Junkers Ju 52

The Junkers Ju 52/3m (nicknamed Tante Ju ("Aunt Ju") and Iron Annie) is a German transport aircraft manufactured from 1931 to 1952, initially designed with a single engine but subsequently produced as a trimotor. It had both civilian and military service during the 1930s and 1940s. In a civilian role, it flew with over 12 airlines including Swissair and Deutsche Luft Hansa as both a passenger carrier and a freight hauler. In a military role, it flew with the Luftwaffe as a troop and cargo transport and briefly as a medium bomber. The Ju 52 continued in postwar service with military and civilian air fleets well into the 1980s. The aircraft has continued to be used well beyond that date for purposes such as sightseeing.

Ju 52
JU Air Junkers Ju 52/3m HB/HOS in flight over Austria (July 2013)
Role Transport aircraft, medium bomber, airliner
Manufacturer Junkers
Designer Ernst Zindel
First flight 13 October 1930 (Ju 52/1m); 7 March 1932 (Ju 52/3m)
Status In limited use
Primary users Luftwaffe
Luft Hansa
Spanish Air Force
Produced 1931–1945 (Germany)
1945–1947 (France)
1945–1952 (Spain)
Number built 4,845

Design and development

The Ju 52 was similar to the company's previous Junkers W 33, although larger. In 1930, Ernst Zindel and his team designed the Ju 52 at the Junkers works at Dessau. The aircraft's unusual corrugated duralumin metal skin, pioneered by Junkers during World War I, strengthened the whole structure.

The Ju 52 had a low cantilever wing, the midsection of which was built into the fuselage, forming its underside.[1] It was formed around four pairs of circular cross-section duralumin spars with a corrugated surface that provided torsional stiffening. A narrow control surface, with its outer section functioning as the aileron, and the inner section functioning as a flap, ran along the whole trailing edge of each wing panel, well separated from it. The inner flap section lowered the stalling speed and the arrangement became known as the Doppelflügel, or "double wing".[2]

The outer sections of this operated differentially as ailerons, projecting slightly beyond the wingtips with control horns. The strutted horizontal stabilizer carried horn-balanced elevators which again projected and showed a significant gap between them and the stabilizer, which was adjustable in-flight. All stabilizer surfaces were corrugated.

The fuselage was of rectangular section with a domed decking, all covered with corrugated light alloy. A port-side passenger door was placed just aft of the wings, with windows stretching forward to the pilots' cockpit. The main undercarriage was fixed and divided; some aircraft had wheel fairings, others did not. A fixed tailskid, or a later tailwheel, was used. Some aircraft were fitted with floats or skis instead of the main wheels.

In its original configuration, designated the Ju 52/1m, the Ju 52 was a single-engined aircraft, powered by either a BMW IV or Junkers liquid-cooled V-12 engine. However, the single-engined model was underpowered, and after seven prototypes had been completed, all subsequent Ju 52s were built with three radial engines as the Ju 52/3m (drei motoren—"three engines"). Originally powered by three Pratt & Whitney R-1690 Hornet radial engines, later production models mainly received 574 kW (770 hp) BMW 132 engines, a licence-built refinement of the Pratt & Whitney design. Export models were also built with 447 kW (600 hp) Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp and 578 kW (775 hp) Bristol Pegasus VI engines. The two wing-mounted radial engines of the Ju 52/3m had half-chord cowlings and in planform view (from above/below) appeared to be splayed outwards, being mounted at an almost perpendicular angle to the tapered wing's sweptback leading edge (in a similar fashion to the Mitsubishi G3M bomber and Short Sunderland; the angled engines on the Ju 52 were intended to make maintaining straight flight easier should an engine fail, while the others had different reasons). The three engines had either Townend ring or NACA cowlings to reduce drag from the engine cylinders, although a mixture of the two was most common (as can be seen in many of the accompanying photographs), with deeper-chord NACA cowlings on the wing engines and a narrow Townend ring on the center engine (onto which a deeper NACA cowl was more difficult to fit, due to the widening fuselage behind the engine). Production Ju 52/3m aircraft flown by Deutsche Luft Hansa before World War II, as well as Luftwaffe-flown Ju 52s flown during the war, usually used an air-start system to turn over their trio of radial engines, using a common compressed-air supply that also operated the main wheels' brakes.

