The Junkers 52 which first made its appearance as a commercial plane in
1931 was designed with a view to its ultimate conversion to a bomber. It was one
of the most widely used types on German airlines and was also operated in
Belgium, Holland, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and several South
American countries. Military versions of the Ju-52 equipped the bomber squadrons
of the Luftwaffe in 1935 and remained as the standard heavy bomber in company
with the Ju-86 until 1937. Ju-52's were used extensively in the early days of the
Spanish Civil War and were also employed in the attack on Rotterdam. The bomber
model was outdated by faster bombers at the outbreak of the war, and the aircraft
was put into service as a troop and freight carrier and is still being produced for
this purpose. Several guns have been added to transform it into an armed
transport. The original passenger cabin is a bare storage compartment with broad
entrance and exit hatches from which paratroopers can jump, and through which
reserve supplies are dropped to the fighting troops. It has glider-towing fittings
incorporated into the tail and is frequently used as a glider tug.
The Ju-52 is a three-engined low-wing monoplane with cantilever wings
and semi-cantilever stabilizer, the latter being braced to the fuselage with a
single strut on either side. The span is 95 feet 11 inches and the length 62 feet.
It is of all-metal construction, with a deep rectangular fuselage, a fixed landing
gear, and air-cooled radial engines, one in the nose, and the other two in nacelles
in the wings outboard of the landing gear. A distinctive feature is the use of
corrugated metal for wing and fuselage covering. The so-called Junkers "double-wing"
is employed. The inner portions vary the camber; the outer portions act
differentially as ailerons. There is a single fin and rudder. This plane may be
equipped with floats for sea operations or skis for winter flying.
The engines consist of three B.M.W. 132 A or T air-cooled 9-cylinder
radials, each developing 660 hp at sea level. The maximum speed of the Ju-52
is 170 mph at 4,500 feet; 165 mph at sea level. The cruising speed is 132 mph
at sea level. The service ceiling is 16,000 feet with maximum load, 21,000 feet
at finish. The normal range is 530 miles with a 5,000 pound load, or 790 miles
with maximum fuel and a 4,000 pound load. The normal fuel load is 436 U.S.
gallons, with a possible maximum of 645 U.S. gallons.
The armament varies, but the maximum so far found consists of four
MG 15 7.92-mm machine guns. Reports
have been received that 20-mm cannons are
being used, but to date no aircraft with this armament have been found. The most
usual combination on the freight version consists of one upper-rear MG 15 machine
gun in a ring mounting, one lower-rear MG 15 machine gun in the retractable
"dust bin", and two lateral machine guns firing out of the windows on each side
aft of the wing. Occasionally, one of the machine guns has been found mounted as
an upper-front gun, in a perspex dome over the second pilot's seat on the right-hand
side of the cockpit.
The crew ordinarily consists of three, a pilot, a co-pilot, and a radio
operator, the latter two manning the guns. When used as a troop transport, there
is a fourth member who combines the duties of rear-gunner and checker of the
parachutists and their equipment.
The official German maintenance handbook for the Ju-52 lists no fewer
than 37 different uses and loadings, of which the following are examples:
1. Troop transport -- carries 15 to 20 fully-equipped men
2. Freight transport -- maximum pay-load, 5,260 lbs
3. Ambulance aircraft -- accomodation for 12 stretchers
4. Parachute troop carrier -- 12 fully-equipped men
5. Glider tug -- can normally tow one Go-242 with 23 men or 3 small
gliders carrying 10 to 12 men each
6. Flying classroom -- especially for training in night flying.
Throughout the African campaign this aircraft has been extensively used
for transporting troops, munitions and supplies of every kind from Italy and Sicily
to Africa. During the height of the Tunisian campaign, from 50 to 150 per day
were running a shuttle service across the Mediterranean, carrying on the return
trip wounded men from Africa. Wherever possible, fighter escort is provided
because the Ju-52 lacks speed, armor, and adequate armament. This accounts for
the high attrition rate of this aircraft in all operations.