A replica Junkers F13 takes flights almost 100 years after the launch of the “mother of all commecial aircraft.”
The project to bring back the Junkers F13 reached an eagerly awaited pinnacle on September 15th, 2016: the legendary official first flight of the replica took place in Dübendorf, Switzerland, almost 100 years after its original launch. With the take-off, what was constructed under the project name RIMOWA F13 became a veritable Junkers F13, thereby extending the legacy of the visionary professor Hugo Junkers.
The aircraft stood elegantly on Dübendorf airfield, formerly Zurich’s primary airport. Onlookers travelled from all over the world in honour of the Annelise 2 – the name by which the aircraft goes as a nod to one of the first Junkers F13 planes. The replica of the Junkers F13 is more than merely a reproduction of a popular plane from the past – it was the world’s first all-metal commercial aircraft, serving as a source of inspiration for generations of aircraft manufacturers and blazing a trail in modern-day passenger aviation. The original, achieved an altitude record of 6,750 meters way back on September 13th, 1919, which was an incredible feat at the time.
The Junkers F13 by RIMOWA gently started to taxi, gathered pace and smoothly lifted off after just 200 meters. Its engine delivers 450 hp and a cruising speed of 176 km/h. The screens on the airfield displayed live images from the cockpit. While the replica features significantly more technical equipment than the cockpit of an original Junkers F13, it does not compare with modern jets as they have glass cockpits.
Like the original 100 years ago, the Junkers F13 by RIMOWA conveys the same sense of freedom. Test pilot Oliver Bachmann, along with RIMOWA President & CEO Dieter Morszeck, who has been a private pilot himself for 34 years, occupied the open cockpit. An additional camera was trained on the test pilot’s skillful manual actions as he confidently navigated the aircraft. “This is a dream come true for me. The Junkers F13 is back in the air and I was fortunate enough to experience its official first flight as a member of the crew! What more could I ask for?” said Morszeck as he stepped out of the cockpit.
There were seven years of research, planning and approvals between the initial idea and the aircraft’s maiden flight. Three strong partners joined forces in order to manage a project of this scale: JU-AIR, the Association of Friends of Historical Aircraft (VFL) and RIMOWA. The idea was initiated by the VFL, and the three partners jointly embarked on a journey into bygone aviation.
The aircraft was commissioned by the German entrepreneur, engineer and visionary Hugo Junkers in 1919. The first cantilever all-metal aircraft made of duralumin was manufactured at the Junkers plants in Dessau until 1933. Cologne-based businessman Dieter Morszeck, whose father developed suitcases using the same material more than 60 years ago, felt a sense of affiliation with Hugo Junkers’ project and therefore sponsored the construction of the first airworthy F13 replica. “Hugo Junkers was the first person to use duralumin in aircraft construction. Around the world, grooved sheet metal became the hallmark of Junkers aircraft and RIMOWA suitcases,” said Morszeck. “This is why I followed and supported the construction of an airworthy Junkers F13. I wanted to give back the world an important cultural asset – not in a museum, but where it belongs: in the skies.”