L2 The Wreck

L2 The Wreck

Zeppelin LZ 18 - Marine-Luftschiff L2 

The remains of the airship let clearly see that the balloon rushed vertically into the deep after the fire. The gondolas along with the heavy, weighing several hundredweight engines have deeply imbedded in the earth, and the short grass, that covers the field, is burned in a radius of about 10 to 15 meters.

A sharp, all-pervading smell of burnt linen, rubber and of corpses pervades the air, so that in the immediate vicinity of the pile of rubble it is hardly to endure.  

The propeller of the front engine gondola are still almost intact. Similarly the drive shafts, which have linked the bolts to the engine. The two powerful engines have deeply imbedded in the ground. They were still hot after an hour. Anything special, however, could not be determined. although they have just been the cause of the terrible disaster. 

The guide gondola, which was placed in the forefront of the “Zeppelin“, right before the first engine gondola, is completely folded and collapsed into itself. The strong aluminum walls are crushed like thin sheet of metal. The central corridor, that linked all three gondolas, can at least still be seen in its outer contours. The thin ribs, that at some spots are barely an inch thick, are lying around completely deformed and bent.

How big the explosion was can already be seen from that such ribs as well as parts of the gondolas, pieces of wood and so on were thrown around 600 meters up to the airport. Here the remains have been piled up to a height of 4 to 5 meter. They buried the gondola in which in the opinion of the experts have yet to find corpses.

The rear has suffered the least. The control cells still show some of their covering and charred linen rag hang around everywhere. The huge fuel tanks are lying around completely empty. Their content has been emptied on the gondolas and inot the interior at the time of the explosion. The massive aluminum barrels but still clearly show their form. 

Here and there lie the clothes of the men who lost their lives. Waistcoats, leather pants and jackets, often completly charred, are offered to the eyes of the terrified observer. The most terrible sight but offered the corpses. Almost all of them burned beyond recognition and difficult to be reconnoitre. Ambulance automobiles and -cars drove constantly over the place and took away the human remains. 

In the pocket of the guide, captain lieutenant Freiyer, they found a list of those persons who have participated in the accident driving.

L2 Scene of accident

L2 Press report: Scene of accident


Zeppelin LZ 18 - Marine-Luftschiff L2 

At the site of the airhip catastrophe
The dead number in the balloon hall

Close to the Rudower Chaussee, which runs across open ground, that is just opened up to building, a small piece of the last apartment buildings of Johannisthal away, one can see now the vomited into a thousand pieces of bones skeleton of the former airship “L 2” are in a meadow. High on rise the aluminium ribs of the tail piece, then follows in the long axis of the crashed ship a maze of twisted aluminum parts, some deep, deep drilled into the earth.

 The aluminum shines still white in its large mass and only at a few points one notice from the fury of the flames blackened parts. On this sad mess hanging here and there, the meager scraps of yellow balloon material, here and there, half buried, behold, a small utensil that is escaped by a miracle of destruction. Damaged fuel tanks are scattered all round, large boilers, which the ruinous explosive material has already poured. Three in the movement frozen wings of a propeller protrude into the air, another one has only kept one of his wings and stretches it ahead obliquely. Tiny things that are talking a terrible language, are still lying around on the thick grass ground: shiny buttons, cloth scraps, small gears, once the useful part of a large, now ruined work.

In the afternoon there was the quiet road, which opens up the crash site, in a perpetual motion. Cars pulled out into long lines, at the sides families by foot with bag and baggage, with strollers and big baskets of bread. The crash site by police and military cordoned off a large square, surrounded by a wall of people. One lies on the grass, eating ones sandwiches and throws away the paper. Toils midst of the square is a small detachment of sailors, sorting the debris as possible. From the tangle of aluminum sheet is torn and cut out, which can be removed and taken away in baskets. From time to time  one of the men roses from his arduous work and turns a little bit between the fingers, some tiny insignificant, perhaps a luxury item. 

