'Zeppelin over Berlin', 17 September 1938.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Lithograph by Stenzel depicting an airship above a gantry watched by admiring crowds in a city square in Berlin, Germany. Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin (1838-1917) started designing and building engine-powered dirigibles (which became known as zeppelins) after retiring from military service in 1873, and constructed the first succesful dirigible in 1900. Airships were used for commercial flights as a fast and luxurious alternative to ocean liners until the late 1930s, when several notable crashes led to safety concerns which put an end to their popularity.