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September 11th, 2001 => Environmental Disasters & Mass Tragedies => Topic started by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:23:39 pm



Title: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:23:39 pm
Hindenburg disaster

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/84/Hindenburg_burning.jpg)

LZ 129 Hindenburg The rear third of a large zeppelin burns violently in midair next to a skeletal tower, with a fireball larger than the zeppelin itself.
Hindenburg a few seconds after catching fire.
Occurrence summary
Date    6 May 1937
Type    Airship fire
Site    Lakehurst Naval Air Station in Manchester, New Jersey
Coordinates: 4001′49″N 7419′33″W / 40.030392N 74.325745W / 40.030392; -74.325745
Passengers    36
Crew    61
Injuries    N/A
Fatalities    36 (13 passengers, 22 crew, 1 ground crew)
Survivors    61
Aircraft type    Hindenburg-class airship
Aircraft name    Hindenburg
Operator    Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei
Tail number    D-LZ129
Flight origin    Frankfurt, Germany
Destination    Lakehurst Naval Air Station in Manchester Township, New Jersey, United States


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:24:35 pm
The Hindenburg disaster took place on Thursday 6 May 1937 as the LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed within one minute while attempting to dock with its mooring mast at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station, which is located adjacent to the borough of Lakehurst in Manchester Township, New Jersey. Of the 97 people on board, 35 people died in addition to one fatality on the ground. The disaster was the subject of spectacular newsreel coverage, photographs, and Herbert Morrison's recorded radio eyewitness report from the landing field, which was broadcast the next day. The actual cause of the fire remains unknown, although a variety of theories have been put forward for both the cause of ignition and the initial fuel for the ensuing fire.

The accident served to shatter public confidence in the giant, passenger-carrying rigid airship, and marked the end of the airship era.[1]


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:25:18 pm
The first of 10 scheduled round trips between Europe and the United States to be made by the Hindenburg in the 1937 season departed Frankfurt for Lakehurst on the evening of 3 May and except for strong headwinds which slowed the passage the crossing was otherwise uneventful. The airship was only half full with 36 passengers (capacity 70) and 61 crew members (including 21 training crew members), but the return flight was fully booked by people planning to attend the festivities for the coronation of King George VI in London the following week.

The airship was hours behind schedule when it passed over Boston on the morning of 6 May, and its landing at Lakehurst was expected to be further delayed because of afternoon thunderstorms. After passing over the field at 4 p.m., Captain Max Pruss thus took passengers on a tour over the seasides of New Jersey while waiting for the weather to clear. After finally being notified at 6:22 p.m. that the storms had passed, the airship headed back to Lakehurst to make its landing almost half a day late. However, as this would leave much less time than anticipated to service and prepare the airship for its scheduled departure back to Europe, the public was informed that they could not be permitted at the mooring location or be able to visit aboard the "Hindenburg" during its stay in port.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:26:00 pm
(http://blogs.kansas.com/photo/files/2009/06/sp_aaib059_16x20_the-hindenburg-disaster-posters_707.jpg)


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:27:06 pm
(http://www.phawker.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/08/hindenburg_disaster.jpg)


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:28:08 pm
(http://www.loeser.us/examples/himages/hind1.jpg)


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:28:21 pm
Landing timeline

Around 7:00 p.m. local daylight saving time, at an altitude of 650 feet (200 m), the Hindenburg approached the Lakehurst Naval Air Station. This was to be a high landing, known as a flying moor, because the airship would be moored to a high mooring point, and then winched down to ground level. This type of landing maneuver would reduce the number of ground crew, but would require more time.

7:09: The airship made a sharp full speed left turn to the west around the landing field because the ground crew was not ready.

7:11: The airship turned back toward the landing field and valved gas. All engines idled ahead and the airship began to slow.

7:14: At altitude 394 feet (120 m), Captain Pruss ordered all engines full astern to try to brake the airship.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:28:43 pm
7:17: The wind shifted direction to southwest, and Captain Pruss was forced to make a second, sweeping sharp turn, this time towards starboard.

7:19: The airship made the fifteen thousandth sharp turn and dropped 4000, 300 and 500 kg of water ballast in successive drops because the airship was stern heavy. Six men (four were killed in the accident[2]) were also sent to the bow to trim the airship. These methods worked and the airship was on even keel as it stopped.

7:21: At altitude 295 feet (90 m), the mooring lines were dropped from the bow, the starboard line being dropped first, followed by the port line. The port line was overtightened as it was connected to the post of the ground winch; the starboard line had still not been connected.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:29:31 pm
First hints of disaster

At 7:25, a few witnesses saw the fabric ahead of the upper fin flutter as if gas were leaking.[3] Witnesses also reported seeing blue discharges, possibly static electricity, moments before the fire on top and in the back of the ship near the point where the flames first appeared.[4] Several other eyewitness testimonies suggest that the first flame appeared on the port side just ahead of the port fin, and was followed by flames which burned on top. Commander Rosendahl testified to the flames being "mushroom-shaped" and knew at once that the airship was doomed. One witness on the starboard side reported a fire beginning lower and behind the rudder on that side. On board, people heard a muffled explosion and those in the front of the ship felt a shock as the port trail rope overtightened; the officers in the control car initially thought the shock was due to a broken rope.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:30:25 pm
Disaster

At 7:25 p.m. local time, the Hindenburg caught fire and quickly became engulfed in flames.[3] Where the fire started is controversial; several witnesses on the port side saw yellow-red flames first just forward of the top fin, around the vent of cell 4.[3] Other witnesses on the port side noted the fire actually began just ahead of the horizontal port fin, only then followed by flames in front of the upper fin. One, with views of the starboard side, saw flames beginning lower and farther aft, near cell 1. No. 2 Helmsman Helmut Lau also testified seeing the flames spreading from cell 4 into starboard. Although there were four newsreel cameramen and at least one spectator known to be filming the landing, they were all recording the actions of the ground crew when the fire started and therefore there is no motion picture record of where it first broke out at the instant of ignition.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:30:58 pm
Wherever it started, the flames quickly spread forward. Almost instantly, a water tank and a fuel tank burst out of the hull due to the shock of the blast. This shock also caused a crack behind the passenger decks, and the rear of the structure imploded. The buoyancy was lost on the stern of the ship, and the bow lurched upwards as the falling stern stayed in trim.

As the Hindenburg's tail crashed into the ground, a burst of flame came out of the nose, killing nine of the 12 crew members in the bow. As the airship kept falling with the bow facing upwards (because there was more lifting gas still in the nose), part of the port side directly behind the passenger deck collapsed inward (where a crack formed during the initial blast), and the gas cell there exploded, erasing the scarlet lettering "Hindenburg" while the airship's bow lowered. The airship's gondola wheel touched the ground, causing the airship to bounce up once more. At this point, most of the fabric had burned away. At last, the airship went crashing on the ground, bow first. The ship was completely destroyed. Although the hydrogen had finished burning, the Hindenburg's diesel fuel burned for a few more hours.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:31:16 pm
The time it took for the airship to be completely destroyed has been disputed. Some observers believe it took 34 seconds, others say it took 32 or 37 seconds. Since none of the newsreel cameras were filming the airship when the fire started, the time of the start of the fire can only be estimated from various eyewitness accounts, and will never be known accurately. One careful analysis of the flame spread, by Addison Bain of NASA, gives the flame front spread rate across the fabric skin as about 49 ft/s (15 m/s), which would have resulted in a total destruction time of about 16 seconds (245 m / 15 m/s = 16.3 s).


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:32:05 pm
(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/48/DLZ129_spar.jpg)

A rare surviving fire damaged 9" cross brace made of duralumin from a structural "ring" of the frame of the German built and operated Zeppelin airship "Hindenburg" (DLZ-129) salvaged from the crash site at NAS Lakehurst, NJ, shortly after the airship was destroyed by fire while landing on a flight from Frankfurt, Germany, on May 6, 1937.