Operational history

Prewar civil use

In 1932, James A. Richardson's Canadian Airways received (Werknummer 4006) CF-ARM, the sixth-built Ju 52/1m. The aircraft, first refitted with an Armstrong Siddeley Leopard radial engine and then later with a Rolls-Royce Buzzard and nicknamed the "Flying Boxcar" in Canada,[3][4] could lift about 3 tons and had a maximum weight of 7 tonnes (8 tons). It was used to supply mining and other operations in remote areas with equipment too big and heavy for other aircraft then in use. The Ju 52/1m was able to land on wheels, skis, or floats (as were all Ju 52 variants).[5]

Before the Nazi government seized control of Junkers in 1935, the Ju 52/3m was produced principally as a 17-seat airliner. It was used mainly by Luft Hansa and could fly from Berlin to Rome in 8 hours. The Luft Hansa fleet eventually numbered 80 and flew from Germany on routes in Europe, Asia, and South America.

Military use 1932–1945

The Colombian Air Force used three Ju 52/3mde bombers equipped as floatplanes during the Colombia-Peru War in 1932–1933. After the war, the air force acquired three other Ju 52mge as transports; the type remained in service until after World War II.

Bolivia acquired four Ju 52s in the course of the Chaco War (1932–1935), mainly for medical evacuation and air supply. During the conflict, the Ju 52s alone transported more than 4,400 tons of cargo to the front.[6]

In 1934, Junkers received orders to produce a bomber version of the Ju 52/3m to serve as interim equipment for the bomber units of the still-secret Luftwaffe until it could be replaced by the purpose-designed Dornier Do 11.[7] Two bomb bays were fitted, capable of holding up to 1,500 kg (3,300 lb) of bombs, while defensive armament consisted of two 7.92 mm MG 15 machine guns, one in an open dorsal position, and one in a retractable "dustbin" ventral position, which could be manually winched down from the fuselage to protect the aircraft from attacks from below. The bomber could be easily converted to serve in the transport role.[8] The Dornier Do 11 was a failure, however, and the Junkers ended up being acquired in much larger numbers than at first expected, with the type being the Luftwaffe's main bomber until more modern aircraft such as the Heinkel He 111, Junkers Ju 86 and Dornier Do 17 entered into service.[9][10]

The Ju 52 first was used in military service in the Spanish Civil War against the Spanish Republic. It was one of the first aircraft delivered to the faction of the army in revolt in July 1936, as both a bomber and transport. In the former role, it participated in the bombing of Guernica. No more of the bomber variants were built after this war, though it was again used as a bomber during the bombing of Warsaw[11] during the invasion of Poland in September 1939. The Luftwaffe then relied on the Ju 52 for transport roles during World War II, including paratroop drops.

World War II

In service with Lufthansa, the Ju 52 had proved to be an extremely reliable passenger airplane. Therefore, it was adopted by the Luftwaffe as a standard aircraft model. In 1938, the 7th Air Division had five air transport groups with 250 Ju 52s. The Luftwaffe had 552 Ju 52s at the start of World War II. Though it was built in great numbers, the Ju 52 was technically obsolete. Between 1939 and 1944, 2,804 Ju 52s were delivered to the Luftwaffe (1939: 145; 1940: 388; 1941: 502; 1942: 503; 1943: 887; and 1944: 379). The production of Ju 52s continued until around the summer of 1944; when the war came to an end, 100 to 200 were still available.

The Ju 52 could carry 18 fully equipped soldiers, or 12 stretchers when used as an air ambulance. Transported material was loaded and unloaded through side doors by means of a ramp. Air-dropped supplies were jettisoned through two double chutes; supply containers were dropped by parachute through the bomb-bay doors, and paratroopers jumped through the side doors. Sd.Kfz. 2 Kettenkrafträder (half-track motorcycles) and supply canisters for parachute troops were secured under the fuselage at the bomb bay exits and were dropped with four parachutes. A tow coupling was built into the tail-skid for use in towing freight gliders. The Ju 52 could tow up to two DFS 230 gliders.

