Construction of the first Zeppelin airship, launched in 1899 on the floating assembly area at Lake Constance in the Gulf Manzell, Friedrichshafen. It was organized by the lake in order to simplify the start, because shop could sail to the wind. Pilot Airship «LZ 1» (LZ meant «Luftschiff Zeppelin») had a length of 128 m and balance by moving the weight between the two gondolas, it was installed two Daimler motor power 14.2 hp (10.6 kW).
First flight of the Zeppelin was held July 2, 1900. It lasted only 18 minutes, as LZ 1 was forced to land on the lake after the balance between the weight broke. After the repair the device technology airship was successfully tested in subsequent flights, breaking the speed record French airship La France (6 m / s) at 3 m / s, but this was still insufficient to attract significant investment in the airship. Financing Earl got a few years. For the first flights of his airships convincingly shown the promise of their use in warfare.
By 1906 the Zeppelin managed to build an advanced airship, which is interested in the military. The military initially applied to semi-rigid, then soft airships "Parseval, as well as airships Zeppelin" hard type, in 1913 was adopted for rigid airship Schutte-Lanz. Comparative tests of aeronautical vehicles in 1914 showed the superiority of rigid airships type. The last 150 meters in length and volume of the shell 22 000 cu. m lifted up to 8000 kg payload, with a maximum lift height of 2200 m. In the three motors 210 hp they each reached a speed of 21 m / sec. In the payload consisted of 10-kilogram bombs and a 15-centimeter and 21 centimeter grenades (total weight 500 kg), as well as radiotelegraph equipment. In 1910 he opened Europe's first air passenger line Friedrichshafen, Dusseldorf, at which the airship cruised "Germany". In January 1914, Germany for the total volume (244 000 cu. M) and the fighting qualities of their airships had the most powerful fleet in the aeronautical world.