The LZ127 was built on the yard of Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH in Friedrichshafen. The ship was 236.6 meters long, had a diameter of 30.5 metres and a volume of 105 000 m³. When it was on 18 september 1928 made its first flight, it was the largest airship ever built.
The ship was powered by five Maybach-Otto engines V 2 of each 390 kW (530 HP) that a cruising speed of about 115 kilometres per hour possible at a range of about 12 000 kilometres. The engines could both on run on petrol as blaugas .
Originally the LZ127 intended for experiments and demonstrations, in order to clear the way for regular airship transport, but he also carried passengers and mail to cover the costs. In October 1928 the ship travelled on his first long-distance trip to Lakehurst, New Jersey, where the crew festive reception. Later the Graf Zeppelin visited various places in Italy, Germany, Spainand Palestine . A second trip to the United States in France was called off due to a failure in the engines in May 1929.
In August 1929 LZ127 departed for a trip around the Earth. The growing popularity of the "giant of the air" made sure Zeppelins bedrijfschef Hugo Eckener had no trouble to find sponsors. One of these was the American press sponsors giant William Randolph Hearst, who asked at the start of the round in Lakehurst. From there the Graf Zeppelin flew to Friedrichshafen, then to Tokyo, Los Angeles and back to Lakehurst. On Board was also the British journalist Grace Hay Drummond-Hay, the first woman who traveled around the world in such a way. After 21 days, 5 hours and 31 minutes came the zeppelin to. Including traveling from Friedrichshafen to Lakehurst and back he had 49 618 km traveled.
In the following year the Graf Zeppelin undertook some traveling around Europe, and after a successful trip to and through South America in May 1930, it was decided that the first regular transatlantic air line to open. Despite the beginning of the great depressionand competition from the growing number of passengers transported the LZ127 faster aircraft. There are a total of 64 return flights made from Germany to Brazil. The zeppelin reached the North Polein July 1931 , which at the time had been a dream of Zeppelin twenty years earlier, he had been unable to achieve by the war.
Eckener wanted to complement the successful ship with a second, similar ship, but the disaster with the British R101 in 1931 caused the Zeppelin company the safety of ships filled with hydrogen re-examined. It was designed, an airship the LZ129 Hindenburg, that would be filled with helium . However, Germany could by the trade embargo of the United States not to get enough helium, and the ship became after additional security adjustments finally filled with hydrogen.
After the Hindenburg disaster was the faith in the safety of the zeppelins spectacular dropped and the company could still come but difficult to customers. A month after the disaster was taken out of service, the LZ127 and converted into a museum. The end of the Graf Zeppelin came with the outbreak of the Second World War. In March 1940 , Hermann Göring decided to demolish the remaining zeppelins and the aluminum to be used in the war industry.