YouTube – Junkers Ju 88
2 x 1,340 hp ea.
46 ft. 1 in.
65 ft. 10 in.
7 – 7.92 mm
Junkers Ju 88
The Junkers Ju 88 was deployed by the Luftwaffe from the beginning to the end of World War II. It was a multirole attack aircraft adaptable to many missions, developed from a bomber.
Junkers Ju 88 origins trace back to early 1936 when the Reichs Luft Ministerium (RLM) German Air Ministry called for a fast twin engine bomber capable of carrying over 1,100 lbs. or ordnance. The Junkers Flugzeug und Motorenwerke design was the Junkers Ju 88. Two U.S. employees of Junkers, hired for their knowledge of stressed skin construction, were the primary designers of the aircraft.
Construction of the prototype aircraft began in May of 1936. Its first flight was on December 21, 1936, just seven months later. Four additional prototypes were produced, with the last breaking numerous speed records during 1937.
The German Air Ministry then changed specifications to include dive bombing, a larger payload, and increased range. The Junkers Ju 88 model 6 was produced to meet the specifications, and took to the sky on June 18, 1938. In December of 1938 the RLM chose the aircraft for the Luftwaffe.
It was in 1939 when the first Junkers Ju 88 aircraft were deployed to front line units. The aircraft had an immediate positive impact on Luftwaffe bombing forces. It carried a heavier payload and was faster than its predecessors.
While fast, maneuverable, and strong, the Junkers Ju 88 did not do well in the Battle of Britain. Although armed with seven machine guns, these were just not sufficient to defend against faster British fighter aircraft. All forward firing machine guns, except that operated by the pilot, had to be operated by the flight engineer. It was necessary to go from one machine gun to another to fire at the attacking British aircraft. On later models, additional machine guns and more armor were added to protect the crew. However, these additions made little difference.
A number of Junkers Ju 88 aircraft were produced with longer wings to enable them to carry up to 7,900 lbs. of ordnance. Despite the heavier loads, the aircraft were able to operate out of roughly paved front-line airfields.
The Junkers Ju 88 was used for more diverse missions than any other Luftwaffe bomber of the Second World War. Seventeen versions were produced including medium bomber, dive bomber, reconnaissance aircraft, night fighter, and torpedo bomber.
One version of the Junkers Ju 88, pictured above, was produced as a flying bomb called the Mistel. A fighter aircraft was mounted on top of the unmanned bomber. The combination was then flown to a target, where the fighter released the bomber that was filled with explosives towards the target. The fighter then returned to its airfield. The combined aircraft usually employed older Junkers Ju 88 bombers and fighters. A total of some eighty such aircraft were produced, but relatively few missions were flown. They did not prove very effective.
A total of 14,676 Junkers Ju 88 aircraft of all types were produced before the War ended.
Junkers Ju 88