This artifact is a part of The Cooper Collection of Zeppelin Postal History


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:32:30 pm
(http://www.thingsyoungerthanmccain.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/hindenburg-300x224.jpg)


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:33:12 pm
Historic newsreel coverage

The disaster is well recorded because of the significant extent of newsreel coverage and photographs, as well as Herbert Morrison's recorded, on-the-scene, eyewitness radio report being made from the landing field for station WLS in Chicago which was broadcast the next day. Heavy publicity about the first transatlantic passenger flight of the year by Zeppelin to the U.S. attracted a large number of journalists to the landing. (The airship had already made one round trip from Germany to Brazil that year.) Parts of the Morrison report were later dubbed onto the newsreel footage and this gave the impression to many modern viewers, more accustomed to live television reporting, that the words and film were recorded together intentionally. Morrison's broadcast remains one of the most famous in history. His plaintive words, "Oh, the humanity!" resonate with the impact of the disaster, and have been widely used in culture. Part of the poignancy of Morrison's commentary is due to its being recorded at a slightly slower speed to the disk, so when played back at normal speed seeming to be at a faster delivery and higher pitch; when corrected, his account is less frantic sounding, though still impassioned.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:33:35 pm
    It's practically standing still now. They've dropped ropes out of the nose of the ship; and (uh) they've been taken ahold of down on the field by a number of men. It's starting to rain again; it's... the rain had (uh) slacked up a little bit. The back motors of the ship are just holding it (uh) just enough to keep it from...It's burst into flames! It burst into flames, and it's falling, it's crashing! Watch it! Watch it! Get out of the way! Get out of the way! Get this, Charlie; get this, Charlie! It's fire... and it's crashing! It's crashing terrible! Oh, my! Get out of the way, please! It's burning and bursting into flames and the... and it's falling on the mooring mast. And all the folks agree that this is terrible; this is the one of the worst catastrophes in the world. [indecipherable] its flames... Crashing, oh! Four- or five-hundred feet into the sky and it... it's a terrific crash, ladies and gentlemen. It's smoke, and it's in flames now; and the frame is crashing to the ground, not quite to the mooring mast. Oh, the humanity! and all the passengers screaming around here. I told you; it—I can't even talk to people Their friends are out there! Ah! It's... it... it's a... ah! I... I can't talk, ladies and gentlemen. Honest: it's just laying there, mass of smoking wreckage. Ah! And everybody can hardly breathe and talk and the screaming. Lady, I... I... I'm sorry. Honest: I... I can hardly breathe. I... I'm going to step inside, where I cannot see it. Charlie, that's terrible. Ah, ah... I can't. Listen, folks; I... I'm gonna have to stop for a minute because [indecipherable] I've lost my voice. This is the worst thing I've ever witnessed.

    – Herbert Morrison, describing the events, as broadcasted to WLS radio.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:35:07 pm
(http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2217/2417429760_c824644ff6.jpg)


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:35:51 pm
Spectacular motion picture footage and Morrison's passionate recording of the Hindenburg fire shattered public and industry faith in airships and marked the end of the giant passenger-carrying airships. Also contributing to the Zeppelins' downfall was the arrival of international passenger air travel and Pan American Airlines.[5] Aircraft regularly crossed the Atlantic and Pacific oceans much faster than the 130 km/h (80 mph) of the Hindenburg. The one advantage that the Hindenburg had over aircraft was the comfort it afforded its passengers, much like that of an ocean liner.

There had been a series of other airship accidents, none of them Zeppelins, prior to the Hindenburg fire. Many were caused by bad weather, and most of these accidents were dirigibles of British or U.S. manufacture. Zeppelins had an impeccable safety record. The Graf Zeppelin had flown safely for more than 1.6 million km (1 million miles), including the first circumnavigation of the globe by an airship. The Zeppelin company's promotions prominently featured the fact that no passenger had been injured on one of their airships.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:36:06 pm
(http://www.damninteresting.com/wp-content/hindenburg_disaster_2.jpg)


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:36:51 pm
Death toll

Despite the violent fire, most of the crew and passengers survived. Of the 36 passengers and 61 crew, 13 passengers and 22 crew died. Also killed was one member of the ground crew, civilian linesman Allen Hagaman. The majority of the crew who died were up inside the ship's hull, where they either did not have a clear escape route or else were close to the bow of the ship, which hung burning in the air too long for most of them to escape the fire. Most of the passengers who died were trapped in the starboard side of the passenger deck. Not only was the wind blowing the fire toward the starboard side, but the ship also rolled slightly to starboard as it settled to the ground, with much of the upper hull on that part of the ship collapsing outboard of the starboard observation windows, thus cutting off the escape of many of the passengers on that side.[6] To make matters worse, the sliding door leading from the starboard passenger area to the central foyer and the gangway stairs (through which rescuers led a number of passengers to safety) jammed shut during the crash, further trapping those passengers on the starboard side. [7] Nonetheless, some did manage to escape from the starboard passenger decks. A number of others did not. By contrast, all but a few of the passengers on the port side of the ship survived the fire, with some of them escaping virtually unscathed. Although the most famous of airship disasters it was not the worst. Almost twice as many perished when the helium filled USS Akron crashed at sea.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:37:17 pm
(http://www.maniacworld.com/The-Hindenburg-Disaster.jpg)


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:38:18 pm
Some of the survivors were saved by luck. Werner Franz, the 14 year-old cabin boy, was initially dazed by the realization that the ship was on fire. As he stood near the officer's mess where he had been putting away dishes moments before, a water tank above him burst open, and he was suddenly soaked to the skin. Not only did this snap him back to his senses, as he would later tell interviewers, but it also put out the fire around him. He then made his way to a nearby hatch through which the kitchen had been provisioned before the flight, and dropped through it just as the forward part of the ship was briefly rebounding into the air. He began to run toward the starboard side, but stopped and turned around and ran the other way, because the flames were being pushed by the wind in that same direction. He made it clear of the wreck with little more than singed eyebrows and soaking wet clothes. Werner Franz is one of the two people aboard who are still alive as of 2008.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:38:31 pm
When the control car crashed on the ground, most of the officers had leapt through the windows, but became separated. First Officer Captain Albert Sammt found Captain Max Pruss trying to re-enter the wreckage to look for survivors. Pruss's face was badly burned, and he required months of hospitalization and reconstructive surgery, but he survived.

Captain Ernst Lehmann escaped the crash with burns to his head and arms and severe burns across most of his back. Though his burns did not seem quite as severe as those of Pruss, he died at a nearby hospital the next day.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:38:44 pm
(http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1408/1053256971_08953f3a33.jpg)


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:40:03 pm
Cause of the Hindenburg Disaster

       I saw a television show claiming that the Hindenburg airship disaster was caused by its skin and not the gas inside. Can you explain why?
      - question from Cedric Pedersen

The Hindenburg, also known as the LZ129, was a German airship built during the 1930s. The Hindenburg and its sister ship the Graf Zeppelin II were not only the largest airships ever built but also the largest flying vehicles of any kind. Building on the success of the earlier Graf Zeppelin, both airships were intended to usher in an age of air travel considerably faster than the ocean liner but more comfortable and longer-ranged than the airplane. This era was rapidly brought to halt, however, by the catastrophic crash of the Hindenburg on 6 May 1937. The exact cause of the fire that destroyed the Hindenburg has never been conclusively determined leading to the variety of theories that exist today.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:40:21 pm
The Hindenburg was the culmination of research into the rigid airship that had first been perfected by Count Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin of Germany around 1900. Zeppelin founded his own company that built several successful airships through World War I. Because many of these zeppelins were used to conduct bombing raids on England and France during the War, the post-war peace treaties imposed by the Allies severely restricted future construction of these craft. The airship began to make a comeback during the mid-1920s, however, thanks to the leadership of Dr. Hugo Eckener who took over the Zeppelin company following Count Zeppelin's death. The company reached its peak during the early 1930s when the airship Graf Zeppelin demonstrated regular transatlantic passenger service was safe and practical. The Graf Zeppelin completed several record-setting flights including a circumnavigation of Earth in 1929, a flight over the Arctic in 1931, and appearances at numerous major world events. These successes lured a growing number of passengers and mail services to use the new airship line for transportation between Europe and the Americas.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:40:48 pm
(http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/investigations/hindenburg/hindenburg01.jpg)

