Osprey's Ju-52/3m Bomber and Transport Units 1936-41


Robert Forsyth


Osprey Publishing


$23.00 MSRP


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 96 pages, 7¼ x 9¼ inches, softbound
ISBN: 978-1-4728-1880-5

Few will argue that during the 1920s and 1930s, much of the western world was air-minded. By this, I mean that aviation was the 'thing' and feats of flyers drew the imagination of the public. The Great Depression only focused attention on aircraft as they were exotic and took people's mind away from economic troubles. As always, economic downturns rarely affect the wealthy and it was in this climate that air travel began to truly flourish.

Germany was arguably one of the most aviation friendly parts of the world and with sanctions placed upon its military aviation, it focused on civil aviation. One would have to be blind to the fact that several commercial designs had definite military possibilities, however, that was not quite so readily apparent until the rise of Hitler in 1933. 

The most prolific and successful civil airplane builder of this time was Junkers. During the closing months of WWI, he had developed a corrugated stressed skin aircraft that was not only successful, but also quite strong. This became a trademark of his aircraft and his company produced a line of quite popular civil types, including the F-13, a small single engine airliner and cargo plane that saw tremendous sales for the time. Based on that success, he developed an even larger aircraft, the Ju-52. Still single engined, it did not prove to be as popular as the earlier F-13.

Perhaps it was the climate of the time. With its first flight in 1931, it came right at the worst part of the Depression and few were able to afford this large aircraft. There was also some concern about one engine not being sufficient for the loads it was stressed to carry. Only a few were built until it was discovered that adding two more engines did not cause all that much more drag and greatly improved the carrying capabilities of the aircraft. This was the start of its success as the German air line, Luft Hansa purchased them in quite large numbers, as did the air lines of several other nations.

Once Hitler rose to power and started Germany's military build up, the Ju-52 was not only chosen for the standard transport, but also as a make-shift bomber. The aircraft was militarized as a bomber and used in this capacity with considerable success during the Spanish Civil War and even the early days of WWII. However, it was its transport role where the aircraft had its greatest success.

In this book, the author covers the development and operational use of the Ju-52 during the war in Spain as well as the early use in Poland, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands and the Greek campaign (save for the Crete operation). It covers the time period to just before the invasion of the Soviet Union and one assumes that there will be a second volume to cover that as well as North Africa and the rest of the war.

The book is full of great stories, rather detailed operations in the venues mentioned as well as being full of superb photos and 30 large color profiles. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one and learned quite a bit about the aircraft and its use. I know you will find it equally as informative and a great read. Highly recommended.

May 2017

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