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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 90.djvu/539

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Popular Science Monthly


���Stem view of a Zeppelin the horizontal rudders, and to steady the Zeppelin like

��minor importance. Radius of action has simply the military' advantage of rendering it unnecessary to aHght at sea or in the enemv's country for lack of fuel or gas.

The frame of a Zeppelin is built like a bridge. But no one would dare concen- trate at one point all the load that a bridge is de- signed to sup- port. The load on a bridge and the load car- r i e d by a Zeppelin must be dis- t r i b u t ed . Hence the newZeppelins have four cars. The two in the center are each sixteen

feet long and the others, placed fore and aft, are thirty^ feet long. The cars are roofed over in order that a chance spark may not fly up to the gas-bag, with results that may be imagined. There used to be a long well-equipped central cabin between cars into which the crew would retire when off duty. Now, the crews apparently confine themselves to the cars.

The Guns and Bombs of a Zeppelin

The most modern super-Zeppelin carries a battery of nine machine guns — six in the cars and three on top of the gas envelope. Two guns are sometimes mounted on the envelope near the bow. This distribution of armament does not seem to make the best use of the possibilities of a Zeppelin as a gun platform, for a Zeppelin is as steady as a rock, except the stations near the motors. Vibrating motors are but poor com- panions for guns, and the guns on top seem to lack shelter for delicate sighting instru- ments. Perhaps no other arrangement is possible. It must not be forgotten that for all its bulk a Zeppelin has not much substance. In that resp>ect it may be compared with an immense cloud or with a filigree structure. The vibrating motor cars may be the stanchest gun platforms that m be provided under the circumstances.

��showing the vertical rudders,

the lifting surfaces which serve

the tail feather of an arrow

��The passage-wa>- between the cars is cer- tainly too narrow for guns. In view of the British aeroplane victories over the Zeppe- lins it may well be that Count von Zeppe- lin's designers have now decided to invest

more weight in favorable gun positions. But it seemed wiser to put weight into such strict necessities as a powerful el ec t r ica 1 equipment for a depend- a b 1 e long range wireless equipment; into dynamos coupled with six 240-horse- power motors (d\'namo s used to sup- ply current to the search- lights as well as for illuminating the cars, for heating and for cooking) ; into a large supply of heavy bombs and strong motors for speed and lift; and above all, into much fuel for remaining aloft many hours.

The bombs are carried under the belly of the vessel, like the roe of a fish. Indeed, in military slang, bomb-dropping is called "laying eggs." The bombs are electrically released. Each of the sixty bombs is con- trolled by a button. When the captain pushes a button a 120-pound bomb drops. Americans will naturally wonder whether New York or Philadelphia may not be com- pelled to put out their lights at eight o'clock and conceal themselves. While a Zeppelin undoubtedly could cross the ocean, it could not do so with any great load of bombs. Great as the radius of action of the Zeppelin is, it must remain within naviga- ting distance of its base. And even a Zep- pelin would hardly venture upon a bomb- dropping excursion which would entail a voyage of eight thousand miles, at the very- least, without replenishing its fuel tanks. Unlike an aeroplane a Zeppelin cannot alight anywhere with impunity. A Maure- tania must have her wharf; Zeppelin must have its shed. To be sure a Zeppelin, like a Mauretania, can anchor. But she runs risks in doing so.

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