Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Condor Legion Ju 52 floatplane AS./88

Along with the first variants of the Stuka to fly combat sorties, this for me is the one of the rarest Luftwaffe types to see service during the Spanish Civil War. A single photo of a Nationalist Ju 52 3m (W) was published in the book As de Picas or "Ace of Spades" by Galland Books devoted to the seaplane Staffel AS./88 of the Condor Legion.  Translated and republished by Schiffer books it is a slim volume of only 186 pages retailing for well over £35, but probably one of the few books worth buying for a single photo. There are many unknowns about this aircraft. For starters it is not certain if there was one, two or more Ju-52 floatplanes in service with the Aufklärungsstaffel See/88 (AS./88 or the Maritime Reconnaissance Squadron), of the Condor Legion in Spain. There are several photos showing partial views of possible candidates which contradict each other. Much remains to be investigated. This particular aircraft - red '527' - complete with Totenkopf emblem on the nose, was used by the AS./88 for liaison and transport duties. During a flight from Cadiz to Pollensa on 21 March 1938 it came under attack from two Republican Fiat CR. 32 fighters, one of which was shot down by the Ju 52's gunner.  Republican Coastal Defence reported ;

" 15:10 two fighters were airborne to intercept an enemy seaplane spotted eight miles from the coast, north-east of Cabo Palos. The fighters engaged the seaplane but the rebel aircraft managed to shoot down one of our aircraft which came down in the sea thirty five kilometres from the coast, exploding on impact  .."