F 13
Junkers F 13 over the Aérodrome de Cerny-La-Ferté-Alais
Role passenger transport
Manufacturer Junkers
Designer Otto Reuter
First flight June 25, 1919[1]
Introduction 1920
Retired late 1930s
Primary users Junkers Luftverkehr
Produced 1919–1932
Number built 322

The Junkers F 13 is the world's first all-metal transport aircraft, developed in Germany at the end of World War I. It was a cantilever-wing monoplane, with enclosed accommodation for four passengers and a two seat open cockpit. 322 examples were manufactured, an exceptionally large number for a commercial airliner of the era, and were operated all over the world. It accounted for over a third of air traffic in the early 1920s. It remained in production for thirteen years and in commercial service for more than thirty. There were many versions including floatplanes for water landing, skis, mailplane, and different engines. Several survive in various states of repair in museums, and a replica of the type was put back in production in the 2010s, taking flight once again nearly a century after the type first flew.

Design and development

F 13 cockpit
The Junkers F 13 viewed from above at the Musée de l’air et de l’espace
Deutsches Museum's F 13

The F 13[2] was a very advanced aircraft when built, an aerodynamically clean all-metal low-wing cantilever monoplane. It was the world's first all-metal passenger aircraft and Junkers' first commercial aircraft.

The designation letter F stood for Flugzeug (aircraft); it was the first Junkers aeroplane to use this system. Earlier Junkers notation labelled it J 13. Russian-built aircraft used the designation Ju 13.

Like all Junkers duralumin-structured designs, from the 1918 J 7 to the 1932 Ju 46, (some 35 models), it has an aluminium alloy (duralumin) structure entirely covered with Junkers' characteristic corrugated and stressed duralumin skin. Internally, the wing was built up on nine circular cross-section duralumin spars with transverse bracing. All control surfaces were horn balanced.

Behind the single engine was a semi-enclosed cockpit for the crew, roofed but without side glazing. There was an enclosed and heated cabin for four passengers with windows and doors . Passenger seats were fitted with seat belts, unusual for the time. The F 13 has a fixed conventional split landing gear with a rear skid, though some variants were fitted with floats or on skis.

The F 13 first flew on 25 June 1919,[3] powered by a 127 kW (170 hp) Mercedes D.IIIa inline upright water-cooled engine. The first production machines had a wing of greater span and area and had the more powerful 140 kW (185 hp) BMW IIIa upright inline water-cooled motor.

Many variants[4] were built using Mercedes, BMW, Junkers, and Armstrong Siddeley Puma liquid-cooled inline engines, and Gnome-Rhône Jupiter and Pratt & Whitney Hornet air-cooled radial engines. The variants were mostly distinguished by a two letter code, the first letter signifying the airframe and the second the engine. Junkers L5-engined variants all had the second letter -e, so type -fe was the long fuselage -f airframe with a L5 engine.

The F13 was the basis for developing the Junkers W 33 andJunkers W 34[5] )

Operational history

F 13 fy D-190 of Lloyd Ostflug then Junkers Luftverkehrs AG.
The F13 cabin for passengers

Any manufacturer of civil aircraft immediately after World War I was faced with competition from the very large numbers of surplus warplanes that might be cheaply converted – for example, the DH.9C. German manufacturers had further problems with the restrictions imposed by the Inter-Allied Aeronautical Commission of Control, which banned the production of warplanes and of any aircraft in the period of 1921–2. Junkers[6] picked up orders abroad in 1919 in Austria, Poland and the USA and, in the following years with SCADTA (Colombia) and the United States Post Office Department. John Larsen Aircraft in the USA purchased a production licence, their machines being designated JL-6. In 1922 there were sales in England, France Italy and Japan.

The F13 was a very popular civilian aircraft, carrying it is estimated 40% of the world's air traffic in the early 1920s.[5]

In Bolivia, LAB's first airplane was a Junkers F-13; first flight took off from Cochabamba on September 23, 1925.

Junkers set up its own airline – Junkers Luftverkehr AG in 1921 to encourage the acquisition of the F 13 by German airlines and was flying 60 of them by 1923. They also established a branch of this airline in Iran. Other marketing techniques were used, providing F 13s on cheap leases and free loans, with such effect that some 16 operators across Europe were flying them. When Junkers Luftverkehr merged into Luft Hansa in 1926, 9.5 million miles had been flown by them. Luft Hansa itself bought 55 aircraft and in 1928 were using them on 43 domestic routes. Even in 1937, their F 13s were flying over 50 flights per week on four routes. They were finally withdrawn in 1938.

