Junkers Ju 52/3mg3e (F-AZJU)Junkers Ju 52/3mg3e (F-AZJU)

Junkers Ju.52/3mg3e (F-AZJU)

In its time, the Junkers Ju52/3m was rivalled only by the Douglas C.47 as a transport aircraft and was used by the airlines of thirty countries.   The Ju.52 had a low cantilever wing, the mid-section of which was built into the fuselage, forming its underside.   The aircraft's unusual corrugated duralumin metal skin, pioneered by Junkers during World War I, strengthened the whole structure.   Originally the Ju52 was designed as a 17-seat single engine airliner, powered by either a BMW or Junkers liquid-cooled engine and designated the Ju.52/1m.   The first flight was on the 3rd September 1930.  However, the single engine variant was underpowered and after seven prototypes had been completed all subsequent Ju.52s were built with three radial engines and designated Ju.52/3m (drei motoren or "three engines").  The first three-engine version, the Ju52/3m, first flew on the 7th March1932 and was powered by three Pratt & Whitney Hornet radial engines.  Later production models mainly received BMW 132 engines, a licence-built refinement of the Pratt & Whitney design.  The exported variants were powered by either Pratt & Whitney Wasp R1340 or Bristol Pegasus VI engines.  Ju.52/3mce was the designation of the three engine civil transport version.

Junkers Ju 52/3mg3e (F-AZJU)Junkers Ju 52/3mg3e (F-AZJU)

Junkers Ju.52/3mg3e (F-AZJU)

Originally believed to be a Spanish built CASA 352L, F-AZJU revealed a surprise during restoration when a German marking plate revealed F-AZJU to have been built by Junkers in 1943.  F-AZJU was aircraft 24 of 30 delivered to the Spanish CASA factories for validation of their license building production lines.  This make F-AZJU a genuine "Tante Ju" and in the photographs is shown in German Air Force colours.

In 1934 a military version of the Ju.52/3m civil airliner was produced for use by the still-secret Luftwaffe.  Designated Ju.52/3mg3e (later to be nicknamed Tante Ju—"Auntie Ju"), the aircraft was initially redesigned as an interim heavy bomber (to be replaced by the purpose designed Dornier 11) with a crew of four and armed with two MG 15 machine guns, one mounted in the dorsal position and the other in a retractable ‘dustbin’ suspended under the fuselage.  In 1934-35 no fewer than 450 Ju.52/3ms were delivered to the Luftwaffe, the type entering service with KG 152 Hindenburg.  The Dornier 11 was a failure and so the type remained as the Luftwaffe's main bomber until more modern aircraft such as the Heinkel He 111, Junkers Ju 86 and Dornier Do 17 entered service.  Total production of the Ju.52/3m between 1939 and 1944, including civil models, was 4845 aircraft.  A number of military variants were produced (with very little difference between them) with the Ju.52/3mg14e being the last German production variant.

Junkers Ju 52/3mg7e (5670)Junkers Ju 52/3mg7e (5670)Junkers Ju 52/3mg7e (5670)

Junkers Ju.52/3mg7e (5670)  [@ Koninklijk Leger Museum, Brussels]

In August 1936 20 aircraft were sent to Spain, where, flown by German volunteers, their first task was to transport 10,000 troops from Spanish Morocco.  In the following November, about 50 Ju.52/3mg4e bombers were included in the equipment of the German Condor Legion, deployed to Spain in support of Franco’s Nationalist forces.  Operations included the bombing of Republican held Mediterranean ports and the support of the land battle around Guernica, the destruction of which town brought the German bombers notoriety.  No more of the bomber variant were built after this war though it was again used as a bomber during the bombing of Warsaw during the Invasion of Poland in September 1939.

Constructed as a Ju.52/3mg7e variant (fitted with autopilot and a large loading hatch) in 1936, 5670 was delivered to the Portuguese Air Force in 1937.  Transferred to 2 Night Bombing Squadron 5670 served in the Azores during WW2.   From 1958 to 1961 5670 was based at Ota near Lisbon and at some point during this period the wings were replaced with those from a Norwegian Ju.52.  Retired from active service with other surviving Ju.52’s at Alverca in the mid-1960s and stored, 5670 was transported to Belgium in the early 1970s on a ship via Zeebrugge with the intension of restoration to flying condition .  Unfortunately the restoration was halted when it was realised that replacement wings were needed to make 5670 airworthy.  Consequently 5670 was stored for many years outside Zaventem airport, but in 1998 5670 was transfer to Brustem air base in order to complete the restoration to a static condition.   Finally transferred to the Brussels Air Museum in September 2001, 5670 is shown in the photograph in the livery of a typical Ju.52 leaving the production line in the thirties.

