Sweden's enormous Baltic coastline until after the Great War, by which time they were long obsolete. She was decommissioned in 1919, stripped of her armor, armament and machinery and converted into an oil barge. In 1992 she was purchased by the Gothenburg Maritime Museum.

Model of the Hildur class as originally constructed. The 9 inch gun was not mounted in a true turret but a partially rotating mount that allowed the gun to traverse 45 degrees from the centreline. The museum has plans to restore the ship to its 1875 configuration but this has not commenced as yet. 

HMS Smaland

Steamer Marieholm

Four masted barque 'Viking'

The big crane of Gothenburg.