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Junkers Ju 390 (New York Bomber) Long-Range Heavy Bomber / Transport (1943)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 2/2/2015

This long-range heavy bomber was to strike at the heart of New York City.

The German Junkers Ju 390 long range heavy bomber aircraft design was intended to be able to strike at locations along the east coast of the United States during World War 2. The Ju 390 itself was a further development of the Junkers Ju 290 and was also tasked to fulfill the roles of maritime reconnaissance and transport in addition to its bombing duties. The Ju 390 - also known under the unofficial name of "New York Bomber" - was developed as two working prototypes, effectively making the idea of transatlantic bombing theoretically possible for Hitler and his Luftwaffe. The Ju 390 was part of the failed "Amerika Bomber" project considered by the Germans, this including the Messerschmitt Me 264 and Focke-Wulf Ta 400 designs.

Interestingly, the Junkers Ju 390 heavy bomber came along during the war when intense effort and general German wartime philosophy was still centered primarily around the use of medium-class bomber aircraft and different fighter/bomber hybrids. As such, full developmental resources were never really delegated to the Ju 390 project en mass and the entire program floundered as a result. With origins in the Ju 290 airframe, the Ju 390 basically saw its wings lengthened via extensions fitted to help accommodate the additional engines (three to a wing for a total of six installations). The fuselage was also applicably lengthened for the long-range bombing role. Defense was supplied by a pair of 13mm machine guns in a gondola position as well as 2 x 13mm machine guns in beam positions. A pair of 20mm cannons would have been mounted to a dorsal turret and a single 20mm cannon would have been installed in the tail. Crew accommodations would have amounted to ten personnel made up of the flight crew and dedicated gunners. The heavy transport model was given the proposed designation of Ju 390A-1 while the maritime patrol and long-range heavy bombers would have been assigned Ju 390B and Ju 390C respectively.

Power for the Ju 390 V01 prototype was supplied by 6 x BMW 801D radial piston engines, each delivering 1,730 horsepower. Maximum speed was listed at 314 miles per hour with a range of approximately 6,030 miles. The service ceiling was a reported 19,700 feet. Empty weight was in the vicinity of 87,100lbs while maximum take-off weight topped at 166,400lbs. The Ju 390 maintained a length of 112 feet, 2 inches with a span of 165 feet, 1 inch. Her height was 22 feet, 7 inches.

First flight for a Ju 390 V1 prototype occurred on October 20, 1943 revealing a promising start for an aircraft of this size. Ju 390 V2 was also flown in October of 1943 with testing believed having gone into 1945. An initial order of 26 Ju 390s were ordered for serial production, however, the program was cancelled in June of 1944 to allocate critical wartime resources and development time to other more pressing projects - particularly those defensive-minded in nature as Germany increasingly began fighting a defensive war with little need for a large offensive-minded bomber such as the Ju 390. The Ju 390 was officially strickened from Luftwaffe contention in 1945. Ju 390 V1 was destroyed on the ground by the Germans as the American Army closed in on the develop facility.

The idea of a transatlantic New York Bomber was an intriguing one nonetheless. In all practicality, the type would serve more of a psychological tool to help terrorize the citizens of America, proving that even their greatest cities were not out of reach of the Luftwaffe. This would have been similar in scope to the results garnered by American forces over mainland Japan, hitting all points of the island nation within time and proving that not even Tokyo herself was safe thanks to the exploits of the "Doolittle Raiders". The Ju 390 would have hit at the heart of New York City in a way that the Luftwaffe had shown it could do to the terrified citizens of London during the "London Blitz". The end result of the Ju 390 effect went largely unknown for the results could have been highly mixed - bombing could have either demoralized the American war effort if actions proved as intended or, as in the British people, strengthen the the resolve of a nation ten-fold.

A test flight of a Ju 390 that remains largely disputed is said to have occurred and there remains evidence for both sides to accept or dispute this claim. Nevertheless, the availability of two Ju 390 prototypes certainly make the 32-hour cross-ocean flight a real possibility. However, the fact remains that such a large aircraft approach over the Atlantic, with all its naval traffic, undetected leaves many to disagree that this flight ever really took place.

In the fall of 1944, Japanese authorities were granted local production rights to the Ju 390 by the Germans though none were ever started before the Empire capitulated in August of 1945.

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Specifications for the
Junkers Ju 390 (New York Bomber)
Long-Range Heavy Bomber / Transport

Focus Model: Junkers Ju 390 V1 (New York Bomber)
Country of Origin: Nazi Germany
Manufacturer: Junkers - Germany
Initial Year of Service: 1943
Production: 2

Crew: 10

Length: 112.20 ft (34.2 m)
Width: 165.03 ft (50.30 m)
Height: 22.60ft (6.89 m)
Weight (Empty): 87,083 lb (39,500 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 166,449 lb (75,500 kg)

Powerplant: 6 x BMW 801D radial piston engines generating 10,200 horsepower each.

Maximum Speed: 314 mph (505kmh; 273 kts)
Maximum Range: 6,027 miles (9,700km)
Service Ceiling: 19,685 ft (6,000 m; 3.7 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 0 feet-per-minute (0 m/min)

Hardpoints: 0
Armament Suite:
2 x 13mm MG 131 machine gun in gondola
2 x 13mm MG 131 machine guns in waist beam positions.
2 x 20mm MG 151/20 cannons in dorsal turret
1 x 20mm MG 151/20 cannon in tail gun position

Unknown internal ordnance carrying capability.

Ju 290 - Initial Production Design Model on which the Ju 390 is based from.

Ju 390 - Main Series Designation; two examples completed.

Ju 390 V1 - Initial Prototype Model

Ju 390 V2 - Second Completed Prototype

Ju 390A-1 - Proposed designation for heavy transport model.

Ju 390B - Proposed designation for maritime reconnaissance model.

Ju 390C - Proposed designation for long-range bomber variant.

Nazi Germany