Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, airship designer, c 1888-1917.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving showing a portrait of Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin (1838-1917) who started designing and building engine-powered dirigibles (later known as zeppelins) after retiring from the army. As an officer he had been commended for bravery during the Franco-Prusian War of 1870-71, achieving the rank of brigadier commander. Zeppelin started working on his plans for the dirigible in 1873, but only succeeded in constructing the first one in 1900. Although it was a technical failure, he succeeded with his second attempt, the LZ-2, in 1905. The German military took up the Zeppelin project only to abandon it after its failure in air raids against England in World War I.