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Artifact Friday: Zeppelin Photo

Updated: Feb 15, 2023

“We won’t come back till it's over over there!”...sang the traveling soldiers of World War One. Many of these boys had never traveled far from their hometowns or even own homes, and now they were being sent overseas to fight in a country about which they had only read about.

71, 862 of America’s World War I soldiers were from Arkansas. One of these was a Medal of Honor recipient who served under General Pershing, and another would soon become Arkansas’ first ace, Field Kindley.

For those who may have not heard that term, an ace is an aviator who has scored five or more kills against the enemy. Aviation was very new at the time World War I arrived, thus learning to fight in the skies was an entirely different experience.

Because America’s Air Force (or Air Corps) was largely underdeveloped at that point, many pilots served with the French and British Air Forces, learning to fly in the Nieuport and Sopwith Camel biplanes. After mastering the art of flying these planes, the first “flyboys” were up against Germany’s deadly Fokker aircraft. While they were indeed deadly fighters, the Allied pilots had to combat other craft as well.

While not as quick or aerodynamic as the Fokker planes, they were a formidable enemy. These were the German Zeppelins. Zeppelins are cylindrical airships. Originally they were built for transportation, however, at the onset of World War One, zeppelins were used as combat weapons.

The Germans realized that because of their size, weight capacity, and altitude these zeppelins could not only carry passengers, but they were also able to carry large amounts of bombs for raids over Allied cities.

Many times, these zeppelins would not go out alone having several Fokker aircraft escorting them to the target.

Because zeppelins were not fastest airships in the military, they could be taken down rather easily, yet that does not negate the fact that they looked rather frightening as they ballooned through the clouds. In fact, a few Allied pilots were able to get photographs of them in combat.

One such photograph happens to be in our archives, and today we proudly share it with you. While little is known about this particular zeppelin flying over France, one can only imagine the thoughts going through this pilot’s mind as he sees and captures the moment this zeppelin came through the clouds. Enjoy!

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