But all this work is carried almost silent. Hardly a word is heard. The many hundreds who beset this place, speak very, very softly. Then occasionally drives a car through the locked room to the heap of rubble. Men who are members of the Commission of Inquiry and are welcomed by the naval officers who are to exercise supervision. The Secretary of War drives up and paces with his company slowly the debris field. At the point where she is laid low, is also the head of the airship, a conically curved, dented dome, a huge thimble, a metal dome not dissimilar. The weather keeps clear only in the evening autumn mists rise and the sun disappears in the orangered of the horizon, as a flying machine, the only today passes over the course in his tracks.

Then the sailors are replaced and the crowd warps. the skeleton remains still. A few hundred yards away is the hangar. The Navy lag on its roof is at half-drawn. In the lobby lie the bodies of 27 victims.

The guard of honor, men of the marine corps, are standing stiffly with bayonets beside it, with their helmets and chin strap. Outside the hall, everything is closed off to the most rigourous, no one will be let in, only see through the fence is permitted. Who wants to reconnoitre a dead, is shown a list. A very old woman stops over trembling in front of the sentinel. She speaks humbly a few words. She is shown the sheet of paper that contains the name of the dead. Suddenly she screams, reaching into the air and then collapses. Unconscious she is being taken away. A woman with a little girl held in hand is weeping conducted into the hall.

As the moon red blurry, as shrouded in a veil, rises hazily, a large hearse comes driving through the gate of the fence and stops at the small door of the hall. It is to carry the body of one of the officers, which brought the training cruise of the “L2” to death. This morning, the corpses of the other victims are brought to the garnison hospital. Until late into the evening life here is not coming to rest. On the airfield signaling flares rise and illuminate the sad scene for a moment.  (F.K.)


L2 Press report: The cause

L2 Press report: The cause


Zeppelin LZ 18 - Marine-Luftschiff L2 

 Press report about the cause of the crash of Naval Airship L2 (Zeppelin LZ 18) on Johannistal.

In the downfall of the “L 2” it is the effect of the vacuum, of the rarefied space, and its powerful suction. When the flash twitches, it rips a hole in the air, but then the displaced air mass immediately crash again with thunder in the hole. When zeroed on new warships, it occured already, that the through the protection resulting vacuum in the air in front of the turnet has torn the deck. In a speeding car, we can observe something similar:



We do not feel, as one should believe, the air draft forward in the face, but on the back. The car when driving, creates a diluted space, and from all sides of the ingested air rushes on. On the road, we see behind a driving car the turbulence of



twisted skein-shaped raised clouds of dust that make us this process very clearly. On the “L 2” is now a mixture of hydrogen with oxygen in the air, the explosive “explosive gas” that already in contact with a small spark or even a red-hot platinumblows up, and therefor a fire does not require, has been sucked into the front engine gondola. The airship is supported by a number of gas-filled ballonets which are arranged within the frame. Like a in a fist compressed sponge, when if I redeem the pressure gradually, swells up again, does the gas expand when the air pressure is lowered in the area, thus with the rise of the airship. The air burdens with a weight from 1293 grams per cubic meter on the globe and is getting lighter with increasing altitude. To select an image: a dozen quilts presses heavily upon the sleeper, but if he puts on one, so that only the top eleven are, it is even easier, and the more he brings in, the less pressure is felt . In closed



Ballonets the expanding gas would now blow up the shell, so because of this they all have – even like the balloon – down a hole as a safety valve through the escape of excess. For each 80 meters rising 1 per cent of the content area. At the height at which the disaster occurred, the “L 2” must had blown off thus already more than 800 cubic feet of gas. It enters the walkway, and is mixed with air, flushed out the rear, where it finds an opening and evaporates into the free atmosphere. A part of the now explosion gas, however, as indicated in the last of my schematic drawings, has been sucked into the engine gondola.

The bow of the gondola is still increased by a windbreak – panes of isinglass – and pulls air with it. Behind it, a vacuum is created, and at the “L 2” it is the airship body itself so close that the powerful suction draws gas from the passageway. There is no need of carburetor fire, but only of a tiny spark of electricity, and the mixed gas flares. As the airship with the tip upward flies up, the flame runs forward, the front ballonets explod, the now gasless, so heavy fore –



swoops forward, and the stern of the “L 2” rises steeply. In the next second, the flame is running up here and let all the other ballonets explode: Now collapses a blood and meatless giant skeleton on the ground. After the disaster has happened, of course sounds incredibly easy, to say: The gondolas have to hang low and may have no windprotection, so that between them and the airship can pass a free wide air flow and keep the suction away from the shell. Such risk limits merely determin the practice, previously the best professionals have not presumed an explosion. Each construction is a compromise.

