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This was covered in a documentary on the History Channel about a year ago. They even performed an experiment with a scale model of the Hidenburg to determine the likelihood of such a scenario, I cannot recieve streaming video at work (network rules and all that), so I trust that this is the correct youtube video:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7-RDwdTkfc

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New? I'm no expert but I've always thought the cause was static electricity. I mean, I thought that was well regarded as the cause, not my personal theory.

 

I agree with you, Hauksbee. Seeing people climb out from the blazing framework is something else.

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It's one of those tragedies (alongside the Space Shuttle) that will always stand out

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documentary on the History Channel

 

So Aliens did it?

 

Sorry, but that is the impression History Channel gives a little too often. However, I may be wrong but has not the spark theory been brought forward for years?

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I reckon three days crossing the Atlantic in an airship, and climbing down onto the Empire State Building when you got there would be quite a stylish way to travel, however impractical it might have been. There's 'something' about 1920's/30's art decco that's iconic of it's time which other 'periods' tend to lack. The big swastikas are a bit bizarre considering what the sybolism would become synonymous with later, but I reckon seeing a big zeppelin floating overhead and picked out with spotlights must have been quite something to see. A real time of change and mechanisation, from ships, cars, aircraft, and trains. Have any of you seen SkyCaptain and the World of Tomorrow? I'm not recommending the film, (it was ok), but it has a similar style about it that I liked.

 

Not terribly impressed with all that hydrogen above your head, but filled with Helium, and I'd give it a go tomorrow. (If I had the cash for a ticket that is).

 

My take on the 'mystery' wasn't so much what caused the disaster, but whether it was deliberate sabotage to discredit a high profile Nazi icon.

 

 

EDIT: And didn't the Mythbusters burn some airships too? Wasn't the paint a kind of fuel or an accelerant or something? (I wasn't paying attention).

Edited by Flyby PC

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Sorry, but

So Aliens did it?

 

Sorry, but that is the impression History Channel gives a little too often. However, I may be wrong but has not the spark theory been brought forward for years?

 

No, this is a recreation based on an eye witness account of what happened. The top of the Hidenburg was apparrently jumping with St. Elmo's fire. That, coupled with a defective hydrogen vent that allowed air to partially fill an outlet duct (thus creating the right lean air-fuel mixture necessary for combustion), is what caused the explosion.

 

The Hindenburg disaster site is less than 20 miles from where I live.

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Not terribly impressed with all that hydrogen above your head, but filled with Helium, and I'd give it a go tomorrow. (If I had the cash for a ticket that is).

 

 

EDIT: And didn't the Mythbusters burn some airships too? Wasn't the paint a kind of fuel or an accelerant or something? (I wasn't paying attention).

 

The US Navy's more recent airships I believe were helium filled. Trouble is, at the time at least, helium as fairly rare and the US had almost all of it, as I understood it. Hence, the hydrogen. Too bad, that, because it gave hydrogen a bad name as an energy source forever, I thnk - and it's not necessarily any more dangerous, really than the gasoline almost all of us use, most every day. I've heard it said that gasoline wasn't used for a long time as a fuel because it was considerd too dangerous.

 

And the Mythbusters? Well, IMHO the show is great; almost always interesting to watch, no surprise why it's so popular. Also, Kari Byron is a total hottie...and I think most of us would love to have a job where you get to blow stuff up all the time...

 

...but their "science" is sometimes....uhh, debatable. The episode about mileage in vehicles w/ windows down v. running AC was flawed, and so was the one about the airplane taking off from a conveyor belt.

 

Anyway, I think many sources have now corroborated the 'doping' material was very volatile, adding to the intensity of the fire so to speak - but I don't think it was considered as being among the potential sources of ignition.

 

(Edited, after confirmation USS Akron and Macon were both lost prior to the Hindenberg disaster.)

Edited by Tamper

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I do watch thew majority of Mythbusers, but realise it's an entertainment show rather than scientific.

 

The one show which irritated me was them trying to explode hammers by hitting them together. I don't think anybody ever claimed hammers exploded like dynamite, but hammers do chip, and when the chunks of chipped metal fly off they can do damage. There's a rumour that Leo McKern, the actor in Rumpole of the Bailey, lost his eye with a chip of metal flying from a hammer striking another hammer. It's a freak event, but it does happen, and I have chipped my own hammer once too. Hammers don't explode, but the chips off them certainly do.

 

Fair point about the Hydrogen, but disasters make people cautious. The British Comet, the first commercial jet liner had it's reputation detroyed when there crashes. From the debris there were big lessons learned about metal fatigue, (and air crash investigation), which made the skies a much safer place, buy the pioneering Comet never recovered it's reputation nor get the accolade it properly deserved on balance.

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Yessir, you are spot-on. My brother works in construction and he had a piece of a hammer embed itself in his arm while banging two together. The pros are supposed to know better, of course, but talking to him it's not uncommon.

