JUNKERS-52/3m underwater recovery near Leros island

Ad: This forum contains affiliate links to products on Amazon and eBay. More information in Terms and rules


Nov 9, 2005
On October 3rd, 2006, members of the HAF Underwater Operations Team (KOSYTHE) helped recover a historic Ju-52/3m carrier aircraft from the sea near the island of Leros.
The aircraft had been shot down on November, 13th 1943, during the second day of operations of the Battle of Leros. The previous day 400 German paratroopers had landed on the island, during a dangerous operation in a very narrow area between the Bays of Alinta and Gourna. Despite suffering extended losses, the Germans managed to create a bridgehead, in order to conquest the island's middle part, essentially cutting it in two.
The HAF decided in favour of the aircraft's recovery, due to its high value as a museum item. After on site research and videotaping of the aircraft, all the necessary data was collected by the HAF Public Relations Directorate, in order to plan every detail of the operation.

The operation started by videotaping the wreck, in order to find the best possible way for its safe recovery. Amongst many possible solutions, it was decided to use wire ropes and belts that would be placed on the strongest parts of the aircraft's structure. A floating crane was also utilised.

Each of the diving's performed on a daily basis from the pre-arranged points lasted between 10 and 12 minutes, as was initially planned, also making auxiliary use of the Dive Computer. Overall seventy diving cycles took place, whose total duration was twenty two hours.

In cases when the underwater operations at the depth of 41 metres lasted long, the ROV underwater vehicle played an important role in minimising the effects of the divers' disease. Moreover, the Dive Master had the advantage of a real-time view of the situation on the site. The use of a full face mask and the utilisation of an intercom system by the members of the underwater operations team and the Dive Master, were also extremely helpful in cases when the need for very precise movements occurred. Special parachutes were also utilised for finding the best possible way to make use of the wire ropes and belts, in order to ensure the safe attachment of the fuselage to the floating crane.

During the day of the aircraft recovery and taking into account the fact that the central engine was partly broken apart from the fuselage and anchored to the bottom of the sea, all the necessary measures were taken in order to ensure that the safe geometry of the recovery would remain unaffected, even if the engine remained at the bottom of the sea. In any other case, the forces would not be correctly balanced and the aircraft could be destroyed. For that case, the ROV remained constantly underwater in front of the central engine, observing the whole operation, while constantly maintaining contact with the members of the underwater operations team (KOSYTHE).

Indeed, during the hauling up it became obvious immediately through the ROV that the central engine was strongly attached to the bottom. As a consequence, it was broken apart from the fuselage, to which it had deliberately been connected with a low strength belt and was recovered at a later stage. Due to its coverage with sand, many parts of the engine had remained in an excellent condition, an example being a part of the engine propeller, where the colour and even the date of the last check were still apparent.

After the aircraft had been securely tied to the crane, on the rear of the fuselage the remains of one of the crew members were found and later collected under the supervision of the team's doctor.

The next day the aircraft was moved to the Hellenic Navy Maintenance Base, where experts from both the State Aircraft Factory and the Hellenic Air Force undertook the difficult task of its maintenance. The aircraft was dismantled on the island of Leros and later moved to the Museum, where the final stages of its maintenance and restoration will take place.


  • 522.jpg
    36.6 KB · Views: 345
  • 523.jpg
    43 KB · Views: 297
  • 524.jpg
    27.1 KB · Views: 334
  • 521.jpg
    39 KB · Views: 319
  • 525.jpg
    53.1 KB · Views: 295
  • 526.jpg
    79.2 KB · Views: 335
  • 527.jpg
    53.5 KB · Views: 324
  • 528.jpg
    53 KB · Views: 1,025
  • 529.jpg
    73 KB · Views: 366
  • 530.jpg
    62.7 KB · Views: 337
Looking at the pictures I've got the impression the a/c was painted with the desert camo.However the colours seem to be much more redish.What do you think about this DerAdlerIstGelandet ?

BTW a very interesting stuff V2 :D
That looks more like 60 years of salt water corrosion to the airframe of the Ju-52.

I remember pics of the Bf109G6 from Trzebuń lake.The plane looked different.Probably you are right salt water caused corrosiion in other way than fresh water could.

Users who are viewing this thread