Junkers Ju 52/3m (5489)Junkers Ju 52/3m (5489)

Junkers Ju.52/3m (5489) - Lufthansa Traditionsflug

Built by Junkers, 5489 was delivered to Lufthansa on the 6th April 1936 but sold on the 1st June 1936 to Norway's DNL (Det Norske Luftfartsselskap).  Confiscated by the German Army in 1940 and again handed over to Lufthansa who continued to operate 5489 until May 1945.  After a very brief period with the Norwegian Air Force in 1945, 5489 was handed back to DNL who then continued to operate 5489 until January 1948.  From the 14th February 1948 until October 1956 5489 was operated by SAS to fly Norwegian coastal routes.  In July 1957 5489 was sold to TAO (Transportes Aéreos Orientales) in Ecuador who continued to operate 5489 to fly passengers and cargo out of Quito (altitude 9,186 feet) throughout the Amazon region until late 1962.   From 1962, 5489 stood unused on the periphery of Quito Airport until October 1970 when 5489 was made airworthy again (just) and flown to Illinois, USA.  During 1975/76 5489 was transferred to Titusville, Florida, for major repair work.   Pratt & Whitney 1340 engines were fitted together with the wheels and brakes from a Curtiss C46 before returning to the air show circuit.  Purchased by Lufthansa in the summer of 1984 and flown 8000 km from Opa Locka, Florida, via Labrador, Greenland, Iceland, Scotland and England to Hamburg for extensive restoration at Lufthansa's base in Hamburg.   Fitted with modern systems 5489 is now licensed to carry passengers and carries approximately 10,000 a year.

In April 1940 the Ju.52 was at the forefront of the invasions of Denmark and Norway, 160 transports dropping paratroops to capture key airfields while a further 340 aircraft flew in supplies and reinforcements.  About 475 Ju.52s were available for the invasion of the Netherlands, and suffered serious losses (167 aircraft) in the opening stages of the operation. 

Junkers Ju 52/3m (7196 or 7220)Junkers Ju 52/3m (7196 or 7220)Junkers Ju 52/3m (7196 or 7220)

Junkers Ju.52/3m (7196 or 7220)  [@ Deutsches Technik Museum, Berlin]

The next large-scale airborne operation, the invasion of Crete in April/May 1941, was the last of its kind undertaken by the Luftwaffe.  The force committed included 493 Ju.52s and over 80 DFS 230 gliders.  The invasion, Operation Merkur, cost the Germans 7000 men killed or wounded (including 25 per cent of the paratroops dropped) and 271 Ju.52s.  With a top speed of only 165 mph, half that of a contemporary Supermarine Spitfire, the Ju.52 was very vulnerable to fighter attack and so an escort was always necessary when flying in a combat zone.

From the body it appears that 7196 was probably constructed as a Ju-52/3mte (the wings and engines appear to Spanish (CASA)) and was probably delivered to Lufthansa as D-AXFL.  Later on, 7220 was delivered to the Spanish airline Iberia.  Taken on by the Luftwaffe as CJ+KA 7220 was used by the Spanish Blue Legion, a unit of Spanish volunteers that served in the German Army, on the Eastern front in 1942.  Later used by the Spanish Air Force as T2B-108, 7220 was finally retired in 1966 and flown to Gatow Airport for display at the Technology Museum in Berlin.  In the photographs 7220 is painted to represent the pre-War Lufthansa Ju.52 fleet.

