A goblin zeppelin is a form of transportation that consists of a wooden gondola attached to a large balloon, into which hot air is pumped by a phlogiston boiler. They are swift, able to make long journeys, and pass above rough terrain. They were conceived by the goblins.
The pilot of the zeppelin can control the direction through use of ropes which are connected to both the steering wheel in the gondola, as well as fins on the balloon's back. Altitude is maintained or adjusted by the degree of inflation of the balloon, as well as with ballast. Moving in a direction or changing speed requires thrust, given by one or more rotors.
The zeppelin is an example of one of the most stable technological devices to be found on Azeroth (a trait uncommon of goblin inventions), and malfunctions tend to be non-threatening. Naturally, it is possible for the zeppelin to drift off course or develop a leak, but only rarely will the phlogiston boiler have difficulty, and even rarer still will it explode.
They were first constructed and used by the Horde during the Second War. At that time, zeppelins were manned by a small team of goblins whose purpose was to spy on enemy positions. The zeppelins were cumbersome, awkward, and maintained no armament. However, at the time, they had extensive line of sight as well as the ability to spot submerged Alliance technology.
Since then, zeppelins have become a widespread method of transportation, due to development by the goblins. After the Second War, the goblins rescinded their alliance with the Horde and began selling their goods and services to the highest bidder. Throughout the course of the Third War, the zeppelins were employed by both the Horde and Alliance. Their speed had increased substantially and the zeppelins were now able to travel over long distances and rough terrain, as well as carry vast numbers of troops.
Now, in the times following the defeat of the Burning Legion at Mount Hyjal, the zeppelins are employed once again by the Horde for the passage of the Great Sea between the continents. Although the goblins remain a neutral force, the Horde alone has the privilege of using the zeppelins. Goblins still offer passage to the Alliance in many locations of the world, but those zeppelins in use by the Horde are not usually used by the Alliance.
Zeppelins come in different designs and sizes, and different zeppelins have different crew sizes. Zeppelins are manned by at least a pilot. Sometimes they consist of a pilot and an engine tender. Some are manned by a pilot, navigator, and engineer. Other zeppelins have eight member crews including a sky-captain, a chief officer, a navigator, three crewmen, and two guards.
It moved at 40 miles per hour in the Warcraft RPG, but was changed to 15 miles per hour in the World of Warcraft RPG. Zeppelins can cover about five hundred miles in a twelve-hour day of travel, allowing the crew time to rest and make any necessary repairs. An Explorer's Guild trip from Sunwell Grove to Booty Bay was made in just under 80 days.
In World of Warcraft, you will rarely see free-flying zeppelins with no specific course. They now generally follow established routes with a Zeppelin Tower at each end point. Some cargo zeppelins can be seen crashed in places.
- The Iron Eagle: Orgrimmar, Durotar ↔ Grom'gol Base Camp, Stranglethorn Vale
- The Zephyr: Orgrimmar, Durotar ↔ Thunder Bluff, Mulgore (Will be added in a future patch)
- The Thundercaller: Orgrimmar, Durotar ↔ Undercity, Tirisfal Glades
- The Purple Princess: Undercity, Tirisfal Glades ↔ Grom'gol Base Camp, Stranglethorn Vale
- The Cloudkisser: Undercity, Tirisfal Glades ↔ Vengeance Landing, Howling Fjord
- The Mighty Wind: Orgrimmar, Durotar ↔ Warsong Hold, Borean Tundra
- Beezil's Wreck in Dustwallow Marsh.
- Marvon Rivetseeker's southeast of Thistleshrub Valley, Tanaris.
- One crashed in a tree in Stranglethorn Vale.
- A few above Orgrimmar.
- "Screaming" Screed Luckheed's Zeppelin Crash in the Hellfire Peninsula.
- Area 52 Death Machine (a zippelin) in Netherstorm.
- A captured zeppelin at Westguard Keep in Howling Fjord which is used by the Alliance to bombard pirate positions.
Patch 2.3.0 (2007-11-13): crews and guards have been added to the zeppelins. Machine vendors were also added on each zeppelin, one for trade goods/reagents and repairing, the other for food and drink.
Hotfix (2007-12-06): "The vendors on the Boats and Zeppelins throughout Azeroth have run out stock and shut up shop, they are no longer able to service you with their wares."
Patch 3.0.2 (2008-10-14): The crews have returned.