By John Duggan, Henry Cord Meyer (auth.)
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Extra resources for Airships in International Affairs, 1890–1940
Nevertheless an irritated Kaiser did in fact agree to setting up a panel of experts to review the Count’s proposals, although eventually they decided against them. Thus Berlin exercised its timehonoured policy on weapons procurement, while also protecting the interests of its Prussian Airship Battalion. 6 Three months after receiving his rejection, the Count showed that he would not be put off by this display of committee and hierarchical politics. He ﬁred off a fervent ten-page protest to the Prussian Minister of War, showing his displeasure with the committee decision by answering members personally point for point and justifying one technological aspect after another, as well as uttering a thinly veiled threat to make his invention available to some other nation.
The rebuilt Gross-Basenach semi-rigid took off and later broke all endurance records with a 13-hour ﬂight. The elements were no less vexing than the Count’s competitors. A winter storm partly sank the new ﬂoating hangar, inﬂicting damage on LZ3 that took weeks to repair before work could begin on LZ4. Similarly agitated were the Count’s negotiations with ofﬁcial and business circles. Prussian authorities regretted that they had not snapped up his despairing offer of early 1906. For his part, Zeppelin now held somewhat exaggerated views of the dimensions and rewards of airship enterprise.
Unlike the airplane, which by 1920 was becoming an everyday social experience, the experiencing of a rigid airship was mostly an unusual event. Given this fact, together with the awareness of the large crowds that airships attracted until their ﬁnal days, both power-seeking and power-holding politicians sought to manipulate that technology to ends not inherent in the essential purposes for building and ﬂying the impressive skyships. Such political calculation was less random and spasmodic than workaday political behaviour, for in its attractiveness the rigid airship was also fairly predictable in its measured movement, in the scarcity of its presence, and the great expense of its construction and operation.