ju52_6Tintin had started his adventures in the Eastern Europe in “Tintin in the Land of the Soviets”, after travelling through Africa, North and South America, Brirain and the Orient he returned to East Europe in “King Ottokar’s Sceptre”. He had to travel to Klow, the capital of the imaginary kingdom of Syldavia with Professor Alembick. The first leg of the journey took him to Prague. This journey was conducted in a yellow tri-engine passenger aircraft. The aircraft shown in the book resembles closely the Junker Ju 52 which was a popular passenger airliner from the 1930s till the late forties. The physical shape of the aircraft and the engines match the Ju 52. Also, the internal seating arrangement and the seat shape drawn by Herge match those on the Ju 52. This book was published in 1939, so it matches the period also.

ju52_.jpgThe Ju 52 was developed originally as single engine aircraft; the Ju 52/1m however, it was found to be underpowered and soon the three-engine version, the Ju 52/3m was developed. Ju 52 was manufactured from 1931 till 1952. There are still some of these aircraft in service around the world, mostly in Switzerland and Germany where they are used for sightseeing and historical flights. These aircraft were built using corrugated duralumin for increased strength. The fuselage had a rectangular cross-section. This aircraft saw service with a number of militaries as well as civil airlines as troop and cargo carriers as well to carry passengers. In fact, the airline saw service with 12 civil airlines including Swiss Air and Deutsche Lufthansa of Germany. I was commissioned into the air forces of Colombia, Bolivia, Spain, Switzerland, Germany and even Portugal and France in the post war era. The Swiss Air Force was the last to use these aircraft in active service till 1982.

ju52_2It was the workhorse of the Luftwaffe during the second world war when it was used as a troop carrier, cargo air craft, for dropping paratroopers and for towing gliders for inserting troops behind enemy lines. It could carry 18 fully equipped para troopers or 12 stretchers in ambulance version. The Junker 52 was used as the personal transport of Adolf Hitler, who had a fleet of nearly 50 aircraft. It was also the personal transport of Chiang Kai-shek, the founder leader of Taiwan. A total of 4,845 aircraft were built of these 2,804 were delivered to the Luftwaffe during world war II.

ju52_5These aircraft were powered by radial reciprocating engines. They were offered with various engine options varying from the 770 BHP BMW 132 engines to 600 BHP Pratt and Whitney R-1340 Wasp and the 775 BHP Bristol Pegasus VI. The Ju 52 had a crew of 2, they were 18.9 m (62.01 ft) long, 29.25 m (95.96 ft) wide and 4.5 m (14.76 ft) high. They had a empty weight of 6,510 kg (14,352 lbs) and a full load weight of 10,990 kg (24,229 lbs). The three BMW engines could push the Ju 52 to a top speed of 265 km/h (143 knots). Its fuel tanks allowed it a range of 870 km (470 nautical miles). The maximum flight ceiling was 5,490 m (18,012 ft). They had a non-retractable undercarriage, and several were fitted with skids and sleds for operation in sea. They could land and take off from unprepared airstrips and air fields including rocky air fields. The reason why all aircraft of the Eurasian Airways were Ju 52.

ju52_3Several Ju 52 were modified to operate as bombers. However, usually the Bombay doors were used for dropping cargo. The door on port side was used for ingress and egress of passengers or troops or by para troopers jumping off the aircraft. As bomber it could drop 3,330 lbs of ordnance using the two bomb bays. As their speeds were less; less than half that of the spitfires, they were vulnerable to anti-aircraft fire as well as interception by fighter aircraft. As a result, they had always to be escorted. Several of them were lost to enemy fire because of this limitation.

Courtesy David Parker Brown

After World War II they were manufactured by CASA of Spain as the 352. Also, the French built and used them as the Amiot AAC 1 Toucan. Some of the captured Ju 52s saw service in Soviet Russia as passenger airliners till the early 1950s. They were also employed by the British European Airways.