90 years ago Graf Zeppelin flew to Arctic

90 years ago Graf Zeppelin flew to Arctic

February 10, 2021

In 1931, Nikolay Urvantsev was waiting for the airship on Severnaya Zemlya.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. The participants of the Severozemelskaya expedition were informed that the airship Graf Zeppelin from Leningrad, after a short stop on Franz Josef Land, flew to Severnaya Zemlya, but the first inhabitants of Domashny Island were unable to meet it. Because of the fog, the airship did not find the station and flew through Dikson Island to Novaya Zemlya. The cargo for the Ushakov-Urvantsev expedition was dropped at Dikson. In the funds of the Taimyr Museum of Local Lore, there is a photo album with photographs, including the legendary Graf Zeppelin against the background of the famous 107-meter Dikson radio mast.

A selection of rare prints was donated to the museum in the late 1970s by former residents of Dudinka – the head of the hydrological base in the 1930s, Dmitry Korchemkin, and his colleague Lev Stadnikov. Photos from the album are exhibited at exhibitions, illustrating museum publications. For example, in the book Dudinka. Time. People. Fate, released for the 345th anniversary of the capital of Taimyr, you can see a group photo of 1936 residents of Dudinka with the head of the Main Sea Route Otto Schmidt and other autographs of history.

In the rare album, there are two photographs of the German airship from different angles.

The expedition to the Arctic aboard the Graf Zeppelin was international, and it was planned to be carried out in 1930.

The 117th airship, built at shipyards in Germany, was as high as a ten-story building, almost a quarter of a kilometer long. 105 thousand cubic meters of hydrogen filling the shell made it possible to lift about 23 tons of cargo. The airship was controlled from a glazed gondola, the motors were in the stern, and the cabins for the crew and passengers were located below along the entire “cigar”.

The LZ 127 The Graf Zeppelin was the most powerful airship in existence at the time. Aviation was just gaining strength and could not meet the demands of polar explorers. In the late 1920s, airships Norway and Italy already flew to the Arctic. In 1928, the Soviet icebreaker Krasin picked up the Italians from the wrecked airship. This rescue operation was led by the director of the All-Union Arctic Institute, Rudolf Samoilovich, who headed the scientific part of the program at the Graf Zeppelin.

Expedition in 1931 on the airship consisted of 46 people. In addition to Samoilovich, there were three other Soviet participants: the inventor of the world’s first aerological radiosonde, professor Pavel Molchanov, aeronautic engineer Fyodor Assberg, and radio operator Ernst Krenkel. The scientific participants also included Germans, Swedes and Americans. The famous Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen, who died in 1930, was involved in organizing all three expeditions on controlled airships.

The airship flew 13 200 kilometers over the Soviet Arctic in three days. As Pavel Molchanov wrote in the journal Nature for 1932 – the publication can be found on the Internet – that was the first research flight to the Arctic. As a result, the inaccuracies of the previous maps were identified and eliminated. For the first time carried out aerological, magnetic and general meteorological studies. Zeppelin itself has been tested.

During the July flight, the airship exchanged mail with the Soviet icebreaker Malygin, on which was Umberto Nobile, the designer of the Norway and Italy airships and a participant in their flights to the Arctic.

The LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin was in service for a total of nine years. Then it turned into a museum, until it was taken apart in 1940.

Text: Valentina Vachaeva, Photo: Taimyr Museum of Local Lore and open sources

February 10, 2021

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