Aeroplane: Amiot AAC.1 Toucan (Junkers Ju 52/3m g14e)
Germany / France
The Junkers Ju 52/3m is a civilian and military transport aircraft designed in Junkers works in 1932. It was a result of a construction line pioneered by the World's first all-metal monoplane, the J 1, conceived by professor Hugo Junkers in 1915. The first variant of the new aircraft was a single engine Junkers Ju 52 carrying 15 passengers. Next year work was begun to replace an unsuccessful huge Junkers L 88 engine with three smaller radial Pratt & Whitney Hornet engines. The prototype of the variant designated the Ju 52/3m (for 3 Motoren, English: three engines) was first flown in March 1932, and soon deliveries started to various air carriers in Sweden, Finland and Bolivia. Similar to its predecessors, the Ju 52/3m was a typical Junkers all-metal construction with a structure-strengthening corrugated duralumin skin and featured the Junkers-patented "Doppelflügel" (English: double wing), i.e. flaps and ailerons along the whole span of the wing, separated from the trailing edge of the wing proper. In Germany, the new aircraft got a nickname "Tante Ju" ("Auntie Ju").
The Ju 52/3m served in numerous airlines worldwide. Various engines were fitted to the airframe: Pratt & Whitney Hornet and Wasp, BMW 132, Bristol Pegasus, Alfa Romeo 126, Piaggio Stella, and the inline Hispano-Suiza 12N and the high-compression Junkers Jumo 205. From 1936 to 1939 r. LOT Polish Airlines utilized a single Ju 52/3m example registered as SP-AKX. Bolivian Ju 52/3m airliners were used in military role during the 1932–35 Chaco War between Bolivia and Paraguay. Several weeks earlier the Ju&52/3m made their debut in military transport role in Colombian service durign the so-called Leticia Incident with Peru (1932–33). In 1934 Luftwaffe ordered aircraft entered production line, subsequently equipping bomber units as the first bomber type used by the recreated German air force. The Ju&52/3m g3e variant could carry 6 250 kg bombs and was fitted with a dorsal and a ventral (in a so-called "dustbin") gunner posts armed with 7.92 mm MG 15 machine guns.
When the Spanish Civil War began on 18 July 1936, Germany backed general Franco's Nationalists. A mere week after the hostilities had started, 20 Ju 52/3m aircraft (including one Ju&52/3m Wasser floatplane) were sent to Spanish Morocco, from which an airlift was organised. 14,000 troops and 500 tons of equipment had been moved till mid-October. In August the Ju 52 of the German Legion Condor led by general Hugo Sperrle debuted as bombers. A force of three squadrons of Kampfgruppe 88 made repeated attacks on Republican port facilities and supported the Nationalists during the Battle of Madrid. By the middle of 1937 they were considered obsolete as bombers, but were still used in this and transport roles by the Germans and the Spanish Nationalists until the war's end. After the war, Spain license-manufactured 170 examples designated the CASA 352. They were powered by license-built versions of the American Wright Cyclone engine: Soviet M-25 or Spanish Elizalde B3.
During World War II the Ju 52/3m became a workhorse of the Luftwaffe, serving on all German fronts of the conflict. As a bomber it served only twice more, both cases being the bombing of Warsaw (in September 1939 and during the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising). One of the most famous operations with a prominent role played by the Ju&52/3m was the 1941 airborne invasion of Crete, with 490 examples used. Later the aircraft was used in airlift operations aimed at supporting surrounded German forces in Demyansk, Stalingrad, Kuban, Tunisia, Budapest and Breslau (Wrocław). Another variant of the Ju&52 was an aerial minesweeper fitted with a duralumin magnetic ring and an additional engine powering an electric generator. Electric current flownig throught the ring created magnetic field that could set off mines during low flight over the sea. From 1932–44 German aircraft factories manufactured 4187 examples of Ju 52 of all versions.
Various foreign aircraft factories in occupied countries were used to manufacture German aircraft. In Hungary, Manfred Weiss built 24 Ju 52/3m and the French Amiot works in Colombes (renamed Ateliers Aeronautiques de Colombes, AAC) manufactured as many as 602 examples fitted with SNECMA built BMW 132 engines. After the war, another 415 examples were manufactured, designated the AAC.1 Toucan. The French used the Toucan during colonial wars in Madagascar, Indochina and Algeria from 1947 to 1960.
The example on display was manufactured by AAC in 1946. Until 1960 it served in French Air Force. Subsequently, in became a part of a batch of 16 AAC.1 sold to Portugal in December 1960. The Portuguese Air Force used the AAC.1 code number 6 316 until 1971. In 1972 the plane was donated to the Imperial War Museum Duxford, where it underwent subsequent repairs. After the last of them it received camouflage and markings after a 4V+GH of a transport squadron 1/KGrzbV 9 which operated on the eastern front in 1942. In 2012 the AAC.1 was offered for sale and bought by the Polish Aviation Museum and in May 2013 the aircraft was transported by road to Kraków.