Ferdinand von Zeppelin

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Ferdinand von Zeppelin
Ferdinand von Zeppelin signature.svg

Ferdinand Adolf August Heinrich Graf von Zeppelin (8 July 1838 – 8 March 1917) was a German general and aero inventor who served in the army of Württemberg. His eponym ("Zeppelin") entered standard use to mean a large lighter-than-air vessel with a long balloon in a rigid frame.

Von Zeppelin accompanied John Steiner on a balloon trip over St. Paul, Minnesota, on 19 August 1863. President Lincoln had personally authorized von Zeppelin's visit to America for the purpose of studying the ongoing war and concomitant technological developments. He participated in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 and the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.[1]

Following unsuccessful efforts to prod the German government into backing airships, von Zeppelin independently financed a line of Luftschiff Zeppelin vessels, beginning in 1898 with the LZ-1. Completed in 1900, the LZ-1 was 420 feet long and 38 feet in diameter, with a frame made from aluminum-zinc alloy. This vessel, three times bigger than its largest predecessors, contained 400,000 cubic feet of hydrogen gas divided into 17 compartments. Its propellers were powered by two 14-horsepower Daimler Motoren-Gesellschaft engines. It used a 100 kg weight and rudders for navigation. On 2 July 1900, the LZ-1 flew for 18 minutes above Lake Constance (on the Rhine)[2] at a speed of 17½ mph.[3]

See Zeppelin company and Zeppelin Foundation for Promotion of Airship Navigation.


Zeppelin's designs were not original, say some commentators, who credit Joseph Spiess[4], or David Schwarz, with developing the rigid frame design."

"As a matter of fact Count Zeppelin added nothing strikingly new to his airships—he simply made them much larger than any of their predecessors; thus increasing the net lifting power and multiplying the number of engines and the horse-power."[5]

Patents whose inventor or applicant is Ferdinand von Zeppelin or Ferdinand Graf Zeppelin

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Names Ferdinand Adolf August Heinrich Graf von Zeppelin
Birth date 1838-07-08
Death date 1917-03-08
Countries DE, Württemberg
Locations Friedrichshafen
Occupations military officer, nobility
Tech areas Zeppelin, Dirigible, LTA, Rigid
Wikidata id Q75780


  1. Hallion, 2003, p. 94.
  2. Hallion, 2003, p. 97–98.
  3. Black, 1943, p. 22.
  4. « Chronologie Aéronautique » pages of Aéro-Manuel 1914
  5. David, 1919, Aircraft, p. 7.