‘Impact will override backing!” says our rule for all weapons, and the approach of the gondolas to the airship is done to reduce the cross section and thus the aerodynamic drag, thus increasing the speed of the ship. Of course, only up to the permitted limit, ie within the necessary security – but about this limit they were just mistaken.



L2 Press Report

L2 Press report


Zeppelin LZ 18 - Marine-Luftschiff L2 

How the accident occured:

Probably due to carburetor fire in the front engine gondola, the fuel tanks exploded, a huge flame set fire to the gas cells, and the next moment the air cruiser crashed to the ground. 

About the terrible incident that is impossibly be described in all its details, we learn the following:

Today morning at 10 o’clock captain Freyer, the guide of the airship, wanted to make a test drive with the ship. The balloon that was filled only weakly because they wanted to keep a small altitude was brought out to the field. Duly rose “L 2” up to about 150 meters high, made a loop over the field and then turned westward to Britz to fly from there on over Berlin to Doeberitz.

The pilots who were standing outside the shed, watched the maneuvers of the “L 2” and noticed almost all that the rear engine developed a lot of smoke. Since in this circumstance there is certainly no danger, they did not pay further attention to the smoke of the machines. The airship flew over the Albatross sheds and the behind located houses of Johannisthal. Then it came into the open field, which lies between Johannisthal and Britz. The citizens of Johannisthal stared, as usual, interested after the airship. At a rapid pace, it roared at 150 feet above their heads away. One could hear the humming of the propeller and the noise of the 700-horsepower evolving machinery. Nobody could have guessed that the next moment a horrible, everything ever before seen exceeding catastrophe would occur:

At the moment, as “L 2” crossed the to Rudow’s leading country road, a bright flame suddenly struck up in the front engine gondola. Like a rocket a fine strip of flame shot to the middle of the ship. Then followed a terrible explosion. A crash, which cannot be compared to anything, and which was so strong that in every street of Johannisthal and even in the neighboring towns, as in Rudow and Treptow, all to the field located windows at distances of up to two kilometers were destroyed, then the airship burst.

A huge flame shot 20 to 30 mtr high to the sky. The next moment they saw shapeless lump of iron pieces, canvas and rubber gear, and human bodies flying through the air. The bare aluminum skeleton continue flying some 30-40 Mtr through the air, because the motors were still working and the propeller were spinning. Then the wreck shot perpendicular to the floor, devastating what was still breathing.

The citizens of Johannistal stood stunned at first. Then the cry of alarm flew through the village, “Help, the zeppelin has crashed!” Faster than it can be described, rushed hundreds of people in cars and bicycles with hatchets, axes and spades, armed to the field to help in order to to save what could still be saved. From the airport here, the cars were shooting up at full speed, each carrying 10, 12 men of the Marinedetachements that were already fitted with all life-saving equipment.

The ruins gave a terrible, anyone who has seen it, indelible impression. At first glance, one saw nothing but a tangled towering to the sky mountain of aluminum tubes and frames, between which are inextricably thousands and thousands of wires dragged. The whole place was surrounded by thousands of onlookers, who densely packed, driven in breathless silence surrounded the picture of horror and desolation. All available policemen were only used to shut off in common with the sailors, the debris field by thick ropes. The audience followed the instructions without a murmur. Scheu wichen die Menschen zurück, die in den formlosen Leichnamen, die man an ihnen vorübertrug, Freunde und Bekannte, ja sogar Verwandte vermuteten und vielfach zu erkennen glaubten. Shyly the people receded, who in the shapeless corpses, which were carried past, friends and acquaintances, even relatives presumed and even in many cases believed to recognize.


L2 Official List

L2 Official List

Zeppelin LZ 18 - Marine-Luftschiff L2 

Second official list of the casualties of the crash of the Naval Airship L2 (Zeppelin LZ 18

The second official list of the dead, which was released yesterday evening has the following names:  

1. From Admiralty:

Lieutenant Commander Behnisch, Inspector Neumann, Master-Builder Pietzker, 
Technical Secretaries Lehmann, Prieß, Eisele.


