Friday, 23 September 2016
Le Junkers Ju 52, de la Lufthansa à la Luftwaffe - Alméras, Grégory LeLa Presse - new Luftwaffe books review
Grégory Almeras is a 39-year old WW II aviation enthusiast based near Montpellier in the south of France. He has spent the past ten years assembling a collection of photos of the Junkers Ju 52 and writing detailed captions retracing the story of this iconic aircraft. This new book is the result of all those hours spent poring over his photo albums. At 176 A-4 pages in hardback and featuring over 350 photos, the book is essentially a photo compilation organised into 23 chapters with one, two or three photos per page and captions of a corresponding length (some at least one half page) - in French. The images are mostly excellent, previously unpublished and cover the type's early career as a civilian airliner and transport, with one chapter given over to the French AAC 1 Toucan. The bulk of the work features the type in service with the Luftwaffe prior to and during WWII with much detail of the many resupply operations mounted by the Germans on the Eastern Front. The campaign in the West and other theatres such as Crete, Scandinavia and North Africa also feature. Each chapter has a short introductory text. Some twenty large scale artworks by Thierry Dekker are distributed throughout, while one chapter covers the restoration of a French Ju 52 detailing internal and cockpit views. There is also a small modelling chapter. The author explains that none of the period photos are enhanced or cropped or otherwise manipulated to enable the full context to be appreciated. For the most part they were taken by the crews themselves in the heat of the action. So while a few are less than perfect, many are absolutely first-rate and, reproduced large, take us right into the daily lives of the men that flew or maintained the aircraft through some of the most dramatic moments of WWII and post-war history. A very nice addition to the literature in my view. Below 'sample' photos, captions and general page views courtesy of author Grég Almeras.
Above; Junkers Ju 52 KC+RV (WNr. 7198) seen somewhere seen in the Soukhinitchi sector in the East during January 1942. A crew member is checking the forward defensive MG turret. Prior to being assigned to a Front unit, this machine was serving with FFS C8 at Wiener-Neustadt, a multi-engine training school. During December 1941 Soviet pressure on the central sector had firmed and was increasing, leading to the establishment and dispatch to the front of new transport units, KGr zbv 700, 800, 900 and 999 assembled utilising school machines such as this one. Typically this aircraft is still displaying its factory codes, there being no time to replace them with unit tactical codes. These new Transporter units were quickly sent north to participate in the airlift into Demyansk. During moments of crisis such as Demyansk ad-hoc transport units were hastily assembled and sent to the front often for only a matter of a month or two which meant there was little or no time for codes or emblems - one such unit was KGrzbv 7 which existed for two months during February and March 1942. Note the wing de-icing system common to several Ju 52 variants - the lower engine exhausts feeding directly into the wing leading edge. The thin yellow horizontal band on the cowling was an ID feature. Note also the steel plate cover over the nose engine to the fuselage designed to prevent the oil thrown from obscuring the windscreen and cockpit glazing.
Below; taken on taken on 5 June 1942 this snapshot depicts a moment of respite for this crew based at Flugplatz Nikolajew, a rear area base in the Ukraine north-west of the Crimean peninsula. Things weren't always this quiet. Barely three months previously this field was the scene of a very successful partisan action. During March 1942 a Russian worker managed to place dynamite among a large stock of bombs and blew several hangars and some twenty aircraft of JG 77 and StG 77 sky high. Captured by 16. Panzer division on 13 August 1941, Nikolajew had quickly become an important Luftwaffe platform as the front moved further eastwards. Additional hangars and concrete runways were constructed. Note the open cockpit access door on this Ju 52 g7e, the variant confirmed by the absence of a generator on the starboard fuselage side. Note also the small mirror on the inner cowl face of the port engine which helped the pilot to synchronise the propellers by enabling him to set up a 'strobe' effect with the nose engine prop by adjusting the engine revolutions accordingly. The most experienced pilots simply relied on their feel for the aircraft to perform this type of adjustment.
