Junkers JU-52 model airplane. The Ju 52 trimotor, like the USAF C-47, was first built in the 1930s yet remained in service for more than a quarter century. This transport made its maiden flight in April 1931 and three years later a heavy bomber version appeared. The latter aircraft formed the nucleus of the Luftwaffe's infant bomber force in the mid-1930s and it was used during the Spanish Civil War.
The Ju 52 was obsolete as a bomber by 1939, but because of its durability, simplicity of design, and handling characteristics it continued to serve throughout WW II as a versatile workhorse of the German transport fleet. For a period, Adolph Hitler used a Ju 52 as his private transport. Ju 52s delivered the attacking forces and their supplies during the German invasion of Norway, Denmark, France and the Low Countries in 1940. Almost 500 Ju 52s participated in the historic airborne assualt on the island of Crete in May 1941 and Junkers later supplied Rommel's armored forces in North Africa.