The Italian also experimented with airships. Unlike most of the other countries who were flying airships, the Italians preferred to make use of semi-rigid designs. During World War I, they had operated seven larger ships, and 12 smaller designs. After the war the surviving airships were redesigned for passenger service. Experiments using mooring masts were carried out, and several small and medium-sized models were built for foreign customers, including Japan. As part of the compensation for war reparations from Germany, Italy received two rigid airships. These ships, were used by the military, and also pulled some passenger duty before being scrapped. After this, the Italian interest returned to the semi-rigids.
Umberto Nobile,an Italian aeronautical engineer was a developer and promoter of semi-rigid airships during the Golden Age between the two World Wars. He is primarily remembered for designing and piloting the airship Norge, which may have been the first aircraft to reach the North Pole, and which was indisputably the first to fly across the polar ice cap from Europe to America.
Nobile also designed and flew the Italia, a second polar airship; this second expedition ended in a deadly crash and provoked an international rescue effort.