Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Falling Zeppelins

I have created a series of drawings based on images of burning Zeppelins. During World War 1 The Germans used massive Zeppelins to bomb towns and city's in England. The slow moving blimps were filled with an explosive gas, hydrogen, that made them lighter than air. Even though they flew high and at night they became vulnerable to attack. Once they caught on fire, do to ground fire or attack from aircraft, the end came quickly. These spectacular events were witnessed by thousands of people on the ground. A number of remarkable photographs were taken & thus inspired these drawings.
I plan to expand the drawings into making larger paintings on velvet.

The following excerpt is an eyewitness account from the book 'Many Fronts ''The Passing of a Zeppelin' edited by Lewis R. Freeman 1918 and found on the following website.

“Not a sound, not a shadow, heralded the flare of yellow light which suddenly flashed out in the north-eastern heavens and spread latitudinally until the whole body of a Zeppelin—no small object even at twenty miles—stood out in glowing incandescence. Then a great sheet of pink-white flame shot up, and in the ripples . of rosy light which suffused the earth for scores of miles I could read the gilded lettering on my binoculars. This was undoubtedly the explosion of the ignited hydrogen of the main gas-bags, and immediately following it the great frame collapsed in the middle and began falling slowly toward the earth, burning now with a bright yellow flame, above which the curl of black smoke was distinctly visible. A lurid burst of light—doubtless from the exploding petrol tanks —flared up as the flaming mass struck the earth, and half a minute later the night, save for the questing searchlights to east and south, was as black as ever again.

Then perhaps the strangest thing of all occurred. London began to cheer. I should have been prepared for it in Paris, or Rome, or Berlin, or even New York, but that the Briton— who of all men in the world most fears the sound of his own voice lifted in unrestrained jubilation —was really cheering, and in millions, was almost too much. I pinched my arm to be sure that I had not dozed away, and, lost in wonder, forgot for a minute or two the great drama just enacted.”

For further reading I recommend “London 1914-17 The Zeppelin Menace”

Actual photo. I have always been fascinated with these rare photographs.

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