Naval/Maritime History - February 3rd - Today in Naval History - Naval/Maritime Events in History (2023)

Today in Naval History - Naval/Naval Events in History
May 6, 1937 -Hindenburgcatastrophe

OHindenburgcatastropheIt took place on May 6, 1937 in Manchester Township, New Jersey, USA. The German passenger airship LZ 129Hindenburgcaught fire and foundered while trying to moor to her mooring mast at Naval Air Station Lakehurst. On board were 97 people (36 passengers and 61 crew); there were 36 deaths

The disaster was the subject of newsreel reports, photographs and eyewitness accounts recorded by Herbert Morrison from the landing site, broadcast the next day. Various hypotheses have been put forward for both the cause of the ignition and the initial fuel for the ensuing fire. The event shook the public's confidence in the giant, rigid passenger airship and marked the abrupt end of the airship era.

The back ofHindenburgbegins to fall, with the mooring mast in the foreground.

After opening the 1937 season with a single return trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the end of March, theHindenburgdeparted Frankfurt, Germany, on the evening of May 3 for the first of 10 scheduled return flights between Europe and the United States in the second year of its commercial service. American Airlines had a contract with the operators of theHindenburgto take passengers from Lakehurst to Newark for connections with plane flights.

Except for strong headwinds, which slowed their progress, the Atlantic crossing was theHindenburgit was normal until the airship attempted to land at Lakehurst in the early evening three days later on May 6. OHindenburgit was fully booked for the return flight. Many of the passengers with tickets to Germany planned to attend the coronation of King George VI the following week. and Queen Elizabeth in London to attend.

OHindenburgover Manhattan, New York, on May 6, 1937, shortly before the disaster

The airship was hours late when it flew over Boston on the morning of May 6, and its landing at Lakehurst would be further delayed by afternoon storms. Alerted to poor weather conditions at Lakehurst, Captain Max Pruss plotted a course over the island of Manhattan, causing a public spectacle as people rushed into the streets to see the airship. After passing the field at 4:00 pm, Captain Pruss took the passengers on a tour of the New Jersey coast while waiting for the weather to improve. After final notification at 18:22. When the storms passed, Pruss steered the airship back towards Lakehurst, only to land almost half a day late.

landing timeline
Around 7 pm local time, at an altitude of 650 feet (200 m), theHindenburgmade its final approach to Naval Air Station Lakehurst. This must be a high landing known asflying swamp, because the airship would drop its landing ropes and mooring lines at high altitude and then be hoisted up to the mooring mast. This type of landing maneuver would reduce the number of ground crews, but it would take more time. Although the high landing was a common procedure for American aircraft, theHindenburgit had performed this maneuver only a few times in 1936, when landing at Lakehurst.

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At 7:09 am, the airship made a sharp left turn at full speed west around the landing site because the ground crew was not ready. At 7:11 am it returned to the landing site and released gas. All forward engines stopped and the airship began to slow down. Captain Pruss commandeered the outboard engines at 7:14 am at an altitude of 120 m (394 ft) to try to brake the airship.

At 7:17 am, the wind shifted from east to southwest and Captain Pruss ordered a second sharp turn to starboard, creating an S-shaped trajectory towards the mooring mast. At 7:18 am, in the course of the final turn, Pruss ordered 300, 300 and 500 kg of water ballast in successive launches because the airship was heavy at the stern. The front fuel cells were also valved. As these measures failed to put the ship in order, six men (three of whom died in the accident) were sent to the bow to adjust the airship.

At 7:21 am, while theHindenburgwas at a height of 90 m (295 ft), the mooring lines were dropped from the bow; The starboard line was launched first, followed by the port line. The port line was too tight because it was connected to the ground winch post. The starboard line was not yet connected. A light rain began to fall as the ground crew grabbed the lines.

In 1925, some witnesses saw the cloth in front of the upper fin flapping as if gas were escaping. Others have reported seeing a faint blue flame - possibly static electricity or St. Various other witness accounts indicate that the first flame appeared on the port side just ahead of the port fin and was followed by flames burning above. Commander Rosendahl testified that the flames were "mushroom shaped" in front of the upper fin. A starboard witness reported a fire that started lower and behind the rudder on that side. Those on board heard a muffled detonation, and those at the front of the ship felt a jolt as the port track rope was overstretched; Control car officials initially thought the crash had been caused by a broken rope.


Hindenburgstarts to fall off seconds after ignition

At 19:25 local time, theHindenburgcaught fire and quickly burst into flames. Witness accounts differ as to where the fire originally started; Several witnesses on the port side initially saw reddish-yellow flames leaping forward from the upper wing near the ventilation shaft of cells 4 and 5. Other witnesses on the port side noted that the fire actually started just forward of the horizontal port wing and only then did it go away. followed by flames ahead of the upper fin. Someone looking to starboard saw the flames starting lower and further aft near the 1 cell aft of the helms. Inside the airship, helmsman Helmut Lau, stationed on the lower fin, testified that he heard a muffled detonation and looked up to see a bright reflection in the forward bulkhead of gas cell 4, which "suddenly disappeared in the heat". When other gas cells caught fire, the fire spread to the starboard side and the ship quickly sank. Although cameramen from four news crews and at least one bystander known to have filmed the landing and several photographers were on site, there are no known images or photos of the moment the fire broke out.