2. Department of the Navy Airship:

Captain Lieutenant Freyer, Captain Lieutenant (Alexander) Trenk, 
Marine Chief Engineers Haussmann, Busch, Pilot Pittelkow, 
Machinist Lasch, Petty Officer Werner, Signal Petty Officer Kluge, 
Chief Machinist Petty Officers Krahmer, Keidel, Dressel, Deckert, 
Fockon, Paethe, Machinist Petty Officers Weber, Fricke, Sailmaker Petty Officer Müller.


3. From Zeppelin Shipyard:

Captain Gluud, Engineer Schüler, Technicians Hohenstein, Bauer.


In addition there is Lieutenant Baron von Bleuel from the 
Queen-Augusta-Gardegrenadier-Regiment No. 4, 
who had only participated as a guest at the unfortunate voyage.


In total 28 persons have fallen victim to the catastrophe. 



L2 Official Statement

L2 Official Statement


Zeppelin LZ 18 - Marine-Luftschiff L2 

Official statement about the crash of the Naval Airship L2 (Zeppelin LZ 18)

The Naval Airship “L 2” was in a test drive ratio since its acquisition by the Navy and should  rise 8 clock this morning for a brief, in the conditions of acceptance designated, altitude drive from Johannisthal.   

On board were of the

budgetary crew:

The Commander, the Marine engineer and 13 men; 

furthermore the Admiralty:

The airship decrease Commission, consisting of an officer, 
two higher construction officers, a marine engineer and three technical secretaries;

from the Zeppelin shipyard:

an airship captain, one engineer and two technicians;

furthermore a captain lieutenant as commander student and an army officer as a guest.

All in all 28 persons.

To compensate the through the acceptance personnel of navy and shipyard caused excess weight, there were five persons of the normal crew and also the following items of equipment left behind: All outbord parts and the transmitter of the radio device, headlights and armour.

Shortly after 8 clock in the morning, the ship was taken out of the hall and rised after careful testing of all parts, especially the engines, and after the exchange of a blasting machine in the rear pod  at 10 to 16 minutes in the morning. It soon reached an altitude of about 200 meters.

At 10 clock 19 min was observed by reliable people that during the first third of the front engine car between the car and the shell was a sheaf of flames arised, which first took the bow to the tip on fire. The fire spread quickly from the rear and destroyed the outer shell. For a brief moment, the rear gas cells were visibly uninjured, but were then also taken from the fire.

In at most two or three seconds, the whole ship was engulfed in flames and an explosion was heard from about 700 yards away. At the same time the airship lowered and fell first horizontally, then slowly with the head inclined downward quickly to about 40 meters from the ground. Here a second explosion took place, which was, judging by the black smoke, probably stemmed from gasoline. When impinging on the ground a third, but weaker explosion happened. The skeleton came crashing down.

The ground crew of the Navy airship department ran at the double to the about 700 yards away, at Rudower Chaussee situated place of accident. Here, crews of a in the vicinity practicing pioneer department had already arrived. With these, the rescue operations have been started. Medical personnel were there immediately. After a short time appeared the fire department of Johannistal and several ambulance automobiles of the General Electric Company (AEG). Of the occupants of the airship, two men, lying outside the debris, were found alive; from the ruins the severely wounded Lieutenant Baron von Bleuel was freed. All the other 25 inmates who were found gradually in the wreckage, gave no sign of life from them.

Of the three survivors one died at the accident site, the second died during transport to the hospital Britz, where Lieutenant  Baron Bleuel as the only remaining survivor is still layed low with perilous burns. 

The others located in the airship were still during the crash or at least on impact killed, because most dead showed except burns serious injuries of the trunk and spine, as well as skull fractures.

The accident site was immediately cordoned off and guarded military. From the observations results at first, that the cause of the accident must be sought in an inflammation, which did not originate in the interior of the airship, but at or above the front engine car. It will be tried to get through accurate studies of the remnants of the original cause further details.

The Navy is faced with in a short time a new, serious accident that has robbed them of their newest airship. She mourns the death of many brave men who gave their lives for their country.


