Monday, August 24, 2015

Lufthansa’s “Movable Monument” Tante Ju soars over Hamburg

By: John Walton in Hamburg / Published August 23, 2015

Soaring above the skies of Hamburg in a 1936 piston-driven trimotor, it’s hard to hear yourself think, but the historical enormity of the aircraft in which you are sitting is enough to break through the noise.

LH JU52 (18)“Tante Ju” (“Auntie Ju” in German) the type nickname for the Junkers Ju 52 and now the individual nickname of the tri-motor airplane belonging to Deutsche Lufthansa Berlin-Stiftung (DLBS, a foundation to restore historic aircraft), and AirwaysNews was lucky enough to be invited on board for a scenic flight over the Hanseatic city of Hamburg.


Looping over Hamburg on #AirportDays2015 in the @Lufthansa #Ju52. #avgeek heaven.

— John Walton (@thatjohn) August 22, 2015

LH JU52 (8) LH JU52 (7) LH JU52 (9) LH JU52 (10)

There’s just something immensely different about gazing through unpressurised square windows at a thrumming piston engine — the three-engined aircraft features a trio of nine-cylinder Pratt & Whitney PW1340 S1 H1G Wasp radial engines, each generating six hundred horsepower — while in the distance Airbus’ most modern aircraft are assembled at the Finkenwerder plant. And a historic flight it was, with Tante Ju fresh from being awarded the Movable Monument status by the Office of Historic Monuments of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.

LH JU52 (6)

Inside, the aircraft is as close to the original as it’s possible to get under modern regulations, with the seats designed to replicate the original short-haul configuration while also standing up to modern 16G impact standards.

The Ju 52 was designed in the early 1930s by Junkers engineer Ernst Zindel and a team in the eastern German city of Dessau, located in what is now Saxony-Anhalt, roughly between Leipzig and Berlin, some three hundred kilometres (or two hundred miles) to the southeast of Hamburg. With what now might be considered a checkered past — including bomber derivatives participating in the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War in the early 1930s and serving as Hitler’s personal air transport later in the decade — the Ju 52 is in its own way as iconic an aircraft as the Douglas DC-3, though significantly less well-known.

Takeoff in the 1936 @Lufthansa #Ju52 at @HamburgAirport. #AirportDays2015 #avgeek — John Walton (@thatjohn) August 22, 2015

Lufthansa’s Tante Ju was built in 1936 at the main Junkers factory in Dessau and entered service with the then Deutsche Luft Hansa.

After nearly two decades of service in northern Europe, the aircraft was retired from service, and spent six years in service in Ecuador between 1957 and 1963. After falling into disrepair in a corner of the airfield in Quito, a US aviation enthusiast purchased and restored the airframe to flying spec in 1969, and she became famous as “Iron Annie”. In 1984, Lufthansa bought the aircraft and refurbished her.

LH JU52 (13)Tante Ju now makes up one of the three flying aircraft of the DLBS foundation’s fleet, alongside a Messerschmitt Me 108 B-1 Taifun, and a Dornier Do 27 B-3. DLBS is also working to restore a Lockheed L1649A Starliner (the final model in the Constellation line), an Arado Ar 79 B trainer, and the world’s sole surviving Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor, which was the first land-based passenger plane to fly nonstop Berlin-New York in 1938.

Tickets for Tante Ju are fairly widely available with a bit of planning, starting at €219 for a thirty-minute roundtrip flight, although ferry flights between display locations are less expensive. Our ticket was provided by Lufthansa, but we’d gladly pay for a chance to visit with Tante Ju again.

jwJohn Waltonan international journalist, specializes in cabin interiors, seating, connectivity, and premium class service. A keen analyst of how developing tools can be applied to aviation news, John is at the forefront of social media in the aviation sector, When not at the keyboard, John lives out of a suitcase, and adds languages to his “I speak this enough to get by while traveling” collection. John welcomes email from readers and industry insiders to, and discussion on Twitter: he’s @thatjohn.

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