Wherever they started, the flames quickly spread, consuming cells 1 through 9 first, and the rear end of the structure imploded. Almost immediately, two tanks (whether they contained water or fuel is disputed) erupted from the fuselage as a result of the pressure from the explosion. Buoyancy was lost at the stern of the ship and the bow was pulled up while the aft part of the ship collapsed. the falling stern remained in good condition.

as tail ofHindenburgcrashed to the ground, a burst of flames emanated from the nose, killing 9 of the 12 crew on the bow. There was still gas in the bow area of ​​the ship, so it continued to point up as the stern caved in. The cell behind the passenger deck caught fire as the side collapsed inward, and the scarlet letters "Hindenburg" were doused by the flames as the bow came down. The airship's nacelle wheel touched down, causing the bow to bounce slightly as one last cell of gas burned. By this time, most of the fabric on the fuselage had burned away and the bow finally dropped to the ground. Although the hydrogen had just burned off, theHindenburgthe company's diesel fuel burned for a few more hours.

Fire erupts from the nose of theHindenburg, photographed by Murray Becker.

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The time elapsed from the first signs of disaster until the insect hit the ground is usually 32, 34 or 37 seconds. Since none of the news cameras were filming the blimp when the fire started, the timing of the eruption can only be estimated based on multiple eyewitness accounts and the length of the longest footage of the crash. Careful analysis by Addison Bain of NASA indicates a rate of propagation of the flame front through the tissue skin at some points during the fall of about 15 m/s (49 ft/s), which would have resulted in a total destruction time of about 16 seconds (245 m/15 m/s = 16.3 s).

In the days following the disaster, an official commission of inquiry was set up at Lakehurst to investigate the cause of the fire. The US Department of Commerce investigation was led by Colonel South Trimble Jr., while Dr. Hugo Eckener headed the German commission.

HindenburgPathé disaster sequenceNaval/Maritime History - February 3rd - Today in Naval History - Naval/Maritime Events in History (6)Coil showing the arc approaching the ground.

Naval/Maritime History - February 3rd - Today in Naval History - Naval/Maritime Events in History (7)collect

The disaster has been well documented due to the combination of the many news crews on the scene at the time of the airship's explosion and the substantial amount of coverage from newsreels and photographs and Herbert Morrison's eyewitness radio report to the WLS station in Chicago, which it was the closest day to the air. The huge publicity surrounding Zeppelin's first transatlantic flight of the year to the United States drew many journalists to the landing. (The airship had already made a round trip from Germany to Brazil this year.)

Parts of Morrison's broadcast were later dubbed into newsreels, giving the impression that the text and film were recorded together. He's practically stopped now that they've dropped ropes through the ship's nose; and (uh) they were trapped in the field by a bunch of men. It starts to rain again; yeah... the rain had (uh) eased up a bit. The ship's rear engines hold it (uh) just enough to stop it from... It burst into flames! Understand this, Charlie; take that, Charlie! It burns... and cracks! It's horrible! Oh my God! Get out of the way, please! It burns and bursts into flames and that... and falls onto the bollard and everyone else. That is terrible; This is one of the worst disasters in the world. Oh, it is... [unintelligible] its flames... Crackling, oh! oh, four or five hundred feet in the sky, and it's a terrible noise, ladies and gentlemen. Now there is smoke and flames, and the structure falls to the ground, not quite against the mooring mast. Oh humanity and all the screaming passengers out there! I told you; it – I can't even talk to people, their friends are there! Oh! It's... it's... it's a... ah! I... I can't talk, ladies and gentlemen. Honestly, it just sits there, a mass of smoldering rubble. Oh! And everyone can barely breathe, talk and scream. Sorry. Honestly: I... can barely breathe. I... I'm going to go where I can't see. Charlie, this is terrible. Ah, ah... I can't. Listen up guys; I... I have to stop for a second because I've lost my voice. That's the worst thing I've ever seen.— Herbert Morrison, transcript of WLS radio program describing theHindenburgCatastrophe.

The Hindenburg disaster photographed by Arthur Cofod Jr.

The newsreels and photographs, along with Morrison's passionate reporting, shook public and industry confidence in airships and marked the end of the gigantic passenger airship. The arrival of international passenger air travel and Pan American Airlines also contributed to the demise of Zeppelins. Heavier-than-air aircraft regularly crossed the Atlantic and Pacific at speeds well in excess of 130 km/h (80 mph).Hindenburg. The only advantage thatHindenburgcompared to such an aircraft was the comfort it offered its passengers.

