Junkers Ju 52 'Alte Tante Ju'

The Junkers Ju 52 (nicknamed Tante Ju - "Auntie Ju" - and "Iron Annie") was a transport aircraft and bomber manufactured 1932 – 1945 by Junkers. It saw both civilian and military service during the 1930s and 1940s.

This aircraft was built by CASA at its plant in Getafe, Spain, and was one of approximately 170 Spanish built aircraft. It was assigned serial # T2B 176. The actual date of construction is unknown because of several different dates on data plates. One is 1950, and another is 1954. It was overhauled in 1971-1972. Flying in the Spanish Air Force, it had accumulated only 1500 hours.

On 21 November 1976 the CAF had an ad in the DISPATCH magazine that the Spanish Air Force had a CASA 352L for sale for $16,500. Colonel Dick Rauch, of the Chicago based SoLaMich Wing spearheaded the fundraiser to obtain the aircraft.

In 1979 the aircraft left Spain and was ferried to Biggin Hill, England, where the CAF Eagle Squadron installed the auxiliary fuel tanks, oil tank, and the LF radios. Winter weather had set in over the North Atlantic, so the flight was postponed. On 9 July 1980 the 8000 mile flight to Harlingen, TX was begun with ferry pilots Rob Diver and Simon Massey at the controls. The route was to Prestwick, Scotland; Reykjavick, Iceland; Sonderstrom, Greenland; Frobisher Bay, Baffin Island (Fined $50 for dripping excessive oil on the ramp); Baie-Comeau, Quebec; Bangor, ME (landed during an airshow); Hartford, CN; Bowling Green, OH; Chicago, IL, (Midway Airport); Offut AFB, NE; Denver, CO; Amarillo, San Antonio, and then Harlingen, TX.

Initially, the Colorado Wing and the SoLaMich Wing carried out restoration, maintenance, and flying. In 1982 the aircraft was assigned to the SoLaMich Wing. The aircraft was then stripped and repainted. With permission of the General Staff the aircraft was repainted as a Ju 52 of the 7th Staffel KGzbV1. (1st Bomber Wing of Special Operations.) After further research the identifier 1Z+AR and the markings for the invasion of Crete on 21 May 1941 were added. Lieutenant Franz Lankenau, who had flown the aircraft in these markings on approximately 250 missions, including Poland, Norway, Netherlands, France, Greece, Crete, and Russia, gave this information to us. Lankenau also gave us the pictures of the coats of arms on the nose nacelle, Brandenburg for the city where the Staffel was first based, and Hapsburg for their commanding officer. In 1990 at an airshow in Geneseo, New York, Franz Lankenau was visiting his son in the USA and showed up at the airshow. At this time he was 81 years old and was still flying small aircraft in Germany. Words cannot describe the emotions of all present when he was again in the cockpit of our airplane in his markings.

In 1982 the Wing located two engines and two props in the Western Canadian Aircraft Museum, and purchased them. Using these engines and our own three, we used the best parts to overhaul all three engines on the aircraft. Brass valve guides were replaced with phosphor bronze, all cylinders were nitrided, bearings replaced, and magnetos replaced with American Bosch. All props were also overhauled and a new avionics package with dual Navcoms, ADF, DME, HS/CDI Loran and Audio panel were installed.

"Alte Tante Ju" became well known throughout the country making approximately 20 airshows per year. We had our normal maintenance problems until our last tour on the Northeast coast in 1990 when we returned to our home in Gary, IN and the aircraft was grounded due to engine problems. During this period of time, the SoLaMich and Great Lakes Wing merged.

It flew again on 30 May 1998 after a restoration that included converting to geared P&W 1340 engines, 3 blade constant speed props, complete rewiring and circuit breaker panels, and new control and instrument panel.
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