The Junkers Ju 52 Tante Ju

Germany
Germany

side view front view under view

The Junkers Ju 52 was to the Germans like the Douglas C-47 was to the Allied forces. It was the genuine workhorse, hauling goods and bombs to supply the troops, or paratroopers for relief or strikes.
The Ju 52 finds it'sorigins in the late 1920's, when Junkers had a very succesfull freighter, the W 33 and W 34. When looking to design a new transport, the Junkers team naturally wanted to cash in on their early successes, so the Ju 52 became an enlarged version of the afore mentioned aircraft. Initially a single-engine aircraft was designed, but sales of it fell short of expectations. The aircfat still had a poor payload and range, and the solution was found in a three-engined versin, 1 mounted in the nose and 2 wing mounted.
Large orders already had proven the types' worth, before the still secret Luftwaffe approached Junkers for a bomber/transport aircraft.

Versions:

Further pictures:

Junkers Ju 52/3m in Swiss colours
Junkers Ju 52/3m in Swiss colours

 

Technical data on the Junkers Ju 52/3m g7e
Powerplant 3 × BMW 132T-2 radial, rated at 830 hp (618.76 kW) each Role during war
  • Transport
Length 62 ft 0 inch Height 14 ft 10 inch
Empty weight 14330 lb Operational weight 24320 lb max
Wing Span 95 ft 10 inch Wing Aspect ratio 7.72
Wing Area 1189.41 sq ft Service ceiling 18045 ft
Maximum speed 178 mph at 4590 ft Cruising speed 160 mph at optimum altitude
Initial climb rate Climb to 9,845 ft in 19 min 0 sec Range 932 miles typical
Fuel capacity internal 539 Imp gal (647 US gal) Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns
  • 1 × 0.51 inch MG-131 or 0.312 inch MG 15 trainable rearward-firing in the rear dorsal position
  • provision for 1 × 0.312 inch trainable rearward-firing in the forward dorsal position
  • provision for 2 × 0.312 inch trainable lateral-firing in the two beam position
Cannons -
Cargo load 18 troops, or 12 litters, or an unspecified load of supplies. Torpedoes/rockets -
Crew 3: pilot, co-pilot, radio operator/gunner Naval or ground based Ground
First flight (prototype) April 1931 Operational Service 1932 - 1969
Manufacturer Junkers Flugzeug- und Motorenwerke A.G. Number produced 5.415 total, unknown number this version
Metric system
Length 18.9 m Height 4.52 m
Empty weight 6500 kg Operational weight 11032 kg max
Wing Span 29.21 m Wing Aspect ratio 7.72
Wing Area 110.5 m² Service ceiling 5500 m
Maximum speed 286 km/h at 1399 m Cruising speed 257 km/h at optimum altitude
Initial climb rate Climb to 3.000 m in 19 min 0 sec Range 1500 km typical
Fuel capacity internal 2.450 liters Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns
  • 1 × 13 mm MG-131 or 0.312 inch MG 15 trainable rearward-firing in the rear dorsal position
  • provision for 1 × 7,62 mm trainable rearward-firing in the forward dorsal position
  • provision for 2 × 7,62 trainable lateral-firing in the two beam position
Cannons -
Cargo load 18 troops, or 12 litters, or an unspecified load of supplies. Torpedoes/rockets -

Here is a quick overview of all different versions, without the full technical specifications:

Different versions of the Junkers Ju 52  Tante Ju
Junkers Ju 52/3m ge The initial Ju 52 was a signle-engine aircraft. Since it lacked performance, and the state of technology couldn't deliver higher performance engines yet, Junkers decided to add 2 additional engines, both mounted on the wing. The designation then received the '/3m'.
The seventh Ju 52 airframe was used for the first 3-engine prototype, powered by three Pratt & Whitney Hornet radials, rated at 550 hp (410 kW) each. A number of subversions were built for various (export) customers:
  • Ju 52/3m ce: Version for A.B. Aerotransport of Sweden, Aero O/Y of Finland, and Deutsche Lufthansa. It had cowled engines and spatted mainwheels.
  • Ju 52/3m de: Version for Lloyd Aero Boliviano with uncowled engines and unspatted wheel
  • Ju 52/3m fe: unknown features and customers
The Ju 52/3m ge was the first version that entered production in large numbers. It was powered by 3 × BMW 132A-1 (license built Pratt & Whitney Hornets) radial, rated at 660 hp (492 kW) each. It could carry 17 passengers, reach a max level speed of 155 Mph (250 km/h), and had a max take-off weight of 22,046 lb (10.000 kg)
In the meantime the Luftwaffe had expressed it's interest for the Ju 52, to double as aeither a transport or a bomber. The bomber role was to be fulfilled until the Dornier Do 11 would be ready, but problems with the Do 11 meant that more emphasis was placed on the bomber role. Therefor the Ju 52 was fitted with 3 cells capable of carrying 3,307 lb (1.500 kg) of bombs in the fuselage. Defensive armament consisted of:
  • 2 × 0.312 inch (7,92 mm) MG 15 trainable rearward-firing guns in an open dorsal position, 1.050 rounds total
  • 1 × 0.312 inch (7,92 mm) MG 15 trainable rearward-firing gun in a semi-enclosed, semi-retractable ventral 'dustbin' position, 750 rounds

