HUGE BY ANY COMPARISON, Hindenburg and Titanic inspired a sense of safety with their superior technology. White Star Line did little to discourage the public’s perception of the ship as unsinkable. Titanic’s double bottom, sixteen supposedly watertight compartments, and luxurious amenities such as a heated swimming pool and electricity made it the most scientifically advanced vessel of its time.
During the 1930s, some inter-continental travelers preferred the relatively speedy giant zeppelins. Hindenburg’s lighter-than-air technology raised predictions that dirigibles would replace ocean liners altogether. As nations worldwide struggled through the Great Depression, Hindenburg’s ultra-modern design and amenities inspired faith in science and a prosperous future.
Hindenburg fabric purse, 1936
Loan from anonymous
Passenger Clara Adams fashioned this clutch purse from the outer fabric of Hindenburg. The Zeppelin Company (Luftshiffbau Zeppelin G.m.b.H) painted the doped covering silver to reflect heat from the surface and, therefore, help conserve hydrogen gas.
Hindenburg Salvaged Girder Relic
Hindenburg salvaged girder relic, 1937
Loan from Navy Lakehurst Historical Society
Duralumin rings and girders formed a framework to hold the gas cells. The holes in the girders reduced the ship’s weight. Hindenburg used hydrogen for lift because the U.S. government banned exportation of its helium reserves.
Hindenburg First Flight Cover
Hindenburg first flight cover, 1936
The postmark that cancelled the Hindenburg stamps identified the zeppelin as LZ-129, the 129th design of the Zeppelin Company. Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei, the addressee, operated the zeppelin. The zeppelin was named for the late president of Germany.
Titanic Picture Postcard
Titanic picture postcard, 1912
Relatively few photographs exist of Titanic. Most images purporting to be the ship, including the ones on these picture postcards, actually picture her slightly older, nearly identical sister, Olympic.
Loan from Dr. Edward and Joanne Dauer
Hindenburg’s construction spanned five years, 1931-1936. At Friedrichshafen, Germany, workers stretched fabric, later doped, over its duralumin framework.
Thirty-nine duralumin rings attached to lateral girders form the lightweight but strong 803-foot-long framework that supported Hindenburg’s four Daimler-Benz engines.
Hindenburg’s Hydrogen Cells
When filled, Hindenburg’s sixteen hydrogen cells provided the lift for the lighter-than-air craft. Titanic had sixteen ”watertight” compartments.
Four generators produced electricity for Titanic’s machinery and passenger accommodations.
Courtesy National Museums Northern Ireland
Titanic’s Side Propellers
Two three-story-high engines turned Titanic’s side propellers at up to seventy-five revolutions per minute.
Courtesy Library of Congress