The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Zeppelin, Ferdinand
ZEPPELIN, tsĕp'pě-lĭn, Ferdinand, Count von, German airship builder: b. Constance, Baden, 8 July 1838; d. Charlottenburg, Prussia, 8 March 1917. His father was Count Friedrich von Zeppelin, a Württemberg court official. After studies at the Stuttgart Polytechnicum, the Ludwigsburg Military Academy and the University of Tübingen, he entered on a military career and as a lieutenant was one of the German military observers in 1863 attachid to the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War in the United States. His first ascent in a balloon made at Saint Paul, Minn., during this visit, is said to have been the incentive of his later experiments in aeronautics. He took part in the Seven Weeks' War of 1866, fighting for Württemberg against Prussia, and was an officer of cavalry in the Franco-German War 1871-72. He rose to the rank of lieutenant-general in the German army and in 1891 at the age of 53 retired and devoted his time and wealth to experiments in connection with dirigible balloons. While increasing proofs of success encouraged him to continue his efforts, a record of failures which reduced him to poverty marked his experiments for several years. Imperial patronage and public subscriptions, however, enabled him at last to conquer all difficulties, and in 1908-09 dirigibles of the type constructed with his name were making successful journeys ranging from 350 to 1,000 miles. Thirteen Zeppelins, however, had been destroyed and numerous lives sacrificed during the experiments up to 1914. During the European War, Zeppelins were used mostly for raids over Belgium and England, and over 40 were reported as destroyed. Their failure as warships is said to have been a great disappointment to Count Zeppelin. (See Aeronautics; Dirigible). Consult Hearne, R. P., ‘Zeppelins and Super-Zeppetins’ (New York 1916).