Lettow-Vorbeck’s men are desperately short of medicine, ammunition and spare parts for their military equipment. British sea power makes it impossible for Germany to supply Lettow-Vorbeck by sea. But this is the 20th century and there are now other means of travel. Germany decides to send a Zeppelin on a mission to resupply their East African forces.
Today the L-59 departs from Bulgaria on the 5,500 kilometres journey to German East Africa. This will be a one way trip as the Germans in East Africa have no hydrogen to resupply the airship. The Zeppelin’s crew, all volunteers, will join Lettow-Vorbeck’s army and the L-59 itself is to be cannibalised for military equipment. As well as medical and military supplies, the L-59 carries Iron Cross decorations.
The mission is a dangerous one. The L-59, now nicknamed das Afrika-Schiff, will be travelling across British controlled territory. And no Zeppelin has ever made such a long trip without refuelling.
Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck (Historic Wings: Das Afrika-Schiff)
L-59 (Historic Wings: Das Afrika-Schiff)