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Weapons of World War Two

The Battle of Leros (Sep-Nov 1943)

Junkers Ju 52

Junkers Ju 52

In the field of aeronautical construction, both civilian and military, Junkers Flugzeug und Motorenwerke AG became, without any doubt, a name of international prestige. Many aircraft produced by this company entered the history of aviation, and some of them even became a legend as in the case of the Junkers 87, the famous Stuka. But not everyone knows that one of the best services that Junkers provided to the Luftwaffe was the creation of an aircraft which, initially designed for bombing, would promptly reveal itself as the greatest wildcard in the history of aviation, even managing to surpass the traits of versatility and robustness of the Dakota, the famous "workhorse" of the American aviation. Already in 1915, Junkers had built the first of a long series of aircraft intended for transportation: the J 1. It was a monoplane aircraft of low wing and entirely metallic structure, coated with the characteristic corrugated steel plate which would be typical of the transport aircraft created by Junkers. Many other aircraft would be designed by technicians from the company by following this original design, until the time when the prototype of the Junkers 52 flew for the first time, the 13th October 1930. It was a monoplane aircraft of single engine and low wing, fitted with a Ju L 88 radial engine of twelve cylinders. Albeit it was capable of developing 800 horsepower, it was not enough for covering the necessary power requirement. The project had to be revised, since the aeronautical technology of that moment did not provide more powerful engines. Thus Engineer Ernst Zindel arrived at the conclusion that, if more powerful engines were not available, more than one of those available would have to be installed. This way the Ju 52/3m flew for the first time in April 1931, propelled by three radial engines built by BMW. The three-engine aircraft, being always one of low wing, metallic construction and corrugated coating, had a squarish section and a rounded roof, which allowed a rational utilization of the space available in the interior. Its load capacity was either eighteen fully equipped paratroopers or twelve stretches or almost 2.5 tonnes of load. A very important element was the landing gear, which was exceptionally robust and was fitted with tires of special section, which allowed the Junkers 52 to land on and take off from unprepared terrains. Besides, it was soon seen the possibility of replacing the wheeled gear by skies or floaters, which turned the airplane into a seaplane. The Junkers 52 was produced in many versions which differed from each other by only some modifications in the engine or the armament. Familiarly known as "Tante Ju" ("Aunt Ju"), it served in the Spanish Civil War, in the last days of the conflict, always showing exceptional traits of safety, reliability and robustness. It was used as a bomber aircraft, a transport aircraft for troops, wounded and materials, a paratrooper drop aircraft, an aircraft for towing gliders and, with a special installation, a minesweeper of magnetic mines. After the war it was produced under license in France and Spain, and it took part in the Indochina War under French colors, where it distinguished itself even among more modern aircraft. Still many years after the war, several exemplars of the indestructible "Tante Ju" regularly flew, serving in the aviations of Switzerland and Spain.

Junkers Ju 52
Designer: Engineer Ernst Zindel

First flight: April 1931

Wingspan: 29.23 meters

Wing area: 110.50 square meters

Length: 18.90 meters

Height: 5.55 meters

Full load/Empty weight: 10500/5720 kilograms (3mg/3e); 11000/6500 kilograms (3mg/7e)

Payload/Crew: 4780 kilograms/4 (3mg/3e); 4500 kilograms/5 (3mg/7e)

Engines: Three BMW 132 A-3 of 725 horsepower each (3mg/3e); three BMW 132 T-2 of 830 horsepower each (3mg/7e)

Cruising speed: 209 kilometers/hour (3mg/3e); 215.6 kilometers/hour (3mg/7e)

Maximum speed: 277 kilometers/hour (3mg/3e); 286.5 kilometers/hour (3mg/7e)

Service ceiling: 5900 meters (3mg/3e); 5500 meters (3mg/7e)

Defensive armament: Two MG 15 7.92-millimeter machine guns (3mg/3e); three-four MG 15 7.92-millimeter machine guns and one MG 131 13-millimeter machine gun (3mg/7e)

Drop armament: 1000 kilograms of bombs (3mg/3e)

Operational range: 998 kilometers (3mg/3e); 1100 kilometers (3mg/7e)

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