Graf Class Airship

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Graf Zeppelin II
Graf Class.jpg
The Graf Class was modeled after the Graf Zeppelin II, seen here exiting its hanger in Germany, 1938.
Role Aerial firefighting
National origin United States
Manufacturer Sinclare MEGAcorp
Designer Sinclare MEGAcorp
First flight 2034
Introduction 2033
Status All except one destroyed in accidents
Primary user Sinclare AirFleet
Produced 2033-2037
Number built 9
Developed from Hindenburg Class Airship

The Graf Class Airship is a Helium filled, aerial firefighting rigid airship built by the Sinclare MEGAcorp between 2033 and 2037. Nine ships were built, starting with the Graf Zeppelin III. They are the largest flying aircraft built since the German Zeppelins of the 1930s.


Airships were once considered to be the future of air travel. Unfortunately, due to the widely publiized disaster of the HIndenburg Zeppelin in 1937, the future of airships as a passenger carrier ended. The Hindenburg and her sister ship, the Graf Zeppelin II, were filled with highly flammable hydrogen because helium (not flammable) was not available. This was a major contributor to the destruction of the Hindenburg. Audio and film of the crash detailed and showed the horrific destruction of the airship, but it was never widely publicized that 61 of the 97 souls onboard survived.

Design & Development

Graf Zeppelin III pictured in semi-transparent black

  The Pentagon, 1,414 feet, 431 m
  RMS Queen Mary 2, 1,132 feet, 345 m
  USS Enterprise, 1,123 feet, 342 m
  Hindenburg, 804 feet, 245 m
  Yamato, 863 feet, 263 m
  Empire State Building, 1,454 feet, 443 m
  Knock Nevis, ex-Seawise Giant, 1,503 feet, 458 m
  Apple Park, 1,522 feet, 464 m
  Graf Zeppelin III, 1,555 feet, 474 m

Unlike its 1930s predecessors, the Graf Class of airships are filled with inflammable helium instead of hydrogen. The lifting capability of helium is about 90% of hydrogen, but for obvious safety considerations the loss is considered more than acceptable.

The Graf Class was constructed at a time when money and materials were all in short supply because of the Long Recession.  Ideally, a purpose built firefighting airships were desired. But due to the desire to save money, plans for the structure of the airships were taken from contemporary German Zeppelin designs.  The resulting look resembled the familiar cylindrical cigar shape of many blimps and dirigibles built before the Graf Class.  Avionics, engines, and other components were sourced from modern "off the shelf" sources making the Graf Class an odd hybrid of old design with new technology. Because of stronger materials and a requirement for larger lifting capacity, the size of the Graf Class air frame was scaled upward by approximately fifty percent, giving an overall length of approximately 1500 feet. The larger dimensions increased total volume by approximately sixty six percent, which increased lifting capacity proportionally.

Additions to Graf Class

Several new systems for compressing helium instead of venting when excess pressure pressure built up were incorporated into the design. Additional dual gondola engine nacelles were installed instead of single gondolas in order to increase space for additional engines. Contra-rotating propellers with steeply swept blades radically improved performance over the thrust designs of the 1930s. Other modern additions incluສດḏṁЪѯѥѦ؟ې۸ݹץז৷ছ৮௯₡₥liʅɱ̍n̪ʘɛ̃ɨ̯i̯बृลỷǙỪỪʏ̃ʘɞ̯ɯ̃o̯o₵₭৳±§‽₳งឥឈះោᑏᐎᐓᐱǏສດḏṁ₡₥liʅɱ̍n̪ỷǙỪỪʏ̃ʘɞ̯ɯ̃o̯ສດḏṁ₡₥liʅɱ̍n̪πΉΨαῆᾣЪѯѥѦ؟ې۸ݹץז৷ছ৮௯ᾂᾁᾼ῟ῼѪЪ...Fragmentary Encryption Anomaly; Information irretrievable, data stream terminated.

Comparison to Athena Class Airships.