Ten-page PDF extract on the publisher's web site here
Tuesday, 20 September 2016
Above; "Junkers Ju 52 Story" author Jan Forsgren in Dübendorf last week as the guest of RIMOWA for the first flight of their new-build Junkers F 13 and prior to boarding Ju 52/3m HB-HOT
Qu: Hello Jan, congratulations on the publication of your latest book " The Junkers Ju 52 Story " ! Can you tell Luftwaffe blog readers a little about yourself as a writer, person, historian. What prompted you to write about Luftwaffe aircraft and history? Why did you choose to write about the Ju 52 given that the type's story must be widely known ? Was it because it was widely used in Scandinavia? Is your interest more in civil aviation?
I was born in Sweden in 1965, and ever since my childhood, I've been interested in aviation, and, in particular, aviation history. Over the years, this interest has grown steadily and considerably. However, I've worked professionally as an archivist for more than 15 years, as well as an English teacher in Bangkok for a couple of years. The latter was, in part, due to my strong interest in South East Asian aviation. My main research area, apart from historical aviation, concerns Cambodia, and, in particular, its relationship with Sweden between 1970 to 1990. Since 2010, I've been heavily involved in the Arlanda Civil Aviation Collection at Arlanda Airport just north of Stockholm I've written about 250 articles and six books, including two in Swedish and four English, the latter including Swedish Fortresses and Messerschmitt Bf 108 for MMP and Sinking the Beast and The Junkers Ju 52/3m Story for Fonthill. The Ju 52/3m Story came about simply because many other books concentrate on either the Ju 52/3m in Lufthansa or Luftwaffe service, virtually ignoring the other operators. My aim was to provide a concise, single-volume book on the Ju 52/3m, where I would attempt to cover the entire (an impossible task!) history of this deservedly famous aeroplane. Its use in Scandinavia did not, however, make me decide to write the book to any great extent.
Qu: I have your Me 108 book via MMP which was nicely done but from here Fonthill looks like a step up, I'm tempted to say a 'real' publisher. (MMP don't pay their authors I believe) How did the book and your relationship with Fonthill come about?
During an 11-day whirlwind tour of Britain in 2011 - from Solent Sky in Southampton to the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington and air displays at Waddington, Duxford and Old Warden, I met Graham Simons at the latter place. Graham casually mentioned that Jay Slater, then of History Press, was looking for new authors. Upon my return to Sweden, I sent Jay an e-mail along with ideas for books. He rejected my Swedish Air Forces since 1911, but thought that a book about sinking the Tirpitz would be just right. Sinking the Beast was published in August 2014, after which Jay requested more books! MMP does, incidentally, pay royalties, but it is only a pittance. From my point of view, MMP do publish off-beat titles, that few other publishers would accept.
Qu: What was the most surprising or unusual fact you uncovered during your research?
I would have to say the widespread use and longevity of the Ju 52/3m. It was, as most would assume, not limited to World War II but enjoyed civilian and military service long after 1945.
above; Ju 52/3m "GA+WW" of 4./KGrzbV 900 in Roslawl during February 1942 prior to flying into the Demyansk Kessel (pocket). The crew of pilot Jürgen Pfau is seen shovelling snow away from the machine.(via Meyer)
Qu: How much time was devoted to the research and writing of this particular book ? And compared to your other books ? You mention the 'long, lonely hours' spent writing in your introduction. I bet it's hard work isn't it ? Do you look forward to how it might be received or are you not interested in what people might say about your work?
The Ju 52/3m Story took me about one year to research and write. And, it is indeed hard work! I do look forward - with some trepidation - to the reviews and opinions offered by reviewers and fellow aviation historians. I am all too aware that some might say -'Oh, there's not enough Luftwaffe, Lufthansa etc', in the book, But, it is intended to be a general, concise overview of a great aeroplane. I do think, incidentally, that there are some areas, such as the French and Spanish use that have never been addressed properly in an English-language publication. That was my reasoning for including so much material on these Toucans and CASA 352s, instead of concentrating on its service with the Luftwaffe.
Below; another Ju 52/3m of 4./KGrzbV 900 "GA+WW" assigned to Fw. Kramer also in Roslawl in February before flying into the pocket.
