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Junkers G38

Long-Haul Passenger Airliner / Heavy-Lift Long-Range Transport Aircraft

Junkers G38

Long-Haul Passenger Airliner / Heavy-Lift Long-Range Transport Aircraft


The Junkers G38 of the 1930s represented the largest land-based aircraft in the world for a brief time in her flying career - two were constructed in pre-World War 2 Germany.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: Nazi Germany
YEAR: 1931
MANUFACTURER(S): Junkers Flugzeug und Motorenwerke AG - Nazi Germany
OPERATORS: Nazi Germany

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Junkers G38 (D-2000) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 76.15 feet (23.21 meters)
WIDTH: 144.36 feet (44 meters)
HEIGHT: 23.62 feet (7.2 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 33,069 pounds (15,000 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 46,826 pounds (21,240 kilograms)
ENGINE: 1929: 2 x Junkers L55 V12 water-cooled inline piston engines with 2 x Junkers L8a 6-cylinder water-cooled inline piston engines developing 413 horsepower each.
SPEED (MAX): 140 miles-per-hour (225 kilometers-per-hour; 121 knots)
RANGE: 2,175 miles (3,500 kilometers; 1,890 nautical miles)
CEILING: 12,139 feet (3,700 meters; 2.30 miles)


Series Model Variants
• G.38 - Base Model Designation; two examples completed.
• D-2000 - Original prototype; seating for up to 30 passengers.
• D-2500 - Secondary prototype; revised internals for seating 34.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Junkers G38 Long-Haul Passenger Airliner / Heavy-Lift Long-Range Transport Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 10/18/2016. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
During the early part of its flying career, the Junkers model G.38 was the largest land-based airplane anywhere in the world. What's more is the giant aircraft was developed under the restrictions of the Treaty of Versailles which hampered German industry following World War 1 (1914-1918) but fittingly played its role during the "Golden Age of Flight" that saw aircraft evolve considerably. The aircraft proved a great study in blended body-wing design for the period and two examples were built primarily for the passenger-hauling role.

Like other Junkers aircraft before it, the G.38 was completed with corrugated duraluminium stressed metal skin. The large cantilever wings were deliberately designed as deep, measuring some 5.7 feet, to house passenger cabins and a pair of engine nacelles. The fuselage, with the cockpit flight deck (stepped arrangement) overlooking the nose, tapered towards the tail. The tail itself was capped by a triple-rudder configuration sandwiched between a pair of horizontal planes. The undercarriage was wheeled though fixed in flight and spatted for some basic aerodynamic efficiency. An operating crew of seven was carried.

Dimensions included a length of 76.1 feet, a wingspan of 144.3 feet and a height of 23.6 feet. Empty weight registered 32,900 lb against a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 46,825 lb.

To power the massive bird, 2 x Junkers L55 V12 water-cooled inline piston engines were initially carried in the inboard engine mountings while 2 x Junkers L8a 6-cylinder, water-cooled inline piston engines were carried at the outboard positions. These gave an output power of 413 horsepower each. Because of the depth of the wing design (internally), not only could passengers be carried in the structures but flight engineers could also access the powerplants in-flight and make necessary repairs / adjustments.

Performance specs included a maximum speed of 140 miles per hour with a cruising speed of 110 miles per hour. Though slow the beast ranged out to 2,150 miles and its service ceiling reached 12,105 feet - certainly better qualities than competing Zeppelin passenger/cargo haulers of the period.

Passenger capacity eventually numbered thirty across three compartments and the persons lucky enough to secure a ticket in the wings were given forward-facing windscreens built directly into the wing leading edges. Lavatories were built-in as were "smoking rooms". The aircraft's MTOW also provided the system with an excellent cargo-hauling capability when used in the dedicated transport role.

First-flight of the G.38 (also recognized as the "D-2000") came on November 6th, 1929 and the launch customer was German carrier Lufthansa with flights seen from Berlin to London beginning on July 1st, 1931. Revision work on the aircraft followed from October onward and resulted in greater passenger-hauling capabilities (a second deck being added). The work also included installation of four L88 series engines of 800 horsepower each. The D-2000 prototype aircraft eventually crashed in 1936 following some maintenance work and the damage proved so great the aircraft was not repaired and set back into active service.

A second prototype aircraft ("D-2500") finished construction and given the same twin deck internal design and its passenger-hauling capability was slightly increased to thirty-four travelers.

Flights soon resumed to various points within Europe and out to London. In 1934 the engine fits were replaced by Junkers 4 (Junkers Jumo 204) series powerplants which boosted overall output power by nearly 1,000 horses. With the D-2000 crashing in 1936, D-2500 continued on alone until Germany found itself in a world war over Europe once again. The D-2500 was requisitioned as a military transport and continued in this role until May of 1941 when she was bombed by Royal Air Force attackers where she sat in Axis-controlled Athens, Greece.

The large aircraft design was licensed out to Mitsubishi during the 1930s which allowed the company to produce a military-minded bomber-transport type. This product was designated "Ki-20" and six were completed from the period spanning 1931 to 1935. These 10-man bombers served with the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force and had a first-flight recorded in 1932.


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
Hi: 150mph
Lo: 75mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (140mph).

Graph average of 112.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Junkers G38 (D-2000)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
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 (2)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
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 pioneering aircraft
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 representing modern aircraft
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 War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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