In contrast to US media coverage, media coverage of the disaster in Germany was more subdued. Although some photos of the disaster were published in newspapers, news footage was not released until after World War II. Furthermore, German casualties were commemorated in a similar way to dead war heroes, and grassroots movements to finance the construction of zeppelins (as in the case of theLZ4Crash 1908) were expressly banned by the Nazi government.

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Prior to that, there had been a number of other accidents involving airships.HindenburgFire; many were caused by bad weather. OGraf Zeppelinsafely flew over 1.6 million kilometers (1.0 million miles), including the world's first circumnavigation by an airship. Zeppelin's advertising campaigns highlighted that no passengers had been injured in any of its aircraft.

number of deaths
Despite the ferocity of the colossal fire, many crew and passengers survived, but most suffered severe burns. Of the 36 passengers and 61 crew, 13 passengers and 22 crew died. Also killed was a member of the ground crew, Civil Lines Judge Allen Hagaman. Ten passengers and 16 crew died in the accident or fire. Most of the victims were cremated, while others died when they jumped from the airship too high or died from smoke inhalation or falling debris. Six other crew members, three passengers, and Allen Hagaman died in the hours or days that followed, mostly as a result of their burns.

Most of the dead crew were at the top of the ship's hull where there was no clear escape route or were near the ship's bow which was flaming in the air too long for most of them to escape death. Most of the bow crew died in the fire, although at least one was filmed falling over the bow to his death. Most of the passengers who died were trapped on the starboard side of the passenger deck. The wind not only blew the fire to starboard, but the ship also rolled slightly to starboard as it sank, with much of the upper hull of that part of the ship collapsing outside the starboard observation windows, preventing the escape of many. passengers on this side. To make matters worse, the sliding door leading from the starboard passenger area to the central concourse and aisle ladder (which rescuers used to get several passengers to safety) jammed during the impact, further trapping the starboard passengers. Despite this, some managed to escape through the starboard passenger decks. In contrast, all but a few passengers on the ship's port side survived the fire, with some escaping largely unscathed. While it was the best memory of the airship disaster, it wasn't the worst. Slightly more than twice that number (73 of 76 on board) died when the US Navy's helium-filled reconnaissance airship USS diedAkroncrashed into the sea four years earlier, on April 4, 1933, off the coast of New Jersey.

Some of the survivors were saved by luck. Werner Franz, the 14-year-old cabin boy, was stunned to realize that the ship was on fire. As he was standing near the officers' mess, where he had just put away the dishes, a ballast water tank burst over him and he was suddenly drenched. It brought him back to his senses, as he later said in interviews, and also put out the fire around him. He then made his way to a nearby hatch through which the galley had been loaded with pre-flight provisions and dropped through it just as the forward part of the ship briefly bounced through the air. He started to run to starboard but stopped, turned and ran the other way because the wind was blowing the flames that way. He emerged from the wreckage unharmed and died as the last surviving crew member on 13 August 2014, aged 92. The last surviving passenger is Werner G. Doehner (born 1928), a retired electrical engineer who at the time of the accident was an eight-year-old child traveling with his parents, brother and sister. His father and sister died in the disaster.

When the control car hit the ground, most of the officers jumped out of the windows, but broke away. The first officer, Captain Albert Sammt, found Captain Max Pruss trying to re-enter the wreckage to search for survivors. Pruss' face was badly burned and he required months of hospital treatment and surgery, but he survived.

Captain Ernst Lehmann escaped the accident with burns to his head and arms and severe burns to most of his back. He died the next day at a nearby hospital.

Of the 12 crew on the bow of the airship, only three survived. Four of these 12 men were on the mooring platform, a platform at the very top of the bow from which the most advanced landing ropes and steel mooring line were released to the shore crew and located at the forward end of the axial walkway and just front. from gas cell No. 16. The rest were on the lower keel dock in front of the helm car or on platforms beside the ladder that went up the bow bow to the berthing platform. During fire, the arc hovered at an angle of approximately 45 degrees in the air and the flames shot forward through the axial walkway and exploded through the arc (and the arc's gas cells) like a blowtorch. The three men surviving from the forward section (elevator driver Kurt Bauer, cook Alfred Grözinger and electrician Josef Leibrecht) were located further aft of the bow, and two of them (Bauer and Grözinger) were standing near two large triangular air vents through which the fire drew fresh air. None of these men suffered anything other than superficial burns. Most of the men standing on the bow steps fell into the stern fire or tried to jump from the ship when she was still very high in the air. Three of the four men standing on the bow mooring platform were actually rescued alive from the wreckage, although one (Erich Spehl, a rigger) died shortly afterwards in Air Station sickbay and the other two (helmsman Alfred Bernhard and The Newspapers of elevator apprentice Ludwig Felber) reported that they initially survived the fire and then died overnight or the next morning in nearby hospitals.

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