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Attack of the Zeppelins

Episode Guide

London is burning. German bombs are decimating British homes and the dead lie in heaps. But this Blitz has nothing to do with World War II.

This little-known story of a terror bombing campaign on the capital took place during the First World War.

For 18 months the carnage was delivered by a machine straight from the pages of science fiction.

The Zeppelin, the biggest flying machine ever to have existed, delivered a deadly payload straight to the heart of a nation and, for a time, there was nothing the British could do to stop them.

This new kind of terror campaign rewrote the rules of war. For the first time in history, innocent civilians were bombed in their homes in a ruthless attempt to break a nation's morale.

The first aerial bombing campaign in history is also the story of the engineering arms race between Germany and Britain.

Engineer Dr Hugh Hunt investigates the technical challenges that each side had to overcome in their war in the air.

Much of the detail about what happened a century ago has been lost to history, so there are plenty of outstanding engineering mysteries about the Zeppelin story for Hugh to get his teeth into: mysteries that can only be solved by doing practical experiments.

He attempts to find out why it was so difficult for British guns to bring down Zeppelins: a surprising problem given that the airships were filled with flammable hydrogen gas.

He tests genuine First World War Zepp-busting munitions and reverse engineers World War I bombs to find out exactly how these technologies worked.

The material that held the gas in a Zeppelin was made of cow gut, so Hugh runs a series of grisly experiments to find out how the Germans managed to turn narrow tubes of cow intestines into enormous balloons.

And he is amazed to learn that the special flaming bullet that helped end the reign of the Zeppelin was invented by his great uncle Jim.

Attack of the Zeppelins is an explosive mix of investigative engineering and vivid action from the past.

Attack of the Zeppelins synopsis

Engineer Dr Hugh Hunt revisits the little-known story of the First World War's Blitz, when the Zeppelin waged an 18-month terror campaign on the people of London

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