Amiot AAC 1 Toucan

Amiot AAC.1 Toucan (48)  [@ RAF Duxford]

When the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, their offensive was supported by six Ju.52 transport Gruppen.  Later, 266 Ju.52s were lost in attempts to relieve the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad in 1943.  Another 150 aircraft were assigned to support Rommel’s offensives in North Africa, and by the end of the year around 300 Ju.52s were operating in the Mediterranean theatre.  In July, August and September 1942, Ju.52s and other transport aircraft ferried 46,000 men and 4000 tons of equipment to North Africa; but after the Battle of El Alamein in October, severe losses were inflicted on the Ju.52s by Desert Air Force fighters, 70 aircraft being destroyed between 25 October and 1st December.  The real martyrdom of the Ju.52 Gruppen in the Mediterranean, however, came early in 1943, when the Germans and Italians made frantic efforts to resupply the Axis forces in Tunisia.  On one day alone, 7th April 1943, American and British fighters destroyed 52 out of 77 Ju.52s near Cap Bon, most of the petrol-laden transports exploding in spectacular fashion.  Between 5th and 22nd April, no fewer than 432 German transport aircraft, mostly Ju.52s, were destroyed for the loss of 35 Allied fighters.

Built by the French Avions Amiot company after WW2, 48 entered service with the French Air Force (Armee de l'Air) in 1946.  In 1960, 48 was sold to the Portuguese Air Force as 6316 and remained in service until the mid-1960s.  Stored at Alverca 6316 was presented to the Imperial War Museum by the Portuguese Government in 1973.  Transported to RAF Duxford by sea and road for restoration, 48 is shown in the photograph in the livery of a Luftwaffe transport unit.

Amiot AAC.1 Toucan (363)Amiot AAC.1 Toucan (363)Amiot AAC.1 Toucan (363)

Amiot AAC.1 Toucan (363)  [@ Deutsches Museum, München]

Avions Amiot was a former French aircraft manufacturer who during the war co-operated with the German occupiers and became a subcontractor for the Junkers Company, building 370 aircraft.  After the war Amiot continued the licence production of the Junkers Ju 52 under the designation Amiot AAC.1 Toucan.  Amiot built 415 Toucans for the French military and for airline use in France and its overseas territories.  363 entered Armee de l'Air (French Air Force) service during 1950 and upon retirement in 1958 363 was sold to the Deutsches Museum for a symbolic price of one French Franc to become the first Ju.52 to return to Germany after WW2.

CASA 352L (T2B-272)

CASA 352L (T2B-272)CASA 352L (T2B-272)

CASA 352L (T2B-272)  [@ RAF Cosford]

Built in 1954 by CASA at Getafe for the Spanish Air Force as a C-352 A1 for paratroopers and originally powered by BMW 132 engines which were later replaced with Spanish built ENMASA E9 -C - 29 -750 'Beta' radials.  T2B-272 first served with the Military Parachutist School at Alcantarilla (Murcia) and from February 1961 to November 1968 with 36 (later 46) Wing at Gando in the Canary Islands.  T2B-272 returned to the Military Parachutist School until retirement in December 1972.  Stored at Cuatro Vientos near Madrid until 3rd June 1977 when T2B-272 was purchased by the RAF Museum.  On the 17th May 1978 T2B-272 was flown to the French Air Force Base at Cazeaux and onto Biggin Hill, Kent, the following day.  The last flight took place on the 22nd May 1978 when T2B-272 was flown the RAF Museum for display.  In October 1985 T2B-272 was sponsored by British Airways and painted in the markings of G-AFAP, a British Airways Ju.52/3m which entered service in 1938 and was captured by the Germans in 1940.

After the WW2 most Ju.52s were destroyed.  In France the Ju.52 had been manufactured during the war by the Junkers controlled Avions Amiot Company and production continued afterwards as the Amiot AAC 1 Toucan (415 built) while in Spain, Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA, continued production as the CASA 352 (106 built ) and CASA 352L (64 built).  The military variant continued to fly with a number of air forces around the world.  In 1956, the Portuguese Air Force, who was already using the Ju.52s as a transport plane, employed the type as a paratroop drop aircraft until the 1960s (used in several combat operations in Angola and other Portuguese African colonies), the French used the Ju.52 as a bomber during the Indo-China War and the Spanish Air Force operated the variant well into the 1970s.  The Swiss Air Force operated the Ju.52 from 1939 until final retirement in 1982.  Some military Ju.52s were converted to civilian use.  British European Airways (BEA) operated eleven ex-Luftwaffe Ju.52/3mg8e aircraft, taken over by the RAF, between 1946 and retirement in 1947 while French airlines such as Societe de Transports Aeriens and Air France flew Toucans in the late 1940s and early 1950s.  Even the United States Army Air Force operated a single example and was designed the C-79.