From time to time, auction houses offer Zeppelin covers from the Belgian Congo. The price paid for such items is generally far higher than similar covers from the Netherlands or even Belgium – the reason being that between 1932 and 1939 only 15 flights carried mail originating from the Congo.

LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin

The LZ 127 ‘Graf Zeppelin’ was arguably the most popular and successful of the Zeppelins. The maiden voyage took place 18th September 1928 and the last on the 26th of April 1937, having achieved 590 successful flights.

It has been established that mail from the Belgian Congo and Ruanda-Urundi was carried on five of its flights as listed below.

Length: 236.60m/776 feet
Diameter: 30.48m/100 feet
Volumetric capacity: 105,000 m³
Powered by: 5x 12 (550hp) cylinder Maybach engines
Maximum speed: 110kph/70mph

  • Internal flights in the Netherlands: 18-19th June 1932 (cancelled Enschede or Groningen )
  • 1st South-American flight: 6-9th of May 1933
  • 2nd South American flight: 3-6th of June 1933
  • 3rd South American (Argentina) flight: 23-26th of June 1934
  • 11th South American flight: 27-30th of October 1934
  • 12th South American flight: 8-12th of December 1934 (Christmas flight)


Above: 2nd S. America flight – 3-6th June 1933


LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin


Above: 3rd S. America – ‘ Argentina ’ flight – 23-26th June 1934


Above: 11th S. America flight – 27-30th Oct. 1934


Above: 12th S. America – ‘Christmas’ flight – 8-12th Dec. 1934


LZ 129 Hindenburg

The ‘Hindenburg’ was the largest Zeppelin ever to fly. Its maiden flight took place 4th of March 1936 but her service ended tragically at Lakehurst ( USA ) 6th of May 1937.

According to the Michel catalogue, the ‘Hindenburg’ carried mail from the Belgian Congo on the following four flights.

Length: 245 m. / 804 feet
Diameter: 41.2 m / 135 feet
Volumetric capacity: 200,000 cm³
Powered by: 4 Daimler Benz engines
Maximum speed: 130 kmph / 82 mph

  • 1st North American flight: 6-14th May 1936
  • 9th South American flight: 20-24th July 1936
  • 9th North American flight: 26-29th September 1936
  • 10th North American flight: 5-12th October 1936


Above: 1st N. America flight – 6-14th May 1936


Above: 9th S. America flight – 20-24th July 1936


Above: 9th N. America flight – 26-29th Sept. 1936


LZ 130 Graf Zeppelin II

The ‘LZ 130’ was the last of a dying breed in difficult times and the last of the largest ever air liners.

In design she was an improved version of the ‘LZ 127’ with forward facing engines.

The first flight took place on 14th September 1938 but that to Zwickau and Koningsberg scheduled for 26th August 1939 was cancelled because of the German invasion of Poland .

Length: 245 m. / 804 feet
Diameter: 46.8 m / 135 feet
Volumetric capacity: 200,000 m³
Powered by: 4 (1200 hp) Daimler Benz engines
Maximum speed: 130 kmph / 81 mph

In total five flights are known to have carried mail originating from the Belgian Congo :

  • 2-3rd December 1938: Flight to Sudetenland (German territory adjacent to Czechoslovakia )
  • 30th July 1939: Internal flight to Kassel
  • 6th August 1939: Internal flight to Würzburg (Not recorded in Michel)
  • 16th August 1939: Internal flight to Eger
  • 26th August 1939: Internal flight to Zwickau and Koningsberg (Flight cancelled)


Above: Carried on the internal flight to Würzburg. 6th August 1939

In addition to mail carried by Zeppelins, there was of course a normal airmail service to South America . An example of this is the illustrated cover from Elisabethville to Recife in Brazil , posted on 15th of February 1935.


Above: Normal Airmail service

The route was as follows:

  • Elisabethville → Broken-Hill by the Société de Transport Aérien du Katanga (STAK)
  • Broken Hill → London via Imperial Airways 213th flight – arriving 24th February
  • London → Stuttgart where a special red circular canceller was applied: DEUTSCHE LUFTPOST ☼ EUROPA SUDAMERIKA ☼
  • Stuttgart → Recife . Heinkel flight 33 of the weekly service.

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