The Junkers A50 Junior’s Revival

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Story by Ken Kula, photos by Junkers Aircraft Corp. and Ken Kula

Ninety-four years ago in early 1929, the Junkers aircraft company of Germany first flew its A50 Junior two-place sport plane. Made from all metal, the aircraft featured a revolutionary corrugated metal skin. The design was envisioned to be mass produced, with 5,000 airframes planned. Six prototypes of the A50 were produced to test different types of engines and features; one was constructed with foldable or detachable wings for storage, another version was fitted with floats.

Surviving Junkers A50 Junior in 1998, mounted above the international arrival and departure security gates in Helsinki-Vantaa Airport.

Not a commercial success, only a total of sixty-nine airframes were produced and not all were sold. Although well-built and its metal construction lent itself to longevity, seemingly just three original airframes may be in existence today, one displayed in a Munich museum, one on display in Finland’s Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport, and another might be under restoration in Germany after retrieval from Australia.

Fast forward to this century, in 2015 Dieter Morszeck re-launched a Junkers Flugzeugwerke company in Switzerland, with the goal of building revised versions of old Junkers aircraft. Soon thereafter, Dieter (through Junkers) took over the American WACO Aircraft’s European distribution services, and ultimately the entire company. He began construction of a new factory in Battle Creek, Michigan for the American production of some of these old Junkers designs. The WACO Aircraft Corporation factory was already there, making updated WACO YMF-5 and Great Lakes 2T-1A-2 biplanes; the new Junkers production facility is alongside of these lines. In fact, more than $30 million has been spent on new and/or improved production spaces for all aircraft.

New Junkers A50 Junior LSA was displayed at the 2023 EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.

The first Junkers project was a replica F 13 airliner made in Switzerland. This next project is the current A50 Junior recreation. Although it looks similar to the original, technically it is full of next-century improvements.

Details like wooden step planking on the wing stand out.

The new Junkers A50 Junior is a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA), and will operate under those rules. It is powered by a ROTAX 912si engine, developing 100 horsepower with a 2,000 hour time between overhaul (TBO) life cycle. The engine normally sips four gallons per hour, with a range of around 680 nautical miles. The aircraft has a useful load of 480 pounds and a maximum take-off weight of 1320 pounds. It cruises at 75 knots, and stalls at 46 knots.

No round dials found in this LSA.

Equipment is rather startling when compared to the original model. A GARMIN “glass cockpit” is installed and a Galaxy ballistic parachute recovery system is fitted. Details are in wood and leather; wooden planking is installed at the left wing root for entry into the cockpits, and leather trims out the cockpit edges.

The clean landing gear assemblies include brakes.

A choice of six each interior and exterior finishes are available… the original bare sheet metal/White Aluminum color can be substituted with, maybe Speed Yellow or Karmin Red on the outside, while cockpit leather can be shades of brown and blue. The wheels can be spoked, or with a solid wheel cover with the matching color of the fuselage.

A ROTAX 912si engine replaces radial engines in the decades-old original airframes.

The airframe has Art Deco curves and finishes, accentuating the corrugated metal. The engine cowling and exhaust tubes are streamlined. The spoked wheels fit well, as do the windscreens, which are curved and add to the aircraft’s smooth lines.

All-new machinery in Battle Creek, Michigan produces the corrugated panels used on the exterior.

N50JU is a Junkers Aircraft Corporation-owned aircraft, serial number 004. It was on display all week at the EAA’s AirVenture 2023. Production of the LSA has been well thought-out… with the inclusion of the WACO workforce, woodwork – like the foot planking on the wing – wasn’t an extraordinary operation, given the woodwork in WACO and Great Lakes aircraft. The new metal skins are made with all-new machinery in Battle Creek, Michigan, part of the new manufacturing facilities for Junkers-WACO-Great Lakes aircraft production. For further information, here’s a link to their brochure: https://junkersaircraft.com/en/aircrafts/junkers-a50-junior/

Ken Kula

Assignment and Content Editor, writer and photographer A New Englander all of my life, I've lived in New Hampshire since 1981. My passion for all things aviation began at a very early age, and I coupled this with my interest of photography during college in the late 1970s. I spent 35 years in the air traffic control industry, and concurrently, enjoyed my aviation photography and writing adventures, which continue today. I've been quite fortunate to have been mentored by some generous and gifted individuals. I enjoy contributing to this great site and working with some very knowledgeable and equally passionate aviation followers.

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