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NOVA: Zeppelin Terror Attack

Airs Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017 at 9 p.m. & Sunday, Sept. 3 at 2 p.m. on KPBS TV

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

Credit: Courtesy of WGBH

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

Discover how the British created artillery that could take down enormous Zeppelins during WWI.

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, "Zeppelin Terror Attack" investigates the secrets behind these deadly war machines.

Photo credit: 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.

NOVA 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.

Photo credit: Courtesy of WGBH

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

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.

Photo credit: 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.


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NOVA: Zeppelin Terror Attack Preview

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.


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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.


Produced by Ian Duncan and Johnny Shipley. Written and directed by Ian Duncan. Edited by Paul Shepard. Production Manager: Lizzie Narey. Director Of Photography: Mike Coles. Sound Recordist: Keith Rodgerson. Original music by Alasdair Reid. Narrator: Jay O. Sanders. Visual Effects: Fluid Pictures. 2D Graphics: Dinnick & Howells.

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