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New Theory On Hindenburg Disaster  
User currently offlineGr8slvrflt From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 1646 posts, RR: 10
Posted (12 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 3851 times:

What I love most about history is that it changes so much. Although many people think the Hindenburg was the victim of sabotage (encouraged by the movie), for decades most experts accepted the theory that leaking hydrogen was ignited by static electricity (St. Elmo's fire) causing the well known conflagration.

PBS aired a show tonight focusing on a new investigation into the causes of the crash. Examination of both new and old evidence has shown that the actual cause had nothing to do with hydrogen! The outer covering of the Zeppelin was treated with a dope containing a veritable cocktail of highly explosive chemicals mixed with very flammable aluminum powder. Static discharge from the surrounding atmosphere amid thunderstorms ignited the fabric covering near the top fin and spread very quickly. The intense heat caused the hydrogen to expand and the gas cells to burst. Even if the Hindenburg had been filled with inert helium it still would have burned and crashed!!

Similar ventures into unknown technological areas led to the Titanic (brittle steel) and Comet (metal fatigue under recurring pressurization cycles) disasters. The public's fear of hydrogen after the Hindenburg explosion has since inhibited it's use in aircraft and automobiles. Maybe its time to rethink things.

I know this has nothing to do with IFE or Northwest's fleet plans but I think it is fascinating nonetheless.

I work for Southwest, but the views expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent those of Southwest.
6 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineBirdwatching From Germany, joined Sep 2003, 4095 posts, RR: 50
Reply 1, posted (12 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 3815 times:

That is stupid.
When there is already highly flammable Hydrogen inside, why would they put a highly explosive stuff on the outside?
Just because you saw that one TV show that does not mean history changes now.

Ah, and did we land on the moon? The flag was waving! Is there wind on the moon?  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

All the things you probably hate about travelling are warm reminders that I'm home
User currently offlineGr8slvrflt From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 1646 posts, RR: 10
Reply 2, posted (12 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 3776 times:

They weren't stupid. The Hindenburg was state-of-the-art engineering at the time but they did not realize all the properties of the materials they were using. Commercial aviation today is the product of trial and error. There have been countless accidents that have resulted in improved methods and designs. History changes when we uncover the truth. I watched the moon landing on live TV and the flag did not wave....I think you're confusing that event with an MTV commerical.

I work for Southwest, but the views expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent those of Southwest.
User currently offlineDalmd88 From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 2891 posts, RR: 14
Reply 3, posted (12 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 3672 times:

This theory was published in Air&Space mag quite a few years ago. The researchers had put the black and white photos through a colorization process and then analyized the temp of the flames. The temps measured were way too low for Hydrogen. They then began researching the fabric and found that the Zepplin people had know about the high flamablity of the skin.

Even though this is the most likely true cause most people will still say it was due to the Hydrogen gas.

User currently offlineNa From Germany, joined Dec 1999, 11588 posts, RR: 9
Reply 4, posted (12 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 3626 times:

I also read about this a few years back already. But is it possible to say after such a long time: this was the cause, for 100%? I think the Hindenburg disaster will forever remain a mystery like TWA800.

User currently offlineConcordeBOAC From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2003, 71 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (12 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 3536 times:


Your reply makes no sense whatsoever, the fact they have highly flammable hydrodgen on the inside actually increases the likelihood of other materials also being highly combustible, it demonstrates either a lack of care, or more likely a lack on knowledge of the dangers of highly flammable substances.

History does change, or more precisely peoples understanding of past events/theories changes, I shall use the example of people believing the world is flat, although totally unrelated and overused, science only develops with time and experience, with the development of science comes new understanding of things from the past proving this theory totally and utterly wrong.

The disaster of the Hindenberg is a perfect example of this and I believe the scientists, not theories/guesses/enthusiasts when they say this is the most likely, I didn't say definitive, explanation of the events on that tragic day.

User currently offlineL-188 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 30408 posts, RR: 57
Reply 6, posted (12 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 3521 times:

Nova did a special on this a while back.

The hydrogen would have vented to the atmosphere immediately after each of the cells where busted. The fire lasted much longer then that.

Also they used a different formula of dope for the fabric. Most silver coats even to this day use aluminum powder in them. In the Hindenburg Iron was added to the mix.

Aluminum and Iron BTW are the main fuel ingredients in the Solid Rocket Boosters used on the space shuttle.

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