Lightly armed, and with a top speed of only 265 km/h (165 mph) – half that of a contemporary Hurricane – the Ju 52 was very vulnerable to fighter attack, and an escort was always necessary when flying in a combat zone. Many Ju 52's were shot down by antiaircraft guns and fighters while transporting supplies, most notably during the desperate attempt to resupply the trapped German Sixth Army during the final stages of the Battle of Stalingrad in the winter of 1942–1943.

From November 24, 1942 to January 31, 1943, 488 aircraft were lost (this number included 266 Ju 52, 165 He 111, 42 Ju 86, 9 Fw 200, 5 He 177 and 1 Ju 290) and about 1,000 flight personnel [12]

Denmark and Norway campaign

The first major operation for the aircraft after the bombing of Warsaw was in Operation Weserübung, the attack on Denmark and Norway on 9 April 1940. Fifty-two Ju 52s from 1. and 8. Staffel in Kampfgeschwader 1 transported a company of Fallschirmjäger (paratroopers) and a battalion of infantry to the northern part of Jutland, and captured the airfield at Aalborg, vital to support the operation in southern Norway. Several hundred Ju 52s were also used to transport troops to Norway in the first days of this campaign.

The seaplane version, equipped with two large floats, served during the Norwegian campaign in 1940, and later in the Mediterranean theatre. Some Ju 52's, both floatplanes and landplanes, were also used as minesweepers, known as Minensuch — literally, "mine-search" aircraft in German — and fitted with a 14 m (46 ft) diameter current-carrying degaussing ring under the airframe to create a magnetic field that triggered submerged naval mines. These aircraft were usually given an -"MS" suffix to designate them, as had been done with the similarly equipped Bv 138 MS trimotor flying boat.[13]

Netherlands campaign

The Ju 52 transport aircraft participated in the attack on the Netherlands on 10 May 1940, where they were deployed in the first large-scale air attack with paratroops in history during the Battle for The Hague. Many aircraft where shot down by Dutch AA-fire; a total of 125 Ju 52s were lost and 47 damaged, a very costly defeat in the opening days for the Luftwaffe[14]

Later, these aircraft were deployed at airfields in the Lyon, Lille, and Arras areas in August 1940.[15]

Balkans campaign

The next major use of the Ju 52 was in the Balkans campaign, most famously in the Battle of Crete in May 1941.

North Africa campaign

During the North African campaign, the Ju 52 was the mainstay reinforcement and resupply transport for the Germans, starting with 20 to 50 flights a day to Tunisia from Sicily in November 1942, building to 150 landings a day in early April as the Axis situation became more desperate. The Allied air forces developed a counter-air operation over a two-month period and implemented Operation Flax on 5 April 1943, destroying 11 Ju 52s in the air near Cap Bon and many more during bombing attacks on its Sicilian airfields, leaving only 29 flyable.[16] That began two catastrophic weeks in which more than 140 were lost in air interceptions,[17] culminating on 18 April with the "Palm Sunday Massacre" in which 24 Ju 52s were shot down, and another 35 staggered back to Sicily and crash-landed.[18]

Hitler's personal transport

Hitler used a Deutsche Luft Hansa Ju 52 for campaigning in the 1932 German election, preferring flying to train travel. After he became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, Hans Baur became his personal pilot, and Hitler was provided with a personal Ju 52. Named Immelmann II after the World War I ace Max Immelmann, it carried the registration D-2600.[19] As his power and importance grew, Hitler's personal air force grew to nearly 50 aircraft, based at Berlin Tempelhof Airport and made up mainly of Ju 52s, which also flew other members of his cabinet and war staff. In September 1939 at Baur's suggestion, Immelmann II was replaced by a four-engine Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor, although Immelman II remained his backup aircraft for the rest of World War II.

Chiang Kai-shek's personal transport

Eurasia was the main Chinese Airliner Company in the 1930s and the Ju-52 was their main airliner plane. One of them was commandeered by the Chinese Nationalist Party government and became Chiang Kai-shek's personal transport.

