Double deck bed design for Small Room
Flying on the Hindenburg has often been compared to crossing the ocean on a luxury steamship, and though it was certainly the most luxurious aircraft to ever fly, it would be more comparable to a luxury rail journey.
To begin with, a ticket on Hindenburg was not cheap.
In 1936, the average yearly salary was about $1,800, so for about $450 for a one way fare, equivalent to about $7,500 today (round trip fares received a 10% discount), flying on the Hindenburg was the modern equivalent of flying Concorde(if Concorde was still flying).
That meant that you were most likely wealthy, a businessman, a member of the press, a celebrity or a diplomat.
If you were flying round trip as, say a family of four, that would be equivalent to $54,000 today.
,Ticket for Hindenburgu2019s maiden 1936 N.
American flight from Friedrichshafen to Lakehurst, NJ.
Hindenburg at Lakehurst, NJ in the 1936 season.
Brochure from the DZR/Hamburg-America Line, highlighting a few of Hindenburgu2019s amenities, along with a sample menu.
For your flight from Frankfurt to Lakehurst, you would likely have arrived at the hotel u2018Frankfurter Hofu2019, the Deutsche Zeppelin Reederei collection point, one evening in advance(and included in the cost of your ticket).
You probably would already have gotten to know some of your 49 fellow passengers.
On the evening of departure, a hotel motor coach would take you and your fellow passengers to the Frankfurt Airfield where the great ship had already been pulled out of its hanger and was being loaded with cargo, mail, fuel and provisions for the journey.
Even before you got close to it, youu2019d likely be in awe of its immense size, and just before the sun finally sinks below the horizon, the ships silver skin glints in its last rays.
,During the check-in process, your luggage and carry on bags would be weighed and thoroughly searched for anything that could generate a spark or flame.
Hindenburg carried 7,000,000 cu.
of flammable hydrogen in its 16 gas cells, so safety was of paramount concern.
Youu2019d then be led out to the ship for boarding.
As you approached the ship and began walking beneath it, you might wonder how anything over 800 ft.
in length and the height of a 13 story building could possibly get off the ground, let alone fly.
Hindenburg had two retractable aluminium stairways in its u2018bellyu2019, which have already been dropped for you and your fellow passengers, and taking either one would bring you first to B Deck.
Here were located the ships restrooms, shower, pursers office, pressurized bar and smoking lounge, as well as the galley, crews and officersu2019 messes.
B Deck also contained 9 additional port side cabins(added for the 1937 season), each with its own window(A Deck cabins had no windows), as well as a cabin large enough to accommodate a family of four.
The only access to the ships interior was also from B Deck, through a restricted passage off the purseru2019s office.
Because B Deck was bisected by a crew keel gangway, crossing from one side to the other required that you go up one flight of stairs to A Deck and then down another flight to the opposite side of B Deck.
After taking another flight of stairs, you arrive on A Deck, the shipu2019s principal deck.
To your immediate left and right are a series of narrow corridors which lead to the shipu2019s 25 double berth cabins.
Each cabin contained a plastic sink with hot and cold running water and an upper and lower bunk bed.
Though the cabins were basic, they were comfortable and comparable in size to rail cabins.
None of the cabins contained toilets or showers(those were on B Deck).
,But it was the Hindenburgu2019s public rooms on A Deck which differentiated it from a rail coach and made it feel more like an ocean liner.
As you arrived on A Deck, a short cross corridor separated the ships lounge and reading/writing room to your left(port side), and the dining room to the right(starboard).
But your first impression on seeing the ships accommodations and fittings would likely be how strikingly modern everything looked, even by todayu2019s standards.
u00b9 Immediately behind you, on the wall, is a bust of the late Reichs President von Hindenburg.
Both the lounge and dining room had banks of windows(which could be opened) with bench seating.
These areas were referred to as the Promenade, and would be the favorite spot for passengers for most of the crossing.
If you were crossing in the 1936 season, there was even an aluminum baby grand Blu00fcthner piano in one corner of the lounge.