Hindenburg moored at Lakehurst, New Jersey, in 1936


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:41:04 pm
The popularity of the Zeppelin line prompted Eckener to build a second airship to the same design as the Graf Zeppelin. However, this model was cancelled following the crash of Great Britain's R.101 airship in 1930. The disastrous accident cost 48 lives and was blamed in part on hydrogen gas, used for lift, that had ignited as the airship came down. Eckener then decided to abandon hydrogen in his next airship, the Hindenburg, in favor of the inert gas helium. Unfortunately, the Nazis had come to power by the time the Hindenburg was completed in 1935 and the United States, which controlled the world supply of helium, refused to sell the gas to a German company. The Hindenburg was instead modified to use hydrogen for buoyant lift, and steps like special treatments to its skin coating were taken to avoid sparks that might ignite the gas. Despite these concerns, German airships had a long history of safe operation using hydrogen and no fire due to the gas had ever occurred on a civilian zeppelin. Indeed, no passenger had ever been injured on one of the German company's airships and the Graf Zeppelin had flown over 1 million miles (1.6 million km) without incident.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:41:14 pm
Upon its completion, the enormous Hindenburg measured 804 ft (245 m) in length with a diameter of 135 ft (41 m) and could lift a massive payload of 123.5 tons (112,000 kg). The great bulk of the vessel provided space for 16 cells containing over 7 million cubic feet (200,000 cubic meters) of lightweight gas to give the airship buoyancy. Powered by four 1,200 hp diesel engines that gave the ship a top speed of 85 mph (135 km/h), the Hindenburg carried a total of 72 passengers and 61 crew and was capable of making transatlantic voyages between Germany and the United States or Brazil.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:42:18 pm
(http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/investigations/hindenburg/hindenburg02.jpg)

Hindenburg approaching the mooring mast at Lakehurst just before disaster struck


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:42:31 pm
The mighty Hindenburg began commercial flights in 1936 and successfully completed 17 round trips that year. Its journeys covered 191,583 miles (308,323 km) while carrying 2,798 passengers and 160 tons of cargo. This success led the Zeppelin company to begin construction of a twin vessel, the Graf Zeppelin II, and expand the flight schedule. Hindenburg's first flight of 1937 was a round trip to Brazil while the second was a round trip to Lakehurst, New Jersey, in the US. This flight departed Germany on 3 May 1937 carrying a smaller than normal load of just 36 passengers. In command of the vessel was Captain Max Pruss who steered Hindenburg on a smooth and uneventful journey across the Atlantic. The only difficulty encountered was strong headwinds that delayed the airship's arrival time from 6 AM to 4 PM on 6 May.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:42:49 pm
Steady rains had been falling on Lakehurst overnight and throughout the day, and thunderstorms with strong winds continued to worsen as the Hindenburg approached the area. Commander Charles Rosendahl, who was in charge of the Naval Air Station at Lakehurst, transmitted messages to Captain Pruss advising the Hindenburg to delay landing and remain in a circular flight pattern beyond the edge of the storm until the winds subsided. By 5 PM, 92 Navy and 139 civilian ground crew members were called into position for the landing attempt, but rain intensified until after 6 PM. At 6:12, the skies had cleared enough for Commander Rosendahl to inform Hindenburg, "Conditions now considered suitable for landing." Yet it was not until 7:10 that the airship was able to make its way back to the station and Commander Rosendahl again replied, "Conditions definitely improved recommend earliest possible landing."


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:43:01 pm
The great Hindenburg circled over the field as Captain Pruss slowed the vessel and descended through the stormy cloud deck at 600 ft (180 m). As he moved his ship towards the mooring mast, Pruss made a sharp left turn and began dropping water ballast from the stern to lighten the tail. By 7:21, the Hindenburg was still some 300 ft (90 m) high and about 1,000 ft (305 m) away as the ship slowly closed in on the mooring mast.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:43:27 pm
(http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/investigations/hindenburg/hindenburg03.jpg)

Massive explosion rising from Hindenburg's tail


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:43:45 pm
The first hint of impending disaster came just a few minutes later when Hindenburg crewman dropped their mooring lines from an altitude of 200 ft (60 m). At that moment of 7:25 PM, witnesses on the ground reported seeing a small flame rising from just in front of the top tail fin of the ship. Two crewman stationed near the lower tail fin both happened to be looking towards Gas Cell 4 when they noticed a sudden bright flash of light near the catwalk. The two also indicated they heard a small explosion, the sound reminding them of the burner on a stove being turned on. Almost immediately, the men were surrounded by an inferno as the airship ignited.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:43:56 pm
An explosive ball of fire quickly leapt into the sky and the entire tail was engulfed in flames within just five seconds. As the hydrogen from the aft cells was released, the Hindenburg's tail soon began plummeting and struck the ground as the fire rapidly spread forward consuming the center of the airship. Hindenburg was almost vertical as the fire raced forward along its outer skin to engulf the remainder of the ship. It took just 34 seconds for the entire vessel to be consumed by flames, leaving nothing behind but a collapsed and charred steel framework.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:44:30 pm
(http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/investigations/hindenburg/hindenburg04.jpg)

Internal framework of Hindenburg appearing as the outer skin is consumed by flame


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:44:43 pm
Amazingly, 62 of the 97 people aboard survived. The fatalities included 13 passengers and 22 crew plus one death among the Navy ground crew. The majority of the deaths were not from fire but were incurred by jumping from the ship while it was still several stories high. Since the fire occurred above most of the passengers and crew, those who remained aboard the ship during its relatively gentle descent to the ground escaped with minor injuries, for the most part. Among the survivors were Captain Pruss and both of the crewmen from the tail who had first observed the fire.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:44:58 pm
It was not long after the glowing hot metal had cooled when theories about the cause of the disaster began to emerge. Both the United States and Germany conducted investigations into the crash, and both concluded sabotage was a distinct possibility. One of the reasons favoring sabotage was that the Hindenburg was a powerful symbol of Nazi Germany and its destruction would damage Nazi prestige. Eric Spehl, a crewman aboard the vessel who died in the crash, was even named as the most likely saboteur. Spehl served as a rigger who was stationed near Gas Cell 4 where the fire that destroyed the ship is believed to have begun. Further evidence used against Spehl includes that his girlfriend was a suspected communist with anti-Nazi connections and the discovery of a dry-cell battery in the wreckage. Spehl was an amateur photographer acquainted with flashbulbs, and some theorize he used one of these bulbs powered by the battery as an ignition source to start the catastrophic fire.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:46:00 pm
(http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/investigations/hindenburg/hindenburg05.jpg)

Hindenburg pitching over as the tail plummets towards the ground


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:46:10 pm
Nevertheless, the sabotage theory has been largely discounted given the lack of any firm evidence to support it. Most of the arguments favoring sabotage are based on conjecture and coincidence. For example, the testimony of the two crewmen who spotted the flash of light near Gas Cell 4 just prior to the fire has been used against Spehl since his duty station was along the catwalk near where the flash occurred. Furthermore, it is rumored Spehl was relieved of duty about an hour and a half before the explosion by the airship's chief rigger Ludwig Knorr. Knorr casually mentioned this news to a fellow crewman in passing, but the reason why he did so will never be known since Knorr was killed in the crash. Those who suspect sabotage conjecture Knorr may have noticed suspicious activity on Spehl's part, but this is pure speculation. Opponents counter that Spehl is merely an opportune scapegoat since he did not survive to defend his reputation. Indeed, the most ardent supporters of the sabotage theory were Captain Pruss and his family who may have been trying to deflect blame from the Captain's own actions in those final moments before disaster struck.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:46:26 pm
An alternate explanation, still considered the most likely, is called the static spark theory. This theory states static electricity built up on the outer skin of the Hindenburg and could not be dissipated. The accumulation caused a difference in charge to form between the airship and the ground. As the airship passed through the rainy weather over New Jersey, the mooring ropes dangling from it became wet and conductive. Once these wet mooring lines touched land, they grounded the airship's aluminum frame and may have allowed the excess electrical charge on the outer skin to jump to the internal framework. Evidence supporting this theory includes eyewitnesses who reported observing a bright glow along the tail section of the airship consistent with the ionization of air caused by a strong electrical field.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:46:57 pm
(http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/investigations/hindenburg/hindenburg06.jpg)

Great mushroom cloud rising from the collapsing Hindenburg


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:47:15 pm
Dr. Hugo Eckener, meanwhile, believed a hydrogen leak was responsible for the crash. Although releasing hydrogen in inclement weather was prohibited because of extreme fire danger, this safety rule may have been violated on purpose or on accident as Captain Pruss rushed to make a landing. One specific possibility is called the puncture theory. Eckener speculated the Hindenburg's sharp turn shortly before landing could have produced high tension in the aft structure of the airship. This tension strained the wires holding the tail fins in place and could have been large enough to cause one or more of those wires to break. The snapping wire might have then punctured one of the gas cells and caused leaking hydrogen to escape. Any small spark, like the grounding discharge mentioned earlier, ignited the gas and started the great conflagration that doomed Hindenburg. The only solid evidence supporting this theory is gauges found in the wreckage indicating tension in wires at the rear of the airship was far higher than normal, but these high tensions may have been a result of the crash rather than the cause of it.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:47:25 pm
A related theory stated a structural or mechanical failure might have caused the disaster, but this explanation was ruled out after engineers found no evidence to support it. Also eliminated was suspicion of a problem with Hindenburg's electrical system since no electrical faults were observed throughout the journey across the Atlantic. A final possibility was a lightning strike, but Captain Pruss stated the airship had traveled through many thunderstorms before and been struck by lightning several times without incident.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:47:58 pm
(http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/investigations/hindenburg/hindenburg07.jpg)

