Fantastic images from the golden age of Airships – graceful, modern and doomed

Ashley features, photography, Timewarp Leave a Comment


These days we associate Airships with football matches as the smooth flight of the ship enables camera crews to take long and steady overhead shots of stadiums.

But there was a time in the 1930s when they were state of the art travel ships. If you wanted to get from Europe to the Americas you could either get a boat or go there twice as fast cruising in on a liner-esque Zeppelin.

Sadly, the Airship’s stint as the poster boys of inter continental travel didn’t last very long. The Hindenburg disaster put the public off travelling in the skies and then WW2 came and any remaining ships were put to good use chasing U-Boats.

For me though there is something wonderfully romantic and beautiful about the airships. They were the Art Deco fleet of the skies –  graceful, modern and, like many things from that era – doomed.

Here then are  a series of stunning images from the Airship’s golden age, along with a story or two about how they came to be.

Incidentally if you want to travel by Airship, you still can here.

USS Akron over Manhattan

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One of the most dramatic (and IMO beautiful) pics of an airship ever, this features the US flagship USS Akron over Manhattan in the early 30s. Akron was only in service for eighteen months, but in that time had a career as an aircraft carrier - launching F9C Sparrowhawk biplane fighters - as well as a surveillance ship. Unfortunately the Helium filled ship (which was unusual as the German ships of the time mainly used Hydrogen) was also extraordinarily accident prone. It had a trio of accidents - one of which saw crew members falling to their deaths - before finally going down in the Atlantic in April 1933. The accident left 73 dead, and only three survivors.