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Junkers Ju 88 Medium Bomber / Multi-Role Aircraft (1939)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 10/31/2014

Like the Dornier Do 17 and the Heinkel He 111, the Junkers Ju 88 became a mainstay of the German Luftwaffe bombing campaigns throughout all of World War 2.

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The Junkers Ju 88 formed a third of the German Luftwaffe medium bomber triad of World War 2 (1939-1945) and, like its sister aircraft, the Dornier Do 17 and the Heinkel He 111, went on to be developed for a myriad of battlefield roles that went far beyond her original categorization of "fast bomber". Roles ultimately included dedicated night-fighters, torpedo bombers, and special mission aircraft. The Ju 88 was the most-produced of the three bombers with 15,183 examples completed prior to war's end in 1945. It saw its final days in service to the French Air Force where it was retired in 1951.

Design of the Ju 88 fell to W.H. Evers and Alfred Gassner and was developed along the lines of a bomber flying fast enough to evade enemy interceptors and ground-based fire. Junkers engineers had interested the German Air Ministry with their Ju 85 prototype, a conventional twin-engine form with a twin vertical tail fin arrangement. From this was evolved a new Ministry requirement of August 1935 which called for a three-crew fast bomber capable of up to 2,200lb payloads and a prototype contract was handed to Junkers for the work in June of 1936. Five prototypes - V1 to V5 - then followed, differing mainly in proposed armament fittings and V6 then followed with a revised undercarriage design. A formal first flight ensued on December 21st, 1936 and this was prototype V1 with civilian markings to hide the aircraft's true military bombing role from the world.

Development continued and the design evolved into a heavier form with reinforced wings, a four-man crew, and a lengthened fuselage. The aircraft now proved stronger for the rigors of dive bombing and the extra crewmember aided in general operation of the aircraft and its defense. The type proved an operational range of 620 miles and could reach speeds of 320 miles per hour while under the stresses of a 4,400lb war load. While Luftwaffe authorities pursued the design with a certain level of vigor - even as its pursued competing designs from Dornier and Heinkel - developmental issues delayed finalization of the product which was initially intended for service during 1938. The type was formally adopted in 1939 and on call in limited numbers during the German invasion of Poland to begin World War 2 (September 1st).

The Ju 88 sported a rather ungainly appearance but was consistent with the German bomber design trend of the period. The heavily-framed cockpit was held in a stepped arrangement overlooking a short, glazed nose section. The fuselage was expectedly tubular and terminated in a single rounded vertical tail fin at rear. The wing mainplanes were low-mounted along the forward section of the aircraft with the engine nacelles installed at each wing leading edge. The engines sported large spinners and drove three-bladed propeller units. Most Ju 88 versions held a belly gondola for a defensive machine gun position. The undercarriage arrangement was of the typical tail-dragger configuration featuring two main legs.

Primary bomber models were designated collectively as "Ju 88A" and came with 2 x Junkers Jumo 211 series engines while including six subvariants. Ju 88A-0 marked pre-production aircraft which led to the A-1 model and its Junkers Jumo 211B-1 series engines of 1,200 horsepower output each. A-2 models followed with Jumo 211G-1 engines while A-3 served as dual control trainer platforms. Ju 88A-4 was an improved A-model form and introduced rounded wingtips at the ends of extended wing mainplanes. A-5 models were earlier A-model marks no brought up to the A-4 model standard complete with its changes.

A-4 models featured a crew of four made up of the pilot, a bombardier who doubled as the nose gunner, a radio operator also serving as the rear gunner, and a navigator doubling as the ventral gunner. Dimensions included a length of 15.3 meters with a wingspan of 20 meters and a height of 5 meters. Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) neared 30,870lb while power was served through 2 x Junkers Jumo 211J series liquid-cooled inverted V12 engines of 1,400 horsepower each unit. Maximum speed reached 317 miles per hour with a range out to 1,430 miles, a service ceiling of 29,500 feet, and a rate-of-climb in the 770 feet-per-minute range. Armament was centered on six 7.92mm MG81 machine guns - one at the nose, another at the cockpit windscreen, two set at the rear of the cockpit flightdeck, and the pair fitted to the ventral gondola facing rear. Bomb load capacity reached 3,100lb through in the internal bomb bay though up to 6,600lb could be fielded along external hardpoints at the expense of drag and increased weight.


