Blimp vs Zeppelin: Who wins and what’s the difference?!
Both blimps and zeppelins are two completely different types of airship, also known as dirigibles. To be classified as a dirigible or an airship an aircraft need only derive useful lift from a lighter-than-air gas and also be steerable.
Among airships there are three primary types:
Non-rigid (blimp) – These airships are typically the smallest of the three versions and get their designation due to the shape of the aircraft being derived primarily from internal gas pressure.
Semi-rigid – These dirigibles are a combination of non-rigid and semi-rigid in that a rigid structure will typically run the length of the aircraft’s keel that partially determines the shape of the aircraft. The remainder of the shape is determined by the internal gas pressure. The addition of a rigid keel structure enables semi-rigid airships to be constructed at a larger size and enables a larger platform for internal compartments and propulsion systems to be attached.
Rigid (zeppelin) – These airships were of the largest variety. Their external shape was determined solely from the rigid structure that contained lifting gas within. The rigid structure allows for the separation of gas cells into multiple compartments and allows for much larger enclosures of the lifting gas. With the rigid structure on all sides of the ship there are plenty of points in which internal compartments and propulsion systems can be affixed. These aircraft are the closest to being true flying ships, but following the Hindenburg disaster these aerial behemoths no longer exist.