Junkers Ju 352 (Herkules) Tri-Motor Utility Transport
Some fifty of the Junkers Ju 352 Herkules transports were produced during the fighting of World War 2.
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While the Junkers Ju 252 had proven itself the expected improvement over the original Ju 52 tri-motor transport, it arrived at a time when the German war effort was in full swing. Restrictions on use of war material meant that only fifteen of the Ju 252 would see the light of day as attention shifted to development of the Ju 352 "Herkules" of similar form and function - though using far less needed war material in its construction.
Design of the Ju 352 came directly from German Air Ministry authorities who understood the value of the preceding Ju 252 but not its total material commitment. Junkers was approached in early 1942 just as the Ju 252 program was picking up steam. Much of the metalworks of the Ju 252 was replaced by wood and the important Junkers Jumo 211F engines were given up for the readily available BMW Bramo 323R radial instead. The wing mainplanes were shifted further aft as the aircraft began to take on something of an all-new appearance when compared to the original Ju 252. The powered rear loading ramp featured in the Ju 252 - which leveled the aircraft fuselage by raising the rear off its tailwheel support - was retained in the Ju 352. Defensive armament would become 1 x MG 151 cannon fitted to a dorsal turret as well as 2 x MG 131 machine guns at beam positions (one unit per window).
First flight of a prototype occurred on August 18th, 1943 and ten pre-production aircraft were ordered and built. This was followed by thirty-three production-quality Ju 352A models until the German attention was off of transport types and onto fighters and more advanced jet-powered aircraft. Just fifty Ju 352s were competed in all. One was built by Letov in the post-war years for the Soviet Union and another operated with the Czech Air Force.
The Ju 352 proved better armed than the proposed Ju 252 but it lacked in performance. Maximum speed was 230 miles per hour with cruising at 150 mph. Comparatively, the Ju 252 demonstrated speeds nearing 275 miles per hour and could cruise in the 210 miles per hour range.