Forward half of the Hindenburg towering almost vertically with flames rising


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:48:43 pm
Another avenue that has intrigued investigators is the Hindenburg's skin. This subject is of particular interest to a former NASA employee named Addison Bain who believes the hydrogen gas aboard the airship is not to blame for the cause of the fire or its rapid spread. He instead believes the outer skin of the airship first ignited and the hydrogen would never have burned if the skin hadn't already done so. This flammable fabric theory is based on the Hindenburg's skin coating that consisted of iron oxide and aluminum-impregnated cellulose acetate butyrate dope. The doping material is known to be a flammable substance, and iron oxide also energetically reacts with aluminum powder. Since iron oxide is mixed with aluminum to create the explosive substance thermite and aluminum powder is often used to boost the performance of solid rocket motors, proponents of the flammable fabric theory frequently exaggerate by stating the Hindenburg was "coated in rocket fuel."


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:48:54 pm
Evidence supporting the fabric theory is the Hindenburg remaining in level flight for several seconds after the fire began. If one of the hydrogen cells had ruptured due to a gas fire, supporters of the theory argue the ship would have started to tilt towards the ground almost immediately. If the fire were constrained to the skin, however, the cells would have remained intact much longer and kept Hindenburg airborne. Proponents also suggest Zeppelin engineers realized the danger of the skin coating after the disaster and secretly changed its composition on the Graf Zeppelin II. The new coating was said to include a fireproofing agent plus the aluminum was replaced with the less combustible metal bronze.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:49:27 pm
(http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/investigations/hindenburg/hindenburg08.jpg)

Hindenburg's nose falling to the ground as it is engulfed in fire


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:50:00 pm
Nevertheless, more recent research conducted at the University of Colorado has contradicted this theory and found the airship's skin could not have been responsible for the fire's rapid spread. This theoretical and experimental research suggests that even if Hindenburg had been coated in actual solid rocket fuel, it would have taken at least 12 hours to burn in the absence of hydrogen. Experiments with recreations of the ship's skin have also found it would have taken some 40 hours for the Hindenburg to be consumed if the fabric had caused the fire. These finding led the researchers to conclude that although the Hindenburg's skin was combustible, it was not flammable.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:50:07 pm
Given the inability of investigators to conclusively determine why the Hindenburg crashed, it is not surprising so many theories to explain its destruction have emerged. Even so, the static spark theory is still considered the most likely since it is the best corroborated by the wreckage, video and photo evidence, and eyewitness reports. This evidence and academic research also supports the belief that the ship's hydrogen gas was ignited by static discharge and not the skin. The hydrogen burned explosively and rapidly spread the flames forward throughout the ship, and the skin only burned as a result of this intense fire.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:50:36 pm
(http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/investigations/hindenburg/hindenburg09.jpg)


Collapsed and smoldering wreckage of the Hindenburg


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:50:51 pm
Regardless of the exact cause of the disaster, its impact on airship travel is without doubt. The fiery demise of the Hindenburg was widely covered by print and radio journalists while photos and video of the crash quickly spread around the world. These graphic portrayals of the crash immediately doomed the future of zeppelins and no rigid airship ever carried commercial passengers again. By the time Graf Zeppelin II was completed in 1938, the clouds of war hung over Europe and the vessel was soon taken over by the Luftwaffe for military use. The ship completed just 30 flights by August 1939 when war finally erupted, but such a vehicle had no future in Nazi Germany. Needing raw materials for new airplanes, head of the Luftwaffe Hermann Göring ordered the Graf Zeppelin II, the earlier Graf Zeppelin, and the incomplete structure of another airship under construction to be scrapped and melted down. The dismantling was complete by April 27, and the giant hangars that had housed the mighty airships were leveled on May 6, exactly three years to the day after Hindenburg's destruction marked the beginning of the end of the rigid airship.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:51:45 pm
(http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/investigations/hindenburg/hindenburg10.jpg)

Remains of the Hindenburg under guard


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:52:43 pm
The Hindenburg disaster has been the subject of many books, movies, and television programs. Some of the best books about the airship include Golden Age of the Great Passenger Airships by Harold Dick and Douglas Robinson as well as Rick Archbold's Hindenburg: An Illustrated History with illustrations by Ken Marschall. Though difficult to find, perhaps the best source promoting the sabotage theory is A. A. Hoehling's Who Destroyed the Hindenburg?.
- answer by Joe Yoon, 18 June 2006

www.aerospaceweb.org/.../q0277.shtml


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:54:31 pm
(http://www.airfields-freeman.com/NJ/Lakehurst_NJ_Hindenburg_Hangar1_36.jpg)

Lakehurst Hangar (the ship had fifteen inches of clearance)


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:54:50 pm
When the control car crashed on the ground, most of the officers had leapt through the windows, but became separated. First Officer Captain Albert Sammt found Captain Max Pruss trying to re-enter the wreckage to look for survivors. Pruss's face was badly burned, and he required months of hospitalization and reconstructive surgery, but he survived.

Captain Ernst Lehmann escaped the crash with burns to his head and arms and severe burns across most of his back. Though his burns did not seem quite as severe as those of Pruss, he died at a nearby hospital the next day.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:55:32 pm
When passenger Joseph Späh, a vaudeville comic acrobat, saw the first sign of trouble he smashed the window with his movie camera, with which he had been filming the landing (the film survived the disaster.) As the ship neared the ground he lowered himself out the window and hung onto the window ledge, letting go when the ship was perhaps 20 feet above the ground. His acrobat's instincts kicked in, and Späh kept his feet under him and attempted to do a safety roll when he landed. He injured his ankle nonetheless, and was dazedly crawling away when a member of the ground crew came up, slung the diminutive Späh under one arm, and ran him clear of the fire. [8]


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:56:00 pm
Of the 12 crewmen in the bow of the airship, only three survived. Four of these 12 men were standing on the mooring shelf, a platform up at the very tip of the bow from which the forward-most landing ropes and the steel mooring cable were released to the ground crew, and which was directly at the forward end of the axial walkway and just ahead of gas cell #16. The rest were standing either along the lower keel walkway ahead of the control car, or else on platforms beside the stairway leading up the curve of the bow to the mooring shelf. During the fire, of course, the bow hung in the air at roughly a 45-degree angle and flames shot forward through the axial walkway, bursting through the bow (and the bow gas cells) like a blowtorch. The three men from the forward section who survived (elevatorman Kurt Bauer, cook Alfred Grözinger, and electrician Josef Leibrecht) were those furthest aft of the bow, and two of them (Bauer and Grözinger) happened to be standing near two large triangular air vents, through which cool air was being drawn by the fire. Neither of these men sustained more than superficial burns. [9] Most of the men standing along the bow stairway either fell aft into the fire, or tried to leap from the ship when it was still too high in the air. Three of the four men standing on the mooring shelf inside the very tip of the bow were actually taken from the wreck alive, though one (Erich Spehl, a rigger) died shortly afterward in the Air Station's infirmary, and the other two (helmsman Alfred Bernhard and apprentice elevatorman Ludwig Felber) were reported by newspapers to have initially survived the fire, and then to subsequently have died at area hospitals during the night or early the following morning.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:56:14 pm
The four crew members in the tail fin all survived; they were closest to the origin of the fire but sheltered by the structure of the lower fin. They escaped by climbing out the fin's access hatch when the tail hit the ground.

