WORTH A SECOND GLANCE
the connection between a Zeppelin and a Belgian helicopter? Read on. Dealers
Zeppelin postcard stocks tend to fall
into three categories – quite numerous pre-1914 German issues, British
anti-Zeppelin WW1 cards and, usually the highest priced, the inter-war
Graf and Hindenburg cards. The card below, possibly a private photo card,
found in a pile of ephemera seemed to fit none of these. It is too streamlined
for pre WW1, appears to be civil and is too small for the inter-war monsters.
As usual with things European, the answer was in John Strouds 1960’s
Putnam work “European Transport Aircraft since 1910”, now very rare as it
was never re-printed. This confirms that
this is the Delag passenger airship Bodensee of 1919.
This is supported by comparison with the history card from the current
the Airship airline Delag assumed that the post-war situation would be
“business as usual” and commissioned the Bodensee for a revived
Friedrichshafen-Berlin service. Bodensee
flew on 20 August 1919 and entered service on this route 4 days later. The route
operated both direct and via Munich and carried up to 27 passemgers, 20 in
window-seats and one at the rear of the gondola plus six removable wicker chairs
in the aisle. Further routes were planned to Switzerland, Italy, Spain and
Stockholm. A second larger ship Nordstern was to operate the Swedish route but
Bodensee did the proving flight. The service ended in December 1919 and Bodensee
underwent lengthening by 10m to align it with Nordstern.
However neither would fly again for Delag. The allies ruled that German civil aviation would not be permitted
and both ships were to be taken as reparations. Nordstern
did not fly until 1921 and then went
to the French Navy who used it up to 1926 as the Mediterranee.
Bodensee was flown to Rome, also in 1921 and handed over to the Italian
Navy as Esperia. It too was scrapped in 1927.
this is from John Stroud’s book. The
next “second glance” concerns the back of this SABENA CV-240 card from their
superb 1950s set of continental-size photo cards. Note the BEA Viking tail
back message is actually written by John Stroud to his wife and is headed
“Brussels Hotel Cecil 0223 31/8/53”. The non-personal part of the message
goes as follows.
just got into bed. Flew here in DC-4 OO-CBD, 58 minutes airborne. It was a
beautiful night with moon and stars. I already have a helicopter timetable !!! I
have put in a call for 0615 and will be there to see the mail helicopter
take-off at 0715 – then breakfast”. Then, added below the signature “Went
at 0700 to see mail service – it did not operate”.
would actually have not been the first SABENA helicopter mail, which had been
operated experimentally with Bell 47s since 1950.
The next day September 1, did in fact see the inauguration of the first
international scheduled helicopter service linking Brussels with Lille,
Maastricht and Rotterdam. Many cards
would subsequently be produced of the heliports served with the possible
exception of Lille. The equipment was the
Sikorsky S55, which in turn appeared in the real-photo SABENA card series.
location is the Brussels Airport at Melsbroek which was where the current
freight/military side of Zaventem is. NBote
the Prestwick –style tower on top of a pitched roof.
service continued until 1966, with the Sikorsky S58 being used later.
Other destinations added were Cologne, Bonn, Dortmund, Duisburg,
Eindhoven and Paris. The
service was never profitable and was rendered obsolete by improved ground
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