Nicknamed Tante Ju, or "Auntie Ju," the Junkers Ju 52/3m was a successful European airliner. Designed for Deutsche Luft Hansa in 1932, the Ju 52/3m was a tri-motor version of the single-engine Ju-52. It could carry 17 passengers or 3 tons of freight and had good short-field performance. By the mid-1930s, airlines throughout Europe and Latin America were flying them. In World War II, they were the Luftwaffe's primary transports, and some served as bombers.
A total of 4,835 Ju 52/3ms were built, including 170 under license by Construcciones Aeronauticas (CASA) in Spain and more than 400 by Ateliers Aeronautiques de Colombes in France. This airplane is a Spanish-built CASA 352-L. Lufthansa German Airlines acquired it for promotional flights, then donated it to the Smithsonian in 1987.
Junkers engineer Ernst Zindel designed the Junkers Ju 52, which made its first flight on 11 September 1930. The single-engine aircraft hauled freight that ground crews could load using large doors and a hatch in the roof. In the winter of 1931, in Montreal, Canada, a Ju 52 took off carrying almost four tons but the world's depressed economy handicapped sales, and only seven Ju 52s were built.
To continue to compete with newer transport aircraft, Zindel added two more 525 hp BMW (Pratt & Whitney-licensed) Hornet engines in 1932. The tri-motor received a new designation, Junkers Ju 52/3m. The extra power allowed the airplane to carry up to 17 passengers, or about three tons of freight, to cruise at about 150 mph, and to take off and land on small airfields.
The German flag air carrier, Deutsche Luft Hansa (Lufthansa), operated more than 200. Airlines and cargo carriers in South America, China, and South Africa also flew the Ju 52/3m. Eventually Junkers built 4,835 Ju 52/3m aircraft and the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) accepted 2,804 and used them in varied roles such as troop carrier, bomber, and ambulance. France under the Vichy Government built the Ju 53/3m during the war. Spain built the transport (designated CASA 352/3m) during and after the war until 1952. The last Ju 52/3m making scheduled passenger flights in New Guinea stopped flying during the late 1960s.
In 1987, Lufthansa donated a Junkers-Ju 52/3m to the National Air and Space Museum following a complete restoration. The Spanish firm of CASA had built the airplane in 1951. Fairoaks Aviation in England bought it in the mid-1970s and it appeared in several films.