Revealed: Why German World War 2 bomber returned to Croydon
A Second World War-era German bomber caused a stir in Croydon last week, 63 years after the Luftwaffe rained devastation on the town in the Battle of Britain.
This time the aircraft, a Junkers JU52, got a rather friendlier reception - but left many scratching their heads.
Several contacted this newspaper looking to establish why the antique aircraft was in town - and why it was flying so low.
Some speculated it had taken flight to commemorate the Battle of Britain, in which Kenley airfield played an important role.
Others feared the plane was about to crashland in the borough.
But the Croydon Guardian can reveal the aircraft's rather more mundane mission.
The plane, which served as a medium bomber as well as transporting servicemen and cargo during the war, was being used to give promotional tours of London by a German luggage firm.
Junkers JU52 in military formation
Ken Burt, 60, saw the aircraft flying above his Salisbury Road home in South Norwood on Monday.
He said: "It was flying really low, I'd say maybe 200ft. It was very slow and very loud with three large propellers at the front."
"I'm 60 so I when I was growing up you heard about those planes a lot, so that's why I recognised it. It's not every day you see one."
Tim Preston spotted the aircraft over Purley on Tuesday evening. The 63-year-old, of Sprucedale Gardens, said: "It was so low it shook the whole street with its distinctive engine noise.
"I assumed that it was in trouble and seeking out an open space on which to make an emergency landing and fully expected to read about it having come down on Roundshaw Downs or the old Croydon airfield.
"I called my wife who was on a train from Victoria to Purley as the plane featured prominently in her favourite film, Where Eagles Dare, and she too saw it as her train pulled into Purley station although rather more excitably she expected German paratroops to pour out of the fuselage."
The aircraft is thought to have been flying low because of cloud and flight height restrictions over London.
It was based at White Waltham airfield in Berkshire for a week while being chartered by luggage manufacturer Rimowa for tours. It returned to continental Europe on Friday.
The Junkers JU52 were manufactured between 1932 to 1945 and played both military and civilian roles until the 1980s.
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