Hawkinge museum receives Spanish Ju 52/3m — and reveals new colours

Ex-RAF Museum CASA 352 moved from Cosford
The fuselage of CASA 352 T.2B-272 being unloaded at Hawkinge on 19 November, with Kent Battle of Britain Museum Trust chairman Dave Brocklehurst in the cockpit.
The fuselage of CASA 352 T.2B-272 being unloaded at Hawkinge on 19 November, with Kent Battle of Britain Museum Trust chairman Dave Brocklehurst in the cockpit. VIA DAVE BROCKLEHURST

The Kent Battle of Britain Museum at Hawkinge, near Folkestone, took delivery of a CASA 352, the Spanish-built version of the Junkers Ju 52/3m, on 19 November from the RAF Museum Midlands at Cosford. The tri-motor transport joins an example of the CASA 2.111B, the Merlin-engined, Spanish-built version of the Heinkel He 111, which was gifted to the Hawkinge museum by the Imperial War Museums in October 2019.

Dave Brocklehurst MBE, chairman of the Kent Battle of Britain Museum Trust said, “We are extremely grateful to the RAF Museum that they have transferred this beautiful aircraft to Hawkinge. Following their due diligence and bidding process, we were deemed the most appropriate location for the machine.

“Now it has arrived, the volunteers have already started to scotch the existing paintwork in preparation for a high-spec automotive paint to be applied. The scheme will represent an aircraft that would have been used if Operation ‘Sea Lion’ had taken place. Internally, as with the [CASA 2.111], it will be thoroughly treated with preservative (ACF 50) to protect and inhibit it from further corrosion or deterioration. This is carried out annually with the Heinkel and our Bristol Blenheim IV (Bolingbroke) project and, as anyone who has already visited has seen, this is working extremely well. From the 2023 season onwards the interior of the CASA 352 fuselage will be turned into the museum’s new education facility where we can accommodate school and college groups and teach them about the Battle of Britain and the planned invasion of Great Britain during the summer of 1940.

“In the meantime the trustees are working hard to acquire 1.6 acres of allocated land adjacent to our current site, and as soon as we do we will be erecting a hangar suitable to house all these aircraft and several others that we are currently trying to acquire. This, we anticipate, will take around two to three years. If anyone is aware of any historic pre-war or World War Two hangars currently under threat of destruction, please contact me as we are hoping to secure and safeguard one or two of these for the museum’s planned expansion.”

An illustration of the Operation ‘Sea Lion’ colour scheme it is surmised would have been applied to Junkers Ju 52/3ms of transport unit 6./KGrzbV 1, had the invasion of Britain gone ahead.
An illustration of the Operation ‘Sea Lion’ colour scheme it is surmised would have been applied to Junkers Ju 52/3ms of transport unit 6./KGrzbV 1, had the invasion of Britain gone ahead. CLINT MITCHELL

Built in late 1954 by Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA (CASA) at Getafe, just south of Madrid, as the 163rd of 170 CASA 352s for the Ejército del Aire (Spanish Air Force), the machine was originally fitted with BMW 132 engines built under licence from Junkers Flugzeug- und Motorenwerke. As a 352A-1 paratroop version, with a capacity of 18 paratroopers, it was rolled out on New Year’s Eve 1954, entering service as serial T.2-272 on 18 January 1955 at the Military Parachutist School at Alcantarilla, Murcia. During a June 1958 overhaul at Getafe it was fitted with Spanish-built ENMASA E9B ‘Beta’ engines, a copy of the Wright R-1820 Cyclone, and on 8 February 1961 it was assigned to Ala 36 (the 36th Wing) at Gando in the Canary Islands with a new serial, T.2B-272. The aeroplane returned to the parachutist school at Alcantarilla on 6 November 1968, serving there until retirement in December 1972 when it was flown to Cuatro Vientos, Madrid to go into storage with several other CASA 352s.

Although the type was officially retired from Spanish Air Force service in late 1973, T.2B-272 made its last flight under military ownership from Cuatro Vientos as late as June 1976. The following June it was put up for auction and acquired by the RAF Museum, being brought back to flying trim by Spanish Air Force engineers in a hangar at Cuatro Vientos during October. The ferry pilot for the flight back to UK was Don Bullock of Euroworld, accompanied by engineer Peter Warren, who was to lose his life alongside Bullock in the Douglas A-26 Invader crash at Biggin Hill in September 1980. After a night-stop at Cazaux air base in the south of France, the CASA arrived at Biggin Hill just in time to go on display in the static park at the 1978 Air Fair, being intercepted on the day before the show over Kent by Supermarine Spitfire IX MH434 with Ray Hanna at the controls. Four days later it made its last flight, from Biggin to the then Aerospace Museum at Cosford.

Having spent six years on display, during October 1985 T.2B-272 — with the aid of sponsorship from the then state-owned flag-carrier British Airways — was painted up as a pre-war British Airways Ju 52/3m, G-AFAP, which had entered service with the airline during 1938 and was captured by the Germans at Oslo’s Fornebu airport on 9 April 1940.