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Difference Between Zeppelins and Blimps

zeppelin_450Zeppelins vs Blimps

Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin was the creator of the designs that were the basis for building a zeppelin, a kind of rigid airship. They were widely used as bombers and scouts by the Germans during World War 1. Popularity for civilian zeppelins grew during the 1920’s, and throughout the 1930’s. Basically, a zeppelin is made of a rigid skeleton of metallic alloy, formed by rings and girders running longitudinally. This design was advantageous, because the airship could be built bigger than a non-rigid airship, allowing heavier loads to be lifted and more powerful engines to be fitted, as well as being able to travel longer distances in changing weather conditions. Non rigid airships, like a blimp, use overpressure contained in the single gas bag to maintain their shape. The first generation of zeppelins were very basic in nature, comprising of a long cylindrical vessel, that was evenly narrow at both ends, and with multi-plane fins.

Blimps, are basically non-rigid airships, that do not have a keel inside to support their shape. A blimp does not contain any form of rigid internal structure or framework for maintaining the airbag’s shape. Instead, they are filled with a light gas of high pressure, which provides a ‘lifting’ force for the aircraft, as well as maintaining it’s shape. Blimps closely appear like moored balloons in shape, but unlike the balloons, blimps have got propulsion. A blimp contains a passenger car, also called ‘gondola’, and this is the only solid part of the airship. Changes in temperature result in alternating volumes of the lifting gas, but this is countered by using air bags or ballonets, which maintain constant overpressure. A blimp needs sufficient overpressure to maintain steer and speed. Attached to the passenger car are propeller engines, which can be steerable in some models. The hull can be inflated by using the propeller airstream, but the blimp’s size is hugely limited by the instability of the hull. Due to the fact that they are fairly easier to construct, blimps are the most common airships to be made.


1. Blimps keep their shape by using internal overpressure, while Zeppelins have a rigid framework structure that gives them their shape.

2. Because of their rigidity, zeppelins can travel over longer distances than blimps, whose shape can be influenced by changes in the weather.

3. Zeppelins can carry much heavier loads than blimps.

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