The Junkers Ju-52 was a German trimotor transport aircraft manufactured from 1932 to 1945. It saw both civilian and military service during the 1930s and 1940s. In a civilian role, it flew with over 12 air carriers including Aero OY, which would become Finnair, the national flag carrier of Finland in the 1960s, Swissair and Deutsche Luft Hansa as an airliner and freight hauler. In a military role, it flew with the Luftwaffe as a troop and cargo transport and briefly as a medium bomber. The Ju-52 continued in postwar service with military and civilian air fleets well into the 1980s.
The Ju-52 was similar to the company’s previous Junkers W33, although larger. In 1930, Ernst Zindel and his team designed the Ju-52 at the Junkers works at Dessau. The aircraft’s unusual corrugated duralumin metal skin, pioneered by Junkers during World War I, strengthened the whole structure.
In its original configuration, designated the Ju-52/1m, the Ju-52 was a single-engined aircraft, powered by either a BMW or Junkers liquid-cooled engine. However, the single-engine model was underpowered, and after seven prototypes had been completed, all subsequent Ju-52s were built with three radial engines as the Ju-52/3m (drei motoren – “three engines”). Originally powered by three Pratt & Whitney Hornet radial engines, later production models mainly received 574 kW (770 hp) BMW 132 engines, a licence-built refinement of the Pratt & Whitney design. Export models were also built with 447 kW (600 hp) Pratt & Whitney Wasp R-1340 and 578 kW (775 hp) Bristol Pegasus VI engines. The two wing-mounted radial engines of the Ju-52/3m had full-chord cowlings and were noticeably toed-out, from being mounted at an almost perpendicular angle to the wing’s tapered leading edge. The central engine had a half-chord cowling like a Townend ring as the fuselage behind it was increasing in diameter, though some later aircraft had deeper cowlings. Production Ju-52/3m aircraft flown by Luft Hansa before World War II, as well as Luftwaffe-flown Ju-52s flown during the war.
I elected to finish the aircraft as an Aero OY (Latterly Finnair) example using Kuivalinen decals.
THE JUNKERS 52 in FINNISH SERVICE
Aero OY purchased its first Junkers Ju-52/3m in 1932. The aircraft could accommodate 14 passengers enabling Aero to offer customers a regular service to international European destinations.
Initially the aircraft was restricted to flying in the summer months only as it was on floats. It was quickly fitted with wheels which would enable the aircraft to fly the economically lucrative Helsinki-Stockholm route. The first Ju 52/3 went into service on 1 July 1932. In the period 1932-42, Aero took delivery of five Ju 52/3m aircraft.
In 1939 war broke out across Europe. The Russians and Germans invaded Poland; Russia invaded Finland on November 30th 1939 in a conflict that would become known as the Winter War. On June 17th 1940, Estonia fell to the Soviet Union. The occupation of Estonia was complete by June 21st and Aero’s operations to Tallinn ceased for the duration of the war.
The Finns forced the Soviet Union to the negotiating table in March of 1940 ceding up to 10% of its territory in the armistice. The Estonians weren’t so lucky. They were occupied. All available transport aircraft in Finland were requisitioned by the Suomen Ilmavoimat (Finnish Air Force).
Of the 3,900 passengers carried during the Winter War, 1,500 were children evacuated to Sweden. On one flight, an Aero 14-seat Junkers Ju 52/3m carried 42 passengers, of whom 26 were children.
Between the Winter War and the Continuation War (13th March 1940 to 25th June 1941), Aero resumed flights to Tallinn on the 2nd April 1940 and to Stockholm two days later. The service to Tallinn was severely disrupted when on June 14 while the world’s attention was focused on the fall of Paris to Nazi Germany a day earlier, one of Aero’s Ju 52 transports was shot down by the Soviet Air Force.
On the 14th June 1940, after the armistice between the Soviet Union and Finland had been signed, two Soviet bombers shot down one of Aero’s Junkers Ju 52/3m civilian passenger and transport aircraft “Kaleva” flying from Tallinn to Helsinki carrying three diplomatic pouches from the U.S. legations in Tallinn, Riga and Helsinki and over 120 kilograms of diplomatic mail by two French embassy couriers. A US Foreign Service employee Henry W. Antheil Jr., the French couriers and other passengers were killed in the crash. The American courier was reportedly transporting the U.S. military codes to safety from Estonia.
Aero Junkers Ju-52m/3 “Kaleva”, registered OH-ALL was carrying 7 passengers and 2 crew. There were no survivors.
The aircraft took off from Ülemiste Airport Tallinn on its return leg to Helsinki-Malmi Airport. Soviet aircraft activity in the region was high due to an imminent invasion of Estonia by Russian Forces. A few minutes after taking off in Tallinn, Kaleva was joined at close range by two Soviet DB-3T torpedo bombers. The bombers opened fire with their machine guns and badly damaged Kaleva, making it crash into the water a few kilometers northeast of Keri Lighthouse. All nine passengers and crew members on board were killed.
The attack and crash was witnesses by Estonian fisherman. The Soviet submarine Shch-301 (Щ-301) was seen to surface shortly after the attack, presumably to inspect the wreckage. After confiscating items taken from the wreck by the fishermen, the submarine crew removed the diplomatic mail from the wreck. Ilmari Juutilainen the future top-scoring Finnish fighter ace of all time was despatched to inspect the crash site. Once the Soviet crew had spotted the Finnish aircraft, the Soviet naval ensign was hidden.
