Iron Annie

Junkers Ju 52

The Junkers Ju 52 (nicknamed Tante Ju - "Auntie Ju" - and "Iron Annie") was a transport aircraft and bomber manufactured 1932 – 1945 by Junkers. It saw both civilian and military service during the 1930s and 1940s. In a civilian role, it flew with well over a dozen air carriers including Swissair and Lufthansa as an airliner and freight hauler. In a military role, it flew with the Luftwaffe as a troop and cargo transport, with a secondary role as a medium bomber. The Ju 52 continued in postwar service with military and civilian air fleets well into the 1980s.

Design and development

The Ju 52 was similar to the company's previous Junkers W33, although larger. In 1930, Ernst Zindel and his team designed the Ju 52 at the Junkers works at Dessau. The aircraft's unusual corrugated metal skin strengthened the fuselage and gave it a characteristic boxy appearance.

Operational history

In its original configuration, designated the Ju 52/1m, the Ju 52 was a single-engined aircraft, powered by either a BMW or Junkers liquid-cooled engine. in 1936, James A. Richardson's Canadian Airways received (Werknummer 4006) CF-ARM , the sixth ever-built Ju 52. The aircraft, re-engined with a Rolls-Royce Buzzard and nicknamed the "Flying Boxcar" in Canada, could lift approximately three tons and had a maximum weight of eight tons. It was used to supply mining and other operations in remote areas with equipment too big and heavy for other aircraft then in use. The Ju 52/1m was able to land on wheels, skis or floats.

However, the single-engine model was underpowered, and after seven prototypes had been completed, all subsequent Ju 52s were built with three engines as the Ju 52/3m (German drei motoren, meaning "three engines"). Originally powered by three Pratt & Whitney Hornet radial engines, later production models mainly received BMW 132 engines, a refinement of the Pratt & Whitney design. Export models were also built with Pratt & Whitney Wasp and Bristol Pegasus engines. The upgrade improved performance and load carrying abilities. As a Lufthansa airliner, the Ju 52 could seat 17, and could fly from Berlin to Rome in eight hours.

The Ju 52 first saw military service in the Spanish Civil War, as both a bomber and transport aircraft. In the former role it participated in the bombing of Guernica. It was again used as a bomber during the bombing of Warsaw during the Invasion of Poland of September 1939. The Luftwaffe then relied on the Ju 52 for transport roles during World War II, including paratroop drops, most notably in the Battle of Crete in May 1941. Lightly armed, and with a top speed of only 165 mph – half that of a contemporary Spitfire – the Ju 52 was very vulnerable to fighter attack and an escort was always necessary when flying in a combat zone. Many Ju 52s were shot down by anti-aircraft guns and fighters while transporting supplies, most notably during the desperate attempt to resupply the trapped German Sixth Army during the final stages of the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943. During the final phase of the North African Campaign 24 of the Junkers were shot down in the infamous "Palm Sunday Massacre" on 18 April 1943, another 35 staggered back to Sicily and crash-landed. The transports' escorts, JG 27 claimed just one enemy fighter.

Postwar Use

Various Junkers Ju 52s continued in military and civilian use following World War II. In 1956, the Portuguese Air Force, who was already using the Ju 5s as a transport plane, employed the type as a paratroop drop aircraft for its newly organized elite parachute forces, later known as the Batalhão de Caçadores Páraquedistas. The paratroopers used the Ju 52 in several combat operations in Angola and other Portuguese African colonies before gradually phasing it out of service in the 1960s. The Swiss Air Force also operated the Ju 52, with three machines remaining in operation until the early 1980s.


In addition to the standard, fixed undercarriage version, there was a floatplane version, equipped with two large floats. This model served during the Norwegian Campaign in 1940, and later in the Mediterranean theatre. Some Ju 52 floatplanes were also used as minesweepers, known as Minensuch aircraft in German, fitted with a large degaussing ring under the airframe.

Most Ju 52s were destroyed after the war, but a small number were manufactured after 1945. In France the machine was manufactured by Amiot as the Amiot AAC 1 Toucan and in Spain, Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA continued production as the CASA 352. Several Ju 52s are airworthy and in regular use today.


As of 2008, a Ju 52 (CASA 352) remains in operation, providing vintage flights from Dübendorf airport.


Ju 52
Single-engined transport aircraft.Ju 52/3m
Three-engined prototype, powered by three 410 kW (550 hp) Pratt & Whitney Hornet engines.Ju 52/3mce
Three-engined civil transport aircraft.Ju 52/3mge
Interim bomber and transport aircraft for the Luftwaffe.Ju 52/3mg3e
Improved military version, powered by three 541 kW (725 hp) B.M.W. 123-A3 radial piston engines, equipped with improved radio and bomb release machanism.Ju 52/3mg4e
Military version. The tailskid was replaced by a tailwheel.Ju 52/3mg5e
Military version, powered by three 619 kw (830 hp) B.M.W. 123T radial piston engines. It could be fitted with interchangeable float, ski and wheel landing gear.Ju 52/3mg6e
Equipped with a simplified radio.Ju 52/3mg7e
Fitted with autopilot and a large loading hatch.Ju 52/3mg8e
Fitted with an extra cabin roof hatch.Ju 52/3mg9e
Late production version, fitted with strengthened landing gear and glider towing gear.Ju 52/3mg10e
Similar to the Ju 52/3mg9e, but it could be fitted with floats or wheels.Ju 52/3mg11e
No details are known.Ju 52/3mg12e
Powered by three B.M.W. 123L radial piston engines.Ju 52/3m12e
Some Ju 52/3mg12s were sent to Lufthansa.Ju 52/3mg13e
No details are known.Ju 52/3mg14e
this was the last production version.


Specifications (Junkers Ju 52/3m g7e)

See also




  • Jane, Fred T. "The Junkers Ju 52/3m." Jane’s Fighting Aircraft of World War II . London: Studio, 1946. ISBN 1-85170-493-0.
  • Weal, John. Jagdgeschwader 27 'Afrika'. Oxford, UK: Osprey, 2003. ISBN 1-841765-38-4.

External links

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