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Hindenburg Airship Skin

Hindenburg Airship Skin

This specimen is a swatch of canvas fabric from the airship skin of the Hindenburg. The cotton canvas was made taut and durable by doping the skin with a mixture of cellulose acetate butyrate and aluminum powder, which also gave the airship its signature, metallic appearance.

The specimen was acquired from one of the largest private collections of Hindenburg artifacts in the world. It was originally retrieved at the scene in 1937 by journalist Harry Kroh.  Kroh was a local reporter dispatched to cover what was expected to be a routine landing, but turned into one the most well-covered disasters in history.

Swatches vary in size and shape, but each measures approximately one square centimeter in area. Swatches may exhibit uneven edges or have areas where the cloth beneath the aluminum doping is visible.

The specimen is enclosed in a handsome, glass-topped riker box case measuring 4 1/2" x 3 1/2". A small information card is also included.

Please Note: The swatch is enclosed in a small, specimen jar within the case. If you choose to remove the swatch from the jar, please be careful while handling. While the aluminum coating is still bright the fabric beneath is quite fragile.

About the Hindenburg

At precisely 7:25 PM on May 6th, 1937, the Hindenburg burst into flames above the skies of Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey. The Hindenburg disaster claimed the lives of 35 on-board and one member of the ground crew.

Official reports blamed the explosion on the combination of St. Elmo's Fire and an undetected hydrogen leak. The surviving crew strongly disputed this claim and many felt that sabotage was to blame. To this day, most evidence to support such claims have proven circumstantial at best.

Spanning 245 meters (803.8 ft), the Hindenburg and its twin the Graf Zeppelin II were the largest airships ever flown. Though the Zeppelin Company originally planned to use Helium as the lifting agent, a ban on Helium exports by the United States forced the Hindenburg to fly as a Hydrogen-filled craft.

Certainly there were concerns, but the Hindenburg line's rigid-frame design was based on engineering principles which had governed over a long, unbroken passenger safety record. Covering nearly 1,000,000 miles and the circumnavigation of the globe, Graf Zeppelins had experienced every possible combination of bad weather, including being struck by lightning.  

Due to the highly flammable nature of Hydrogen, the airship was engulfed in flame in less than 30 seconds.


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