See photos of the doomed German airship before, during, and after the Hindenburg disaster on May 6, 1937, in New Jersey.
The Hindenburg in its hangar on May 11, 1936.New York Daily News Archive/Getty Images
Another image of the Hindenburg in hangar, this time on August 9, 1936.Fox Photos/Getty Images
The Hindenburg interior. Circa 1936-1937.Wikimedia Commons
The Hindenburg dining room. 1936.Wikimedia Commons
The Hindenburg dining room. April 1, 1936.OFF/AFP/Getty Images
The Hindenburg soars over Manhattan a year before the disaster. April 1, 1936.New York Daily News Archive/Getty Images
Shadow of the Hindenburg over the ocean. 1936.Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
NBC News' Max Jordan and an unknown man during a live broadcast from inside the Hindenburg on May 6, 1936.NBC/Getty Images
The Hindenburg over Lakehurst, N.J., where it would crash the following year. 1936.Wikimedia Commons
The Hindenburg landing In New York, guided by American sailors. 1936.Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone/Getty Images
A ground crew helps with a landing a year before the disaster. May 9, 1936.New York Daily News Archive/Getty Images
The Hindenburg after its first landing. May 10, 1936.Wikimedia Commons
A few seconds before the disaster. May 6, 1937.Arthur Cofod/Getty Images
The Hindenburg bursts into flames. May 6, 1937.New York Daily News Archive /Getty Images
The Hindenburg in flames with its nose up. May 6, 1937.Wikimedia Commons
The frame of the Hindenburg enveloped in flames. May 6, 1937.Central Press/Getty Images
The shell of the Hindenburg on fire. May 6, 1937.Keystone-France/Getty Images
Dazed and bloodied survivors of the Hindenburg disaster. May 6, 1937.New York Daily News Archive/Getty Images
The cover of the Daily News on May 7, 1937.
The fatality count was later discovered to be 36.New York Daily News Archive/Getty Images
NBC reporters broadcasting from the wreckage site on May 7, 1937.NBC NewsWire/Getty Images
U.S. sailors and several military officers standing in front of the charred frame of the Hindenburg. May 7, 1937.Jack Benton/Getty Images
Members of the Board of Inquiry for the Department of Commerce stand in front of ruins. May 10, 1937.New York Daily News Archive/Getty Images
The charred skeleton of the Hindenburg. May 7, 1937.New York Daily News Archive/Getty Images
If you were one of the thousands of people who witnessed the massive German Zeppelin LZ 129 Hindenburg slowly circle the Empire State Building three times in 1937, the idea that the seemingly invincible craft would soon be nothing but a charred aluminum alloy skeleton sprawled out on a New Jersey airfield must have seemed impossible.
It was longer than the U.S. Capitol Building by more than 50 feet and dwarfed a modern-day Boeing 747 by almost 60 feet. The closest, most convenient contemporary reference point for Zeppelins, the famous Goodyear blimp, is a mere 192 feet long. But the monstrous Hindenburg spanned more than 800 feet, nose to tail.
Only a year prior, the Hindenburg successfully crossed the Atlantic 17 times, including a clean landing on that same fateful Lakehurst, New Jersey airfield. Passengers that year later remarked that they often didn't even realize that the hulking, swastika-tagged Zeppelin had taken off, so effortless was its ascent.
So when the Hindenburg caught fire over the Garden State on May 6, 1937, for reasons unknown to this day, killing more than 30 people, the world was stunned. It wasn't the first major aircraft disaster, but it was certainly one of the earliest examples of tragedy covered exhaustively in the press, with footage taken of the entire crash and dozens of spectacular — and spectacularly haunting — photos ripe for the gawking.
The gallery above features photos of the doomed craft before, during, and after the now-legendary Hindenburg disaster on May 6, 1937, capturing the tragic rise and fall of an engineering marvel that ran so smooth that you could balance a pencil atop one of its dining room tables without it toppling over.
Still curious? Watch the Hindenburg disaster unfold in front of your eyes by checking out this unbelievable footage. Then, check out the Airlander 10, the world's largest existing aircraft... which is still less than half as long as the Hindenburg.