Qu: I read recently that a Ju 52 'nearly' arrived in the UK during late 1944 flown by a crew deserting from Norway. I think it ditched in the North Sea just off the coast of Scotland. Is this a story you have heard about and what became of the aircraft and crew?
I included some information on this fascinating episode, which is described in greater detail in the book by Martin Pegg listed in the bibliography. Unfortunately, I have no idea about what happened to the crew, presumably they became PoW's, and their Ju 52/3m scrapped or consigned to a sailor's funeral. The whole story must be in an AIR-file at the National Archives, but I haven't been able to locate it, yet.
Qu: I have read that the Ju 52's 'star' shone brightest in adversity. I don't think this was really true was it? The type is associated with big defeats, Stalingrad, Indochine etc etc What's your opinion on this? The Ju 52 was surely also obsolete during WWII but was never replaced by a more capable machine. Why was this ?
Logistic support and air transport are extremely vital in modern warfare. One might say that one of the major miscalculations in pre-war planning was neglecting the importance of airlift. The Ju 52/3m was obsolete in 1939, but it was available in large numbers, also being easy to operate and maintain under the most arduous and difficult conditions. It was slow, cumbersome but also a very efficient workhorse in its various roles. Its replacement with the Ju 352 and/or the Me 323 did not occur, which meant that the Ju 52/3m simply had to soldier on until the end of the war. Although both the Me 323 and Ju 352 were highly capable, Allied air supremacy meant that few Me 323s remained at war's end, while very few Ju 352s became operational. By the autumn of 1944, the production of transport aircraft was discontinued due to the desperate need for fighters. Interestingly, the highest loss rate in one day occurred on 10 May 1940 during the invasion of the Netherlands. Also, Operation Merkur in May 1941 saw large numbers of Ju 52/3ms lost or damaged. However, both the operations over the Netherlands and Crete were German victories. One can say that the Ju 52/3m required total Luftwaffe air supremacy in order to operate without risking huge losses to enemy fighters and flak. However, the same can be said about Allied airlift operations, with both Arnhem and the crossing of the Rhine being examples of huge losses and wastage of transport aircraft.
Qu: Many will know the Ju 52 from opening sequence of the 1968 war movie "Where Eagles Dare ". I guess that was a Casa 352 though? And did Hitler escape from Berlin in a Ju 52 as two British authors claimed back in 2011 in their book 'Grey Wolf'?
In my book, I do mention that the Ju 52/3m that 'doubled' as a Luftwaffe aircraft in the movie Where Eagles Dare was a machine that was delivered to the Swiss Air Force in 1939. The winter camouflage applied for the movie was retained for several years. The Ju 52/3m in question was s/n A-702, now flying as HB-HOT. I've never seen any reference to Hitler escaping from Berlin in a Ju 52/3m. He elected to stay in Berlin, eventually committing suicide on 30 April. Two Ju 52/3m units did however attempt to drop supplies, losing some 30 aircraft.
Qu: Aside from the Luftwaffe one of my big interests is the French Armee de l'Air so your coverage of the Toucan is very welcome. By the way the Toucan and Casa production lists in your book are very impressive. Did the French use the Toucan as a bomber ? Did it drop paratroopers at Dien Bien Phu? Do you know how many were lost in Indochine ?
The French Air Force did indeed use their Toucans as level bombers, both in Indochina, Madagascar and Algeria. Due to lack of first-hand archival information, the exact number of Toucans lost over Indochina are unknown. I would assume that between 30 and 50 aircraft were written off to all causes, crashes, destroyed on the ground and wear and tear. Airlift operations over Dien Bien Phu did not include Toucans, but rather Douglas C-47s and Fairchild C-119s. Regarding Dien Bien Phu, I can highly recommend Martin Windrow's book The Last Valley. Regarding the French use of the Ju 52/3m/Toucan etc, I do believe this is a great topic for a book.
Qu: Jan, your new book looks very nice indeed and it reads very nicely too as I can confirm. I thoroughly recommend it and I wish you much success with it. But what are you working on next ?
