AA36908 Junkers Ju52, 4U+NH 2/KGzbV1 Operation Merkur, Crete 1941

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Operation Merkur was the code name given to the German invasion of Crete, in May 1941.  The use of paratroopers would be central to the success of the operation to take this Greek island and extensive use was made of the venerable old Junkers Ju-52 transport aircraft.  Much loved by the troops it carried, the Ju-52 was vulnerable to attack from both ground and air and although Crete eventually fell to German forces, it was to prove a costly operation in terms of casualties.  Ju-52 4U+NH operated during the attack on Crete, delivering German paratroopers to one of four strategic targets on the island.  Despite coming under significant defensive fire, the aircraft survived the invasion of Crete and went on to serve in North Africa.

As one of the most reliable passenger airliners of the 1930s, the Junkers Ju-52 obviously attracted the attentions of Luftwaffe commanders, as they prepared for the coming conflict in Europe.  Easy to fly, maintain and manufacture, the ‘Iron Annie’ saw extensive service with the Luftwaffe, with huge numbers of troops and their supplies transported by these graceful aircraft. Unfortunately, the Ju-52 was totally incapable of defending itself against Allied air attack and operations taking place without the protection of a fighter escort were tantamount to suicide.  Despite the destruction of many aircraft, examples of the Ju-52 can still be seen flying to this day and even though they are now over eighty years old, they are just as reliable as ever.

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