L2 Destroyed Zeppelin airships

L2 Destroyed Zeppelin airships

The unfortunate history of the Zeppelin airships is great, greater than that of another type. By the yesterday Friday destroyed Naval Airship “L2” the number of those Zeppelin airships, which have been destroyed by accidents, is swollen to ten, spread over a period of seven years.



16. January 1906 The first was the “LZ 2”, which fell victim to a storm in the Allgäu, he was followed on
4. August 1908 of the “LZ 4”, which was destroyed at Echterdingen, then on
25. April 1909 the “LZ 5”, which crashed in Weilburg.
28. June 1910 In the forest Teutoburg Delag airship “Germany” was stranded, a short time later, on
15. September 1910 burned the “LZ 6” in its hangar at Baden-Oos.
Mid June 1912 burned the “LZ 8” in the hall to Friedrichshafen almost completely. 
Then occurred only after prolonged 
Pause on
19. March of this year the disaster of the airship “Ersatz Z II” in Karlsruhe and at the
9. September 1913 the destruction of the Navy airship “L 1” in the vicinity of Heligoland, the maneuvers of the fleet in the North Sea.
17. October 1913 Now the second Naval Airship “L 2” has succumbed of the destruction.




L2 The Committee

L2 The Committee


Pictures of the commission of the
Naval Airship L2 (Zeppelin LZ 18)

Zeppelin LZ 18 - Marine-Luftschiff L2 - Kommission 

1. Captain Lieutnant Freyer (Commander “L 2”)+, 2. Inspector Neumann +,
3. Navy Chief Engineer Busch+, 4. Captain Gluud+, 5. Captain Lieutenant Trenk,
6. Lieutenant Commander Behnisch +, 7. Navy Chief Engineer Haußmann +.


From the Imperial Navy Office:
 Korvettenkapitän Behisch
Lieutenant Commander Behnisch
Lieutenant Commander Behnischwho has reached the age of 43 years, stood for 15 years in the naval service. His commission as Lieutenant Commander dated 27 March 1909. He was most recently commander of the gunboat “Panther” and was appointed two years ago in the Imperial Navy, where he served as departmental head for aviation. Behnisch was the son of the 1911 deceased Director of Görlitz engineering and foundry corporation. He attended the Görlitz high school and then joined the Navy. He stayed veryten in Görlitz and visited his, living on the Mühlberg, mother and his married sister. The news of is death reached the relatives in the first hour of the afternoon by a telegram from Berlin.


 Baurat Neumann

Baurat Neumann

Navy enginebuilding master Otto Neumann, who on 28 June 1900 joined the Navy, had the rank of  a captain lieutenant. He was just recently detached from the shipyard to Wilhelmshaven to the Imperial Navy Office, where he was placed under the Department for maintenance of ship machinery and ship-building factory.

His job during the tests of the “L 2” was to examine the machine Anlagenzu, especially the engines, the message body, etc.

  Baumeister Felix Pietzker
Shipbuilding master Pietzker
Navy shipbuilding master Felix Pietzker was approved in October 1908 by the Imperial Navy-Office as a lecturer in the Department for ship and marine engineering. His specialty were the questions of local strength of the hull. He went on 2 October 1903 in the Navy and on 8 December 1906 the Imperial Navy-Office assigned as a naval architect.Pietzker was in the section for the aviation of the Imperial Navy-Office Technical Advisory Council. Only in the October issue of the “Marine-Rundschau”, he published a very interesting article on the basics of naval aviation. He was also pilot and aircraft designer and repeatedly sent officially to France to study on airplane contests.

He is survived by his wife Frieda (geb. Knaths).