 

Coment....square windows, right? It's good we do learn from bad things happening...it's just too bad we seem to learn so much (and at such a cost) from them.

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Trouble is, at the time at least, helium as fairly rare and the US had almost all of it, as I understood it. Hence, the hydrogen.

 

Anyway, I think many sources have now corroborated the 'doping' material was very volatile, adding to the intensity of the fire...

True. We had a lock on the world's known supply of helium, and we weren't about to share with the Nazi government. At the time, it would have been like selling uranium to Saddam Hussein.

.

And I'll confirm that aircraft dope burns joyously. When I was a pup building stick and paper airplanes, we'd buy Testor's Model Airplane Dope in one ounce bottles (ten cents each). After finishing our planes (really good ones were admired for a day or so) we'd set them on fire and launch them from second-story windows. (our parents never understood this) Tissue paper and thin balsa sticks don't make much of a fire, but add a coating of aircraft dope...

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*heh* Yup, we burned quite a few models when I was a kid too...though most were cars and my brother was always 'in charge' (a right earned by his having built the models, of course).

 

I think the doping (I used that term; I don't know if it's accurate) on Hindenburg included a fair amount of aluminum (powder...?), which if I remember burns like crazy. I think a lot of metals, while maybe not easy to catch fire, burn with extreme intensity. Although I was never flight deck personnel, I was in the Navy and I remember during training there was mention of incredible fires from magnesium aircraft wheels (everyone had to go through fire and flight deck safety training, even though I wound up in intermediate level maintenance doing micro-min avionics repair).

 

As mentioned above, we seem to learn a lot from mistakes like these, but I've often marveled at the idea of a huge, hydrogen-filled balloon with powdered aluminum paint all over it. At some point, you'd think someone would say, "Hey, isn't this sort of dangerous?" Of course, I guess it was offset by the notion of a substantial increase in speed of travel, particularly across bodies of water.

 

You know, I've been on long flights, to Europe for example, but the idea of being in the air for days (to cross the Atlantic) just seems freaky to me; a little scary even.

 

Fascinating subject.

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Well, now, you guys have me feel better about my younger days. I also partook in such pyrotechnic activities and was always worried about my parents or neighbors thinking, "What an odd boy"..........

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...but I've often marveled at the idea of a huge, hydrogen-filled balloon with powdered aluminum paint all over it. At some point, you'd think someone would say, "Hey, isn't this sort of dangerous?"

Given our capacity for Pollyanna Optimism, and self-delusion, they probably felt that it was all tightly engineered, with safety systems, checks and counter-checks, plus trained personnel. "Don't be such a bloody pessimist. Just follow procedure and it's all under control." But nobody's proof against Murphy's Law.

 

Well, now, you guys have me feel better about my younger days. I also partook in such pyrotechnic activities and was always worried about my parents or neighbors thinking, "What an odd boy"..........

The bit that perplexed my parents most was the endless hours we invested, the care in painting the final product only to see it go up in a quick blaze of glory. For us it was never about the plane (though we did love the building, too) it was all about the 'blaze of glory'.

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Hey, and I always thought I had been a little bit crazy in my youth!

I had beautifully assembled plastic model kits in 1:32 scale - impressively large fighters like the Bf109, the Mustang,

or a Japanese Mitsubishi J2M3 "Jack". They were all wonfully painted as good as I could in those days.

 

And then, one day, I placed them all in our sand box like on an airfield, put little and larger firecrackers into them,

made little trails of benzin to them, and ignited them. My mother was seriously worried about "the violence in me".

She asked, if I wouldn't regret it, to have destroyed all this work of many hours.

But the only thing I did regret was, that I didn't have a camera, to make slow motion scenes of it all.

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But the only thing I did regret was, that I didn't have a camera, to make slow motion scenes of it all.

Exactly! The only thing better than the blaze would be a filmed record of it that you could take to school for bragging rights.

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I nearly burned the house down doing that.

 

I was theatrically burning a Tiger tank in the fireplace one time, nothing outrageous, just 1:72 scale, but the flames from the plastic still set the chimney on fire. Thinking quickly, I filled a basin of water, and using my bicycle pump, I sucked up jets of water and scooshed it up the chimney. I managed to get it put out, (or more likely it just went out), but the race was on to clean up before my parents got back. I got the fireplace spotless and even got the rug hoovered up, and just in the nick of time, as Ma's car pulled up outside. Phew!

 

In walked my mother and asked "Have you had a chimney fire?"

 

I wondered how on earth she'd worked it out. The place was spotless! Until I went outside and black saw soot all over the garden.

 

Lucky boy all the same. Last time I burned my airfix kits in the fireplace.

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I nearly burned the house down doing that.

 

Flyby, now you've done it: you made me burst out laughing into the coffee cup I had just led to my mouth!

Good my keyboard is watercoffeeproof!

Good one!

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