Military Factory logo

Junkers Ju 388 (Stortebeker)

Nazi Germany (1944)
Picture of Junkers Ju 388 (Stortebeker) Multi-Role Heavy Fighter Aircraft

Roughly 100 of the Junkers Ju 388 multi-role heavy fighters were produced before the end of World War 2 in 1945.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Junkers Ju 388 (Stortebeker) Multi-Role Heavy Fighter Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 6/2/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The Junkers Ju 88 became a workhorse medium bomber for the German Luftwaffe during World War 2 (1939-1945). The type emerged in the mid-1930s to fulfill a standing requirement for a fast bomber and went on to find tremendous success in the conflict - outfitted in a myriad of ways to fulfill a myriad of roles. The type flew as a level bomber, dive bomber, reconnaissance platform, tank-buster, heavy fighter, and night-fighter during the course of its wartime service life.

In 1943, a greater Allied commitment to the bombing campaign soon pushed new requirements for the Luftwaffe. A charge was laid down for a new fast bomber / heavy fighter with good performance at high altitude and capable of carrying a useful payload. Part of the driving force of this new design were rumors emerging from the United States of a new high-altitude heavy bomber - this to become the Boeing B-29 "Superfortress". With cabin pressurization, advanced systems, and a hefty bomb load, the B-29 severely threatened the German war effort and required a direct counter to be at the ready.
This provided the impetus for a new Junkers design based on the classic Ju 88 airframe. From this aircraft was also evolved the Ju 188 which served as a useful tactical bomber and reconnaissance platform from February 1943 onward and was produced to the tune of 1,234 aircraft. Junkers engineers modified a Ju 188T-0 for high altitude work and three prototypes followed, each mimicking a special mission version - photographic reconnaissance, night-fighter, and general bomber. Cabin pressurization assured high altitudes were reachable. The twin engine arrangement of the Ju 88/Ju 188 were retained and heavy glazing was used at the cockpit to promote excellent vision. The defensive armament featured in early Junker bomber marks were removed as a weight-saving measure. To cover the aircraft's critical "six" position, a remote-controlled turret fitting 2 x 13mm MG 131 heavy machine guns was added. The turret was added to the tail section and directed via a periscope arrangement in the cockpit. The standard operating crew numbered between two and three depending on mission type. Power was served through 2 x BMW 801J 14-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines developing 1,810 horsepower each and maximum speed reached 385 mph with a service ceiling of 44,100 feet. Rate-of-climb equaled 1,240 feet per minute.

Three primary production models were finalized, these as Ju 388J, Ju 388K, and Ju 388L. The J-model featured 2 x 20mm MG 151/20 series cannons along with 2 x 30mm MK 103 or MK 108 30mm cannons in a fixed, forward-firing underfuselage gun pod. This was in addition to the 2 x 13mm MG 131 machine guns carried in the remote turret at the rear. The design was intended as the definitive heavy fighter model and could be further outfitted with the necessary equipment and armament to undertake night-fighting sorties. The K-model held 2 x 13mm MG 131 machine guns in the remote turret as standard and could manage a bomb load of up to 6,615 lb - to serve in the medium bomber role. The L-model featured just the 2 x 13mm machine guns in the tail turret, the rest of its onboard storage used for camera equipment in the reconnaissance role.

Ju 388M was a proposed torpedo bomber model based on the Ju 388K general bomber model. This design was not significantly furthered.

The Ju 388 carried the name of "Stortebeker", named after one Klaus Stortebeker (1360-1400), a privateer of Wismar in Northern Germany.

First flight of the series was recorded on December 22nd, 1943. Controls were deemed good and improved some over the original Ju 88 and Ju 188 offerings. With further testing and some revisions pressed, the aircraft was formally adopted into service with the definitive production models becoming the Ju 388L airframe. This was decided upon when it became apparent that the B-29 would first be committed to the Pacific Theater against the Japanese mainland and not over Europe as originally expected by the Germans. Six total prototypes and 20 L-0 pre-production vehicles formed the Ju 388 finalization process. First-batch production became 10 x Ju 388K-0 models. 1944 saw 46 Ju 388L-1 aircraft completed with some eight or more following in 1945. Exact total production numbers proved elusive in the post-war years though it is believed that around 100 total Ju 388s were completed.

Availability of the Ju 388 over the fluid European fronts were scarce and only a few sorties are thought to have been undertaken before the end of the European side of the war completed in May of 1945. The series was primarily used in the high-altitude reconnaissance role. In at least one recorded action, a sole Ju 388 fell to the guns of a high-flying Supermarine "Spitfire" fighter who brought down the marauding aircraft over English Channel airspace from underneath (it could not match the Ju 388s altitude).

At least five German squadrons featured the Ju 388 at some point in the war. Nachtjagdgeschwader 2 managed four preproduction models. The Ju 388 - along with other more advanced German aircraft of the war - may also have had its blueprints sent to Japan for serial production - though none were realized by war's end. Captured German Ju 388 examples were tested at length by the Allies following the war. The Smithsonian Institution (National Air Museum) holds one airframe in storage awaiting restoration for proposed display at the Udvar-Hazey Center.






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 400mph
Lo: 200mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (383mph).

    Graph average of 300 miles-per-hour.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
100
100


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
  Compare this entry against other aircraft using our Comparison Tool  
National Flag Graphic
Origin: Nazi Germany
Year: 1944
Type: Multi-Role Heavy Fighter Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Junkers - Nazi Germany
Production: 100
Global Operators:
Nazi Germany
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Junkers Ju 388J model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
3


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
53.44 ft


Meters
16.29 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
72.18 ft


Meters
22 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
14.27 ft


Meters
4.35 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
22,928 lb


Kilograms
10,400 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
32,353 lb


Kilograms
14,675 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
2 x BMW 801J 14-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines developing 1,800 horsepower each.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
383 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
616 kph


Knots
333 kts


Performance
CEILING


Feet
44,094 ft


Meters
13,440 m


Miles
8.35 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
1,240 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
378 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Armament - Hardpoints (0):

Ju 388J:
2 x 20mm MG 151/20 cannons
2 x 30mm MK 103 OR MK 108 cannons in underfuselage gunpack.
2 x 13mm MG 131 heavy machine guns in remote-controlled tail turret.

Ju 388K:
2 x 13mm MG 131 heavy machine guns in remote-controlled tail turret.
Up to 6,600lbs of internal stores.

Ju 388L:
2 x 13mm MG 131 heavy machine guns in remote-controlled tail turret.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• Ju 388 - Base Series Designation
• Ju 388J - Heavy Fighter / Night Fighter Variant
• Ju 388K - High-Altitude Bomber Variant
• Ju 388L - Photographic-Reconnaissance Variant
• Ju 388M - Based on Ju 388K model; proposed torpedo bomber variant; never produced.