History’s Most Famous Airship

Take your pick: which is your most popular misconception?

The Hindenburg blew up because it was filled with dangerous / flammable / explosive Nazi hydrogen.  (See 3.4)



The Hindenburg was originally designed for helium-only, but the Americans would not give it to the Germans, who then were forced to use the dangerous / flammable / explosive Nazi hydrogen over their most vigorous protests, since there were readily available methods of shipping American helium overseas. The Germans always knew they should have used helium and the use of hydrogen was a design flaw which can be blamed for the accident.  (See 3.1)

The Hindenburg made a tight turn knocking the passengers off their feet, and that broke a wire aft, which cut a gas cell, hydrogen escaped, mixed with air, then that mix made a U-turn at the covering, then resisted dispersal and diffusion until the nose ropes got wet enough to ground, which generated a spark at the other end, which got under the cover near the oxy-hydrogen there, which caught fire, and that ignited the covering. (See 3.5)

Or maybe it was a stuck valve, since that had happened before, so just the right amount of hydrogen was vented out the hooded vent, it mixed with air,  there was more than enough energy in the corona to ignite the mix, the lighter-than-air fire somehow backed down the vent stack all the way to the stuck valve and then entered the cell and ignited the airless hydrogen in the cells. (See 3.2)

Or, just like in the 1975 movie, a mad bomber placed an explosive device timed to go off after the passengers disembarked and its firey blast ignited the Nazi dangerous/flammable/explosive pure hydrogen in the cells which then also exploded without air, spreading fire to the covering. (See 3.4)

Or, details do not really matter, we have been told all our lives that hydrogen caused the accident by itself and we don’t need to explain how flammable mix of oxy-hydrogen had to have been in between the ignition source and the fabric seen burning. (See 3.4) Constantly repeated by influential media, “hydrogen first” is accepted as the true religion of visible hydrogen fire.


“The death of the Hindenburg was the death of the dirigible.”  The Zeppelin Company has never admitted to any design oversight, When America refused helium, Zeppelins could no longer fly, no airship would ever again be lifted by hydrogen, no one ever rode a Zeppelin again, etc. etc.  (See 5.3)

Begin with 3.1. LZ-129 Evolves

Continue reading to 3.2. The US Navy and the Hindenburg

Continue reading to 3.3. Hindenburg Götterdämmerung

Continue reading to 3.4. Hindenburg “Explosion”

Finish up with 3.5. The Zeppelin Rebirth: Finding the Cause

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