Biography of a mythical airplane

Bücker Bü-133 "Jungmeister"



  It was the 20th Century that ushered in that long-held dream of man to take-to-air and fly like the bird. And it was only 27-years of after that when the  1930s, the “Golden Years of Aviation,” arrived. A world war had turned fledgling machines into keen birds of prey and had allowed a multitude of dreamers everywhere to turn their eyes skyward and say, “Now, I too can go there!”

  The 1930 saw the development of such legendary fighter aircraft as the British Supermarine ‘Spitfire’... the German Messerschmitt Bf 109... the Japanese Mitsubishi ‘Zero’ - it was in the field of the civil and sports aviation that an airplane was developed that came to be known as the “Stradivari of Aviation.”  This airplane was the Bücker Bü 133 ‘Jungemeister’, and was flown the first time in early 1935 with Louise Hoffman at the stick. It bore the registration D-EVEO and was equipped with a 6 cylinder inline  Hirth 506-A engine.


  The 'Jungemeister' was quickly ordered by the German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, to be presented as a clear demonstration of the strength of the German aeronautical industry at the XIII Olympics at Berlin in 1936.

  So  extraordinary were the flying qualities of this airplane that it was sent on a worldwide tour to exhibit it, starting at the Lausana Switzerland Airshow in 1935.

  The 'Jungemeister' development was based on the very successful Bücker Bü 131 Jungmann and it shared that aircraft’s empennage, wing profile, landing gear and most of its fuselage.

  Based on the model Bü 133-A, the Bü 133-B was created once the Siemens SH 14 A engine became available. This engine would power the following series.

The first Bü-133B was D-EAKE

  The ‘Jungmeister' with its SH 14 engine, was shorter, more powerful, and served to enhance its extraordinary flying capabilities.


  The second airplane of the –B series was the YR-PAX, which was flown by the captain Alexandru "Alex" Papana (, who was considered to be the best European pilot of his day, made a series of exhibitions around the continent, advertising its planned demonstration at the Berlin Olympics of 1936.


  Given its noticeable success in Europe, the airplane was transported to the US, in nothing less than the Zeppelin "Hindenburg". The publicity tour was planned by the “Team-Papana” and would star the German champion, Count  Otto Von Hagenburg.


  It was during one of these demonstrations at the Cleveland National Air Races of 1937 that Hagenburg had an accident on board D-EEHO. According to the engineers, it was of little consequence for the pilot because “he was sitting in a vault". He borrowed Papana´s plane for his next days routine!



  Once this campaign of demonstrations and promotion was finished, Papana´s airplane, YR-PAX, was left in the United States. It can be seen today at the National Air and Space Museum, near Washington D.C.

Writing on YR-PAX wing where her history can be read. Click to enlarge.

  Another campaign to show the 'Jungmeister' was carried out by Arthur Benith in South America with PP-TDP, another Bü 133-B. More than 80 shows, 15,000 miles flown, crossing the Andes from Mendoza (Argentina) to Santiago de Chile across Paso de Cristo (14,000Ft elevation)... an aeronautical Odyssey itself.

  Once the tour was finished, the airplane remained at Sao Paulo´s Air Club. Later, it went to the US. It finally went to the United Kingdom and registered as G-PTDP. The plane was lately being restored at BUCKER PRADO SA in Albacete, Spain.


  Many more exhibitions were carried out all around Europe where its successes continued. Despite all that notoriety the Bü 133-C was introduced, adding some improvements to the design, such as new elevators to improve and soften the vertical maneuvers. Shortening the fuselage reduced the loop radius and the head rest was removed. This C-model is the one mass produced in Germany.


  After those improvements, the model was astonishing and its aerobatic capabilities incredible. Evidence of the controllability of the 'Jungmeister' is the fact that three pilots tied their planes with 5 meters of rope and then performed their aerobatic routine.



The three 'Jungmeister'  connected together during their aerobatic formation flight.

  Mounting the connecting cables on the wings.

  The airplane was considered a technological jewel, and a symbol of luxury. The German Formula One cars took good note of that showing their “Silver Arrow” in front of a ''Jungmeister'.


  There are some historical quotes that define what a Bücker 'Jungmeister' was and always would be. One such quote was published in ‘PILOT’ in 1978: “Nothing flies better than a Bücker” or “If you haven´t flown a Bücker, you haven´t flown, you have just been in the air”.


  The beginning of WWII meant a break in the schedule for worldwide distribution of the 'Jungmeister'. It was to have been produced in Russia and Poland but, obviously, those projects were canceled by the war.


  Before this situation developed, Dornier purchased the rights to manufacture the Bü 133-B in Switzerland, where 50 units were produced. Previously, the Swiss Air Force had purchased 6 units made in Germany, being the first one the serial number 1001, with military register U-51 and flying since 1969 in the United Kingdom as G-AGNI.


  The third country where the 'Jungmeister' was manufactured was Spain, by C.A.S.A.

  The airplanes  that served in the Spanish Air Force between 1940 and 1969, was nicknamed “Pepino”, a word that in Spanish has come to mean of: “Overpowered and Maneuverable” when applied to any machine.


