9. November 10, 1915: Imperial German Navy Schütte-Lanz SL6
At the beginning of the 20th century, Ferdinand von Zeppelin had one competitor in the airship-building business: the Schütte-Lanz Company. Made of wood and plywood, instead of alloys like the Zeppelins, Schütte-Lanz airships had some distinct disadvantages. For one, the glue binding their joints together was susceptible to moisture. What’s more, the entire ship itself was compromised if water penetrated its outer waterproof layer. And for an airship that did maritime service, this was not good news.
Yet it was not sodden wood that brought down the Schütte-Lanz SL6 (the predecessor to the SL7, pictured here) shortly after it took off from the Seddin Airbase in Pomerania, on November 10, 1915. Instead, it was an explosion, the cause of which remains a mystery – but an explosion that destroyed the airship and killed all 20 on board.