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Weapons of World War Two

Junkers Ju 52

Junkers Ju 52

In the field of aeronautical construction, both civilian and military, Junkers Flugzeug und Motorenwerke AG became, without doubt, a name of international prestige. Many aircraft produced by this company entered into the History of Aviation, and some even into the legend as in the case of the Junkers 87, the famous Stuka. But not everyone knows that one of the best services that Junkers contributed to the Luftwaffe was the creation of an aircraft which, studied initially for bombardment, would promptly reveal itself as the best wildcard in the History of Aviation, even managing to surpass the gifts of versatility and robustness of the Dakota, the famous "workhorse" of the American aviation.

Already in 1915, Junkers had built the first one of a long series of aircraft destined to transport: the J 1. It was a low-winged monoplane of 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 projected by technicians of the company by following this original formula, until arriving to 1930, when the 13th October flew the prototype of the Junkers 52.

It was a single-engined low-winged monoplane, fitted with a radial engine Ju L 88 of 12 cylinders. Albeit it was capable to reach 800 horsepower, this was not enough to cover the necessary demand of power. The project had to be revised, for the aeronautical technique of the moment did not provide more powerful engines. The engineer Ernst Zindel arrived so to the conclusion that lacking more powerful engines, more than one of the available power would have to be installed. In April 1931 flew for the first time the Ju 52/3m, propelled by three radial engines built by BMW.

The three-engined aircraft, always of low wing, metallic construction and corrugated coating, had squarish section with rounded roof, which allowed a rational utilization of the space available in the interior. Its load capacity was eighteen fully equipped paratroopers, or twelve stretches, or almost 2.5 tonnes of load. A very important element was the landing gear, exceptionally robust and fitted with tires of special section which allowed the Junkers 52 to land and take off on unprepared terrains. Besides, soon it was seen the possibility of replacing the wheeled gear by skies or floaters that turned the airplane into a seaplane.

The Junkers 52 was produced in many versions that differentiated only by 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, showing always exceptional gifts of safety, reliability and robustness. It was used as bomber, transport for troops, wounded and materials, glider towing and, with a special installation, minesweeper of magnetic mines.

After the war it was produced under licence in Spain and France, and with the colors of this latter it took part in the Indochina War, where it distinguised itself even among more modern aircraft. Many exemplars of the indestructible "Tante Ju" flew regularly many years after the war, serving in the civilian or military aviations of many countries, such as Spain or Switzerland.

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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