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Specifications for the
Junkers Ju 88
Medium Bomber / Multi-Role Aircraft


Focus Model: Junkers Ju 88A-4
Country of Origin: Nazi Germany
Manufacturer: Junkers Flugzeug-und-Motorenwerke AG - Nazi Germany
Initial Year of Service: 1939
Production: 15,183


Crew: 4


Length: 47.08 ft (14.35 m)
Width: 65.94 ft (20.10 m)
Height: 16.73ft (5.10 m)
Weight (Empty): 21,738 lb (9,860 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 30,865 lb (14,000 kg)


Powerplant: 2 x Junkers Jumo 211J-1 OR 211J-2 V12 liquid-cooled engines developing 1,400 horsepower.


Maximum Speed: 317 mph (510kmh; 275 kts)
Maximum Range: 1,510 miles (2,430km)
Service Ceiling: 29,528 ft (9,000 m; 5.6 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 770 feet per minute (235 m/min)


Hardpoints: 6
Armament Suite:
TYPICAL:
1 x 7.92mm MG81 machine gun in nose
1 x 7.92mm MG81 machine gun in cockpit windscreen
2 x 7.92mm MG81 machine guns on trainable mounting in rear cockpit area.
2 x 7.92mm MG81 machine guns in rear-facing ventral gondola position.

OPTIONAL:
Up to 3,100lbs of internal drop ordnance OR 6,600lbs of external drop ordnance.


Variants:
Ju 88V-1 - Prototype Model; three seat crew compartment; fitted with Daimler-Benz DB600A V-12 1,000hp engines; total of ten prototype produced.


Ju 88A-0 - Pre-Production Model Designation

Ju 88A-1 - Initial Production Models; Series A Subvariant.

Ju 88A-2 - Series A Subvariant; fitted with rocket-assisted take-off.

Ju 88A-3 - Series A Subvariant

Ju 88A-4 - Series A Subvariant; Fitted with Junkers Jumo 211J-1 or Junkers Jumo 211J-2 class engines; increased wingspan; reworked and strengthened landing gear.

Ju 88A-5 - Series A Subvariant; similar to the Ju 88A-4 model series.

Ju 88A-6 - Series A Subvariant; fitted with a balloon cable fender.

Ju 88A-6/U - Long-Range Maritime Bomber; fitted with FuG 200 search radar and applicable equipment.

Ju 88A-7 - Series A Subvariant

Ju 88A-8 - Series A Subvariant

Ju 88A-9 - Series A Subvariant; tropicalized version of the Ju 88A-1 model series.

Ju 88A-10 - Series A Subvariant; tropicalized version of the Ju 88A-5 model series.

Ju 88A-11 - Series A Subvariant; tropicalized version of the Ju 88A-4 model series.

Ju 88A-12 - Series A Subvariant

Ju 88A-13 - Series A Subvariant

Ju 88A-14 - Series A Subvariant; anti-ship strike platform.

Ju 88A-15 - Series A Subvariant; increased bombload capacity through an added buldge in fuselage bomb bay area.

Ju 88A-16 - Series A Subvariant

Ju 88A-17 - Series A Subvariant; anti-shipping torpedo bomber.

Ju 88S - Secondary Production Model; produced in three subvariants; fitted with BMW 801G 1,700hp engines; redesigned nose assembly; reduced bomb load reflected in improved performance.

Ju 88T - Reconnaissance Model

Ju 88H - Long-range Derivative

Ju 88C - Heavy Fighter Version developed from the Ju 88A model series; fitted with BMW 801A radial engines; solid designed nose for improved offensive armament; spawned nightfighter variants.

Ju 88G - Definitive Nightfighter Service Model

Ju 88R - Improved Ju 88C Model

Ju 88D - Long-range Reconnaissance Model

Ju 88P - Anti-Tank Model

Ju 188 - "High Performance" Model

Ju 388 - "High Altitude" Model


Operators:
Bulgaria; Finland; France; Nazi Germany; Hungary; Italy; Romania; United Kingdom; Soviet Union; Spain