Hydrogen fires are notable for being less destructive to immediate surroundings than gasoline explosions because of the buoyancy of H2, which causes heat of combustion to be released upwards more than circumferentially as the leaked mass ascends in the atmosphere; hydrogen fires are more survivable than fires of gasoline and of wood.[10] The hydrogen in the Hindenburg burned out within about 90 seconds.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:57:07 pm
Sabotage theory

At the time of the disaster, sabotage was commonly put forward as the cause of the fire, initially by Hugo Eckener, former head of the Zeppelin company and the "old man" of German airships. (Eckener later publicly endorsed the static spark theory — see below.) Eckener, who was at the time on a lecture tour in Austria, was awakened at about 2:30 in the morning (8:30 PM Lakehurst time, or approximately an hour after the crash) by the ringing of his bedside telephone. It was a Berlin representative of the New York Times with news that the Hindenburg "exploded yesterday evening at 7 p.m [sic] above the airfield at Lakehurst." The newsman had no additional details for Dr. Eckener at that time, and Eckener spent a sleepless night trying to make sense of what he'd been told. By the time he left the hotel the next morning to travel to Berlin for a briefing on the disaster, the only answer that he had for the reporters waiting outside to question him was that based on what he knew, that the Hindenburg had "exploded over the airfield", sabotage might be a possibility. However, as he learned more about the disaster, particularly that the airship had burned rather than actually "exploding", he grew more and more convinced that static discharge, rather than sabotage, was the actual culprit.[11] However there is also the theory that the hydrogen wasn't the initial source of the fire, seeing as hydrogen does not make visible flames. There is confirmed evidence that the coating on the ship contained highly flammable materials such as cellulose nitrate and aluminum flecks.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:58:07 pm
Commander Charles Rosendahl, commander of the Naval Air Station at Lakehurst and the man in overall charge of the ground-based portion of the Hindenburg's landing maneuver, also came to believe that the Hindenburg had been sabotaged. He actually laid out a general case for sabotage in his 1938 book What About the Airship?,[12] which was as much an extended argument for the further development of the rigid airship as it was an historical overview of the airship.

Another proponent of the sabotage hypothesis was Max Pruss, commander of the Hindenburg throughout the airship's career. Pruss flew on nearly every flight of the Graf Zeppelin until the Hindenburg was ready. In a 1960 interview conducted by Kenneth Leish for Columbia University's Oral History Research Office, Pruss said early dirigible travel was safe, and therefore he strongly believed that sabotage was to blame. He stated that on trips to South America, which was a popular destination for German tourists, both airships passed through thunderstorms and were struck by lightning but remained unharmed.[13]


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:58:26 pm
In 1962, A. Hoehling published Who Destroyed the Hindenburg?, a book that rejects all theories but sabotage. The book even names Eric Spehl, a rigger on the Hindenburg who died in the fire, as the saboteur.

Hoehling claimed the following in naming Spehl as the culprit:

    * Spehl's girlfriend had communist beliefs and anti-Nazi connections.
    * The fire's origin was near the catwalk running through Gas Cell 4, which was an area of the ship generally off-limits to anyone other than Spehl and his fellow riggers.
    * Rumors that the Gestapo had investigated Spehl's possible involvement in 1938.
    * Spehl's interest in amateur photography, making him familiar with flashbulbs that could have served as an igniter.
    * The discovery by representatives of the NYPD Bomb Squad of a substance that was later determined to likely be "the insoluble residue from the depolarizing element of a small, dry battery." (Hoehling postulated that a dry cell battery could have powered a flashbulb in an incendiary device.)
    * The discovery by FBI Agents of a yellow substance on the valve cap of the airship between cells 4 and 5 where the fire was first reported. Some have suggested this to be sulfur, which can ignite hydrogen. (However, a further investigation into this suggested that the residue was actually from a fire extinguisher in the stern of the ship.)
    * A flash or a bright reflection that crew members near the lower fin had seen just before the fire.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:59:03 pm
(http://www.college-optometrists.org/filemanager/root/site_assets/museum/contactlens/Hindenburg_disaster.jpg)


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 02:59:21 pm
Ten years later, Michael MacDonald Mooney's book, The Hindenburg, which was based heavily on Hoehling's sabotage theory, also identified Spehl as the saboteur. Mooney's book was made into the movie The Hindenburg, whose producers were sued by Hoehling for plagiarism, but Hoehling lost due to the fact that he had presented his sabotage theory as historical fact, and one cannot claim ownership of historical facts.[14]

Hoehling's (and later Mooney's) theory goes on to say that it is unlikely that Spehl wanted to kill people, and that he intended for the airship to burn after the landing instead. However, with the ship already over 12 hours late, Spehl was in the end unable to find an excuse to reset the timer on his bomb.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:01:11 pm
During the landing maneuver, rigger Hans Freund dropped a landing line in front of the lower fin. The line became caught in the bracing wires of the airship, so No. 2 helmsman Helmut Lau climbed up from the lower fin to release it. When both men looked up toward the front of the airship, they were surprised by what they saw.

Freund described a flash like a flashbulb's, and Lau said he saw a brilliant reflection between cells 4 and 5. They then heard a muffled detonation and a thud as the Hindenburg's back broke. Some believe that this is evidence for sabotage. Others believe Freund was actually looking rearward, away from cells 4 and 5, but that Rudolf Sauter, another crew member in the lower fin had seen the flash.[15]


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:05:16 pm
Since the publication of Hoehling's book, most airship historians, including Dr. Douglas Robinson, have dismissed Hoehling's sabotage theory because no solid evidence was ever presented to support it. No pieces of a bomb were ever discovered (and in fact there is no evidence in existing documentation that the sample collected from the wreckage, and determined to be residue from a dry cell battery, was found anywhere near the stern of the airship,) and on closer examination the evidence against Spehl and his girlfriend turned out to be largely circumstantial.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:05:32 pm
Another suspect favored by Commander Rosendahl, Captain Pruss, and several others among the Hindenburg's crew, was a passenger, a German acrobat named Joseph Späh, who survived the fire. He brought with him a dog, a German shepherd named Ulla, as a surprise for his children. (Ulla did not survive.) He reportedly made a number of unaccompanied visits to feed his dog, who was being kept in a freight room near the stern of the ship. Those who suspected Späh based their suspicions primarily on those trips into the ship's interior to feed his dog, that according to some of the stewards Späh had told anti-Nazi jokes during the flight, recollections by stewards that Späh had seemed agitated by the repeated delays in landing, and that he was an acrobat who could conceivably climb into the airship's rigging to plant a bomb. As with the allegations about Erich Spehl however, the evidence against Joseph Späh was entirely circumstantial.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:06:00 pm
It has even been suggested that Adolf Hitler himself ordered the Hindenburg to be destroyed in retaliation for Eckener's anti-Nazi opinions.[16]

However, opponents of the sabotage hypothesis argued that only speculation supported sabotage as a cause of the fire, and no credible evidence of sabotage was produced at any of the formal hearings.

Eric Spehl died in the fire and was therefore unable to refute the accusations that surfaced a quarter of a century later. The FBI investigated Joseph Späh and reported finding no evidence of Späh having any connection to a sabotage plot. According to his wife, Evelyn, Späh was quite upset over the accusations - she later recalled that her husband was outside their home cleaning windows when he first learned that he was suspected of sabotaging the Hindenburg, and was so shocked by the news that he almost fell off the ladder on which he was standing.[17]


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:07:05 pm
Neither the German nor the American investigation endorsed any of the sabotage theories. Proponents of the sabotage theory argue that any finding of sabotage would have been an embarrassment for the Nazi regime, and they speculate that such a finding by the German investigation was suppressed for political reasons.

Eckener believed that the reason why Pruss, Lehmann, and Rosendahl supported sabotage was because they may have felt guilty for their acts. Pruss made the sharp turn, Lehmann pressured Pruss to make it, and Rosendahl called the airship in.[18]


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:07:20 pm
(http://www.chelationtherapyonline.com/technical/images/hindnbrg.jpg)


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:08:18 pm
Static spark theory

Addison Bain and others posit that the fire was started by a spark caused by a build up of static electricity on the airship.[19] The spark ignited hydrogen or the outer skin (see Incendiary paint theory below).

Proponents of the static spark theory point out that the airship's skin was not constructed in a way that allowed its charge to be distributed evenly throughout the craft. The skin was separated from the duralumin frame by non conductive ramie cords which had been lightly covered in metal to improve conductivity, however not very effectively, allowing a large difference in potential to form between them.

In order to make up for the delay of more than 12 hours in its transatlantic flight, the Hindenburg passed through a weather front of high humidity and high electrical charge. The storm could have made the airship's mooring lines wet and thus conductive, and may also have built up an electrical charge in its skin. The mooring lines also could have gotten wet as a light rain continued to fall at Lakehurst.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:08:36 pm
When the wet mooring lines, which were connected to the frame, touched the earth they would have grounded the frame but not the skin. This would have caused a sudden potential difference between skin and frame (and the airship itself with the overlying air masses) and would have set off an electrical discharge — a spark. The spark would have jumped from the skin onto the metal framework. At the same time, it’s also possible that hydrogen, either released during landing, or perhaps built up due to a leak (which some[who?] claim could be the reason the ship was stern-heavy and had to drop so much water prior to attempting a landing), was in turn ignited by the spark.

