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Graf Zeppelin. 1:245 Hawk/Lindberg


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Graf Zeppelin

1:245 Hawk/Lindberg


The design and construction of Graf Zeppelin were essentially conservative, based on tried-and-true technology developed over the Zeppelin Company’s decades of experience, and the ship was constructed of triangular Duralumin girders, with frames spaced 15 meters apart. The design of the Zeppelin was constricted by the size of the building shed at Friedrichshafen, which had inner dimensions of 787 feet in length and 115 feet in height. Since greater size meant greater efficiency in long distance operation, the challenge for Ludwig Durr and his design team was to create a ship with the largest possible gas capacity that could be built within the confines of the construction shed. Thus the airship that was designed was a cylinder 776ft in length and 100ft in diameter. The gondola, which was slung under the nose of the airship meant that the height of the airship from the bottom of the gondola to the top of the hull was 110ft.

Whilst not the most aerodynamically efficient design it did incorporate one interesting feature, in the fuel used for powering the five Maybach VL-2 12-cylinder engines, which could develop 550hp at maximum revolutions, and 450 hp at 1400 RPM in cruise. This was the use of Blau Gas which had the same density as air so wouldn't upset the balance of the airship as the fuel was used, unlike more conventional fuels such as paraffin and diesel. This also gave the airship an extra 30 hours of flying time as the lifting Hydrogen gas didn't need to be expelled to keep the airship at the correct altitude. The use of Blau gas allowed the Graf Zeppelin to stay aloft for over 100 hours.

The Graf Zeppelin had a career spanning nine years, and in that time made 590 flights and carried over 34,000 passengers without incident. She also carried out the first commercial and scheduled flights across the Atlantic, first around the world and even flew a scientific mission over the North Pole.

Graf Zeppelin was over the Canary Islands on the last day of a South American flight from Brazil to Germany when it received news of the Hindenburg disaster in Lakehurst, New Jersey. Captain Hans von Schiller withheld the news from his passengers, and told them of the disaster only after the ship’s safe landing in Germany.

Graf Zeppelin landed in Friedrichshafen on May 8, 1937, and never carried a paying passenger again. The ship made only one additional flight, on June 18, 1937, from Friedrichshafen to Frankfurt, where she remained on display — all her hydrogen removed — until she was broken up on the orders of Hermann Goering’s Luftwaffe in March, 1940, bringing to an end the era that these huge and graceful ships of the sky brought about.

The Model

The kit arrives in a very long and quite deep box with several pictures of the Graf Zeppelin on the front and sides. Even though it measures out at 38.5" or 97.8cm long there are very few parts, the two hull halves and a single sprue of quite hard white styrene, one sprue of nylon, apparently. There is also a single clear styrene part and a sealed bag for the included lighting equipment. Detail is naturally quite sparse by the very nature of the airship. The longerons of the hull and fins are quite prominent, perhaps a little over emphasised, but should look ok given a slight sanding down and under a coat of primer and Alclad or similar, in fact the kit is so big it might be better just to go to Halfords and get various shades of silver auto paint. There were apparently shape issues with the older kit and even though it says new tooling on the box there really isn't any evidence of this, so the incorrect cross-section is still there. The nylon parts are also pretty awful to work with whether gluing or filling so beware.




Construction is very simple, much like the instructions which leave a lot to be desired. The hull halves have very large location pins and holes and they do give a very positive fit, (not shown in the photograph above, as I wanted to get it apart again), although it will still need some careful gluing and an extensive seam removal session. There is a small conical nose piece that's fitted to the bow. The four tail fins are each made of two halves and locate well into their slots. Again the longerons may need sanding down a bit. Unfortunately the balance horns, on the nylon sprue are completely the wrong shape, rather than being teardrop they should be and aerofoil shape. There are pictures of these on the interweb amongst many others than would prove useful for this build, or at least show up how many other problems there are in the kit.



The engines and propellers are also moulded in nylon and as mentioned above are a real problem in assembling, filling and painting. Hawk probably thought it better to use nylon as it is stronger than styrene and as the pods stick out there is a likelihood of breakage. It would have been preferred if they were standard styrene and take the risk to be honest. The struts could always be replaced with brass rod instead. Brass rod will also be required for the fin bracing wires. Anyway the engine pods are in two halves and the propeller shaft is sandwiched between them. There are five in all, two on each side and the fifth on the centreline aft. They will also need bracing wire to complete.

The main gondola is a three piece item, the gondola, a clear insert, which is actually very clear, and the gondola bottom. Into the gondola are the pilots controls station and a number of comfy chairs. It also houses the lighting cct. lights, switch, and 3v coin cell battery all included. The internals all fitted, painted and in the case of the lights, tested, the gondola is fitted into place. There is a small bumper parts that is then added to the underside. There are one of the girders, framework and other fittings that are visible in the real Graf Zeppelin in the gondola which is shame, but some enterprising modeller should be able to scratch build this if they like.




The rest, as they say is up to the painting and getting the various shades of silver dope that is very noticeable on the real thing, not forgetting that this is a BIG kit.


The decal sheet contains the main name titles for the front hull, and registration numbers for the hull just above the rear engine pods on either side and on the upper fin. They are high density and the carrier film looks reasonably thin so should settle down well. It's a shame that decals weren't included for the later years of operation under the Luftwaffe, but there are aftermarket sheets that can provide the swastikas and a bit of colour matching for the paint. At least this version would have added some much needed colour the completed model.



This is certainly and interesting and impressive kit, if purely for its size. The hull problems cannot be easily sorted, but with the addition of some brass rod and strut it could be made into a good looking model and will look impressive, whether hung from the ceiling or or the stand provided, although a better one would be preferable. I can recommend it purely as something different, baring in mind the problems mentioned above.

Review sample courtesy of


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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for the review. From my understanding the new tooling refers to the all-injected tooling, as the old version had vacuformed hull parts. Maybe the old version has the smaller parts in styrene - I do not know. Sanding down the hull will be easier on the new version for sure ;-)


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  • 9 years later...

My mother in law gave me this model for Christmas about 20 years ago & is now threatening to turn me into something she describes as "un-natural" unless I build it before Christmas (2023)

Any tips about painting the nylon engine parts?

I would ask my mother -in-law to get her wand out to help but that could bring about the end of the world as we know it.....

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  • 5 weeks later...

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