Whilst watching the 1975 Robert Wise movie, The Hindenburg, it struck me that there were a few design elements which have bled over from one movie to another Wise project, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). This interested me, well, the geek within and I felt the need to read up on this and see if anyone else had anything to say about it online. And considering that the internet is filled with some of the most useless knowledge imaginable, I was surprised to find nothing, absolutely NOTHING on the subject what-so-ever.
So, this may well be the first article about this subject, small footnote really, but what the hell, online. The main design similarities were in the secondary hull of the U.S.S. Enterprise (Refit) from the 1979 Star Trek movie, in which the overall shape was less cylindrical as it was in the TV series and more oblong, not dis-similar to an airship. Also, at the bottom/front section of the drive section has a row of large windows, behind which the warp drive is housed and glows blue, which is striking similar to the passenger cabin windows on the ill-fated Zeppelin.
Then, on the wall of the dining/bar compartment of the Hindenburg, are a set of pictures which depict the evolution of the airships, from the earliest prototypes to the grand Hindenburg herself. This is remarkably similar to the recreation deck on the Enterprise, which has four images on the wall, showing various incarnations of the Enterprise, starting with the then, recently christen N.A.S.A. shuttle, Enterprise, and ending with the Re-fitted Enterprise from the movies. This concept continued through Star Trek spin-off series throughout the 1980’s, 90’s and 00’s.
Now, maybe it’s just a series of coincidences and I can more easily accept the pictures for previous ships as being a naval tradition, though I don’t know to be honest, but the now more Zepplin-esk shape of the secondary hull and the windows, which make little structural sense on the Enterprise if I’m honest, though they do add scale, I feel that this is a conceptual choice. Maybe not a conscious one, but still, one which means that designs from his historically accurate, in terms of design at least, thriller have bled through into his science fiction epic four years later.
But you might also conclude, is that the design of what I would argue is the best looking Star Trek ship ever, is somewhat influenced by the pride of Nazi Germany! Oh dear…
But Nazi influence or not, there’s no doubt that the German’s have always been a world leader in technology and Nazi or not, the Zeppelins and the Hindenburg, in spite of its horrendous safety flaws, such as allowing smoking on board and aircraft which is filled with hydrogen gas, was a bold technological breakthrough and something be proud of, even though it ended up being little more than a fad.
Just a thought…