In his 1964 book, LZ-129 Hindenburg, Zeppelin historian Dr. Douglas Robinson points out that although ignition of free hydrogen by static discharge had become a favored theory, no such discharge was seen by any of the witnesses who testified at the official investigation into the accident back in 1937. He goes on to write:


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:08:46 pm
But within the past year, I have located an observer, Professor Mark Heald of Princeton, New Jersey, who undoubtedly saw St. Elmo's Fire flickering along the airship's back a good minute before the fire broke out. Standing outside the main gate to the Naval Air Station, he watched, together with his wife and son, as the Zeppelin approached the mast and dropped her bow lines. A minute thereafter, by Mr. Heald's estimation, he first noticed a dim "blue flame" flickering along the backbone girder about one-quarter the length abaft the bow to the tail. There was time for him to remark to his wife, "Oh, heavens, the thing is afire," for her to reply, "Where?" and for him to answer, "Up along the top ridge" - before there was a big burst of flaming hydrogen from a point he estimated to be about one-third the ship's length from the stern.[20]


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:08:57 pm
Unlike other witnesses to the fire whose view of the port side of the ship had the light of the setting sun behind the ship, Professor Heald's view of the starboard side of the ship against a backdrop of the darkening eastern sky would have made the dim blue light of a static discharge (or burning hydrogen) atop the ship more easily visible.

Harold G. Dick was Goodyear Zeppelin's representative with Luftschiffbau Zeppelin during the mid-1930s. He flew on test flights of the Hindenburg and its sister ship, the Graf Zeppelin II. He also flew on numerous flights in the original Graf Zeppelin and 10 round trip crossings of the north and south Atlantic in the Hindenburg. In his book The Golden Age of the Great Passenger Airships Graf Zeppelin & Hindenburg, he observes:


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:09:08 pm
There are two items not in common knowledge. When the outer cover of the LZ 130 [the Graf Zeppelin II] was to be applied, the lacing cord was prestretched and run through dope as before, but the dope for the LZ 130 contained graphite to make it conductive. This would hardly have been necessary if the static discharge theory were mere cover up. The use of graphite dope was not publicized and I doubt if its use was widely known at the Luftschiffbau Zeppelin.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:09:20 pm
In addition to Dick's observations is the fact that during the Graf Zeppelin II's early test flights, measurements were taken of the airship's static charge. It is clear that Dr. Ludwig Durr and the other engineers at Luftschiffbau Zeppelin took the static discharge theory seriously and considered the insulation of the fabric from the frame to be a design flaw in the Hindenburg.

A variant of the static spark theory, presented by Addison Bain, is that a spark between inadequately grounded fabric cover segments of the Hindenburg itself started the fire, and that the spark had ignited the highly flammable outer skin. The Hindenburg had a cotton skin covered with a finish known as "dope". It is a common term for a plasticised lacquer that provides stiffness, protection, and a lightweight, airtight seal to woven fabrics. In its liquid forms, dope is highly flammable, but the flammability of dry dope depends upon its base constituents, with, for example, butyrate dope being far less flammable than cellulose nitrate. When the mooring line touched the ground, a resulting spark could have ignited the dope in the skin.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:09:58 pm
(http://images1.makefive.com/images/200823/2a1e782b09846f38.jpg)


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:10:32 pm
Lightning theory

A. J. Dessler, former director of the Space Science Laboratory at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and a critic of the incendiary paint theory (see below), favors a much simpler explanation for the conflagration: natural lightning. Like many other aircraft, the Hindenburg had been struck by lightning several times. This does not normally ignite a fire in hydrogen-filled airships, because the hydrogen is not mixed with oxygen. However, many fires started when lightning struck airships as they were venting hydrogen as ballast in preparation for landing, which the Hindenburg was doing at the time of the disaster. The vented hydrogen mixes with the air, making it readily combustible.

However, Dr. Eckener believed that the way the fire appeared was not consistent with that of a fire caused by lightning. Witnesses described the fire appearing in a wave motion. Eckener believed that the shape of the fire was consistent with that of a static spark.[18]


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:11:08 pm
(http://www.snd.org/update/uploaded_images/Hindenburg_NYT-733761.jpg)


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:11:39 pm
Engine failure theory

On the 70th anniversary of the accident, The Philadelphia Inquirer carried an article[21] with yet another theory, based on an interview of ground crew member Robert Buchanan. He had been a young man on the crew manning the mooring lines.

The excessively stormy day had not only delayed the dirigible's arrival but also soaked him and many of the other mooring crew. As the airship was approaching the mooring mast, he noted that one of the engines, thrown into reverse for a hard turn, backfired, and a shower of sparks was emitted. He and others think that this was the trigger that ignited the craft, not static electricity, as the official version goes.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:12:06 pm
When the Hindenburg ignited, instead of an explosion there were just three sequential plumes of flame on the outer shell. Another ground crewman named Robert Shaw saw what looked like a blue ring behind the tail fin. He too had seen sparks coming out of the engine.[22] The cotton skin, depending on the exact makeup of its coating, may have been quite flammable, and therefore the heat and sparks from a backfiring engine could have ignited the skin, though this has not been proven beyond debate and it remains unknown if sparks did ignite the doping compound.

Dr. Eckener rejected the idea that hydrogen could have been ignited by an engine backfire when that theory was mentioned at an unofficial inquiry, which was a chat with crew members. Dr. Eckener believed that the hydrogen could not have been ignited by any exhaust because the temperature is too low to ignite the hydrogen. The ignition temperature for hydrogen is 700 °C, but the sparks from the exhaust only reach 250 °C.[18] The Zeppelin Company also carried out extensive tests and hydrogen had never ignited. Additionally, the fire was first seen at the top of the airship, not near the bottom.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:12:27 pm
Fire's initial fuel

Most current analysis of the fire assumes ignition due to some form of electricity as the cause. However, there is still much controversy over whether the fabric skin of the airship, or rather the hydrogen used for buoyancy, was the initial fuel for the resulting fire.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:12:51 pm
Incendiary paint theory

The incendiary paint theory is limited to the source of ignition and to the flame front propagation, not to the source of most of the burning material, as once the fire started and spread the hydrogen clearly must have burned. Instead, for this topic the incendiary paint theory asserts that the major component in starting the fire and feeding its spread was the canvas skin because of the compound used on it.

Proponents of this theory point out that the coatings on the fabric contained both iron oxide and aluminum-impregnated cellulose acetate butyrate (CAB). These components remain potentially reactive even after fully setting. In fact, iron oxide and aluminum can be used as components of solid rocket fuel or thermite. For example, the propellant for the Space Shuttle solid rocket booster includes both "aluminum (fuel, 16%), (and) iron oxide (a catalyst, 0.4%)". However, the coating applied to Hindenburg's covering did not have a sufficient quantity of any material capable of acting as an oxidizer,[23] which is a necessary component of rocket fuel.[24]


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:13:28 pm
Addison Bain received permission from the German government to search their archives and discovered evidence that, during the Nazi regime, German scientists concluded the dope on the Hindenburg's fabric skin was the cause of the conflagration. Bain interviewed the wife of the investigation's lead scientist, and she stated that her husband had told her about the conclusion and instructed her to tell no one, presumably because it would have embarrassed the Nazi government.[25]

Critics point out that port side witnesses on the field, as well as crew members stationed in the stern, saw a glow inside Cell 4 before any fire broke out of the skin, indicating that the fire began inside the airship (or that it was a hydrogen fire feeding on the whole cell). Newsreel footage supports this.[17]


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:13:38 pm
Proponents of the paint theory claim that the glow can be explained. They claim that what witnesses saw was the fire on the starboard side (another proponent claims that a witness saw the fire start from the starboard side) through the structure, looking like a glow. However, photographs of the early stages of the fire show the gas cells of the Hindenburg's entire aft section fully aflame. Burning gas spewing upward from the top of the airship was causing low pressure inside, allowing atmospheric pressure to press the skin inwards. It should also be noted that not all fabric on the Hindenburg burned.[26] The fabric on several of the tail structures was not completely consumed. That the fabric not near the hydrogen fire extinguished itself is not consistent with the "explosive" dope theory.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:13:46 pm
Occasionally the Hindenburg's varnish is incorrectly identified as, or stated being similar to, cellulose nitrate, which, like most nitrates burns very readily. Instead, the cellulose acetate butyrate (CAB) used to seal the zeppelin's skin is rated by the plastics industry as combustible but nonflammable. That is, it will burn if placed within a fire but is not readily ignited. In fact, it is considered self extinguishing without some kind of additional fuel. That many pieces of the Hindenburg's skin survived despite such a fierce fire is cited as proof. In his experiment, Addison Bain had to use a high energy ignition source (an electrical spark) to make it burn.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:14:03 pm
Hydrogen theory

Offering support for the theory that there was some sort of hydrogen leak prior to the fire is that the airship remained stern-heavy before landing. This could have been caused by a massive leak of the gas, which started mixing with air and filling up the space between the skin and the cells.[18]

There are many theories about how that gas might have leaked, but the actual cause remains unknown. Many believe it was that a bracing wire cracked (see below), while others believe that a vent was stuck open and gas leaked through. During one trip to Rio, a gas cell was nearly emptied when a vent was stuck open, and gas had to be transferred from other cells to maintain an even keel.[17].