Postwar use

Various Junkers Ju 52s continued in military and civilian use following World War II. In 1956, the Portuguese Air Force, which was already using the Ju 52s as a transport plane, employed the type as a paratroop drop aircraft for its newly organized elite parachute forces, later known as the Batalhão de Caçadores Páraquedistas. The paratroopers used the Ju 52 in several combat operations in Angola and other Portuguese African colonies before gradually phasing it out of service in the 1960s.[21]

The Swiss Air Force also operated the Ju 52 from 1939 to 1982, when three aircraft remained in operation, probably the last and longest service in any air force.[22] Museums hoped to obtain the aircraft, but they were not for sale.[23] They are still in flying condition and together with a CASA 352 can be booked for sightseeing tours with Ju-Air.[24] During the 1950s, the Ju 52 was also used by the French Air Force during the First Indochina War as a bomber. The use of these Junkers was quite limited.[25]

The Spanish Air Force operated the Ju 52, nicknamed Pava, until well into the 1970s. Escuadrón 721, flying the Spanish-built versions, was employed in training parachutists from Alcantarilla Air Base near Murcia.[26]

Some military Ju 52s were converted to civilian use. For example, British European Airways operated 11 ex-Luftwaffe Ju 52/3mg8e machines, taken over by the RAF, between 1946 and retirement in 1947 on intra-U.K. routes before the Douglas DC-3 was introduced to the airline.[2] French airlines such as Societe de Transports Aeriens (STA) and Air France flew Toucans in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

In the USSR, captured Ju 52s were allocated to the Civil Air Fleet, being found particularly suitable for transporting sulphur from the Karakum Desert.[27] Various Soviet agencies used the Ju 52 through to 1950.

A Ju 52 and a Douglas DC-3 were the last aircraft to take off from Berlin Tempelhof Airport before all operations ceased there on 30 October 2008.[28]

Other versions

Most Ju 52s were destroyed after the war, but 585 were built after 1945. In France, the machine had been manufactured during the war by the Junkers-controlled Avions Amiot company, and production continued afterwards as the Amiot AAC 1 Toucan. In Spain, Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA continued production as the CASA 352 and 352L. Four CASA 352s are airworthy and in regular use today.

A CASA-built Ju52/3m appears in the opening sequence and finale of the 1968 Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood film Where Eagles Dare.


Data from Junkers Aircraft & Engines 1913–1945[29]

Civil variants

Ju 52
Prototype of the single-engined transport aircraft, of twelve laid down only six were completed as single-engined aircraft. First flight: 3 September 1930, powered by a BMW VIIaU engine.[30][31]
Ju 52/1mba
The prototype Ju 52, (c/n 4001, regn D-1974), redesignated after being re-engined with a single Junkers L88 engine
Ju 52/1mbe
Aircraft powered by BMW VIIaU
Ju 52/1mbi
The second prototype, (c/n 4002, regn D-2133), fitted with an 600 kW (800 hp) Armstrong Siddeley Leopard engine
Ju 52/1mca
D-1974 fitted with drag flaps and refitted with a BMW VIIaU
Ju 52/1mcai
D-2356, (c/n 4005), crashed in May 1933
Ju 52/1mce
D-USON (c/n 4003) used as a target tug. D-2317, (c/n 4004), converted to a torpedo bomber in Sweden as the K 45
Ju 52/1mci
The second prototype fitted with 11.05 m (36 ft 3 in) long stepped floats, flying from the River Elbe on 17 July 1931
Ju 52/1mdi
The second prototype after having the floats removed and undercarriage reinstated, registered as D-USUS from 1934
Ju 52/1mdo
D-1974 fitted with a Junkers Jumo 4 engine as a testbed, reregistered as D-UZYP from 1937
Ju 52/3m
Three-engined prototype, powered by three 410 kW (550 hp) Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp engines, first flight: 7 March 1932
Ju 52/3mba
VIP version for the president of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, Romanian prince Gheorghe Bibescu, powered by a 560 kW (750 hp) Hispano-Suiza 12Mb engine in the nose and two 423 kW (567 hp) Hispano-Suiza 12Nb engines (one on each wing)
Ju 52/3mce
Three-engined civil transport aircraft, powered by three Pratt & Whitney Hornet or BMW 132 engines
Ju 52/3mci
Planned version for Sweden, powered by Pratt & Whitney Wasp engines, not built
Ju 52/3mde
Seaplane version for Bolivia and Colombia, converted from Ju 52/1m
Ju 52/3mfe
Improved version, with chassis reinforcements and NACA cowlings on the outer engines, powered by three BMW 132A-3 engines
Ju 52/3mf1e
Trainer version for DVS
Ju 52/3mge
Airliner version, powered by BMW Hornet 132A engines
Ju 52/3mho
Two aircraft powered by Junkers Jumo 205C diesel engines, used only for testing
Ju 52/3mkao
Version powered by two BMW 132A and one BMW 132F or BMW 132N as a testbed
Ju 52/3ml
Powered by three 489 kW (656 hp) Pratt & Whitney R-1690-S1EG engines
Ju 52/3mlu
Airliner version for Italy, powered by Piaggio Stella X engines, later re-engined with Alfa Romeo 126RC/34 engines
Ju 52/3mmao
Similar to kao except with NACA cowling
Ju 52/3mnai
Airliner version for Sweden and Great Britain, powered by Pratt & Whitney Wasp engines
Ju 52/3mreo
Airliner version for South America, powered by BMW 132Da/Dc engines
Ju 52/3msai
Airliner version for Sweden and South America, powered by Pratt & Whitney Wasp engines
Ju 52/3mte
Airliner version, powered by three BMW 132K engines
Ju 52/3mZ5
Export version for Finland, powered by BMW 132Z-3 engines