Most of the F 13s produced before production ended in 1932 were built at Junkers German base at Dessau. During the difficult 1921–3 period production was transferred to Junkers plants at Danzig and Reval. In 1922–3, Hugo Junkers signed a contract with the Soviet Union to produce the aircraft in a Soviet factory at Fili near Moscow, which became known as "Plant no. 22". Some of these aircraft served Soviet airlines and some the Red Army.

There were some other military users. The Colombian Air Force used the F 13 (and the related W.33, W.34 and K.43) as bombers[citation needed] in the Colombia–Peru War in 1932–3. The Republic of China flew F 13s converted into scout bombers until the January 28 Incident in 1932, when they were destroyed by the Japanese along with the Shanghai Aircraft Factory. The Turkish Flying Forces flew a few.

A feature that made the F 13 popular internationally was the ease with which its landing gear could be converted to floats. During the formative years of commercial aviation, bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, seas and oceans were more abundant than landing strips and civil airports in many parts of the world, so seaplanes were commonplace and even, in some places, more useful than regular aircraft. Aside from the obvious addition of floats, little modification was needed for this conversion; however, the different configuration could cause issues with directional control,{fact|more likely to be directional stability than control]] and so some models had their rudder extended to compensate for this.

From their introduction in 1919 F 13s were in service for more than thirty years; the last commercial F 13 was retired in Brazil in 1951.

Back in Production 2009-2019

Replica F 13 nose, 2019
One of the new Junkers F 13 replicas

A German-Swiss project to build a reconstruction of the F 13 was launched in 2009; the first flight was in September 2016. The reconstruction is equipped with radio and a transponder, and uses a 1930s Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Junior engine, but is otherwise as close as possible to the original. Additional reconstructions are to be sold for $2.5 million aeach.[7]

Junkers Flugzeugwerke (SD303) has resurrected the Junkers F 13 as an all-new airplane to honor Hugo Junkers’ achievements. The company completed the aircraft in 2016 and it is at EBACE commemorating the type's maiden flight 100 years ago. The model is available for purchase, and three others like it are currently under construction. Work was in progress on the second and third aircraft during 2019, with airframe number two's maiden flight planned for early that summer.[8]

The replica F 13 made its maiden flight on 15 September 2016, the culmination of many of years of work on the part of supporters of the project. .[9] The replica was created from original blueprints and also a laser scan of the type at the Museum of Air and Space at Le Bourget, Paris. The replica has 2600 parts and tens of thousands of rivets and is powered by a Wasp radial engine.[9]


Junkers-Larsen JL-6 as a floatplane, 1920
F 13 with a radial engine and skis, 1940
F 13
first prototype, smaller wings (span 14.47 m/47 ft 5.75 in, area 38.9 m2 /419 ft²) and less powerful engine 127 kW (170 hp) Mercedes D IIIa inline) than production models.
F 13a
first production aircraft with 140 kW (185 hp) BMW IIIa engine.
F 13ba, ca, da, fa
all with the 149 kW (200 hp) Junkers L2 upright inline water-cooled engine and a series of structural modifications. The fa variant was about 1 m (3 ft) longer.
F 13be, ce, de, fe
as the above but all with 230 kW (310 hp) Junkers L5 upright inline water-cooled engines.
F 13dle, fle, ge, he, ke
variants with the Junkers L5 above.
F 13bi, ci, di, fi,
as ca to fa but all with the 186 kW (250 hp) BMW IV engine.
F 13co, fo, ko
with the 230 kW (310 hp) BMW Va engine.
Junkers-Larsen JL-6
American version of the F 13 built by Junkers-Larsen. Eight built.
Junkers-Larsen JL-12
Ground-attack derivative of the Junkers-Larsen JL-6, with 300 kW (400 hp) Liberty L-12 engine, armored, and armed with a downward-pointing battery of 30 Thompson submachine guns.[10]
Rimowa Junkers F 13
Modern replica first flown 15 September 2016.[11] With the approval of the Junkers heirs, Rimowa Junkers was renamed Junkers Flugzeugwerke AG, and moved to Altenrhein. Their models have modern features, like more and better instruments, while the outward appearance is the one of a Junkers-Larsen JL-6.[12]


Ad Astra F13 circa 1920
Finnish F13 in the 1920s
F13 floatplanes in Budapest, Hungary
 Emirate of Afghanistan ( Kingdom of Afghanistan after 1926)
Free City of Danzig Free City of Danzig
First Lithuanian Air Mail stamp (1921) featured Junker F13.