The Athena Class Airships were designed specifically for firefighting duties. Although shorter, they are considerably wider and have a significantly larger lifting capacity. After t₥liʅɱ̍n̪ʘΨαῆᾣЪѯѥѦ؟ې۸ݹץז৷ছ৮௯ᾂᾁᾼ῟ῼѪЪѯѥѦ؟ې۸ݹץז৷ছ৮௯῟ῼѪЪѯѥѦ؟ې௵ెబఌඦෙඒॄॾऻઈबृลงឥສດḏṁ₡₥liʅɱ̍n̪ʘɛ̃ɨ̯i̯ສດḏṁ₡₥liʅɱ̍n̪ʘɛ̃ɨ̯i̯बृลงឥឈះោᑏᐎᐓᐱǏỷǙỪỪʏ̃ʘɞ̯ɯ̃o̯῟ῼѪЪѯѥѦ؟ېo₵₭৳±§‽₳฿‡πΉΨαῆᾣᾂᾁᾼ῟ῼѪЪѯѥѦ؟ې۸ݹץז৷ছ৮௯௵ెబఌඦෙඒॄॾऻઈबສດḏṁ₡₥liʅɱ̍n̪ឥឈះោᑏᐎᐓᐱສດḏṁ₡₥liʅɱ̍n̪Ǐ฿‡πΉສດḏṁ₡῟ῼѪЪѯѥѦ؟ې۸ݹץז৷ছ৮௯௵ెబఌඦෙඒॄॾऻઈer ordered.

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Main Propulsion

Forward thrust for the Graf Class airships are provided by sixteen 4096 brake horsepower diesel engines mounted in 8 fixed position dual gondolas. The engines drive dual scimitar variable contour contra-rotating propellers. In static wind conditions and with additional thrust from the azimuth thrusters the Graf Class airships are capable of reaching a top speed of 411 km/h / 256 mph.

Steering & Pitch Control

Two large vertical fins extending from the top and bottom of the rear of the airships have rudders that assist in steering. Eight azimuth maneuvering thrusters mounted in 3D pitch azipods provide precision maneuvering capability. The azimuth thrusters can also be used to provide additional thrust for forward speed, upward, and downward thrust.

Pitch control is provided from elevators mounted on horizontal fins mounted on the rear of the airship. Azimuth thrusters are also used to control pitch.


Lift is provided by helium gas contained in 32 doughnut shaped cylindrical cells. Unlike the 1930s predecessors, gas is not vented to maintain proper inflation of the gas cells. Instead, multiple compressors units compress and refrigerate the helium gas into liquid form. Total gross lift of the Graf Class is over 680,000 kg / 1.5 million pounds. Net cargo lift capacity depends on how each individual airship is outfitted, but exceeds even the largest fixed wing cargo weight by a factor of two.

Fire Suppression Delivery

Wildfire suppression has historically been delivered using a 'mass dumping' method. All ships in the Graf Class are equipped to carry water or other fire retardant, but that is not the only manner they can put out fires. If a fire occurs within approximately 25 miles of a water source the Graf Class airships are also capable of pumping that water to extinguish a blaze. In direct pump mode flow rates can approach as much as a half a million gallons per minute in multiple directed streams.

Each airship reserves a minimum capacity of 226,000 kg / 500,000 pounds for water or fire retardant, which equates to about 60,000 gallons. Compared to the largest Boeing 747 air tankers this represents about a three fold increase in the amount of water that can be delivered to a fire event.

Advantages over Fixed Wing Air Tankers

In addition to the above mentioned cargo capacity, airships are able to deliver water of fire retardant in a far more precise manner. When operating in direct pump mode when water is pumped from a nearby source continuous water supply can be delivered to a fire event for as long as there is adequate supply available. In large wildfires, water levels in all but the largest reservoirs can be significantly depleted.


Registration numbering for the Graf Class starts at GZ-3 in honor of the Graf Zeppelin (DLZ-127) and the Graf Zeppelin II (DLZ-130) and continues to GZ-ʘɛ̃ɨ̯i̯ສດḏṁЪѯѥѦ؟ې۸ݹץז৷ছ৮௯₡₥liʅɱ̍n̪ʘɛ̃ɨ̯i̯बृลỷǙỪỪʏ̃ʘɞ̯ɯ̃o̯o₵₭৳±§‽₳งឥឈះោᑏᐎᐓᐱǏສດḏṁ₡₥liʅɱ̍n̪ỷǙỪ...Fragmentary Encryption Anomaly; Information irretrievable, data stream terminated.