But taking a Ju 52 and putting larger engines on the wings, smoothing up the nose and having the landing gear retract wasn't really going to do it either. It will help but as has been point out by others it may not be worth the expense and extra maintenance.
Agree. The Ju 52/3m was quite a rugged aeroplane and although not fast had very good short take-off characteristics. It could also handle quite a lot of punishment; it was very robust airframe, far more so than those Italian plywood and fabric machines.
The Germans should have thrown the Ju-52 to the dump and build the Italian Savoia-Marchetti S.M. 82 as a twin engined transport, powered by Gnome-Rhone 14N radials of 1,140 HP each or the BMW-Bramo 323 engine of 1,000 hp. The vertical stabilizer and rudder would have had to be enlarged to address engine out maneuvering capability. The resultant airplane could have carried 15,000 lbs of weight for at least 1,500 miles at 186 mph. For comparison, the C-47, with 2 R-1930s of 1,200 hp each, could carry about 10,000 lbs at least 1500 miles at 185 mph. The Ju-52 with its antiquated (even for the time) structure could not have made any better no matter what.
Um, the Ju 52/3m first flew in 1932, seven years before the SM.82. It was of all-metal construction when virtually everyone else was building wood and fabric aircraft or at least metal endoskeleton covered in fabric aircraft. Not only that, but structurally, the Italian aircraft was not as robust; it was welded steel tube with fabric and wood covering, with metal coverings forward. It's also quite big. And what would the Luftwaffe be sacrificing in doing this? The Junkers could take-off and land from shorter, less prepared strips compared to the bigger Italian aircraft. It was very reliable and easy to maintain. That goes out the window as soon as you add wooden structures to the mix in the conditions that the Junkers operated in places like the Eastern Front, for example.
It's size can be gauged here by using that universal yardstick unit of measurement, the P-51
The only real drawback to the Ju 52/3m was its stately performance. The thing is very slow, but that enabled it to operate out of small spaces with ease; it's virtually unstallable with its massive wing area and dangly flaps and ailerons. it could take-off and land from almost anywhere. I've watched one do circuits and it has a terrifically slow approach speed and sort of plonks onto the ground and comes to a stop in a remarkably small distance.
This is what Eric Brown had to say about the Tante Ju:
"Slow and noisy though the Junkers undoubtedly was, it was also supremely reliable, a quality which, coupled with rugged construction, simplicity of operation and ease of maintenance in the field, made up the magic recipe that resulted in the fantastic longevity of the Ju 52/3m."
On the subject of no centre engine, Brown stated that with the middle engine out, the Ju 52/3m's overall speed dropped by only 12 mph. A different story if it were one of its outer engines, which reduced its speed by 19 mph.