Junkers Ju 86 Passenger Airliner / Reconnaissance Aircraft / Medium Bomber
The Junkers Ju 86 served as passenger airliner, reconnaissance platform and bomber during her tenure.
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Before the power of the German Luftwaffe was unleashed upon the world in World War 2 (1939-1945) it undertook various secret programs to modernize and strengthen its inventory in the pre-war years. These projects often times took the form of a civilian-minded products though the military intent was buried in the requirements. This proved the case with the Junkers Ju 86, a twin-engined medium-class aircraft that was developed under the guise of a 10-passenger civilian airliner while also evolved along the lines of a medium bomber type.
Work began in 1934 with the civilian model intended to fulfill a requirement for carrier Deutsche Luft Hansa (1926-1945). The military model was to be fulfilled by way of competition between rivals Junkers and Heinkel - the former producing their lesser-known Ju 86 while delivered its classic He 111 series (detailed elsewhere on this site). While both were adopted for military service, the He 111 went on to have a fuller wartime career with the Luftwaffe (and others). The companies were contracted to produce five total prototypes apiece.
Junkers engineers adopted a smooth, all-metal skinned design with low-set monoplane wings. The wing were moved ahead of midships with the flight deck set in a stepped arrangement behind and above a heavily glazed nose section. The fuselage became a long, tapered body housing the various systems required - including the bomb bay which held its war load vertically. The tail unit consisted of a split vertical fin arrangement common to many large aircraft of the period. A "tail-dragger", all-wheeled undercarriage was used with only the main legs being made retractable. The engines were held in nacelles mounted along the wing leading edges. Power was to come from a pair of Junkers Jumo 204 series diesel-fueled engines - the diesel approach intended to provide the aircraft with good fuel efficiency.
Standardized armament for military forms would be 3 x 7.92mm MG15 machine guns - one fitted to the nose, the other in a dorsal mounting and the last in a ventral gondola position. The bomb load would total 2,200 lb of internally-held stores.
The diesel engines were not ready in time for the first military-minded form (Ju 86 ab1) so it was outfitted with Siemens radial engines and this product marked a first flight on November 4th, 1934. Then followed another military prototype (Ju 86 cb) in January and it was in April that the initial civilian-minded prototype (Ju 86 V4) arrived - the bomb bay replaced by a passenger cabin. Ju 86 Ba1 was a military transport prototype and Ju 86 V5 became another prototype form - this serving as the basis for the Ju 86A production models.
By this time serial manufacture was underway and led by the Ju 86A-0 which numbered thirteen pre-series aircraft. Ju 86A-1 was the initial bomber in service and Ju 86B-0 marked seven pre-series aircraft for the transport role and these became the Ju 86C-1 in service for Luft Hansa, carrying Junkers Jumo 205C diesel engines. Ju 86D-1 was the bomber variant and introduced a revised tail cone for improved stability. The Ju 86E-1, another bomber product, was outfitted with a pair of BMW 132F radial engines. Ju 86E-2 followed with 2 x BMW 132N radials.