🎨 Frank Tinsley, ‘Atoms for Peace’ Atomic Airship (1956)
I was pleased to see this Frank Tinsley illustration at the Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen, Germany. It originally accompanied a piece by Tinsley for the March 1956 edition of the US magazine, Mechanix Illustrated, titled ‘Why Don’t We Build an Atoms-for-Peace Dirigible?’
The ‘Atoms for Peace’ programme originated with a speech by US President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, to the United Nations on 8 December, 1953. Seeking to switch the focus from military to peaceful uses of atomic technology, Eisenhower called for an international atomic energy agency so that ‘[e]xperts would be mobilised to apply atomic energy to the needs of agriculture, medicine and other peaceful activities.’ Atoms for Peace can reasonably be seen as an exercise in US ‘soft’ power during the Cold War.
Tinsley’s projected airship would have been magnificent. As he wrote, no ‘vehicle has ever presented such an awe-inspiring spectacle as a giant airship breaking through a low-hanging cloud or cruising above the rooftops of a darkened city.’ One and a half times the length of the Hindenburg, the largest aircraft ever built, Tinsley envisaged his airship educating the public about atomic technology and spreading US influence as it toured the world. It would have included a helicopter landing pad for ferrying passengers on and off, a nightclub and bar, and a detachable exhibition hall. Tinsley even proposed that it could be adapted to land on water. An ‘angel of peace,’ the airship could, Tinsley wrote, ‘display its wares anywhere on the face of the earth.’ -
His ‘petition’ to Eisenhower and the US Congress to ‘consider its merits’ was precisely in line with the ambition to project US soft power: ‘It can show our flag in every nook and corner of the globe, scattering as it goes messages of good will in every literate dialect.’
[Thanks to blog.modernmechanix.com for republishing the Modern Mechanix article, from which the Tinsley quotations above come.]
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