This new publication charts the history of lighter-than-air craft from the continental pioneers of the late 19th century through to European airship stations in the Great War, Germany’s pre-eminent commercial and military zeppelins, the construction of British behemoths R100 and its sister ship R101 and the calamitous losses of USS Akron in 1933 and LZ129 Hindenburg in 1937, events which ultimately heralded the end of large-scale airship production. The historical development of airships is seen to be protracted and fractious, as the armed forces of leading European and US powers toyed with commercial propositions while trying to bend them to military uses. The book examines the axial role of Count Zeppelin, the development of the Zeppelin in Germany as bomber and reconnaissance craft, and the way the British Admiralty, French, Italian and American engineers attempted to imitate German design. The airship coincided with a time of international strife: mass unemployment, General Strikes, the Wall Street Crash and the growing shadow of fascist tumult. Airship draws on original sources, official documents and private letters including interviews with figures like Mary Stopes-Roe, daughter of the airship builder Barnes Wallis. It identifies and analyses the central themes and bold personalities of the era: forming a text that is readable, entertaining and authoritative.
The author John Swinfield is a television director, producer and presenter. Widely published he began in newspapers as a reporter before joining ITV and the BBC. A well-known public speaker, he is the former Radio and Television Industrial Journalist of the Year and the winner of several other broadcasting and editorial awards. He is the former executive producer of arts and features for Anglia TV, and the editor of Artists & Illustrators, a leading title devoted to art and painting.
John is an MA Maritime History graduate of the GMI and this book originated from the theme of his MA dissertation and has also previously published articles on it in History Today.