Following the Crash of the LZ4: 'From the beginning it has been my wish to provide the German Army with an airship fully fit for wartime service'
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ZEPPELIN, COUNT FERDINAND VON. (1838-1917). German soldier, aeronaut and airship designer who constructed the first rigid airship type known as a Zeppelin. TLS. (“G. v. Zeppelin”). 1¼ pp. Large 4to. Friedrichshafen, August 31, 1908. To Lt. Schwab, Instructor at the Royal Cadet School at Gross-Lichterfelde (Berlin). In German with translation.
...I was exceedingly pleased by your communication informing me of the excellent results achieved by the collection for the National Airship Construction Fund made at the cadet school. From the beginning it has been my wish to provide the German Army with an airship fully fit for wartime service. Although already quite serviceable, such an airship is just in its beginning stages and only after the passing of some years will its complete usefulness for war purposes be revealed. Therefore it is particularly gratifying to me to see our young people in the military show so much confidence in what I have already achieved... the cadets at your school wanted to send me a token of their confidence by their patriotic spirit of sacrifice. This splendid display of a truly German spirit has stirred me, joyously. Please transmit my most deeply felt thanks to the officers, teachers, officials and cadets of the school... It is an uplifting feeling... after so many years of difficult struggle... to be able to place my work, full of confidence, in the hands of the coming generation of our German Army...
Zeppelin’s fascination with air travel began in the United States during the American Civil War when he made his first balloon ascent as a military observer. Later, as a Prussian army officer, he pushed for the development of such innovations. Yet, it was only after retiring from the army in 1890 that his aeronautical career “took off.” Zeppelin, along with many others, began the race to be the first to build a navigable airship. Delayed by a lack of funding, Zeppelin finally completed construction of the first rigid airship in 1900. On August 5, 1908, less than four weeks before the date of our letter, the ZeppelinLZ 4 crashed in Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany, an event that, in its time, received as much international coverage as the catastrophic destruction of the Hindenburg 29 years later in Lakehurst, New Jersey. However, the disaster only led to increased interest and it was through public donations of over 6 million marks following the disaster that Zeppelin’s company rose from the ashes of the LZ 4 to become the successful Zeppelin Company of Friedrichshafen. The Zeppelin did indeed become the war machine its creator hoped; during World War I, the aircraft was used to bomb London and Paris.
Folded into quarters with minimal wear and near fine.