Number built: unknown out of a total of 5.415
Junkers Ju 52/3m g3e Improved version of the Junkers Ju 52/3m ge. It had more modern radio equipment, upgraded bomb-release mechanisms, and was powered by 3 × BMW 132A-3 radials, rated at 725 hp (541 kW) each. The internal fuel capacity of 544 Imp gal (654 US gal, 2.475 liters) made a tactical radius of 311 miles (500 km) possible at a max cruising speed of 152 miles (245 km/h) at 2,950 ft (900 m). Other technical details are as follows:
A span of 95 ft 11.5 inch (29,24 m), aspect ratio of 7,74, area of 1,189.41 sq ft (110.50 m²), length of 62 ft 0 inch (18,9 m), height of 18 ft 2,5 inch (5,55 m), empty weight of 12,610 lb (5.720 kg), max take-off weight of 23,146 lb (10.500 kg), max level speed of 172 Mph (277 km/h) at 2,950 ft (900 m) declining to 165 Mph (265 km/h) at sea level, economical cruising speed of 130 Mph (210 km/h) at optimum altitude, max range of 621 miles (1.000 km), climb to 9,845 ft (3.000 m) in 17 min 30 sec, and a service ceiling of 19,360 ft (5.900 m)
Number built: unknown out of a total of 5.415
Junkers Ju 52/3m g4e This version was mostly used by the Condor Legion in Spain. It had a number of internal improvements, and a tailwheel in stead of a tail skid. This version was not u\only produced by Junkers, and the number exceeded 500 aircraft. In 1937 it was slowly withdrawn from it's bomber role, and served more as a transport, bomber-crew trainer, or in the airborne forces role.
12 Aircraft have been converted to Convoy Escorts. These aircraft, like the YB-40 with the B-17, defended it's brothers during sorties. For that reason the 'Geleitschutzflugzeuge' were fitted with the ventral 'Dustbin' again, 2 more 0.312 inch (7,92 mm) guns in the beam positions, and a 20 mm trainable cannon in the nose.
Number built: unknown out of a total of 5.415
Junkers Ju 52/3m g4e (MS) This version was converted for Mine-sweeping duties. For that reason it was fitted with a large Dural hoop braced beneath the wing and fuselage. This hoop was than energised by an additional motor that was installed in the fuselage. The magnetic field that was generated that way, triggered magnetically fused mines.
Number converted: unknown
Junkers Ju 52/3m g5e This version was an improvement upon the Junkers Ju 52/3m g4e. It had more comprehensive radio equipment, a de-icing system that used the exhaust, provision for an interchangeable wheel ski or float landing gear, provision for 2 × 0.312 inch (7,92 mm) trainable lateral-firing guns in the beam positions, and an uprated powerplant: 3 × BMW 132T-2 radials, rated at 830 hp (619 kW). The land planes had a max take-off weight of 23,148 lb (10.500 kg).
Number built: unknown out of a total of 5.415
Junkers Ju 52/3m g5e (MS) This version was converted for Mine-sweeping duties. For that reason it was fitted with a large Dural hoop braced beneath the wing and fuselage. This hoop was than energised by an additional motor that was installed in the fuselage. The magnetic field that was generated that way, triggered magnetically fused mines.
Number converted: unknown
Junkers Ju 52/3m g5e (See) This version was the Junkers Ju 52/3m g5e with floats in stead of a landing gear. The max take-off weight was 24,250 lb (11.000 kg)
Number converted: unknown
Junkers Ju 52/3m g6e This version is almost identical to the Junkers Ju 52/3m g5e, and was produced in parallel with it as well. The difference was the fact that it was a purely land based aircraft, and had simpler radio equipment.
Number built: unknown out of a total of 5.415
Junkers Ju 52/3m g6e (MS) This version was converted for Mine-sweeping duties. For that reason it was fitted with a large Dural hoop braced beneath the wing and fuselage. This hoop was than energised by an additional motor that was installed in the fuselage. The magnetic field that was generated that way, triggered magnetically fused mines.
Number converted: unknown
Junkers Ju 52/3m g7e From 1941 onward, the Junkers Ju 52/3m g7e was built. It was based on the Junkers Ju 52/3m g5e, but had a number of improvements: an autopilot, a larger starboard-side loading hatch, and a rearward extension of the upper part of the central engine. On some aircraft there was an open position created in the cockpit's overhead glazing, to accomodate 1 × 0.312 inch (7,92 mm) MG 15 trainable rearward-firing gun.
Number built: unknown out of a total of 5.415
Junkers Ju 52/3m g7e (MS) This version was converted for Mine-sweeping duties. For that reason it was fitted with a large Dural hoop braced beneath the wing and fuselage. This hoop was than energised by an additional motor that was installed in the fuselage. The magnetic field that was generated that way, triggered magnetically fused mines.
Number converted: unknown
Junkers Ju 52/3m g8e Based on the Junkers Ju 52/3m g7e, this vaersion had an additional loading hatch in the cabin roof. At first they were powered by the same engines (BMW 132T-2), but later this was changed to 3 × BMW 132Z radials. Also at a certain moment the 0.312 inch (7,92 mm) gun in the dorsal position was changed to 1 × 0.51 inch (13 mm) MG 131 gun for better defensive armament
Number built: unknown out of a total of 5.415
Junkers Ju 52/3m g8e (MS) This version was converted for Mine-sweeping duties. For that reason it was fitted with a large Dural hoop braced beneath the wing and fuselage. This hoop was than energised by an additional motor that was installed in the fuselage. The magnetic field that was generated that way, triggered magnetically fused mines.
The Junkers Ju 52/3m g8e had a number of Standardbausätze, which all added another letter to the designation:
  • F: Fallschirmjäger- und Luftlandetransporter (paratrooper and airlanding transport)
  • H: Hörsaalflugzeug (classroom aircraft, or trainer)
  • K: Kistentransporter (crate transporter)
  • N: Nachshubtransporter (supply transport)
  • R: Reiseflugzeug (courier aircraft)
  • S: Sanitätsflugzeug (ambulance aircraft)
  • St: Staffeltrupp transporter (squadron detachment transport)

