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Junkers Ju 90

Passenger Airliner / General Transport Aircraft

Nazi Germany | 1938

"The Junkers Ju 90 was a pre-World War 2 German airliner, able to seat forty and serving with Lufthansa and the Luftwaffe."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 06/28/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
During the Interwar period following World War 1 (1914-1918), a rearming Germany made strides in all sectors of its war-making industry including aerospace. Established German aeroplane maker Junkers Flugzeug, in business since 1915, put the finishing touches on what would become a forty-seat, quadruple-engined passenger airliner - the "Ju 90" - during 1937. The design was an evolution of the military-minded, though short-lived and ultimately abandoned, "Ju 89" long-range strategic heavy bomber for the Luftwaffe which encompassed just two prototypes.

For its part in aviation history, the Ju 90 went into the air for the first time on August 28th, 1937 and entered service with launch customer Deutsche Luft Hansa in 1938. Just eighteen of the type were built with some eventually being pressed into service with the Luftwaffe at the outbreak of World War 2 (1939-1945). Of the completed lot, two airframes survived all of the war only to be taken over by the Allies for evaluation before being scrapped in full.

On the whole, the new aircraft reused the design lines and general configuration of the Ju 89 before it. Mainplanes were set low along the sides of the fuselage and ahead of midships, each member given a pair of nacelle engines. The fuselage was slender and relatively thick with the flight deck overlooking the short nosecone and the empennage tapering to the twin-vertical-finned tail unit. A "tail dragger" undercarriage was fitted for ground-running and made retractable (including the tailwheel) to better preserve aerodynamics.

The aircraft was developed to specifications stated by air carrier Luft Hansa who sought a long-distance passenger hauler earlier in the decade. After the cancellation of the Ju 89 bomber project by the Luftwaffe, Junkers reused the third, still-incomplete, prototype airframe as the basis for the subsequent non-military Ju 90.

The initial production model became the "Ju 90A", standardized from work had across prototypes V1 through V4. The engine of choice for V1 became the DB6000C liquid-cooled engine offering 1,100 horsepower each though high-speed testing eventually doomed the first prototype in February of 1938. Prototype V2, with its BMW 132 air-cooled radial engines, suffered a similar fate and was lost in November of that year with mechanical failure believed to be the cause.

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Luft Hansa contracted for a fleet of eight Ju 90 A-1 airframes though only seven of the lot were eventually delivered as the Luftwaffe claimed one of the litter (they later went on to claim six more of the aircraft and used some of this fleet in their invasion of Norway). South African Airways was to become another civilian operator of the series as it contracted for two aircraft, these differing in their switch to American Pratt & Whitney "Twin Wasp" radial engines of 900 horsepower. However, neither airframe was actually delivered to the company due to the outbreak of war - the pair, instead, given over to the Luftwaffe for the mounting war effort.

The Ju 90A-1 featured an operating crew of four can could carry forty passengers in relative comfort. Length reached 86.2 feet with a wingspan of 114.10 feet and a height of 24.6 feet. Empty weight was 42,385lb against an MTOW of 74,255lb. Power was served from 4 x BMW 132 H-1 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines developing 820 horsepower apiece, these driving three-bladed, constant-speed propeller units.

Performance-wise, the A-1 could reach speeds of 220 miles-per-hour but was generally restricted to cruising at near-200mph speeds. Range (ferry) was an impressive 1,300 miles and its service ceiling peaked at 18,860 feet.

The follow-up Ju 90B had the vertical tailplanes and passenger cabin windows rounded off for a more streamlined, modern appearance. This mark was proven through a series of prototypes from V5 to V10.

Prototype V11 served as the framework for the Ju 290 transport / bomber and were joined by V7 and V8 while prototype V9 became the basis for the Ju 390 "Amerika Bomber" initiative. V4 served the Luftwaffe during the war years and was notable for its switch to Jumo 211F/L engines of 1,320 horsepower. V5 and V6 were used as prototypes to prove a military transport model for the Luftwaffe sound during 1939.

The Ju 90's footprint in the war years was relatively modest but the design did go on to influence the two aforementioned, higher-profile, heavy bombers eventually undertaken by the Luftwaffe - making it a critical addition of the Interwar period to a rebuilding German war machine.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Junkers Ju 90A-1 Passenger Airliner / General Transport Aircraft.
4 x BMW 132 H-1 9-cylinder, air-cooled radial piston engines developing 820 horsepower each driving three-bladed propellers.
217 mph
350 kph | 189 kts
Max Speed
199 mph
320 kph | 173 kts
Cruise Speed
18,865 ft
5,750 m | 4 miles
Service Ceiling
1,305 miles
2,100 km | 1,134 nm
Operational Range
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Junkers Ju 90A-1 Passenger Airliner / General Transport Aircraft.
86.3 ft
26.30 m
O/A Length
114.8 ft
(35.00 m)
O/A Width
24.6 ft
(7.50 m)
O/A Height
42,384 lb
(19,225 kg)
Empty Weight
74,296 lb
(33,700 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Notable series variants as part of the Junkers Ju 90 family line.
Ju 90 - Base Series Designation.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Junkers Ju 90. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 18 Units

Contractor(s): Junkers - Nazi Germany
National flag of modern Germany National flag of Nazi Germany

[ Nazi Germany ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (217mph).

Graph Average of 225 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
1 / 1
Image of the Junkers Ju 90
Image from the Public Domain.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Developments of similar form-and-function, or related, to the Junkers Ju 90 Passenger Airliner / General Transport Aircraft.
Going Further...
The Junkers Ju 90 Passenger Airliner / General Transport Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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