Hindenburg Artifact story correction

By The History Detectives Team
30 July 2008
Category: Correction

A number of viewers have contacted us with corrections to the Hindenburg Artifact story. Over twenty caught the error in our showing a B-29 bombing Germany. Merlin Bird writes:

In the Hindenburg Artifact episode, B-29's were briefly depicted as being used over Europe. Normally, I'd think nothing of it, but in a history program? B-29's were not used over Europe.

The aircraft shown should have been a B-17 or B-24. The producers regret the error.

Carl Witzstein wrote with another frequently voiced comment:

In the Hindenburg story you said several times that the cause of the crash had not been determined. I remember a PBS story (either on NOVA or SECRETS OF THE DEAD) that claimed to have discovered the cause. I think it was a spark that ignited the explosive coating on the blimp. I really enjoy your program!!

We contacted the story's producer who was aware of the earlier programs produced on the Hindenburg disaster. Here is his reply:

Hypotheses regarding the Hindenburg disaster are myriad. One commonly-accepted theory blames flammable paint - not hydrogen – for igniting the fire and enabling its rapid spread. Experiments assessing the validity of this theory have yielded mixed results. A 2005 study found that the burn rate of the painted fabric was far too slow to have consumed the airship in 34 seconds, and that a natural spark ignition was physically implausible. The study also postulates that burning gas cells and fabric accounted for the yellow flames. Furthermore, eyewitness accounts of the Hindenburg flames closely match those of zeppelins shot down in combat during WWI. Until the day that multiple, full-scale reproductions constructed of authentic Hindenburg materials are built to test the various possible causes, there will be no consensus in the scientific community over the exact cause of the LZ129 crash. A PDF copy of the report is available at this site.

Thank you, viewers, for careful attention to the Hindenburg Artifact story and taking the time to provide feedback.


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