Junkers Ju 88 Medium Bomber / Multi-Role Aircraft
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.
Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
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).