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- [Jared] The Hindenburg is the famous airship
that met its fiery death in the year 1937.
Surprisingly, more than half of the people on board
actually survived the crash.
In this video, I want to take you on a detailed tour
of the inside of the Hindenburg.
We'll talk about airships in general
and why they are mostly a thing of the past.
(electricity crackling)
This video is sponsored by ExpressVPN.
The earliest airship that we know of
was in the year 1783 in France.
These primitive balloons were unstable,
and steering was near impossible at first.
A man by the name of Count Zeppelin created his own company
and helped perfect the design of airships.
At the time, passenger air travel was not commonplace yet,
so this was the fastest way to travel across the ocean.
It was about twice as fast as an ocean liner.
Construction of the Hindenburg was completed in 1936.
To this day, it's still the largest flying object
ever to be built.
It was built in Germany and funded by the Nazis,
which is why the swastika is on the tail.
Most of the space inside the ship
is taken up by 16 large gas cells.
If we remove these, you can see the frame of the ship.
The passenger areas are down here.
There are two decks.
The top one is the A deck,
and then below is the B deck.
The B deck is where the passengers board the airship.
There's angled windows to get a panoramic view
of the scene below, bathrooms, areas for the crew,
the kitchen, and the officers' mess.
This room is the smoking room.
It was pressurized so that there was no chance
of any hydrogen leaking in.
And yes, hydrogen is flammable.
We'll talk more about this gas later in the video.
The stair here take us up to the A deck,
which is where the passengers spent most of their time.
There are more windows on both sides of the ship.
Here's the reading and writing room,
and the lounge area, complete with a grand piano.
Normally, grand pianos can weigh as much as 1,000 pounds,
but that's a lot of weight to put in an airship.
This piano is made out of aluminum,
and it only weighs about 356 pounds.
The passenger cabins have two bunks each,
and the dining room was on the other side.
So now we've seen all the areas where passengers can go.
Let's see where the crew members could go.
Ont the B deck, this hallway is called
the keel corridor, which led to a walkway
through the entire bottom of the ship.
Towards the front of the ship
is the mail room and the radio room.
Right below here is the control car.
This is the command center of the ship,
which you can see from below.
This is the rudder wheel, which helps move the ship
to the left or right by controlling the rudders
on the very back of the ship.
This is the elevator wheel,
which controls the pitch of the ship.
Ideally, we want the ship as level as possible
to keep the passengers comfortable.
This is done by the elevators on the very back.
The officers' quarters are here,
so that they are close to the control car.
Along the keel catwalk, you'll find
plenty of these fuel and water tanks.
Here's the crew quarters, cargo areas,
and this is the electrical room.
There's more cargo areas here,
and a few more down here.
And then crew quarters for those
that work towards the back of the ship.
Along the side of the ship are four engine cars
with propellers to help move the ship forward.
There was always a crew member stationed at each engine car
at all times of the journey.
This walkway is how the crew could get to the engine car.
Along the keel corridor are several shafts with ladders
so the crew members could climb up higher.
These shafts were also used to ventilate gas.
This walkway through the center of the ship
is called the axial corridor.
These 16 gas cells are what hold the ship up in the air.
The cells were originally intended to be filled with helium,
but instead were filled with hydrogen.
If we look at the periodic table of elements,
hydrogen is the lightest element,
which means it will provide the most lift.
Unfortunately, it's also highly flammable,
so the intent with the Hindenburg was to actually
use helium, slightly heavier, but also much safer.
At the time, the United States
had the best supply of helium
but would not sell it to other countries,
which means that Germany was out of luck.
So the Hindenburg had no other choice but to use hydrogen.
Previous to the Hindenburg,
there had been quite a few airship accidents.
Other countries had already decided that
hydrogen-filled airships were just too dangerous.
Germany, however, had a flawless record so far.
No passengers had ever been killed in an airship accident.
During the year 1936, the Hindenburg
had many successful passenger flights,
to the United States and to Brazil.
The year 1937 didn't go so well.
May 3rd, the Hindenburg begins its journey
from Frankfurt, Germany.
It was a three-day journey to get to Lakehurst, New Jersey.
The ship was only halfway full at this time.
Only 97 people were onboard.
The landing was originally scheduled
for the early morning of May 6th, but it was delayed
because of strong headwinds, rain, and thunderstorms.
This is the Lakehurst station.
It has a hangar to park the airship when it's not flying.
This is the mooring mast.
For a normal landing, the nose of the ship
will be attached here while it's on the ground.
On the evening of May 6th, there were many people
on the ground, including spectators, news reporters,
and crew member ready to help bring the ship in.
At 7:00 p.m., the ship made a first pass
over the landing site and slowly circled around
for the final landing.
At this point, the ship was 12 hours late,
so there was an urgency to land,
as there were many passengers waiting to board
for the return trip back to Germany.
For some reason, the tail of the ship was low,
a possible hydrogen leak.
At 7:21 p.m., the ship released the handling lines
for the ground crew below.
Four minutes later, the ship bursts into flames
at the top, in between gas cells number four and five.
It took less than a minute
for the ship to be completely destroyed
and in ruins on the ground below.
Of the 97 people on board, 62 of them survived the crash.
Let's take a look at the explosion again.
Right after it happens, the tail begins to fall.
The flames travel through the axial corridor
and out the nose of the ship.
Everyone on board is thrown off their feet
with a sudden jolt.
Since they're about to land, most passengers
are already at the windows, and it's a good thing, too.
As the ship gets closer to the ground,
many were able to jump and run away from the burning ship.
Others were not so lucky.
No one knows for sure what caused the ship to catch on fire.
Unfortunately, most of the evidence was burned up.
The likely cause is from static electricity buildup
right before the disaster.
One small spark is all it would take.
The Hindenburg wasn't the worst airship disaster.
It was just the first to be caught on film
and widely seen by the public.
Because of this, airship travel
as a means of transportation was brought to an end.
Any airships that are still in use today
will definitely use helium and not hydrogen.
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(intriguing music)