Two weeks ago, I submitted the manuscript and 130 pics for a book on the Bf 109 to Fonthill, which is due to be published next year. Right now, I am working on books dealing with the Me 210/410 and Fi 156, also for Fonthill. I also have manuscripts completed for the Bell P-59 Airacomet and the Boeing B-17 in Military Service, both to be published by MMP. Re the latter, this will cover the B-17 in service with 14 countries, from Bolivia to Yugoslavia. I am still looking for additional pics of the B-17 in Luftwaffe service if anybody reading this is able to help I'd really appreciate it, thanks!
Jan, thank you for answering my questions. We look forward to more books from yourself! " The Junkers Ju 52 Story " is reviewed on 'FalkeEins - the Luftwaffe Blog' here
Pilot Fw. Becker hugging the ground (im Tiefflug) en route into the Demyansk pocket at the controls of Ju 52/3m "CH+HY" of 4./KGrzbV 900 during March 1942. (via Meyer)
Below; "Junkers Ju 52 Story" author Jan Forsgren flew on board "Ju-Air" Ju 52/3m HB-HOT in Dübendorf last week as the guest of RIMOWA during the ceremony for the first flight of their new-build Junkers F 13. Note the Swiss Ju 52s have 'original' BMW engines with twin-bladed props unlike the well-known Lufthansa D-AQUI which has P&W engines with three-bladed props turning at higher revolutions..
Sunday, 18 September 2016
II. Gruppe Fw 190 A-7/8 with Kommandeur chevrons and diving crow cowl emblem, landmark sortie for a Schlachtflieger ace - daily Ebay photo find #189
Two very nice views of a Fw 190 A-7/8 with Kommandeur chevrons with diving crow emblem, usually associated with 5./JG 26 but also used by I./StG 1 and II./StG 3 that became I./SG 1 and II./SG 3 in October 43 and then converted to Fw 190 respectively around Dec 44 and June 44. II./SG 3 Kommandeur machine. The pilot being greeted with a bouquet is possibly Theodor Nordmann..the wreath appears to commemorate the pilot reaching a landmark 1111 sortie (one thousand one hundred and eleven).."
Tuesday, 13 September 2016
Below; Ju 52 - PD+KJ, Demjansk 1942. Note the tail code B3K - 3. Staffel machine coded 'K' of KGrzbV500
Above; an example of a fuselage code 9P+MW ( 4./KGrzbV 60) not corresponding with the rudder tactical code. Here the letter 'B' on the rudder is the T.Kz of KGrzbV 500,while the 'StB' indicates that this Ju 52 at some point was an aircraft assigned to the Stab of this unit. The Dortmund coat-of-arms emblem of KGrzbV500 is visible on the nose. The photo was published on page 65 of Karl Kössler's book 'Transporter - wer kennt sie schon?', the caption indicating that the photograph was taken in Riga. On offer here
Inspiration for this blog post via ATB's Ju 52 ebay finds at the Luftwaffe Research Group
Monday, 5 September 2016
Although indelibly associated with Lufthansa and the Luftwaffe, the Junkers Ju 52 served in numerous air forces worldwide for several decades, so there are many books (more than twenty) dedicated to various aspects of its history. This new book by Jan Forsgren and published by Fonthill Media provides a competent and wide-ranging general history along with possibly unique and detailed coverage of foreign civilian and military use, foreign production and preserved aircraft. Read more below..
Jan Forsgren’s ‘The Junkers Ju 52 Story’ provides a thoroughly comprehensive general history and overview of the Ju 52/3m from its first flight flight in 1930 as a single-engined transport for small freight carriers up to the present day as ‘film star’ and museum exhibit.
The last of Hugo Junkers corrugated metal-skinned types the rugged 'Tante Ju' could trace its origins back to the Junkers J1 attack aircraft of WWI and the revolutionary Junkers F.13 single-engined low-winged transport that first flew in 1919; the genesis of modern air transport.
