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Ju 46
Role Mail plane
Manufacturer Junkers
Designed by Zindel & Pohlmann[1]
First flight March 1932
Introduced April 1932
Primary user Lufthansa
Number built 5

Junkers Ju 46 was a German shipborne catapult-launched seaplane derivative of the W 34, constructed for Lufthansa's mail service over the Atlantic ocean. The first production models were delivered in 1932 and replaced the Heinkel He 58, which, along with the He 12, had pioneered these ship-to-shore mail delivery flights.


Design and development

The Ju 46 was a strengthened version of the Junkers W 34, modified for catapult launches. It was externally essentially identical to the W 33 apart from a revised vertical tail. Compared to the W 34, this carried a broader-chord rudder with a more rounded trailing edge and a noticeably squared-off top. This revision improved control of the aircraft during the low-speed launch. The ship to shore aircraft were all seaplanes (floatplanes), though some Ju 46 were used with a fixed wheeled undercarriage and tail-skid at times in their careers. The aircraft was equipped with a 441 kW (591 hp) BMW-C radial engine. A total of five aircraft were supplied, according to rebuilt civil registers[2], though other sources claim four [3]. They were later equipped with more powerful BMW-E engines.

Operational history

The aircraft was used in the postal link service across the Atlantic Ocean and the aircraft were based on board the steamers SS Bremen and Europa, which had been fitted with compressed air-driven catapults for this purpose. These catapults allowed the 3,200 kg (7,050 lb) aircraft to take off in a distance of 20 m (65 ft) and a speed of 110 km/h (70 mph). The launch of these aircraft, painted bright red for easy spotting by rescue planes in case of emergency landings at sea, was always a special experience for the passengers of the steamers. They were launched as the ship approached the port with the coast about 1,200 km (750 mi) distance, landing their mail some 24 hours ahead of the mother ship's docking[4]. On Westbound crossings, they flew to New York: Eastbound to Southampton, where they refuelled and went on to Bremen. These activities were limited by weather to the Summer months, beginning in April 1932.

Each aircraft was associated with its ship and bore its name. The first Bremen and Europa were both Ju 46fi seaplane variants and went into use in 1932. Two (or three) more, Ju 46hi variants, joined them in mid-1933, one having started life as a landplane.

At the end of their Lufthansa service two of the Ju 46s flew with the Brazilian airline Syndicato Condor.


  • Syndicato Condor

Specifications (Seaplane)

Data from [5]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 11.06 m (36 ft 3.5 in)
  • Wingspan: 17.8 m (58 ft 5 in)
  • Height: 3.90 m (12 ft 9.5 in)
  • Wing area: 46.0 m² (495 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 1,980 kg (4,365 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 3,200 kg (7,054 lb)
  • Powerplant:BMW 132E 9-cylinder single-row radial engine, 485 kW (650 hp)


See also

Comparable aircraft

Related lists




  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Turner, P. St.J and Nowarra, H Junkers an aircraft album no.3. (1971).New York: Arco Publishing Inc. ISBN 0-688-02506-9
  4. ^
  5. ^ Turner, P. St.J and Nowarra, H Junkers an aircraft album no.3. (1971).New York: Arco Publishing Inc. ISBN 0-688-02506-9



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