First Flight of the Hindenburg (LZ-129)

During the afternoon of March 4, 1936; the airship lifted off at the Zeppelin factory and cruised over Friedrichshafen and the Bodensee (Lake Constanze) for three hours.

After three weeks of test flights the airship was handed over to the on March 23, 1936, and was handed over to the Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei (DZR), the Zeppelin Transport Company and was into commercial service.

Technological Innovations

The Hindenburg was significantly larger than its predecessor the LZ-127 – Graf Zeppelin. The volume of hydrogen it carried was approximately twice that of the LZ-127. This was achieved by lengthening the ship by 8.5 meters (3.6%) and increasing its diameter by 5.5 meters (18%). The higher diameter to length ratio was designed to increase the structural integrity of the airship, allowing it to better withstand wind forces. To be able to build the larger airship a new, larger airship hangar was built in Friedrichshafen.

Comparison of the LZ-127 and LZ-129 dimensions:



Graf Zeppelin



236.5 meters

245.0 meters


30.5 meters

41.0 meters


105,000 m3

200,000 m3


192,000 lbs

511500 lbs

Max Speed:

130 km/h

135 km/h


5 Maybach VL-2 12 cylinder eng

4 Daimler Benz 16-cylinder eng

The Hindenburg was powered by Daimler-Benz diesel engines rather than the Maybach engines powered by Blau gas (similar to propane gas). This made refueling at remote locations easier.

The gas cells of the Hindenburg were made by a process similar to the one developed for American airships. It consisted of a piece of cotton fabric coated on both side with gelatin and then pressed between two additional pieces of cotton fabric. Earlier Zeppelins had used gas cells made of goldbeater’s skin, the outer membrane of cattle intestines.

Maybach V-12 VL2 similar to the ones used on the Graf Zeppelin, USS Akron and USS Macon