Military variants

Ju 52/3mg3e
Improved military version, powered by three 541 kW (725 hp) BMW 132A-3 (improved version of the Pratt & Whitney R-1690 Hornet) radial engines, equipped with an improved radio and bomb-release mechanism. Later versions had a tailwheel that replaced the tailskid.
Ju 52/3mg4e
Military transport version, the tailskid was replaced by a tailwheel.
Ju 52/3mg5e
Similar to g4e, but powered by three 619 kW (830 hp) BMW 132T-2 engines, it could be fitted with interchangeable floats, skis, and wheeled landing gear.
Ju 52/3mg6e
Transport version equipped with extra radio gear and autopilot, could also be fitted with a degaussing ring
Ju 52/3mg7e
Transport version, capable of carrying 18 troops or 12 stretchers, featured autopilot and larger cargo doors
Ju 52/3mg8e
Similar to g6e, but with improved radio and direction finding gear, a few were fitted with floats.
Ju 52/3mg9e
Tropical version of g4e for service in North Africa, fitted with glider towing gear and strengthened undercarriage
Ju 52/3mg10e
Similar to g9e, but could be fitted with floats or wheels, lacked deicing equipment
Ju 52/3mg11e
Similar to g10e, but fitted with deicing equipment
Ju 52/3mg12e
Land transport version, powered by three BMW 132L engines
Ju 52/3m12e
Civilian version of Ju 52/3mg12e for Luft Hansa
Ju 52/3mg13e
No details are known.
Ju 52/3mg14e
Similar to g8e, but with improved armor, last German production version
A.A.C. 1 Toucan
Postwar French version of g11e, 415 built[32]
CASA 352
Postwar Spanish version, 106 built[32]
Spanish version with Spanish 578 kW (775 hp) ENMA Beta B-4 (license-built BMW 132) engines, 64 built[32][33]
Designation assigned to a single example operated by the United States Army Air Forces[34]
Designation used by the Czechoslovak Air Force
Designation used by the Spanish Air Force
Tp 5
Designation used by the Swedish Air Force
K 45c
A single Ju 52/1mce (c/n 4004) was delivered to the Junkers factory at Limhamn in Sweden, where it was converted to a torpedo bomber as the K 45c.


