Metal-clad airship

Metal-clad airship

Metal-clad airships are airships which utilize a very thin, airtight metal envelope, rather than the usual rubber-coated fabric envelope. The shell may be either internally braced as with the designs of David Schwarz,[1] or monocoque as in the ZMC-2.[2] Only four ships of this type are known to have been built, and only two actually flew: Schwarz's aluminum ship of 1893[3] collapsed on inflation; Schwarz's second airship[1] flew at Tempelhof, Berlin in 1897, landed but then collapsed; the ZMC-2 flew 1929 to 1941; while the Slate "City of Glendale", was built in 1929 but never flew.[4]


The concept of metal-clad dirigible airships had been explored in the 1880s and earlier:[5] Russian rocket theorist Konstantin Eduardowitsch Ziolkowski wrote that since his teens (in the early 1870s) "the idea of the all-metal aerostat has never left my mind"[6] and by 1891 he had produced detailed designs of a variable volume corrugated metal envelope airship that did not need ballonets. These were submitted to an Imperial department for aeronautics, which convened a conference to consider it. In 1891 they declined his request for a grant to produce a model, considering the idea "cannot have any considerable practical importance".[7] In 1892 he published his designs as Aerostat Metallitscheski (the all-metal dirgible aerostat)[8][9] which received favourable comments but nothing else.[10] Coincidentally, by 1892 the Imperial war ministry had agreed to let Schwarz build his metal airship in St Petersburg, but at his expense.[11]


  1. ^ a b Dooley A.193 (1893 airship never flew, but the 1897 flew at Berlin)
  3. ^ Dooley, A.185-A.186 citing Robinson, pp2-3
  4. ^ National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution. 2008. Slate Aircraft Corporation City of Glendale Negatives, Accession number 2006-0039
  5. ^ Von A. Kosmodemyansky, X. Danko. 2000. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky His Life and Work The Minerva Group, Inc., ISBN 0898751381.
  6. ^ Kosmodemyansky 2000 pages 18-19 "In 1885, at the age of 28, I decided to devote my energies to aeronautics and elaborate the theory of the all-metal dirigible."
  7. ^ Kosmodemyansky 2000 page 23
  8. ^ Carl Zeiss AG. 2005. The Route to the Stars, page 29
  9. ^ Kosmodemyansky 2000 pages 19-21, page 19 details pulleys for contracting the envelope, page 21 shows a larger version
  10. ^ Anatoly Zak. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
  11. ^ Dooley A.183


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