Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, airship designer, c 1910.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Oil painting in military regalia. Count von Zeppelin (1838-1917) started designing and building engine-powered dirigibles (which became known as zeppelins) after retiring from the army. As a military officer he had been commended for bravery during the Franco-Prusian War of 1870-71, and had achieved the rank of brigadier commander. Zeppelin started working on his plans for the dirigible in 1873, but only succeeded in constructing the first dirigible 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.