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:14:15 pm
The fire seemed to start near the top of the airship, far from any crew or passengers. Although the hydrogen was odorized with garlic, it would have been detectable only in the area of a leak. Once the fire was underway, more powerful smells would have masked any garlic odor. There were no reports of anyone smelling garlic during the flight, but no official documents have been found to prove that the hydrogen even was odorized.

Pictures that show the fire burning along straight lines that coincide with the boundaries of gas cells suggest that the fire was not burning along the skin, which was continuous. Crew members stationed in the stern reported actually seeing the cells burning.[27]


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:14:49 pm
Opponents of this theory note that the fire was reported as burning bright red, while pure hydrogen burns blue if it's visible at all[28], although there were obviously many other materials that were consumed by the fire, possibly changing its hue. Another problem is that most of the airshipmen at the time, including Captain Pruss, believed that stern heaviness was normal, since aerodynamic pressure would push rainwater towards the stern of the airship. However, reports of the amount of rain the ship had collected have been inconsistent. Several witnesses testified that there was no rain as the ship approached until a light rain fell minutes before the fire, while several crew members stated that before the approach the ship did encounter heavy rain. [29]


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:14:58 pm
There also would have had to be a very large leak of hydrogen before stern heaviness could be observed, although given the end result this seems obvious. The stern heaviness was also noticed minutes before the airship made its sharp turns for its approach, and crew members stated that it was corrected as the ship stopped (after dropping over 1000 kg of water ballast and venting gas). Additionally, the gas cells of the ship were not pressurized, and when leaking would not cause the fluttering of the outer cover, which wasn't seen until seconds before the fire. Instead, it has been suggested that such fluttering was caused by the initial blast wave of the hydrogen cells igniting.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:15:08 pm
While not issuing an opinion about whether it was the hydrogen or the treated skin of the airship that ignited first, the MythBusters explored the incendiary paint theory. Their findings indicated that the aluminum/iron oxide ratios in the Hindenburg's skin, while certainly flammable, were not enough on their own to destroy the zeppelin. Had the skin in fact contained enough metal to produce pure thermite, the Hindenburg would have been too heavy to fly. And even if it somehow did, a pure thermite reaction (at ~2500 degrees C) would have completely melted the airframe (assuming Aluminium 2024's melt point of ~630 degrees C for the duralumin of the day), whereas the real disaster left the spars and ribs recognizable. The MythBusters team also discovered that the Hindenburg's coated skin required a higher temperature to ignite than untreated material, but that after it was ignited the treated cloth reacted more violently. This led to their hypothesis that the paint may have contributed to the disaster, but that it was the hydrogen that ultimately caused the zeppelin to burn.[30]


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:15:23 pm
(http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/webprojects2003/hetherington/final/images/hindenburg2.jpg)


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:15:43 pm
Puncture theory

An aspect of the hydrogen theory above claims that one of the many bracing wires within the airship snapped and punctured at least one of the internal gas cells. Advocates of this theory believe that the hydrogen began to leak approximately five minutes before the fire.[18] Newsreels as well as the account of the landing approach show the Hindenburg made several sharp turns, first towards port and then starboard, just before the accident. Gauges found in the wreckage showed the tension of the wires was much too high, and some of the bracing wires may have even been substandard. One bracing wire tested after the crash, though possibly damaged by the fire, broke at a mere 70% of its rated load.[17] A punctured cell would have freed hydrogen into the air and could have been ignited by a static discharge (see above). Or it is also possible that the broken bracing wire struck a girder causing sparks.[17].


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:26:09 pm
A ground crew member, R.H. Ward, reported seeing a piece of the airship fluttering, perhaps providing an opening for a spark to reach escaping hydrogen inside the airship, or vice versa. He said that the fire began there, but that no other disturbance occurred at the time when the fabric fluttered.[18] Another man on the top of the mooring mast had also reported seeing a flutter in the fabric as well.[31] People on board the airship reported hearing a muffled sound, and another ground crew member on the starboard side reported hearing a crack. Some speculate the sound was from a bracing wire snapping.[17]


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:26:40 pm
Dr. Eckener concluded that the puncture theory was the most likely cause of the disaster. Because of this, he felt that Captains Pruss and Lehmann, and Charles Rosendahl were to blame for the whole disaster.[18] He believed that Lehmann told Pruss to make the sharp turn, and that Pruss and Rosendahl were concerned more about the time delay than the weather, because an unobserved storm front occurred just when the Hindenburg approached.[18] But in his heart, Dr. Eckener knew that he was to blame as much as anyone else, for a decision eight years earlier, which he kept a close secret.[18][32]

Eckener concluded that the fire was caused by the ignition of hydrogen by a static spark:


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:27:23 pm
I believe that the fire was not caused by an electrical spark, but by a static spark. A thunderstorm front had passed before the landing maneuver. However if one observes more closely one can see that this was followed by a smaller storm front. This created conditions suitable for static sparks to occur. I believe spark had ignited gas in the rear of the ship.

It may seem strange that the fire did not occur the moment the landing ropes had touched the ground, because that is when the airship would have been earthed. I believe there is an explanation for this. When the ropes were first dropped they were very dry, and poor conductors. Slowly however they got dampened by the rain that was falling and the charge was slowly equalized. Thus the potential difference between the airship and the overlying air masses would have been sufficient enough to generate static electricity. The Hindenburg would have acted as a giant kite, close to the storm clouds, collecting a static spark.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:27:37 pm
I am convinced, that a leak must have occurred in the upper rear section of the ship. My assumption is confirmed by the remarkable observations by one of the witnesses. He described seeing a peculiar flutter as if gas were rising and escaping. If I were to be asked to explain what had caused this abnormal build up of gas, I could only make to myself one explanation.

The ship proceeded in a sharp turn during its landing maneuver. This would have generated extremely high tension in the sections close to the stabilizing fins, which are braced by shear wires. I suspect that under such tension one of these wires may have broken and caused a rip in one of the gas cells. The gas then filled up the space between the cell and the outer cover, which is why the airship sank at the rear. This accumulated amount of gas was then ignited by a static spark. This was not lightning but a small static spark, enough to ignite free gas in the rear.[18]


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:27:58 pm
Other controversial hypotheses

Captain Pruss believed that the Hindenburg could withstand tight turns without significant damage. Other engineers and scientists believe that the airship would have been weakened by being repeatedly stressed. Even a 10-meter, scale replica of the Hindenburg's passenger quarters, displayed in the Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen, has developed some metal fatigue.

The airship's landing approach actually proceeded in two sharp turns. The first turn was towards port at full speed as the airship circled the landing field. After it had circled the landing field, the wind shifted direction towards the southwest, and a sharper turn to starboard was ordered near the end of the landing maneuver. After the last turn the airship seemed to drop even more at the stern, though a slight stern heaviness had already been noticed before this turn. One or both of these turns in opposite directions could have weakened the structure.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:28:11 pm
However, evidence against this theory is the fact that the first sharp turn was too wide and circular to cause any damage, and that the final turn, while considered sharp, was far too slow for any structural failure to occur.

