Hans Groß (airship designer)

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Hans Gross
Phoenix balloon basket with Berson (left) and Groß, drawing by Hans Groß

Hans Georg Friedrich Groß (born May 4, 1860 in Samter ; † February 27, 1924 in Berlin ) was a Prussian major general , balloonist and designer of military airships .


On September 13, 1882, Groß received his patent as a second lieutenant in the engineer and pioneer troops of the Prussian Army . In 1886 he came into contact with aviation for the first time when Groß was transferred to the aeronautical department that had been set up two years earlier. In the same year he joined the German Association for the Promotion of Airship Travel , of which he later became an honorary member . In the 1890s he participated as a balloon pilot in 28 cases in the Berlin scientific aviation , which the association carried out on the initiative of the meteorologist Richard Assmann . The MW , Humboldt and Phönix balloons used were designed by Groß and improved again and again. He also made an outstanding contribution to training civilian balloonists such as Arthur Berson and Reinhard Süring . After the hydrogen-filled Humboldt exploded and burned after landing on April 26, 1893 due to an electrostatic discharge, Groß developed a contemporary variant of the tear strip invented by John Wise in 1844 to be able to deflate the balloon more quickly. After a start in the presence of Kaiser Wilhelm II , it reached an altitude of 7,930 meters in Phoenix on May 11, 1894 together with Berson . No German had been that high before him. With the Phoenix constructed by Groß, Berson even set a new altitude record on December 4, 1894 at 9,155 meters. By 1904, Groß had already made 175 free balloon trips, more than any other German balloonist.

Airship M I in 1908

In 1906 Groß, meanwhile a major , became the commander of the Luftschiffer Battalion No. 2. His interest was now increasingly in the construction of an airship for military purposes. He had already supported David Schwarz in the development of his all-metal airship in 1895/96 . Now, together with chief engineer Nikolaus Basenach (1875–1951), he designed the first German military airship, a semi-rigid keel airship . Type wholesale Basenach 1908 an attempt airship, then to 1913 the airships was first M I to M IV built. M I had its maiden voyage on June 30, 1908 and covered a distance of 300 km on September 11 and 12, 1908, more than any other airship before. In 1910, M III was the fastest airship of its time with a speed of 59 km / h. M IV even reached 82 km / h in 1913.

Groß also worked as a military teacher at the Military Technical Academy and as an expert for the Prussian War Ministry. He was considered one of the sharpest critics of the rigid airship Zeppelin design. After speculating in a lecture that Zeppelin had taken over the idea of ​​the rigid airship from David Schwarz , the latter challenged him to a duel, which the Kaiser forbade, however. At the end of 1913, Groß was appointed lieutenant colonel inspector of the inspection of the telegraph force in Karlsruhe . He also held this position after the outbreak of the First World War . Groß later served as News General No. 1 in the 1st Army on the Western Front and, as Major General, was Chief of the Army's Field Telegraphy from August 9, 1918. After the end of the war , Groß retired from military service on August 11, 1919.


Groß was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Franz Joseph Order in 1888 for his services in training Austrian military airmen.

A street in Berlin-Oberschöneweide has been named after him since 1910, as well as in Huckarde and Radbod, later part of the municipality of Bockum-Hövel .


  • Aviation. (= Hillger's illustrated folk books , vol. 9), Hilger, Berlin 1904.


  • Victor Silberer: Captain Hans Groß . In: Wiener Luftschiffer-Zeitung. 3, No. 6, 1904, pp. 124f.

Web links

Wikisource: Hans Groß  - Sources and full texts
Commons : Hans Georg Friedrich Groß  - Collection of Images

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Prussian War Ministry (ed.): Ranking list of officers of the Royal Prussian Army and the XIII. (Royal Württemberg Army Corps 1917. ES Mittler & Sohn , Berlin 1917, p. 207.
  2. ^ Richard Assmann: Overview of the scientific aviation carried out by the "German Association for the Promotion of Airship" (until February 15, 1895). In: R. Assmann (Hrsgb.): Contributions to the exploration of the atmosphere by means of the balloon . Mayer and Müller, Berlin 1900, pp. 96-106.
  3. M-1 lands in the Stettiner Haff (PDF; 1.8 MB). In: Official Journal Löcknitz-Penkun 5, 2007, p. 15f.
  4. ^ Ernst A. Lehmann : Auf Luftpatrouille und Weltfahrt. Wegweiser-Verlag, Berlin 1936, p. 143.
  5. German Officer Association (Ed.): Honor ranking list of the former German Army. ES Mittler & Sohn. Berlin 1926. p. 90.
  6. Dermot Bradley (ed.), Günter Wegner: Occupation of the German Army 1815-1939. Volume 1: The higher command posts 1815–1939. Biblio Publishing House. Osnabrück 1990. ISBN 3-7648-1780-1 . P. 575.
  7. ^ V. Silberer, p. 125.
  8. Großstrasse. In: Street name lexicon of the Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein (near  Kaupert )