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In Search of the Zeppelin War

Am I right in thinking that in 1939, as part of their preparations for the war they were going to start, the Luftwaffe used a an airship (not sure if it was rigid or non rigid) to carry out a reconiasance of the radar towers that were being built on the South and East coasts?

As for the First World War, is there any evidence that Zeppelins were used for anti ship reconnaissance? This was the reason for launching fighters from heavy warships, and ultimately the development of the aircraft carrier.
Both the Graf and Hindenburg were used for intelligence gathering (PR) whilst ostensibly flag showing. Cat-launched a/c were predominately used for naval artillery spotting rather than for counter Zeppelin ops, though both sides used derigibles for ASW and fleet reconnaissance.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
How many people died as a result of Zeppelin attacks, and were any attacks made against specific targets such as a port or a military installation?

Was the Zeppelin a good use of German industrial resources, including high grade metals? How many powered aircraft could have been constructed with those resources?
The zeppelin program caused a shortage of sausage in Germany
 

Yokel

LE
Both the Graf and Hindenburg were used for intelligence gathering (PR) whilst ostensibly flag showing. Cat-launched a/c were predominately used for naval artillery spotting rather than for counter Zeppelin ops, though both sides used derigibles for ASW and fleet reconnaissance.

During the First World War seaplanes were used by the RN, although the first aircraft launch from a moving ship had taken place on 1912. Three seaplane carriers were supposed to be part of the Grand Fleet at Jutland, but only one managed to make it.

The day after the battle, the British fleet was overflown by a Zeppelin. The seaplane could not be launched in time, as it took time to stop the ship, lower the aircraft, get the pilot in, and start the engine.

Immediately experiments started on launching fighters from gun turrets, and the first Zeppelin was splashed later in 1916 by an aircraft launched from the cruiser HMS Yarmouth.

More Zeppelin kills followed, but the idea of being able to launch multiple fighters from a ship and recover them at sea led to the aircraft carrier. Major warships carried aircraft launched using cordite charges in the Second World War - mostly spotting.
 

Bodenplatte

War Hero
Another story which springs to mind is the deaths of the crew of a Zeppelin/Schutte Lanz which had come down in the North Sea near to a British fishing boat. The German crew survived the crash, and the wreck had quite a bit of buoyancy at first, but the Brits refused their pleas and left them to drown.

The story was spun both ways, but was a propaganda coup for the Germans.

A similar moral dilemma arose in the second unpleasantness, during the Battle of Britain, when British pilots were ordered to fire on the German Air Sea Rescue seaplanes which were prominently marked with the Red Cross.
 
My home town, Loughborough, was hit be a Zeppelin in 1916. The raid was supposed to be on Liverpool; navigation must have been pretty primitive.

One thing that interested me was the way blackouts were managed. There was no national blackout; warnings were issued as the airships were seen crossing the East Coast. But the system only blacked out major cities; the surrounding industrial cities of Leicester, Nottingham and Derby were all blacked out on the night Loughborough got hit. There’s a second hand car dealership (Swancar) on The Rushes which was; it had a display of photos when I was young.

I wonder if that is why so many small towns were apparently randomly hit by Zeppelins?
 
There's a very good book on the Zeppelin and Gotha Raids: 'Zeppelin Nights' which came out a couple of years ago. I also have plots of the various Zeppelin raids over Britan - they covered most of the country. For route navigation, they used Astronavigation, but once they reached London, they used road Atlases and A-Z type guides
 


pic via google search
 
A similar moral dilemma arose in the second unpleasantness, during the Battle of Britain, when British pilots were ordered to fire on the German Air Sea Rescue seaplanes which were prominently marked with the Red Cross.

Possibly because the SAR planes were sending sighting reports...
 

chimera

LE
Moderator
This book offers extensive coverage of the Gotha raids, and the effect it had on the UK, and the first time war had really come to the home front. One of the impacts is the Roayl Family quietly changing their name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor in 1917 due to the rabid anti-German sentiments the raids caused.

 

tiv

LE
Am I right in thinking that in 1939, as part of their preparations for the war they were going to start, the Luftwaffe used a an airship (not sure if it was rigid or non rigid) to carry out a reconiasance of the radar towers that were being built on the South and East coasts?

As for the First World War, is there any evidence that Zeppelins were used for anti ship reconnaissance? This was the reason for launching fighters from heavy warships, and ultimately the development of the aircraft carrier.
Just looking at an article about it in an old copy of Aeroplane. It contained this map showing the course of the flight:

Graf SigInt.jpg
 
My home town, Loughborough, was hit be a Zeppelin in 1916. The raid was supposed to be on Liverpool; navigation must have been pretty primitive.

One thing that interested me was the way blackouts were managed. There was no national blackout; warnings were issued as the airships were seen crossing the East Coast. But the system only blacked out major cities; the surrounding industrial cities of Leicester, Nottingham and Derby were all blacked out on the night Loughborough got hit. There’s a second hand car dealership (Swancar) on The Rushes which was; it had a display of photos when I was young.

I wonder if that is why so many small towns were apparently randomly hit by Zeppelins?

Navigation was awful. Most Zeppelin flights were cancelled due to bad weather. They were worse than useless in cloud and didn't dare go low.

One raid dropped bombs in Herts.

They were aiming for Leeds.
 

TotalBanker

Old-Salt
Just looking at an article about it in an old copy of Aeroplane. It contained this map showing the course of the flight:

View attachment 506063
I watched a programme a few days ago on this Zeppelin trip. The Germans were more advanced than we were in radar and knew what they were looking for. When they couldn't find what they were looking for, they assumed the radar we had was no good and wouldn't work (I'm paraphrasing from what i recall, im sure there more accurate historical knowledge on here somewhere!) and went off. They had picked up signals they thought were part of the national grid and dismissed them, but these actually were our radar signals. They'd seen them, dismissed them and gone home.
After the war, one of the chaps instrumental in developing our radar met the Luftwaffe man who was i think his equivalent in Germany, called Manzar or Manzini or something (apologies would have made a better job recalling this if id known there was a test!). Our chap starts talking about tracking the Zeppelin on the course @tiv shows above, the German says no you didnt as you didnt have radar worth anything back then. Our guy then tells the German the course the Zepp took, and i guess at that point the German is doing one of the great what ifs, "what if id realised that was a radar signal and told Goering accordingly?"
 

tiv

LE
I watched a programme a few days ago on this Zeppelin trip. The Germans were more advanced than we were in radar and knew what they were looking for. When they couldn't find what they were looking for, they assumed the radar we had was no good and wouldn't work (I'm paraphrasing from what i recall, im sure there more accurate historical knowledge on here somewhere!) and went off. They had picked up signals they thought were part of the national grid and dismissed them, but these actually were our radar signals. They'd seen them, dismissed them and gone home.
After the war, one of the chaps instrumental in developing our radar met the Luftwaffe man who was i think his equivalent in Germany, called Manzar or Manzini or something (apologies would have made a better job recalling this if id known there was a test!). Our chap starts talking about tracking the Zeppelin on the course @tiv shows above, the German says no you didnt as you didnt have radar worth anything back then. Our guy then tells the German the course the Zepp took, and i guess at that point the German is doing one of the great what ifs, "what if id realised that was a radar signal and told Goering accordingly?"
That would be this chap Wolfgang Martini - Wikipedia

They apparently thought it was the national grid as the radar was locked to the 50 c/s frequency. CH was crude but it did the job and was available in time for the operators to gain experience before it was need for real.
 
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