Difference Between Zeppelins and Blimps

Zeppelins and blimps are both aircraft. But they are different in terms of structure, shape, functioning, and other aspects. Even though they are, at present, impractical modes of transport, zeppelins and blimps were of great use in the past. Now there are only 25 blimps and no zeppelins. The high cost of maintenance and difficulty in functioning has reduced their popular demand.

Zeppelins vs Blimps

The main difference between zeppelins and blimps is that they have different frameworks. While zeppelin has a rigid structure, blimps are flexible in shape. They are both outdated and archaic forms of transport at present due to the advancement in other technologies like drones. Now jumbo jets and helicopters have taken over the skies.

Zeppelins and Blimps

Zeppelins were used to traverse over the North Sea and the Baltic. The navy used most of the zeppelins for patrolling purposes. The Hindenburg incident marked the beginning of the dark days in airship history. Although the damage was low after the accident, people were not receptive to airships and such modes of transport. A large number of helium requirements are hard to meet, and thus the zeppelins are not used anymore.

The origin of the name blimps is still ambiguous. They were used in the world war period and then for distributing advertising messages. The U.S. navy’s ZPG-3W is the largest blimp, and four such were made. The navy stopped using them by 1962. The Goodyear blimps are still in use. Blimps don’t have wings like conventional planes. It has a large gas bag. They are driven by engines.

Comparison Table Between Zeppelins and Blimps

Parameters of ComparisonZeppelinsBlimps
Invented byFerdinand von ZeppelinHenri Giffard
FrameworkRigid or semi-rigidNon-rigid
ManufacturersLuftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbHAmerican Blimp Corporation (ABC) 
First Flight19001852
UsePatrolling Television coverage

What is Zeppelins?

A zeppelin is an airship invented by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin. It has a covered framework. The initial idea of the zeppelin was discussed in 1874, and it was completely developed in 1893. It was of German origin. After its invention, zeppelin got a new meaning and was a common term to name rigid aircraft.

Deutsche Luftschiffahrts- AG flew zeppelins for the first time in 1910, and over time thousands of flights were carried over. In the period of the first world war, the German military used these aircraft as bombers and resulted in many deaths. Under the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was prohibited from building aircraft.

The duralumin framework enabled the expansion of space, unlike the non-rigid airships. The material used was kept a secret initially. The most famous zeppelins are the Graf Zeppelin and the Hindenburg zeppelin. It was the biggest airship. The hydrogen-inflated craft burst and caused the Hindenburg disaster

 After the second world war, the airships were demolished. These aircraft were an inspiration for art, music, and literature. In the 1990s, the new technology zeppelins were developed. The modern zeppelins work using helium, and they can be powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Its framework has changed to a semi-rigid one.

What is Blimps?

Blimps are airships that are not rigid. They don’t have a framework. The pressure of the gas inside develops the strength to maintain the shape. The solid parts in the blimp are the tail fins and the passenger car. Blimps are like balloons. They can be inflated and deflated. They are lighter than air. The overpressure of the gas is required to maintain the shape. In the absence of such pressure, it is slowed, and there is a drag. 

These kinds of airships are easy to build and therefore are a common choice. But the size limitation of blimps resulted in the formation of rigid aircraft. Although blimps are easier to transport, the unstable hull has caused a decrease in acceptance.

Overweight blimps are used today. During the first world war, blimps were used as patrol airships. Blimps are used for shooting events. The envelope of the blimp contains helium gas. The tip of the blimp is strengthened by nose cone battens, and there are air-filled bags called ballonets. Turbo-propeller airplane engines are used in blimps. The gondola is where the passengers and crew stay.

Due to the high cost of building, maintenance, and fuel requirements, blimps are not of high use these days. Only 25 blimps exist now. The evolution of drones has also resulted in less use of blimps. Pilots need a lot more training to fly an airship. The noteworthy airship crashes have contributed to the popular neglect.

Main Differences Between Zeppelins and Blimps

  1. Zeppelins have a rigid internal framework constituted by metal, and thus it has a shape. But a blimp is an inflatable balloon that lacks a framework and a constant shape. The gas-filled in provides the structure.
  2. Comparatively, it is hard to fly a blimp than a zeppelin. A pilot needs lots of training that require more than 250 hours to learn how to fly a blimp.
  3. Zeppelins are huge as they have a rigid or semi-rigid construction. Blimps can be in many sizes as they don’t have permanent construction.
  4. The framework in zeppelins enables them to withstand harsh weather conditions, unlike blimps.
  5. Zeppelins are of German origin and were invented by Count Ferdinand. Blimps were built by Henri Giffard.
  6. Blimps are now used for television coverage and research purposes. The last zeppelin was used in 1937.


The principle of blimps and zeppelins are the same. They use gases lighter than oxygen and float in the air like balloons. They were popular in the 1900s, and with time, due to the new inventions, they were replaced. 

Zeppelins were preferred to cross the Atlantic rather than ocean liners as they were fast. Blimps are contoured and can be spotted in sporting events or other television coverage activities.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=3TUVDAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=zeppelins&ots=HRPLvYIWrI&sig=JXy9MzRgjgJVFalojPb7ReXbEs
  2. http://lsc.cemif.univ-evry.fr/public/presentation/biblio/public/presentation/pub/BES01R.pdf

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