Friday, August 13, 2004
After missing (twice) the MIG17 on a stick pointing the way to the museum I finally get there.
It doesn’t appear to be such a big museum but once inside it is fairly packed. The curator/manager/whatever picks my accent (probably like being hit with a sledge hammer) and asks where I am from. They probably don’t get too many Australians here. After some general chatting I wander into the early aviation hall (ie pre WW2). Some interesting aircraft (mostly replicas I think) and a lot of good paraphernalia. Then into the more modern part, WW2 and later. While this hall has many fine aircraft, engines and other items, it is dominated by a Ju52 display as you enter. These bits were recovered from a fairly unusual place.
The story goes something like this…
In the early part of the Second World War, the fighting flowed, for a time, through Norway. During this time the Germans had the clever idea of re-supplying their forces using a squadron of Ju52s and flying them in to a ready made airfield. A frozen lake. A couple pranged on landing but most were OK. A long story short, they were abandoned there. Next spring thaw and all of the aircraft went straight to the bottom of the lake, where they quietly remained for the next 45 or so years. Come 1986 and the museum sets up an expedition to recover some remains.
Not only did they salvage virtually four complete airframes, they were in such (comparatively) good condition that within twelve months they had a restored, flying example.
While I was looking at the display, the curator/manager/whatever comes in and asks if I would like to go and see the restored original at a nearby German Airforce base. Damn, I can’t because of the time!