DALLAS – Today in Aviation, The German-built Junkers W 33 set a world altitude record, climbing to 41,800 ft (12740 m) in 1929.
Piloted by Wilhelm ‘Willy’ Neuenhofen, the aircraft, heavily modified with a new larger wing and Bristol Jupiter VII engine, reached the altitude in just 45 minutes.
Neuenhofen was a German pilot who had started his flying career during the First World War. During this time, he became a ‘Flying Ace,’ a title given to a military aviator who shot down five or more enemy aircraft. Neuenhofen obtained 15 air victories. He would later be killed in 1936 during a test flight of a Junkers Ju 87.
The Junkers W 33 was developed from the four-seater F 13, built-in 1919. The aircraft, a single-engined, low-wing monoplane, had a squarer cabin, specifically designed for cargo operations. Later versions included windows for combined passenger/cargo services.
Numerous operators around the world utilised the W 33. These included Canadian Airways, Syndicato Condor or Brazil and Deutsche Luft Hansa for mail services. Many W 33s were also ordered from Russia and used from 1941 for postal and cargo flights. Parts of these aircraft were built at the Junkers factory in Dessau, Germany and then shipped to the Dobrolet repair station, Moscow, where they were fully assembled.
As well as the altitude feat, the W33 set numerous other records. In 1927, the type performed several record-breaking continuous distant flights, the longest being achieved on August 3, flying for a whopping 65 hrs and 25 minutes. On April 12, 1928, an example named ‘Bremen’ became the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic Ocean from East to West.
Featured image: The prototype W 33 D-921 was originally flown as a seaplane from Leopoldshafen, on the River Elbe on June 17, 1926. Photo: L’Aéronautique magazine, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.