Most though will know it as the mainstay of the Luftwaffe transport fleet during WWII, but as Jan Forsgren points out in this new 256-page hardback history of the type the Ju 52 actually served far longer with the French Armée de l’Air as the AAC 1 Toucan. And while most will be familiar with the Ju 52 from the opening scenes of the 1968 classic WWII adventure movie 'Where Eagles Dare' that particular ‘film star’ was a Swiss Air Force machine delivered in 1939 and not retired until 1982! ‘The Junkers Ju 52 Story’ takes us to all five Continents with chapters detailing a host of civilian airlines and military operators – nearly fifty of them - including the UK with the pre-war British Airways and Australia. The ‘journey’ takes in the desolate fog-bound snow-swept airstrips of Pitomnik and Gumrak in Stalingrad (medi-vac, resupply) the high green valleys of North Vietnam (paratroop drop and level bomber), the fetid jungles of the Amazonian rain forests (medi-vac) during the small Latin-American wars of the 1930s and the deserts of North Africa during the mid-1950s. At least four Allied air forces had the type in their inventories post-war including the South African Air Force. The ‘high-profile’ Lufthansa and Luftwaffe use of the Ju 52 are covered in separate chapters, while French and Spanish production and use – mostly ignored in English-language publications on the type – receive good coverage here.
Designed and built by the Junkers Aircraft Company of Dessau the Ju 52 left the drawing board as a single-engined all-metal transport featuring load-sustaining corrugated skinning, WNr. 4001 taking to the air for the first time on 13 October 1930. The second Ju 52, D -2133 (WNr 4002) - fitted with floats and powered by a single 750 hp Armstrong Whitworth Leopard - was tested at Travemünde in August 1931. It was quickly evident that a single engine left the type severely underpowered. The three-engined Ju 52/3m first flew in April 1932 and was subsequently delivered to customer airlines and air forces worldwide- over fifty of them. Some of the first examples went to the Colombian Air Force ( Wnr. 4010-4012). Four of these were still in service in 1943 and even as late as 1966 one was still flying in Bogota. A trio of Ju 52/3ms, originally delivered to the Swiss Air Force in 1939 were not officially retired until 1982!
Before the unveiling of Goring’s new Luftwaffe, the Ju 52/3m was produced principally as an 18-seat airliner, some 80 of the type serving with Lufthansa flying from Germany on routes in Europe, Asia and South America.Elsewhere in South America, Ju 52s were purchased by Syndicato Condor, a Lufthansa offshoot with a particularly large network across Brazil, Peru and Bolivia. The company operated some sixteen Ju 52s, but was disbanded under US pressure during 1941 on the pretext that the Ju 52s could potentially be used to ‘bomb the US’ - a 'ploy' to restrict the activities of a successful ‘competitor’ while expanding their own markets.
Back in Germany a bomber version was quickly produced for Goring's 'new' Luftwaffe and the Ju 52 underwent its baptism of fire during the Spanish Civil War, participating in the bombing of Guernica. By the time of the invasion of Poland more than 500 Ju 52 Transporters were in service with the Luftwaffe. Used extensively on every front during WWII the Ju 52/3m fulfilled a multitude of roles. I was surprised to learn that exact production figures are unknown – estimates put total production of the type at some 5,000 aircraft, with about 2,000 delivered prior to September 1939.
Some have said that the Ju 52's 'star' shone brightest in adversity. Forsgren doesn't. Even the successful invasion of Crete saw horrendous losses. Although a safe and reliable transport the Ju 52 was of course slow and cumbersome, and, as disaster after disaster befell the Germans during WWII - Stalingrad, the resupply and evacuation of the Axis armies from Tunisia - literally hundreds of Ju 52s were shot down by marauding Soviet and Allied fighters. Palm Sunday 18 April 1943 has entered aviation history as a ‘black’ day for Axis transports – over 50 Ju 52s downed.
And, as described by the historian of JG 27, the carnage was not limited to one sortie;
" ..As usual the Ju 52s - despite all warnings and past experience - flew in a very open formation so that it was quite impossible to provide satisfactory cover. Suddenly about 80 fighters came diving down guns blazing. While the Bf 109s were engaged in combat the others swooped on the Jus and shot them down one after the other. The transports were flying too low to permit evasive action. According to British reports 15 Ju 52s were destroyed on Monday 19 April following the destruction of over 50 transports the previous day, 40 on 10 April, and 31 on 11 April. These were nothing short of massacres. With tanks exploding the helpless Ju 52s plunged like blazing torches into the water to sink like stones or they crashed on the Tunisian coast.."
