Junkers – the sheet metal plane first became a Swedish commercial aircraft

HISTORY OF TECHNOLOGY. Sweden’s first large airline invested in an aircraft made entirely of metal, which made it particularly well suited for barren climates. Four passengers were accommodated in Junkers F13.

Apart from a few smaller taxi airlines, Aktiebolaget Aerotransport (ABA) was the first large airline in Sweden. It was formed in 1924 by the brothers Carl and Adrian Florman, both with a past in the then Army Air Force. The first aircraft procured were of the Junkers F 13 type, designed and manufactured by German Junkers in Dessau in what is now the state of Saxony-Anhalt. With Junkers, ABA made strong business connections.

The Junkers factory had been founded by Hugo Junkers in 1895, originally for the manufacture of gas appliances. Aircraft production began in 1915. His aircraft were characterized by robust constructions of corrugated sheet metal, a construction method that contributed to very good strength. The first F 13 airliner had room for four passengers in a covered cabin, while the pilot and the flight mechanic sat in an open cockpit. The first F 13 arrived in Sweden as early as 1923 and was delivered to Svensk Lufttrafik Aktiebolaget (SLA), while ABA’s first F 13 was delivered the following year.

A total of about ten aircraft of the type were used in Sweden; in addition to ABA also by the aviation pioneer Albin Ahrenberg and the newly formed Air Force. Because Junkers aircraft were made entirely of metal, they were particularly suitable for the harsh Swedish climate. They could also be fitted with skis or floats. The last F 13 was taken out of service as late as 1946. Not many originals are saved for posterity. A copy hangs on the ceiling of the Technical Museum in Stockholm.

Read more: The unfortunate end for the Swedish aircraft factory

Hugo Junkers was forced out of his life’s work by the Nazi leader Hermann Göring and died in bitterness in 1935. The factory was taken over by the Nazis with the manufacture of the bomber Junker Ju 87 Stuka and the bomber Junkers Ju 88. The factory was subjected to constant bombing by the Allies during World War II. Today, only a small part of the once huge factory complex in Dessau, which ended up in what was then East Germany, remains.

One of ABA’s workshops was located at Bulltofta in Malmö. Maintenance is carried out here on a partially dismantled Junkers F 13. Here you can clearly see the wing attachment and the thick wing profile as well as the construction method in corrugated aluminum sheet. Photo: SWEDISH AVI HISTORY ASSOCIATION ARCHIVE

The Hugo Junkers Museum of Technology is now housed here, which contains historical flashbacks in the form of exhibition screens and models, as well as Hugo Junkers’ constructions, including prefabricated houses. Of Swedish aviation historical interest is the replica built by a Junkers F 13. In addition to the museum’s Junkers F 13 replica, there is also a copy of the large number of manufactured Junkers Ju 52 / 3m that first flew in 1932. It was also used by ABA and of the Swedish Air Force. The type was also manufactured in large numbers as a transport aircraft for the German Luftwaffe.

The museum in Dessau was inaugurated in May 2001 in parts of the old factory. Inside and outside the museum are a number of Soviet aircraft, reminiscent of the East German era. A visit to the museum can suitably be combined with a visit to the Bauhaus School of Architecture from the interwar period, the creator of ideas for, among other things, the functional style.

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