Aircraft Database Interwar Aviation Junkers Ju 52/3m

Junkers Ju 52/3m

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Junkers Ju 52/3m History

Used by a large number of the world’s airlines and air forces, the Junkers Ju 52/3m remained in service for nearly 40 years. Its best exploits were those as a transport aircraft with the Luftwaffe, where it was known universally as ‘Tante Ju’ (Auntie Junkers). Names such as Norway, Crete, Demyansk, Stalingrad, the Kuban Peninsula – all figured prominently in the history of this machine which formed the backbone of the German military air transport force.

Developed from the single-engined Ju 52 flown in October 1930, the first of the Junkers Ju 52/3m trimotors made its maiden flight in 1932, and for several pre-war years they were used widely by Deutsche Lufthansa and other airlines, notably in South America.

Several hundred were delivered to the Luftwaffe in 1934-35 in bomber configuration, but they were regarded only as interim equipment, pending the arrival of such types as the Heinkel He 111 and Dornier Do 17. Thus their first operational role, in the Spanish Civil War of 1935-39, they were employed principally as troop transports.

The early Junkers Ju 52/3m production models were powered by 600 hp BMW 132A engines; the first version to introduce the higher-powered BMW 132T was the Ju 52/3mg5e. Principal production model was the Ju 53/3mg7e, with enlarged cabin doors, autopilot and other detail improvements; this could be fitted out either as an 18-seat troop transport or as an ambulance with provision for 12 stretchers. In these two roles the Ju 52/3m served for many years with the Luftwaffe, by whom it was popularly known as ‘Iron Annie’. Their best-action came with the invasion on Norway in April 1940, in which nearly six hundred of these transports were engaged. Almost as many were in action during the invasion of France and the Low Countries, and in both campaigns well over a quarter of the Junkers Ju 52/3m transports involved were lost. Nevertheless, they continued to figure prominently in such subsequent Nazi campaigns as those in Greece, Libya and Crete.

The end of the war was not the end of the Junkers Ju 52/3m. The type was built by Ateliers Aéronautiques de Colombes in France as the AAC.1 Toucan and used by the French Aéronavale, the Armée de l’Air, Air France and a number of other airlines. Aricraft based at Hanoi were used in some numbers against the Viet Minh in French Indochina during 1949 and 1950. One hundred and seventy aircraft were built in Spain by Construcciones Aeronauticas SA as the C-352-L powered by Elizalde-built BMW 132 radials, and were used widely by the Spanish Air Force for many years. The Ju 52/3m was even used by he British European Airways; ten captured Ju 52/3mg8es were rebuilt by Short Brothers and Harland at Belfast and were put into service in November 1946, but all were withdrawn at the end of August 1947.

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