Looking for “Tante Ju”

During WWII on 13th April 1940, eleven Ju 52/3ms landed on the ice of Lake Hartvikvatnet. They were carrying troops and gun supplies.

Due to mild weather the ice had begun to thaw already. Fuel shortage, slush and large puddles of water made it impossible for the Ju 52/3ms to take off the lake again. The German aircrafts were stuck.

Only one of the Junkers, filled with fuel drained from the other stranded aircrafts, managed to take off from Lake Hartvikvatnet on 17th April 1940.

On 19th April 1940 the Germans abandoned the lake. Attempts to save the Junkers from sinking failed. All of the aircrafts sank to the bottom of the lake when the ice finally thawed.

After the war, a local scrap dealer and later on Norwegian and German forces, found and recovered the wrecks of several aircrafts. At least five Ju 52/3ms have been recovered in 1983 and 1986. Today they are exhibited in Museums in Hannover (DE), Dessau (DE), Speyer (DE) and Gardermoen (NO).

One Ju 52/3m lays in about 6m depth of water and is a good condition.

Starting with eleven airplanes and deducting the recovered and salvaged ones, the one laying at 6m and the one which managed to take off again, we assumed there must be at least one more undiscovered Junkers 52 the bottom of Lake Hartvikvatnet.

During our project from 17th – 23rd Sep 2018 we were investigating Lake Hartvikvatnet with a sidescan sonar and an ROV. On 19th Sep we managed to spot a plane on the sonar at around 70m depth. During the following days we managed to perform several dives on the Ju 52/3m.

We were able to identify the build number of the plane by the “Ace of Hearts” painting on either side of the cockpit. According to historical information we found in the German book “Die letzten Junkers Flugzeuge” (Paul Zöller), the identification of this exemplary is DB+RB and the serial number 6697.

In addition to this aircraft, we found several smaller Junkers pieces in Lake Hartvigvatnet, most likely the remains of the salvaging operation.

Tante Ju