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K-02 Airplane or Airship? The Cultural Dimensions of a Transatlantic Debate

This paper is a preliminary investigation of a chapter in a history
of transatlantic flight currently being written. It briefly surveys the
debate that surrounded the use of airships in Transatlantic
service in the interwar years, and to frame the issue in the
context of both prestige and technological choice. Although
imagery and national pride influenced public opinion in this
matter, historical accounts generally assume that the dirigible
would have failed in any case. In fact, under the conditions of
interwar air traffic, the choice of dirigibles remained within the
boundaries of rational technological choice. This historical
episode thus shows that function as well as prestige affected the
role of the transport airship in the interwar years.

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