 Soviet Union
 South Africa
 United Kingdom
 United States

Accidents and incidents

Emergency landing of Finnish Aero Oy's D335 by the VR warehouses, July 6, 1925, Helsinki
Another angle of the damaged airplane


Serial number 715 at Tekniska Museet in Sweden. It flew with Junkers Luftverkehr (D-343) until 1924 and AB Aerotransport (SE-AAC) until 1935 [18]

There are five surviving F 13 airframes, all in museums.[5]

Aircraft on display
F 13 remains from Canada in the Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin
In storage or under restoration

Specifications (F 13)

Junkers F 13

Data from Wagner 1996 p.155 & Turner 1971 p.20

General characteristics

F 13fe: 10.50 m (34 ft)
F 13fe: 17.75 m (58 ft)
F 13fe: 3.60 m (12 ft)
F 13fe: 44 m2 (474 sq ft)
F 13fe: 1,480 kg (3,263 lb)
F 13fe: 2,318 kg (5,110 lb)
F 13fe: 1 x 228 kW (306 hp) Junkers L5 6-cyl. water-cooled in-line piston engine


F 13fe: 198 km/h (123 mph)
F 13fe: 170 km/h (106 mph)
F 13fe: 5,090 m (16,699 ft)

See also

Related developments



  1. ^ Wolfgang Wagner "Hugo Junkers Pionier der Luftfahrt - Seine Flugzeuge" Bernard & Graefe Verlag, Bonn 1996 ISBN 3-7637-6112-8 (in German)
  2. ^ Turner & Nowarra 1971, pp. 17–18
  3. ^ Swopes, Bryan R. "25 June 1919". This Day in Aviation. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  4. ^ Turner & Nowarra 1971, p. 19
  5. ^ a b c d "Canadian Junkers to Berlin Museum". www.key.aero. Retrieved 2023-12-21.
  6. ^ Turner & Nowarra 1971, pp. 18–20
  7. ^ "Junkers F13 Makes a Triumphant Return to the Skies". Flying Magazine. No. 20 September 2016. Retrieved 25 September 2016.
  8. ^ Laboda, Amy (23 May 2019). "Centenary Celebrations for a Commercial Aviation Classic". AIN Online.
  9. ^ a b "Official Maiden Flight of Rimowa Replica Junkers F13". www.eaa.org. Retrieved 2023-12-21.
  10. ^ "The 'J.L.-12' Attack 'Plane". Flight. XIV (5): 73. 2 February 1922.
  11. ^ "General Aviation News". Air Britain Aviation World. Air-Britain. 2018. p. 114. ISSN 1742-996X.
  12. ^ "Ein Fluggefühl wie anno 1920 – aber mit modernster Technik" [A feeling of flight like in 1920 - but with the most modern technology]. Swiss Radio and Television SRF (in German). 2021-10-17.
  13. ^ "Mexican Aviation History". www.mexicanaviationhistory.com. Archived from the original on 2009-07-17. Retrieved 2019-01-31.
  14. ^ General Command of Mapping in Turkey Archived 2009-08-30 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ British Civil Register. Archived from the original on 2019-12-16. Retrieved 2009-03-24.
  16. ^ "10 Marz 1926". 10 March 1926. Retrieved 2021-05-18.
  17. ^ Blenk, Hermann (April 1932). "The German Investigation of the Accident at Meopham (England)".
  18. ^ "Junkers Relics". Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2010-04-05.
  19. ^ "Reserve collection, Museé de L'Air, Le Bourget". Archived from the original on 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2010-04-07.
  20. ^ Museé de L'Air, Le Bourget
  21. ^ "F 13 at Deutsches Museum, Munich". Archived from the original on 2015-07-20. Retrieved 2010-04-07.
  22. ^ F 13 at the Budapest Aircraft Museum
  23. ^ F 13 at the Technical Museum, Stockholm Archived 2010-09-20 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ "Uvodni stránka". Obnova památníku T.Bati (in Czech). Retrieved 2019-09-25.


Further reading