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Zeppelinitis by Brian, C. Lavelle
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This paper examines the development of the concept of the airship as a weapon of widespread destruction and the effect that entertainment literature and the popular press' presentation of this concept had on the English public and government's reaction to WWI Zeppelin attacks. The historical development of the concept of aerial attack on cities is traced from its first application in 1848, its portrayed in novels as a futuristic weapon of immense destructive power, German airship propaganda, and the many English press reports about the estimated capabilities and roles of the airship. When the airship was employed against England in WWI, the population reacted to the image planted in its mind by novels, nourished by propaganda and hyped by sensationalist press reports. Rumor, morbid curiosity, and a borderline hysterical fear of the airship and aerial attack spread throughout the English population to such an extent that industrial war production was affected. By the end of the war nearly a quarter million Londoners sought shelter each night from a relatively minor threat which over the course of four years inflicted casualties and property damage which amounted to less than that suffered on a quite day in the trenches of the Western Front. This effect on the "morale" of the public vice the physical damage inflicted became a driver of RAF airpower doctrine in the interwar years. The reaction of the citizenry of England to the airship raid is a testimony to the power of the written and spoken word and its ability to unsettle a nation.
Release date NZ
May 1st, 2005
Country of Publication
United States
University Press of the Pacific
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