Accidents and incidents

Surviving aircraft

Airworthy aircraft

As of 2018, the two remaining Ju 52s which operated pleasure flights from Dübendorf airport in Switzerland, are grounded following corrosion found in the wreck of the JU 52 which crashed in August 2018 with the loss of 20 lives.[35] Lufthansa operates one Ju 52/3m (D-AQUI) for air shows and pleasure flights.[36]

Aircraft on display

  • Junkers Ju 52/3m (Amiot AAC.1 Toucan) is on display at the Deutsches Museum in Munich. Ex FAF 363
  • Junkers Ju 52/3m (CASA 352L, c/n 016) is on display at the Flugausstellung Leo Junior at Hermeskeil, Germany.[37]
  • Junkers Ju 52/3m (D-AZAW) is on display at the Deutsches Technikmuseum in Berlin.[38]
  • Junkers Ju 52/3m is on display at the Technikmuseum "Hugo Junkers" in Dessau, which is situated where the Junkers factory stood until 1945.[39]
  • Junkers Ju 52/3m g4e (WNr.6693) is on display at "Ju 52 Hangar" of Traditionsgemeinschaft Lufttransport Wunstorf e. V.(Air Transport Community of Tradition) near Wunstorf, Germany.[40]
  • Junkers Ju 52/3m (D-ANOY) is on display at the Visitors Park at Munich Airport.[41]
  • Junkers Ju 52/3m built in Spain in 1948 (painted as a Ju 52 that flew to Sweden with eight German refugees in 1945) is on display at Svedinos Bil- och Flygmuseum in Ugglarp, Sweden.
United Kingdom
United States

Specifications (Junkers Ju 52/3m g3e)

Data from The warplanes of the Third Reich[50]

General characteristics

  • Crew: Two
  • Capacity: 17 passengers
  • Length: 18.90 m (62 ft 0 in)
  • Wingspan: 29.248 m (95 ft 11.5 in)
  • Height: 5.550 m (18 ft 2.5 in)
  • Wing area: 110.5000 m2 (1,189.412 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 5,720 kg (12,610 lb)
  • Gross weight: 9,500 kg (20,944 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 10,499 kg (23,146 lb)
  • Powerplant: 3 × BMW 132A-3 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines, 541 kW (725 hp) each for take-off(525 PS[51])
  • Propellers: 2-bladed variable-pitch propeller


  • Maximum speed: 265.5 km/h (165.0 mph, 143.4 kn) at sea level
276.8 km/h (172.0 mph; 149.5 kn) at 910 metres (3,000 ft)
  • Cruise speed: 246 km/h (153 mph, 133 kn) maximum continuous at 910 metres (3,000 ft)
209 km/h (130 mph; 113 kn) economical cruise
  • Range: 998 km (620 mi, 539 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 5,900 m (19,360 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 3.9 m/s (770 ft/min)
  • Time to altitude: 910 metres (3,000 ft) in 17 minutes 30 seconds
  • Wing loading: 83.35 kg/m2 (17.07 lb/sq ft)
  • Power/mass: 7.95 kg/kW


See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists




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  2. Jackson 1960, p. 100.
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  27. ^ Kotelnikov, V. Stalin's Captives article in Fly Past magazine, February 2017 p.103 with ground load photo
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  51. Originally measured as 690 PS


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  • Green, William. Warplanes of the Third Reich. New York: Doubleday, 1972. ISBN 0-385-05782-2.
  • Grey, Charles Gibson and Leonard Bridgman. Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1938. London: Newton Abott, David & Charles, 1972. ISBN 0-7153-5734-4.
  • Hoffmann, Peter. Hitler's Personal Security: Protecting The Fuhrer 1921-1945. New York: Da Capo Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-30680-947-7.
  • Jackson, A.J.British Civil Aircraft 1919-59, Vol. 2. London: Putnam, 1960.
  • Jane, Fred T. "The Junkers Ju 52/3m." Jane’s Fighting Aircraft of World War II. London: Studio, 1946. ISBN 1-85170-493-0.
  • Morzik, GeneralMajor Fritz "German Air Force Air Lift Operations", USAF Historical Division, 1961
  • Smith, J. R. and Antony L. Kay. German Aircraft of the Second World War. London: Putnam, 1972. ISBN 0-85177-836-4.
  • Weal, John. Jagdgeschwader 27 'Afrika'. Oxford, UK: Osprey, 2003. ISBN 1-84176-538-4.

Further reading

  • Cicalesi, Juan Carlos; Rivas, Santiago (2009). Núñez Padin, Jorge Felix (ed.). Junkers F13 / W34 / K43 / Ju52. Serie en Argentina (in Spanish). 3. Bahía Blanca, Argentina: Fuerzas Aeronavales. ISBN 978-987-20557-7-6. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 24 August 2015.

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