By John Duggan, Henry Cord Meyer (auth.)

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Extra resources for Airships in International Affairs, 1890–1940

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In the closed political contest of that time the Army used its committee politics to keep the irksome Count at bay, fostering the non-rigid projects it developed within acceptable bureaucratic and financial limits. The court politics of the Count, of course, challenged the hierarchical stability of the military establishment and stiffened its resistance. Thus both non-rigid and rigid proponents worked sometimes alongside, more often against, each other in the closed politics of early airship developmental rivalry.

The open skies at Lake Constance stimulated the open politics of further support for the Zeppelin Enterprise. The Reichstag enthusiastically voted a further two-and-a-half-million mark subsidy to assist in the construction of LZ4 and to provide for purchase of both ships by the military. 14 The year 1908 would be the great turning point for the fortunes of Count Zeppelin and the future of rigid airships. In the first six months, however, circumstances hardly favoured the aeronaut’s cause. Parseval’s second military non-rigid performed to military satisfaction.

Of the five American rigids, only two were native postwar originals. For the rest: ZR1 was a domestic copy of German naval L49; ZR2 was the destroyed British R38; and ZR3 was originally LZ126. ZRS4 and ZRS5 (with the ‘S’ suffix, meaning ‘Scout’, indicating the capability of these ships to carry scouting planes) were both of German-American design and construction lineage. To complete the roster of publicly perceived sky giants, there should be added three Italian semi-rigids: the Roma of 1921–2 (acquired by the US Army in an abortive bid to reassert its role in lighter-than-air flying); the N1 (Norge) of transpolar flight fame; and N4 12 Airships in International Affairs, 1890–1940 (Italia) with its months-long saga of polar disaster.

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