|By 1932, the German airline, Lufthansa, had sufficiently recovered from the economic woes of the 1920’s to put in service a three-engine civil transport plane, the Junkers Ju 52/3m. Based on a short-lived single engine model, the Ju 52 first flew in April 1931 and quickly became the workhorse of both the airline and the reviving Luftwaffe, with a standard passenger-carrying load of 17. During the Spanish Civil War, the Ju 52 ferried more than 10,000 Moorish troops from Morocco to Spain, as well as dropping 6000 tons of bombs.|
With three BMW engines of 725 horsepower each, the Ju 52 had a maximum speed of 171 mph and a range of 800 miles. For air defense and tactical ground support the bomber carried two 7.92 machineguns and could be fitted with a variety of bomb racks as the need arose; the plane's trademark corrugated skin produced a very solid airframe.
By the beginning of World War Two over 1,000 Ju 52’s were in service; eventually a total of 5,000 planes would fly the Nazi colors performing every imaginable mission from troop transport to mine-laying on all fronts. During the war some thirteen ‘variations on a theme’ saw improved radios, interchangeable float/ski/wheel landing gear (indicating the wide range of Luftwaffe requirements), better armor and engines, and heavier defensive armament.