How to Build a Paper Hindenburg

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Things You'll Need

  • Mild dish soap

  • 2-liter polyethylene plastic soda bottle (2)

  • Dish towel

  • Rubber band (2)

  • Measuring tape

  • Marker

  • Masking tape

  • 5in-by-3in empty matchbox

  • 3in-by-3in polygon-shaped cardboard pieces (4)

  • Permanent epoxy

  • 5 cups water

  • 1 cup flour

  • Pot

  • Medium size bowl

  • Newspaper strips

  • White paper towel strips

  • Acrylic paint (grey, white, red and black)

  • Paint brushes

Making a paper model Hindenburg is a creative way to emulate the technological marvel of early 20th century aviation. The Hindenburg, a German invention, was a giant blimp that transported passengers back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean during the 1930s, according to Airships. Despite its cataclysmic end in a massive hydrogen fire in 1937, the Hindenburg stood as an historic revolution in air travel. The trick to creating a durable model Hindenburg is to use paper mache for its surface.


Step 1

Cut the openings off of two empty 2-liter soda bottles. The two pieces will fit together in later steps for form the oval Hindenburg blimp shape.

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Step 2

Remove all bottle labels. Empty and clean the two soda bottles with warm water and mild dish soap. Dry each bottle thoroughly with a dish towel.

Step 3

Slide a rubber band around each bottle. Adjust each rubber band so it wraps around the center of its respective bottle. Trace each rubber band outline with a marker. Remove the rubber bands. Cut each bottle in half along the marker lines.


Step 4

Squeeze and fit the open end of one bottle 1/4 inch into the open end of the second bottle to form a long, oval shape. Wrap the connection point with masking tape to secure the connection. Cover each nozzle hole with masking tape.

Step 5

Trace and cut four identical 3in-by-3in polygon-shaped cardboard fins. Bond each fin onto the one end of the blimp at the 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock and 9 o'clock positions with permanent epoxy. Hold and press each fin into place for 60 seconds to secure the bond.


Step 6

Center an empty 3in-by-5in matchbox under the blimp with permanent epoxy. Bond the matchbox into place with permanent epoxy. Hold and press the box into place for 60 seconds to secure the bond. The matchbox will represent the passenger car on the Hindenburg. The blimp shell is now created.

Step 7

Add the water and flour to a pot to create the paper mache mix. Boil the mix for five minutes. Allow the mix to cool for three minutes. Pour the mix into a medium-sized bowl.

Step 8

Fully dip a strip of newspaper into the mix. Press the strip onto the body of the blimp. Repeat until the entire blimp shell is covered in one layer of newspaper mache.


Step 9

Fully dip a strip of white paper towel into the mix. Press the strip onto the body of the blimp. Repeat until the entire blimp shell is covered in one layer of white paper towel mache. Paper towel acts as an ideal surface for acrylic paint. Allow four hours for the paper mache to dry.

Step 10

Paint the paper mache Hindenburg. Paint the body of the blimp grey. Paint the matchbox grey or black. Paint a swastika, if you choose to do so, at the center on both sides of the 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock fin. The swastika was the symbol representing Germany and the Nazi Party that was in a leadership position within the nation during the time the Hindenburg was in operation. The positioning of the swastika on the model is authentic to the actual Hindenburg.


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