The book of naval ship building master Felix Pietzker, “Festigkeit der Schiffe”, in which he explained how the strength of hulls from this period can be captured arithmetically, is still available as a reprint.
From the Naval Airship Department:
 Kapitänleutnant Alexander Trenk
Captain Lieutenant Trenk
Catain Lieutenant Alexander Trenk has been recently airship commander in the Navy airship division under Lieutenant Commander Metzing. He was also the commander of a torpedo boat at the firs Torpedo Division.
Trenk, who already belonged to the department for several months, should take the next naval air cruiser after it was completed under his command
He joined the Navy 2 April 1900.
 Marine-Oberingenieur Busch
Navy Chief Engineer Busch
Particularly tragic is the fate of the Navy chief engineer Busch, who was killed in the accident. Chief engineer Busch joined the Navy Corps of Engineers 1 April 1893. His patent dated 22 March 1910. Two years later he was detached to the Imperial Navy Office, where he worked in the department for naval equipment.He actually belonged to the crew of the naval Airship “L1” that was wrecked in Heligoland. Busch should also participate in that unfortunate trip, but he was assigned at the last minute to attend the first great voyage of the “L2” from Friedrichshafen to Johannistal. That time he ecaped the certain death.

Busch was married and leaves behind besides his widow, two sons aged two and four years.


 Marine-Oberingenieur Haußmann
Navy Chief Engineer Haußmann
The killed in the accident Navy chief engineer Haußmann belonged to the Navy since 1 April 1898. His patent dated 22 March 1910. Two years later he was detached to the Imperial Navy, where he worked in the department of naval equipment. On 22 March 1913 he was assigned to the Naval Air Division. He was unmarried.
From the Zeppelin Shipyard:
 Kapitän Glund
Captain Gluud
Captain Ferdinand Gluud was an employee of the Zeppelin airship construction company. He had the leadership of the “Z IV” as the decrease commission visited the airship.

Mrs. Captain Gluud reached the terrible news of he death of her husband when she returned home from a visit to the Countess Zeppelin. Captain Gluud was on request of his wife buried in his hometown Bremen.

Captain Gluud leaves beside of his wife a six year old daughter behind. 


L2 The Naval Airship

 The Naval Airship L2


Zeppelin LZ 18 - Marine-Luftschiff L2 

The navy airship “L2” was the largest of all the Zeppelin airships ever built.

A similar catastrophe, as it has affected the “L 1”, appeared to the “L 2”,  which had twice the reserve ballast, quite impossible.

The prevailing air-currents at sea, which are more constant than in the country, but therefor act with even greater force, had also made a reinforcement of engine power necessary. The machinery of 720 horsepower are capable to defy even strong storms.

But also outwardly the “L2” did not differ insignificantly from the first naval airship. The heavy service, that officers and crew had on seafarings in the same way, had made a greater protection of the crew and, even though small, comfort necessary. Thus the accomodations situated on the gangway were created more practical than before. The system of wireless telegraphy had been substantially increased. Two radio operators shared the operation of the instruments. 

One innovation was the installation of the two powerful spotlights, which were not fed as before by an accumulator battery, but by a dynamo, whose drive was caused by one of the motors in the front gondola. In the middle of the ship there was a platform attached to the air crusier’s back, which offered place to four or five people. There could also a revolving gun been set up, which was designed so that the area under the ship could be swept up to an angle of up to 45 degrees. 

The airship had a length of 160 meters, a diameter of 16 1 / 2 feet, had a control gondola, and two engine gondolas, each with two engines.

The gas content of the 18 cells was calculated to 27,000 cubic meters. The four engines, of which the two in front developed each 150, the ones rear each 200 horsepower, were – according to the Maybach’s principle- built in Friedrichshafen.

The crew consisted of 3 officers, 4 mates, and 12 mechanics. Due to its high load capacity, the crew could be doubled in case of emergency. According to the calculations of the engineers of the Zeppelin airship company should this be the first airship that would have been able to run without any greater risk the voyage across the ocean to America.

L2 English

Berlin, 1913-10-17

  “L 2” burnt in the air!

The Naval airship exploded and crashed.
All 28 occupants were killed.

 Zeppelin LZ 18 - Marine-Luftschiff L2


On 1913-10-17 the Zeppelin LZ 18 (Naval Airship L2
  crashed on Johannistal near Berlin.

The sites depict a part of the past reporting
about the accident.


 Dedicated to:
our grandfather Kaiserl. Marine-Oberingenieur Hans Busch, + 1913-10-17 
and our father Marine-Oberstabsarzt a. D. Dr. med. Karl-Richard Busch, + 1982-03-18

and all the victims and their families.

© 2001-2010 D. K. Busch