“Flying Tank” up high!

Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada, PA-003631

War trophies were not all captured artillery. Quite a few German aircraft came to Canada: Several Fokker DVII fighters, an AEG bomber and this unusual and pioneering plane: the Junkers J1 armoured aircraft. Nicknamed the “flying tank,” this was a slow, low flying observation and ground attack aircraft with an armoured section (like an enormous tub with 5mm thick armour around the crew and engine), the basic structure of the airframe was early aluminum tubing (“duraluminium”), with corrugated aluminum sheets covering the wings and tail surfaces. This would influence later aircraft, and was quite the departure from the fabric-over-wood bracing on other aircraft. The J1 was armed with machine guns and bombs. Only a little over 220 of these were produced. The best photos of this aircraft, models of it showing the paint schemes, and parts of other J1s can be found at Wingnuts model-making site. Today, Junkers 586, produced in 1918, is the World’s only reasonably complete example. This J1 was exhibited at some of the War Trophies displays (see War Trophies exhibits for a relevant photo from Hamilton), the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto in 1919, then in 1939 it was transferred from CFB Borden to the Aeronautical museum at the Rockcliffe Air Station, then on to storage at the Canadian War Museum. When air-related collections were consolidated in the 1960s, it moved to the Aviation Museum (Now Canada Aviation and Space Museum). Photos show it in various conditions. For an upcoming FWW-themed centenary exhibit at the CASM museum, it is rumoured that it will be out on display again in the main museum.The aircraft in the official photos from November 1918 could be this same aircraft. The guard near the aircraft would seem to indicate that military authorities had some purpose in mind for this.

Photo by author

Photo by author shows J1 in its current location in the Reserve hangar of the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Ottawa

The two Canadian War Records Office official photographs show a J1 near an enormous zeppelin shed (probably one of the sheds at Cognelée, near Namur, Belgium). Note the original camouflage evident on the wings.

Nov. 1918. There is a lot of interest in this photo.  The soldier guarding the plane, the enorous Zeppelin shed, and the officer"s car in the foreground.

Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada, PA-003730

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One thought on ““Flying Tank” up high!

  1. Pingback: Junkers Trench Raider now on display at CASM! | Warsearching: Military History in the Digital Age

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