Aviation of World War II
Medium Transport Aircraft
The construction of three Ju 252 prototypes began in July 1940. This was preceded by numerous studies, as a result of which Deutsche Lufthansa was supposed to have an aircraft that could replace the Ju 52 / 3m. The Ju 252 VI had little in common with its famous predecessor, with the possible exception of a three-engine layout. An important difference in the design was the rear cargo ladder with a hydraulic lift, which made it possible to transport light vehicles and drop cargo by parachute. The aircraft had three Jumo 211F engines and a pressurized cabin.
The Ju 252 VI (per D-ADCC) flew for the first time in October 1941, and V2 and V3 took off in the winter.
Despite an order for 25 aircraft from Deutsche Lufthansa, Junkers was ordered to develop a military aircraft for the Luftwaffe, whose needs were considered much more important. Therefore, the first prototype of the production aircraft Ju 252 V4 (onboard measurement UF + BP) had defensive armament.
V4 passed acceptance tests in Rechlin, after which it began to be used for special transport tasks, including the delivery of DB 606 engines for He 177 to the 40th bomber squadron. Junkers proposed replacing the Ju 52 / 3m, which consisted of armament of transport units, the new Ju 252, but the transport situation was so hopeless that it would be unwise to rebuild production. Moreover, there could be problems with the supply of strategic materials for the Ju 252.
When most of the assembly operations for the next 11 aircraft were completed, work on the Ju 252 was stopped, although the Junkers were allowed to complete what had already begun. The prototypes V5-V15, officially named Ju 252A-1, were delivered in the second half of 1942. The presence of a cargo ladder, good range and large capacity made them the most suitable for covert operations. One aircraft entered the four-engine transport squadron (later LTS 290), where it operated alongside the Ju 290, others were part of the Gartenfeldt group and performed special tasks of the Imperial Security Service, such as dropping agents in North Africa. By the time this unit was redesignated I Group of the 200th Bomber Squadron in February 1944, it still had two Ju 252s in service.
* - with loading 2000 kg
Ju 352 "Hercules"
Difficulties with raw materials for the production of an all-metal aircraft, a shortage of Jumo 211 engines forced the Junkers company in the spring of 1942 to begin developing a wooden version of the transport aircraft with BMW-Brahmo 323R-2 engines. The result was the Ju 352, which resembled the Ju 252 in appearance and had a mixed wood/metal construction. Like its predecessor, the Ju 352 had a cargo ladder with a hydraulic lift, which made it possible to quickly load bulky cargo. At the same time, vehicles were more likely to get on board with the help of a winch than to drive in on their own. Defensive armament consisted of one 20 mm MG 151 cannon on a turret behind the cockpit.
The Ju 352 VI made its first flight on October 1, 1943 from the factory airfield in Fritzlar. Soon the flight of the second prototype V2 took place, after which an order for 10 pre-production Ju 352A-0s immediately followed. Serial Ju 352A-1s began to be delivered to the Luftwaffe in February 1944, but the deterioration of the military situation in the summer led to the cessation of production of transport aircraft. A total of two prototypes were built, ten Ju 352A-0s and thirty-three Ju352A-1s.
In practice, this aircraft proved to be a worthy successor to the Ju 52 / 3m, distinguished by its high strength and reliability. The propellers with wooden blades had a thrust reverser, which was highly appreciated by the crews, as it significantly reduced landing mileage.
Ju 352s served in various transport units, performing special tasks, including the infamous I Group of the 200th bomber squadron. Most of them ended their lives in a group of large transport aircraft at Tutov, although by the end of the war only a few food delivery operations had been carried out. On April 25, 1945, 23 combat-ready aircraft remained, but most of them were destroyed when the Allied troops approached the airfield.