Airship : Design, Development and Disaster

3.81 (11 ratings by Goodreads)
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Airship charts the history of lighter-than-air craft from the continental pioneers of the late 19th century through to European airship stations in the Great War, Germany's pre-eminent commercial and military zeppelins, the construction of British behemoths R100 and its sister ship R101 and the calamitous losses of USS Akron in 1933 and LZ129 Hindenburg in 1937, events which ultimately heralded the end of large-scale airship production.

The historical development of airships was protracted and fractious, as the armed forces of leading European and US powers toyed with commercial propositions while trying to bend them to military uses. John Swinfield examines the axial role of Count Zeppelin, the development of the Zeppelin in Germany as bomber and reconnaissance craft, and the way the British Admiralty, French, Italian and American engineers attempted to imitate German design.

The airship coincided with a time of international strife: mass unemployment, general strikes, the Wall Street Crash and the growing shadow of fascist tumult. Airship draws on original sources, official documents and private letters including interviews with figures like Mary Stopes-Roe, daughter of the airship builder Barnes Wallis. It identifies and analyses the central themes and bold personalities of the era: forming a text that is readable, entertaining and authoritative. The book is fully referenced with newly discovered first-hand material and a detailed bibliography.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 352 pages
  • 156 x 234 x 35mm | 750g
  • Conway
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1844861384
  • 9781844861385
  • 1,110,592

Review quote

A fantastic study * Let's talk book of the month * Readable, entertaining and authoritative * Flightpath Magazine * Excellent book * Nautilus Telegraph * Elegant, glamorous and doomed, the romantic appeal of the airship is hard to resist. Everyone knows the tragic saga of Germany's Zeppelins - Hindenburg, like RMS Titanic, is a common metaphor for disaster - but the story of British airships is equally dismaying. And the US Navy had its own grim record of airship catastrophes.

This book recounts the sad, brief history of airships, with particular focus on Britain's experience. It is a tale of wishful thinking, bureaucratic cover-up, over-ambitious technology, ferocious inter-service rivalry, design compromises driven by cost-cutting accountants, and shattered dreams. -- Mike Markowitz * Defense Media Network * Airships represent a tremendously appealing, glamorous and perhaps even romantic technology that has completely failed. Once it was viewed as incredibly promising and interesting for a wide range of applications - for military purposes and for long range transportation of goods and people. Then came the disasters of USS Akron in 1933 and the huge German Zeppelin LZ129 Hindenburg in 1937 and the rapid development of the airplane, and suddenly the idea of the airship was dead. 'Born in hope and died in tragedy', as the author John Swinfield (p.245) so eloquently puts it. Airship is a great book about the somewhat sad history of airships. The focus is on Britain's experience, but there is much also about airships in America and Germany. I especially liked the many descriptions of the main characters and personalities that drove the development of this exciting technology. * *
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About John Swinfield

John Swinfield is a former Fleet Street and BBC/ITV reporter and producer with Nationwide (BBC1) and The Money Programme (BBC2). A former editor of the magazine Artists & Illustrators, he was also executive producer of arts and features for an ITV station. He holds an MA in maritime history, his dissertation won the Royal Marine Society prize for postgraduate historical research, and his articles have appeared in periodicals such as History Today.
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Rating details

11 ratings
3.81 out of 5 stars
5 18% (2)
4 45% (5)
3 36% (4)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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