Number converted: unknown
Junkers Ju 52/3m g9e This version replaced the Junkers Ju 52/3m g8e in 1942. It was powered by 3 × BMW 132Z radials, had a glider-towing coupling, and had a strenghtened landing gear for a max take-off weight of 25,353 lb (11.500 kg)
Number built: unknown out of a total of 5.415
Junkers Ju 52/3m g10e Based on the Junkers Ju 52/3m g9e, but fitted with alternatively skis or floats.
Number built: unknown out of a total of 5.415
Junkers Ju 52/3m g11e No information
Number built: unknown out of a total of 5.415
Junkers Ju 52/3m g12e Equal to the Junkers Ju 52/3m g9e, but fitted with 3 × BMW 132L radials, rated at 800 hp (597 kW)
Number built: unknown out of a total of 5.415
Junkers Ju 52/3m g13e No further information
Number built: unknown out of a total of 5.415
Junkers Ju 52/3m g14e The final production version. This version featured armor protection for the pilot, and had a standard defensive armament of 1 × 0.51 inch (13 mm) MG 131 in the rear dorsal position, and 3 × 0.312 inch (7,92 mm) MG 15 each in one of the beam positions, and 1 in a low-drag copula over the cockpit.
Number built: unknown out of a total of 5.415
AAC.1 Toucan Postwar version of the Ju 52/3m, built by a French company.
number built: 400 out of 5.415
CASA 352 Postwar version of the Ju 52/3m, built by a Spanish company.
number built: 170 out of 5.415

Remarks:

The Junkers Ju 52/3m has seen a long career, much longer than was wise, actually. The first war theatre where it was used operationally was the Spanish Civil War. In the beginning of that conflict the Ju 52/3m g3e served as an airlift. Some 20 aircraft transported 13.960 men and their equipment until the first part of October 1936 from Spanish Morocco to Sevilla. After that it was flown as a bomber by the Spanish Nationalists, until in November the first German-flown aircraft arrived in the form of the Condor Legion.
From 1937 onwards, the Ju 52/3m started serving less as a bomber, and extended it's operational duties more to transport, bomber-crew trainer, glider tug (for the DFS 230 assault glider), and in the airborne forces role. Usually the ventral 'Dustbin' was removed.
Another role in which the Ju 52/3m was used was as a mine sweeper. As described with the Ju 52/3m gxe (MS) versions, it used a Dural hoop for defusing magnetic mines throughout the war. Other aircraft were fitted with a so-called Knallkörpergerät. This deviced had 30 small explosive charges which would be dropped into the water near accoustically triggered mines, thus triggering their explosion.
Furhtermore it was used succesfully in the Dutch and Belgian campaigns in May 1940 and in the Cretan campaign in may 1941. There it was used as a paratrooper or airborne carrier.
In the North African Theatre it was used as a transport to supply Rommel's Africa Korps with needed goods, but since Malta was occupied by the British RAF, the Ju 52's proved very vulnerable during their transit over the Mediterranean Sea.
It is known that from 1942 onward there were more losses than aircraft produced, so the fleet was steadily declining then. During the support to the German troops beleaguering Stalingrad some 266 out of 490 Ju 52's were lost in the winter of 1942-1943.
The Ju 52 also served on Allied side, either as captured or impressed aircraft.

Strengths:

Weaknesses:

 

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© by Frans Bonné, 2000
Last revision: 12/11/00