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NOVA: Zeppelin Terror Attack

Airs Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 at 9 p.m. & Sunday, Jan. 19 at 3 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: CGI image of a german zeppelin hovering over the houses of Parliament.

Courtesy of WGBH

Engineer Dr. Hugh Hunt goes up for a spin in a replica, WWI BE2c biplane used by the British to take on the German Zeppelins.

Courtesy of WGBH

Engineer Dr. Hugh Hunt visits a sausage skin factory in Middlesbrough to learn how the Germans made the Zeppelin gasbags.

Courtesy of WGBH

Engineer Dr. Hugh Hunt virtually ascends to 21,000 feet in a low-pressure chamber to experience the debilitating conditions suffered by the Zeppelin pilots for himself.

Explore the science behind the headlines in PBS’ premier science series. With compelling stories and spectacular visuals, NOVA programs demystify science and technology for viewers of all ages and spotlight people involved in scientific pursuits.

"Zeppelin Terror Attack" - In the early days of World War I, Germany, determined to bring its British enemies to their knees, launched a new kind of terror campaign: bombing civilians from the sky. The lethal payloads rained down from Zeppelins — enormous airships, some the length of two football fields.

With a team of engineers, explosives experts and historians, NOVA investigates the secrets behind these deadly war machines.

"Zeppelin Terror Attack" explores the technological arms race that unfolded as Britain scrambled to develop defenses that could neutralize the threat, while Germany responded with ever bigger and more powerful Zeppelins.

Why were these monsters of the sky, filled with flammable hydrogen gas, so difficult to shoot down?

Experts reconstruct and detonate deadly WWI incendiary bombs and test-fire antique flaming bullets to discover how the British devised unique artillery that would finally take down the biggest flying machines ever made.

Past episodes of NOVA are available for online viewing. NOVA is on Facebook, and you can follow @novapbs on Twitter.

Video

NOVA: Zeppelin Terror Attack Preview

Above: NOVA reveals the untold story of the biggest flying machines ever made: Germany's war zeppelins, which rained down death on British towns for two and a half terrifying years during World War I. In hands-on experiments, NOVA uncovers how the zeppelins were built and flown, and goes inside the desperate scramble to take down the zeppelins and make the streets of Britain safe again.