Speculation surrounds the reason for shooting down of a civilian aircraft. At the time of the incident, Finland was not at war with the Soviet Union. The assumption is that the attack was probably part of the Soviet preparations for the full-scale invasion and subsequent occupation of Etonia which took place two days after the Kaleva incident on 16th the June 1940.
The attack was probably part of the Soviet preparations for the full-scale occupation of Estonia, which took place two days after the Kaleva incident, on 16 June 1940. The occupation was preceded for several days by a Soviet air and naval blockade, which included preventing diplomatic mail from being sent abroad from Estonia.
The plane was piloted by Captain Bo von Willebrand, and Tauno Launis was the wireless operator. The American victim was Henry W. Antheil, Jr., younger brother of noted composer George Antheil. Antheil worked as a clerk at the U.S. Legation in Helsinki. In 2007, he was honored for his service in a ceremony at the U.S. Department of State. His name was inscribed on the U.S. Department of State’s Wall of Honor.
The Government of Finland did not send any complaints or questions to the Soviets out of fear of hostile Soviet response, and the true reason for the crash was hidden from the public. This was due to the heavy pressure put upon Finland during the Interim Peace by the Soviets. After the outbreak of the Continuation War, the incident was described in detail by the government.
G. Golderg’s report
The commander of Shch-301 G. Golderg’s report on the incident held in the Russian State Naval Archives starts with the notice of a Finnish airplane on its way from Tallinn to Helsinki on June 14, 1940 at 15.05 PM. According to the report, the airplane was chased by two Soviet Tupolev SB high-speed bombers. At 15.06 PM, the Finnish airplane caught fire and fell into the sea, 5.8 miles from the submarine. At 15.09 PM the submarine took course to the crash site and made it to the location by 15.47 PM. The submarine was met by 3 Estonian fishing boats near the detritus of the airplane. The Estonian fishermen were searched by lieutenants Aladzhanov, Krainov and Shevtshenko. All valuables found from the fishermen and in the sea were brought on board of the submarine: the items included about 100 kg. Of diplomatic post, valuables and foreign currencies. At 15.58 a Finnish fighter plane was noticed with the course towards the submarine. The airplane made 3 circles above the site and then flew towards Helsinki. The exact coordinates of the crash site were determined to be at
A. Matvejev’s report
Captain A. Matvejev’s report states that on board the Shch-301 noticed an airplane crash on June 14, 1940 at 15.06 on 5.8 miles distance from the submarine. At the crash site 3 Estonian fishing boats and the remains of the airplane were found. At 15.58 PM a Finnish fighter plane flown by Winter War ace Ilmari Juutilainen, made 3 circles above the crash site. By 16.10 PM all items found from the sea and from the hands of the fishermen were brought on board the submarine. The items included about 100 kg of diplomatic mail, and valuables and currencies including: 1) 2 golden medals, 2) 2000 Finnish marks, 3) 10.000 Romanian leus, 4)13.500 French francs, 5) 100 Yugoslav dinars, 6) 90 Italian liras, 7) 75 US dollars, 8) 521 Soviet rubles, 9) 10 Estonian kroons. All items were put on board of patrol boat “Sneg” and sent to Kronstadt.
In response to the attack, Aero Junkers Ju-52m/3 “Sampo” was re-painted in neutral markings with the identification of “Finnland” in large letters on her fuselage and Finnish national flags on her wings to enable Soviet and later German aircraft to recognize civilian aircraft.
The kit is a re-release of Eduard’s 2003 release with the addition of enhanced decals and canopy mask re-boxed in Eduard’s ‘Super 44’ series. The kit consists of three injection moulded in a crisp tan finish. The transparencies are clear and opaque and the transparencies are in good register. Overall, the kit looks like a good quality product.
The kit is injection moulded in a crisp tan finish. The first sprue contains the fuselage halves, interestingly there is the addition of skis which would suggest a ski-equiped version in the future.
Eduard have solved the problem experienced with Junkers 52’s from other manufactures by providing the fuselage parts in three sections. This eliminates the traditional problem of joining two fuselage halves, which could present the potential problem of filling and sanding the corrugated detail that is an important feature of this aircraft.
The second sprue consists of the lower wing section. This item is superbly detailed. This sprue also contains the rudder assembly, tailfin, engine, motor, propellors and exhausts.
The clear sprue contains the cockpit canopy and windows for the cabin area. Masks are provided, which can be quite fiddly, however with patience the result is satisfactory.
Kuivalinen (www.kuivalinen.biz) of Helsinki offers three decals options for the 1/144 Ju 52/3m. The first example is: Ju 52 OH-ALK “SAMPO” late 1939, the second is Ju 52 OH-ALL “Kaleva” 1939 and the third example is Ju 52 OH-LAK 1942. The decals are excellent quality as are the full-colour instructions.
This is a superior quality kit. With the addition of Eduard’s after-market cockpit and cabin dress-up kit, this could be a show stopper. Highly recommended.
- Green, William. Warplanes of the Third Reich. New York: Doubleday, 1972.
- Jane, Fred T. “The Junkers Ju 52/3m.” Jane’s Fighting Aircraft of World War II. London: Studio, 1946.
- Smith, J. R. and Antony L. Kay. German Aircraft of the Second World War. London: Putnam, 1972.
- The Junkers Ju 52: The Luftwaffe’s Workhorse (Luftwaffe at War) by Morten Jessen (15 Oct 2002).
- Junkers Ju 52 in action – Aircraft No. 186 by Hans-Heiri Stapfer, Hans-Joachim Mau and George Punka (2002).