The airship did not receive much in the way of routine inspections even though there was evidence of at least some damage on previous flights. It is not known whether that damage was properly repaired or even whether all the failures had been found. The Hindenburg had once lost an engine and almost drifted over Africa, where it could have crashed. Dr. Eckener was furious and ordered all section chiefs to inspect the airship during flight.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:28:30 pm
In March 1936, the Graf Zeppelin and the Hindenburg made three-day flights to drop leaflets and broadcast speeches via loudspeaker. Before the airship's takeoff on 26 March 1936, Captain Lehmann chose to launch the Hindenburg with the wind blowing from behind the airship, instead of into the wind as per standard procedure. During the takeoff, the airship's tail struck the ground, and part of the lower fin was broken.[33] Many spectators' cameras were confiscated to prevent negative publicity, but Harold G. Dick concealed his camera and took pictures of the damaged fin. Dr. Eckener was very upset and rebuked Captain Lehmann:

    How could you, Herr Lehmann, order the ship to be brought out in such wind conditions. You had the best excuse in the world for postponing this idiotic flight; instead, you risk the ship, merely to avoid annoying Herr Goebbels. Do you call this showing a sense of responsibility towards our enterprise?[15]


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:28:39 pm
Though that damage was repaired, the force of the crash may have caused internal damage.

Only six days before the disaster, there was a plan assisted by the U.S. Navy to make the Hindenburg have a hook on her hull to carry aircraft in a similar way to what the Navy did with the USS Akron and the USS Macon. However, the trials were unsuccessful; the biplane had bashed the hook several times. This could have also caused damage and weakening of the structure.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:28:50 pm
Photographs and newsreels of the initial stages of the fire show that the stern section of the airship collapsed inward in a similar way to an eggshell, as well as a "crack" directly behind the passenger decks. When the stern of the ship hit the ground and collapsed, this part collapsed inward, causing another plume of fire to start. Some experts[who?] have suggested that the collapsing of the structure in this manner suggests problems within the cell bulkheads and the bracing wires.

This theory has not been very popular because it is not so much about what caused the fire as an element of support for the puncture theory.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:29:04 pm
Fuel leak

The 2001 documentary Hindenburg Disaster: Probable Cause suggested that 16-year-old Bobby Rutan, who said he had smelled "gasoline" when he was standing below the Hindenburg's aft port engine, had detected a diesel fuel leak. The day before the disaster, a fuel pump had broken during the flight. A crew member said this was fixed but it may not have been done properly. The resulting vapor would have been highly flammable and could have self combusted. The film also suggested that overheating engines may have played a role.

During the investigation, Commander Charles Rosendahl dismissed the boy's report.

Critics say the documentary is misleading, because it misconstrued the statements by the crewmen in the Hindenburg's lower fin. The crewmen said they saw a flash in the axial catwalk, but the film placed the flash in the keel catwalk closer to the passenger areas.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:29:39 pm
Luger pistol among wreckage

Some more sensational newspapers at the time said that a person on board committed suicide because a Luger pistol with one shell fired was found among the wreckage.[15][34] Yet, there is no such evidence suggesting an attempted suicide. One thing to consider was that the Luger pistol ejected each empty round after firing, and that some owners would keep an empty shell in the gun for safety reasons.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:30:01 pm
Rate of flame propagation

Regardless of the source of ignition or the initial fuel for the fire, there remains the question of what caused the rapid spread of flames along the length of the airship. Here again the debate has centered on the fabric covering of the airship and the hydrogen used for buoyancy.

Proponents of both the incendiary paint theory and the hydrogen theory agree that the fabric coatings were probably responsible for the rapid spread of the fire. The combustion of hydrogen is not usually visible to the human eye in daylight, because most of its radiation is not in the visible portion of the spectrum but rather infrared. Thus what can be seen burning in the photographs cannot be hydrogen. However, black and white photographic film of the era had a different light sensitivity spectrum than the human eye, and was sensitive farther out into the infrared and ultraviolet region than the human eye. And while hydrogen tends to burn invisibly, the materials around it, if combustible, would change the color of the fire.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:30:20 pm
The motion picture films show the fire spreading downward along the skin of the airship. While fires generally tend to burn upward, especially including hydrogen fires, the enormous radiant heat from the blaze would have quickly spread fire over the entire surface of the airship, thus apparently explaining the downward propagation of the flames. Falling, burning debris would also appear as downward streaks of fire.

Of note is that in 1935 a helium filled blimp with an acetate aluminium skin burned near Point Sur in California with equal ferocity.[35] Even the USS Macon burned. Those who disagree with these claims insist these two incidents had nothing to do with the dope, instead the small blimp burned because of a fuel leak, and the Macon burned because it was firing flares.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:30:35 pm
Those skeptical of the incendiary paint theory cite recent technical papers which claim that even if the airship had been coated with actual rocket fuel, it would have taken many hours to burn — not the 32 to 37 seconds that it actually took.[36]

Modern experiments that recreated the fabric and coating materials of the Hindenburg seem to discredit the incendiary fabric theory.[37] They conclude that it would have taken about 40 hours


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:30:45 pm
or the Hindenburg to burn if the fire had been driven by combustible fabric. Two additional scientific papers also strongly reject the fabric theory.[36][clarification needed]

However these claims do not agree with the results the Mythbusters achieved on their Hindenburg special of their TV show and others[who?] feel the criticisms does not take into account the conditions that lead to firestorms, such as convection and ignition from radiant energy.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:31:33 pm
The most conclusive proof against the fabric theory is in the photographs of the actual accident as well as the many airships which were not doped with aluminum powder and still exploded violently. When a single gas cell explodes, it creates a shock wave and heat. The shock wave tends to rip nearby bags which then explode themselves. In the case of the Alhorn disaster during World War I, explosions of airships in one shed caused the explosions of others in sheds nearby, wiping out all the airships at the base.

The photos of the Hindenburg disaster clearly show that after the cells in the aft section of the airship exploded and the combustion products were vented out the top of the airship, the fabric on the rear section was still largely intact, and air pressure from the outside was acting upon it, caving the sides of the airship inward due to the reduction of pressure caused by the venting of combustion gases out the top.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:31:51 pm
The loss of lift at the rear caused the airship to nose up suddenly and the back to break in half (the airship was still in one piece), at that time the primary mode for the fire to spread was along the axial gangway which acted as a chimney, conducting fire which burst out the nose as the airship's tail touched the ground, and as seen in one of the most famous pictures of the disaster.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:32:03 pm
Television investigations

As mentioned previously, the Discovery Channel series MythBusters explored the incendiary paint theory (IPT) and the hydrogen theory in an episode that aired 10 January 2007.[38] While their experiments didn't concern what actually started the fire, the show's hosts, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, demonstrated that when set alight with a blowtorch a 1:50 scale model of the Hindenburg burnt twice as fast in the presence of diffused hydrogen as without it. Combustion was observed in the burning skin, which would have accelerated the fire, but their experiments showed that hydrogen was the main fuel. The hydrogen filled model produced a fire with flames that came out of the nose and resembled the newsreel footage of the Hindenburg disaster. That program concluded that the IPT myth was "Busted".


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:32:24 pm
The National Geographic program Seconds From Disaster had veteran air crash investigator Greg Feith study all of the available evidence, including eyewitness accounts, interviews with the last two living survivors, newsreel footage, weather reports, and the Hindenburg blueprints. Feith burned a sample of doped cloth and it took one minute to consume the whole piece, ruling out the skin as the primary accelerant. Feith's investigations concluded that a gas bag was punctured, probably by a bracing wire broken from the two sharp turns, and that electrostatic discharge from the skin to the ship's skeleton ignited the leaked hydrogen.

In Search of..., a show mainly focused on paranormal investigations and conspiracy theories, made an episode based on this tragic accident, and immediately raised the question of whether it was really an accident or instead sabotage by then-Nazi Germany.


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:33:07 pm
Memorial

The actual site of the Hindenburg crash at Lakehurst Naval Air Station (reestablished as Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) at Naval Air Engineering Station (NAES) Lakehurst, or "Navy Lakehurst" for short[39]) is marked with a chain outlined pad and bronze plaque where the airship's gondola landed.[40] It was dedicated on 6 May 1987, the 50th anniversary of the disaster.[41] Hangar #1, which still stands, is where the airship was to be housed after landing. It was designated a Registered National Historic Landmark in 1968.[42] Pre-registered tours are held through the Navy Lakehurst Historical Society [43]. Due to security concerns, no foreign nationals are permitted on the tours.[44]


Title: Re: Hindenburg disaster
Post by: Jason Vorhees on November 23, 2009, 03:34:15 pm
(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/5/5c/Hindenberg_memorial.jpg/800px-Hindenberg_memorial.jpg)

The memorial at Lakehurst showing the ground marker, the little zeppelin, and Hangar One in the background.