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Ju 252
Role Transport
Manufacturer Junkers
First flight October 1941
Primary user Luftwaffe
Number built 15
Variants Junkers Ju 352

The Junkers Ju 252 was a cargo aircraft that made its first flight in late October 1941. The aircraft was planned as a replacement for the Junkers Ju 52/3m in commercial airline service, but only a small number were built as cargo aircraft for the Luftwaffe.

The original Ju 252 came about after talks between Junkers and Lufthansa in December 1938. Lufthansa requested a new design that would replace the Ju 52, but offer much greater loads, seating, range and performance. Junkers responded with the EF.77 design with a pressurized fuselage with seating for up to 35, making it one of the larger airliners in the world at that time. It was powered by three Junkers Jumo 211F engines, in nacelles almost identical in appearance, each complete with annular radiator, to those on Jumo 211-powered versions of the Junkers Ju 88, replacing the BMW 132 of the Ju 52, which dramatically improved performance. Compared to the Ju 52, the Ju 252 was twice as heavy (13,100 kg vs. 5,600), over 100 km/h faster (440 km/h vs. 305) and had dramatically improved range (3980 km vs. 1300) when fully loaded.

By the time the prototype was ready to fly in October 1941, the war was already in progress and the Luftwaffe took over development. Like earlier taildragger designs, the Ju 252 would normally be difficult to load when parked due to the sloping floor. Junkers pioneered a unique solution to this problem, the Trapoklappe, a hydraulically powered ventral loading ramp that lifted the plane off its tailwheel, leveling the floor and allowing oversized cargo to be loaded. Even as cargo aircraft of all nations since World War II have used nosewheel landing gear undercarriage designs, the Trapoklappe concept of a rear loading ramp, that forms the openable rear ventral panel of the fuselage of a cargo aircraft, is a ubiquitous feature of most military airlift cargo aircraft to the present day.

Although the Ju 252 was a vast improvement over the Junkers Ju 52/3m, the situation at that time did not permit any disruption of the existing production lines, and the Reich Air Ministry (RLM) was of the opinion that any replacement for the Junkers Ju 52/3m must make minimum demands on supplies of strategic materials and use powerplants not required by combat aircraft. Junkers was then instructed to investigate the possibility of redesigning the Ju 252 in order that a considerable portion of wood could be included in its structure, simultaneously replacing the Junkers Jumo 211F engine with the BMW Bramo 323R engine of which surplus stocks existed. The result was the Junkers Ju 352. Production of the Ju 252 was restricted to already completed prototypes plus those for which major assemblies had already been semi-completed, thus only 15 transports of this type were completed before production was switched to the Junkers Ju 352.

Specifications (Ju 252A)

Data from

General characteristics

  • Crew: 3-4
  • Length: 25.10 m (82 ft 4¼ in)
  • Wingspan: 34.08 m (111 ft 10⅛ in)
  • Height: 5.74 m (18 ft 10⅓ in)
  • Wing area: 122.63 m² (1,320 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 13,100 kg (28,880 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 24,000 kg (52,910 lb)
  • Powerplant: 3× Junkers Jumo 211F 12-cylinder inverted-vee engine, 1,006 kW (1,350 hp) each

Performance

Armament

References

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