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.
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.
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