  The first one to arrive in Spain was the serial number 1004, through the port of Cadiz, right after its manufacture in Germany on January the 26th, 1937. It made its first flight at Tablada, on February the 20th 1937, with the military registration 35-1. It remained in service until it was withdrawn on October the 28th, 1958 as E1-1.

   Bucker-Prado owns this unit, E-1-1, today and is under restoration .

  The withdrawal of this airplane, as with the rest of the 'Jungemeister' fleet in the Spanish Air Force, was necessary because of the unavailability of parts for the Siemens engine. The engine factories had come under the control of the Soviets as they advanced westward into Germany

  Another reason for the premature withdrawn of the 'Jungmeister' from the Spanish Air Force school, besides of the absence of Siemens spare parts, was the arrival of the new Beechcraft Mentor in 1953. It wasn´t worth the effort to keep these planes flying when there was a much newer model, with newer systems, already in service.


  The problem extended to those units manufactured by C.A.S.A with a Hirth engine. It was a long 6 cylinder engine and the original design didn´t make provision for an oil cooler, so the fifth cylinder had an awful tendency to seize up. Besides, this airframe had another problem to deal with related to the long engine: the upper part of the engine mount was made of two welded 3mm plates, that weren´t strong enough for the increased arm of a much longer engine than the Siemens radial. The engine could simply fall from its mount . It was, after all, an airplane used for instruction, with countless touch & gos in the rough fields of the time.

  Some users solved the problem by installing Lycoming engines, like Prince Cantacuzeno or the famous J.L. Aresti. To fly with this modification, a special C of A was issued. These engines developed 260HP!


  Some other engines can be used, such as boxer configuration Lycomings or Continentals (150, 180, 200 and 220HP), Warner radials (150 and 180HP) and even some Russian engines as the MP-14 (360HP). Whatever the option, none as radical as the one taken by the American Sam Burguess, who equipped his with a 400SHP Allison turbine!

Sam Burguess on his Allison powered 'American Jungmeister'

   Sam´s aircraft was the much modified "American Jungmeister", a version created by the late American Frank Price in Texas. Unable to obtain plans for the original aircraft, Frank drew his own, which incorporated a small "jump" seat so a passenger could be carried, a modified airfoil section and many other small changes to make building the aircraft less challenging. None the less, the installation of a 400SHP engine serves to illustrate the strength of the airframe and its ability to deal with the increased power and weights.

  At a worldwide level, it was the 'Jungmeister' of José Luis Aresti  that influenced most the harmonization of international aerobatics. That was the plane he flew to develop the actual "Aerocryptographic" notation system in use today. Aresti´s EC-ALP sat in a hangar in Cuatro Vientos for years, but was eventually retrieved by his son so it could be rebuilt by BUCKER PRADO SA. Now it can be seen flying the first Sunday of every month with the Fundación Infante de Orleans, F.I.O. in the same airfield, Cuatro Vientos.


  The Maestranza de Albacete was in charge of the maintenance of these airplanes since it was founded in 1939, and until the last one flying in the Spanish Air Force´s inventory crashed on 8 September 1964.


 Those 25-years of maintenance, most of the time under dificult conditions of parts supply, made these mechanics become real experts … almost artists … a quality that allows them to keep the actual 'Jungmeister' fleet in healthy flight conditions; even allowing them to build new ones!

  This biography wouldn´t be complete without mentioning the efforts of Mr.  Canary and Carl Bücker himself to re-start construction of these airplanes in the sixties.


  The total production of this plane was 275 units, most of which had been lost during WWII or simply requisitioned by some Eastern countries. The only units that were still flying were those of the Swiss and the Spanish Air Force.


  All the documentation to produce this airplane was in Soviet territory and the Swiss model was the Bü 133-B, so he went to C.A.S.A. to get the technical documentation for the Bü 133-D1, a most recent model.


  The manufacture of the prototype was at Josef Bitzh´s factory in Augsburg, Germany, where they had it ready by June 28th 1968. The test pilot was no other that the Count Hagenburg himself, 67 years old by that time.


  They were able to find only three Siemens engines, so the fourth unit had to be re-engined with a 220HP Franklin engine, giving birth to the Bü 133-F. These four airplanes were exported to the United States between 1968 and 1969, having a price of $22,000 per unit. One of these aircraft, now re-engined with a Warner radial engine, was flown in the 2010 "Airventure" airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, by the current U.S. National aerobatic team member David Martin.


  In 1968 the Swiss government sold 30 of its Jungmeisters, saturating the market. Bad luck hit again when Mr. Canary died during the filming of ‘TORA-TORA-TORA’. Given these circumstances and the advanced age of Mr. Bücker, the project was canceled.

   It would be a big loss to aviation not having them available today. Quintessential aerobatic aviation at its best; purest aeroplane. They´re still being manufactured in Spain, Poland and the Czech Republic, restored, rebuilt or sold as kits.


 Thanks to BUCKER-PRADO for the original in Spanish and all the photographs in the text.
 Thanks too to Stephen Beaver ( for his help "polishing" the English and adding some interesting data!

 The other Photographs Copyrighted to:

- Asgeir Westgaard.
- Chris Mattison.

 Many thanks to all for your help.

 A link to their sites, sites they provided, or sites containing their photos can be found by clicking on their names.

 Thanks a lot too to John Graff for his help with the text.