Junkers

Ju 52 
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Ju 88
Trop
 
Junkers Flugzeug- und Motorenwerke AG (JFM), more commonly Junkers, was a major German aircraft manufacturer. It produced some of the world's most innovative and best-known airplanes over the course of its fifty-plus year history in Dessau, Germany. It was founded there in 1895 by Hugo Junkers, initially manufacturing boilers and radiators. During World War I, and following the war, the company became famous for its pioneering all-metal aircraft. During World War II the company produced some of the most successful Luftwaffe planes, as well as piston and jet aircraft engines, albeit in the absence of its founder, who by then had been removed by the Nazis.

The history of Junkers aircraft production begins with the Junkers J 1 mid-wing monoplane (not to be confused with the later, all-metal sesquiplane ground attack aircraft J.I which had a factory designation J4). Research for this aircraft began in 1914 and was interrupted by the start of the First World War. The prototype aircraft, named the Blechesel (Tin Donkey), was completed in very late 1915 after the outbreak of the war. This aircraft is significant in that it was the first flyable aircraft to utilize an all-metal "total structural" design. Contemporary aircraft were built around wooden frames constructed in a rib-and-stringer fashion, reinforced with wires, and covered with a stretched fabric. The J 1 was a semi-monocoque design, using steel ribs and sheeting that formed both the stringers and the skin. At the time aluminium was still fairly expensive and the desirable, newest light duralumin alloy could not be worked in sheet form without damaging flaking occurring, so the J 1 was made of sheet electrical steel. It was quite heavy as a result, which translated into poor climb and maneuverability, yet its clean monoplane layout, which even featured a ventral "belly" radiator installation for its Mercedes D.II inline-six cylinder engine, had very low drag, and the J1 was one of the fastest planes of its day, reaching speeds of 170 km/h, with only a 120 hp engine for power.

Development continued during the course of World War I, including a growing (but troublesome) partnership with Fokker, as the Junkers-Fokker Aktiengesellschaft, or "Junkers-Fokker Werke", abbreviated "Jfa" by the German government of the time and founded on October 20, 1917. Several Junkers designs were licensed to Fokker during this period. The visual similarity of Junkers and Fokker aircraft during the next decade, especially after Reinhold Platz adapted some of the Junkers design concepts, but mostly crafted in wood for the Fokker designs' wing structures instead of the all-metal Junkers construction techniques, is attributable to this early affiliation. The Great War ended with German Navy trials of model J11 which was an all metal floatplane prototype.

The Nazi party came to power in Germany in 1933, and all German aviation development was shifted away from long-range civil aircraft types. Hugo Junkers himself was forced to transfer all his patents to the Nazis, who doubted that Junkers would comply with their plans. Shortly after, his holdings were expropriated and he was placed under house arrest. The company that had pioneered commercial aviation development for at least a decade was relegated to relatively small one- and two-engined military design competitions issued by the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM) the "Reich Aviation Ministry". Two exceptions to this were the legendary Ju 52 and the Ju 90.

Ju 52 development had started in 1928 as a single-engined commercial transport and evolved, initially to a two-engined, later into the classic "trimotor" design for which the Tante Ju became world famous. The Ju 52 was a bona fide commercial success, with over 400 airplanes delivered to various airlines around the world prior to the outbreak of World War II, including the countries of: Finland, Sweden, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, South Africa, Denmark, Norway, Italy, UK, Belgium, Hungary, Estonia, Greece, Spain, and of course, Germany. As a consequence of its rugged design, Spain and France resumed Ju 52 production after cessation of the Second World War.

With the introduction of the Junkers Ju 86 bomber of 1934, Junkers abandoned the corrugated sheeting of his earlier designs. The basic layout was used in the four-engine Junkers Ju 89 heavy bomber, but this program ended with the death of Walther Wever, and his Ural bomber program along with him. Junkers then adapted the Ju 89 to passenger use, introducing the Junkers Ju 90, one of the first planes specifically designed for scheduled trans-Atlantic flights to the US. Developed in 1937, the aircraft suffered multiple setbacks with crashes of prototypes in 1937 and 1938. Further refinements enabled certification in 1939 and spurred South African Airways to make an initial order for two aircraft fitted with US-built Pratt & Whitney engines. Just as the aircraft was being readied for its first commercial flights, World War II began. With the outbreak of hostilities, all models were requisitioned by the Luftwaffe for military air-transport roles, and later, long-range maritime patrol.

The Junkers company survived the Second World War and was reconstituted as Junkers GmbH and eventually merged into the MBB consortium (via joint venture Flugzeug-Union-Sued between Heinkel and Messerschmitt in 1958). Messerschmitt ended the joint venture in 1965 by acquiring control of JFM AG and absorbed within Messerschmitt in 1967.  Within West Germany, Junkers GmbH was engaged in research on the future of aerospace transportation during the fifties and early-1960s. During this period, Junkers employed the famous Austrian engineer and space travel theorist, Eugen Sänger, who in 1961 completed work for the design of an advanced orbital spacecraft at Junkers. Junkers GmbH was absorbed within MBB and the Junkers name disappeared in 1969.

Source: Wikipedia