Jan Forsgren’s authoritative and wide-ranging text covers all Ju 52 variants – illustrated with some 150 photos including 44 in colour - and includes chapters on projected replacements and survivors with appendices listing the extensive French and Spanish production. A major variant was the floatplane version (Wasser). Ju 52 seaplanes saw widespread use in the maritime environment of Scandinavia pre-war and then played a key role in Hitler’s conquest of the region in 1940. Following the fall of Stalingrad some twenty Ju 52s used in the abortive resupply operation were immediately fitted with floats and sent to the Black Sea to be grouped in a new Lufttransportstaffel under Maj Hannibal Gude- Kapitän of 8. Seenotstaffel. Operating in and out of the Kuban bridgehead only one loss was recorded, on 23 March 1943.
Ju 52 floatplanes were still flying in the frozen polar Far North in late 1944 with Transportgeschwader 20 (resupply and maritime rescue). A deserting 2./TG 20 crew reported that the unit still had eight Ju 52 (See) floaplanes on strength in October 1944. The main mission of this Staffel was transporting supplies and spares out of Trondheim to remote points with a single aircraft detached to Horten (Oslo) for air-sea rescue duties. The deserters – who ran out of fuel and put down in the sea some 30 miles off the coast of Aberdeen - also noted that lack of fuel had curtailed operations out of Trondheim in the three weeks that they had been stationed there.
Unlike more ‘glamorous’ German types, post-war the Ju 52 continued to fly and serve. In 1945 one of the quickest and cheapest ways of re-establishing the French Air Force (Armée de l'Air) was to put the Ju 52 straight back into service and re-open production lines. The former Amiot factories in the Paris suburb of Colombes that had produced some 320 Ju 52s for the Germans under Vichy were re-named the Atelier Aéronautiques de Colombes (AAC) and continued to turn out ‘La Julie’ under the designation AAC 1 Toucan. The first post-war Groupe de Transport GT 3/15 was formed at Le Bourget on 1 February 1945 and the type served principally with GT 1/64 Béarn, GT 2/60 Franche-Comté and GT 3/64 Tonkin playing a major role in French Indochine (Vietnam) as a transport, level bomber, medi-vac and paratroop transport type - exactly as it had in the Luftwaffe. The AAC 1 flew its last sortie in Vietnam in February 1953 before debuting in another theatre and another war entirely – Algeria.
My thanks to Leon Venter for typing out the chapter headings below;
The Junkers Flugzeug-und Motorenwerke AG and its Predecessors (2 pages)
A Shift to Civilian Transport Aeroplanes (8 pages)
Technical Description (3 pages)
Ju 52/3m Airliner Operations in Germany (6 pages)
Lufthansa Around the World (2 pages)
Ju52/3m Production in Germany (4 pages)
Foreign Production (15 pages
Into Luftwaffe Service (4 pages)
Other Duties (4 pages)
Blitzkrieg (3 pages)
Operations (6 pages)
Stalingrad (3 pages)
North African Defeat (4 pages)
On the Retreat (2 pages)
Final Defeat (4 pages)
Civilian Operators (56 pages)
Military Operators (41 pages)
Preserved Junkers Ju 52/3ms (36 pages)
Appendix I: Lufthansa Ju 52/3ms (6 pages)
Appendix II: Luftwaffe Ju 52/3m Transport Units, 1939-1943 (3 pages)
Appendix III: Luftwaffe Ju 52/3m Transport Units, May 1943-February 1945 (1 page)
Appendix IV: AAC.1 Production List (15 pages)
Appendix V: CASA 352 Production List (5 pages)
Endnotes (2 pages)
Bibliography (2 pages)
Index (2 pages)
Read Leon's full review of 'The Ju 52 Story' at the Luftwaffe Research Group here
The following stills are not in Jan Forsgren's book and are used here to illustrate the blog text. They appear in footage on reel 488 of the Agentur Karl Höffkes film archive AKH and are reproduced here with the kind permission of Karl Höffkes.