Collection Item Summary:
Although possibly better known by its later luxury automobiles, Maybach Motorenbau G.m.b.H. of Friedrichshafen, German was originally the engine building subsidiary of the German Zeppelin Company (Luftschiffbau Zeppelin G.m.b.H.). The first Maybach engines were six-cylinder vertical types constructed in 1909, and powered the World War I Zeppelin, Schutte-Lanz, and Parseval airships or airplanes such as the Rumpler C4 and C5.
The company’s activities were curtailed following the war by the Treaty of Versailles. The larger vee-type VL-2 engine was developed following successful use of the 1924 Maybach-Zeppelin engines in the U.S. Navy’s Los Angeles airship. The directly reversible VL-2 engines were developed primarily to operate continuously for long periods of time with minimum possible fuel consumption. It powered the German Graf Zeppelin and the U.S. Akron, and Macon airships. From 1928 until December 1934, the Graf Zeppelin covered 1,008,000 km (630,000 miles) with its original engines.