In addition, there were comfortable tables and chairs, in a surprisingly modern design, to socialize around.
The walls of all public spaces on both decks were decorated with beautiful hand painted murals by the artist Otto Arpke(Arpke designed the sets for the classic German expressionist film u201cThe Cabinet of Dr.
Though each room was individually themed, they all related to world travel.
,Passengers enjoying Hindenburgu2019s port side u2018A Decku2019 reading and writing room.
Passengers relaxing on the port side u2018A decku2019 lounge.
Note the baby grand aluminum piano in the background.
Passengers on port side u2018A Decku2019 lounge looking out the promenade windows.
Meal service in the starboard u2018A Decku2019 dining room.
The door to the right led to the serving pantry and u2018dumbwaiteru2019.
Evening lift-offs were preferred for Zeppelins because the daytime heating of the sun caused the hydrogen gas to expand and automatically vent out of the ship, thus reducing its lift capacity.
As night draws nearer, the captain(Ernst Leymann for the 1936 season, Max Pruss for 1937) gives the command u201cup shipu201d, and the ground crew give the shipu2019s control car and tail fin a moderate but continual upward u2018pushu2019.
After slowly and silently rising several hundred feet and then leveling off, the four enormous Daimler-Benz diesel engines are started up and the ship begins its approximately 52 to 78 hour flight to North America(flight times varied due to weather and wind conditions, and the return flight to Frankfurt was generally much quicker).
,Because of the evening take-off, a light courtesy meal is served in the dining room, consisting of cold cuts, salads, cheeses and fruit, all served on custom china painted with the DZR emblem, as well as tea, coffee and a selection of fine wines, spirits and liqueurs.
This is brought to a serving pantry off the dining room by a u2018dumb waiteru2019 from the galley on B Deck.
After your meal, you might cross over to the lounge to listen to a piano recital, or if you smoke, head downstairs to the smoking lounge.
The smoking lounge on B Deck was another favorite spot on Hindenburg, and it and the bar were accessed via a special airlock.
They had to be kept at a slightly higher, but barely noticeable, atmospheric pressure than the other parts of the shipu2019s passenger areas in order to keep out any free hydrogen.
u00b2 On one wall of the lounge was a single, retractable electric cigarette lighter.
The bar steward, Max Schulzeu00b3, served double duty as he also made sure no lit smoking material went beyond the airlock.
You might ask him for a u2018Maybach 12u2019 (two parts gin, two parts kirsch and one part benedictine), a u2018houseu2019 specialty of Hindenburg, and sip it at a table as you watch, from windows set into the floor, the lighted cities of western Europe pass beneath you.
,Steward Max Schulze on duty in Hindenburgu2019s u2018B Decku2019 bar.
A passenger, greeted by Schulze, enters the bar/smoking lounge through the special airlock.
The small, art-deco bar, adjacent to the smoking lounge, also featured a bank of windows built into the floor.
The baru2019s Spanish-themed wall murals are also by Otto Arpke.
The B Deck smoking lounge with its in-floor windows just visible to the left, and its walls decorated with a map of the constellations and scenes depicting the evolution of u2018lighter-than-airu2019 travel.
Hindenburgu2019s crew(left) and officersu2019 mess(right), located on a passenger restricted area of starboard B Deck.
After enjoying your cocktail and cigarette, you decide to retire to your heated cabin.
* You remove your shoes and if you place them outside your cabin, the shipu2019s night steward will have them shined and returned to you by morning.
After doing your bedtime ablutions(for anything more than washing up, shaving or brushing your teeth, youu2019ll have to go down to B Deck), you settle into your bunk, and are thankful that neither your cabin mate nor anyone in the cabin next to you snores or talks in their sleep, because the walls are only about 1u2033 thick foam covered in fabric.
Before turning off the light, you take your fountain pen and place it on end on a small table that retracts from the wall, and when you awaken in the morning, the pen is more than likely still standing on end.
You close your eyes, and the distant but reassuring hum of the diesel engines soon lulls you to sleep.
This is essentially how your journey will repeat for the next 52 to 78 hours.