Junkers Ju 88
In terms of versatility and long service the Junkers Ju 88 bomber matched the outstanding record of the Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter. Conceived as a high-speed medium bomber in 1936, the first prototype Ju 88 VI was flown by Flugkapitän Kindermann at Dessau on 21 December the same year. The three-seat all-metal aircraft was originally powered by two 1,000-hp (746kW) Daimler-Benz DB 600A V-12 engines in annular cowlings. Nine further prototypes followed before construction of 10 pre-production Ju 88A-O aircraft was started in 1939, by which time the nose arid cabin had been revised to accommodate a four-man crew. Dive brakes were now fitted under the outer wings to enable dive attacks to be made, and external bomb racks under the inner wings increased the bomb load from 500 kg (1,102 lb), carried internally, to a total of 1500kg (3,307 lb).
Production Ju 88A-1 bombers were joining the Luftwaffe at the outbreak of war, and about 60 aircraft had been completed by the end of 1939. The Ju 88 test unit commanded by Hauptmann Pohl, Erprobungskommando 88, was redesignated I/KG 25 in August 1939, and the following month became I/KG 30, carrying out its first operation with an attack on British warships in the Firth of Forth on 26 September. A further raid on the same target followed on 16 October, when two Ju 88s were shot down by Supermarine Spitfires.
By the time of the German invasion of Norway seven Gruppen of LG l, KG 30 and KG 51, together with Aufklärungsgruppe 122, had been equipped or were re-equipping with Ju 88As, production of which was nearing 300 a month. New bomber variants included the Ju 88A-2 with rocket-assisted takeoff gear, the Ju 88 A-4 with increased wing span, strengthened landing gear and 1,340-hp (1000-kW) Junkers Jumo 211J-1 or J-2 engines, and the generally similar Ju 88 A-5. All these versions appeared during 1940, the Ju 88A taking a prominent part in the summer Battle of Britain and winter Blitz with 17 Gruppen, of which 14 were Kampfgruppen. By reason of their relatively high speed, the Ju 88As proved the most difficult of the German bombers to destroy, and carried out a number of very successful attacks.
The Ju 88A series remained the principal bomber version, later subvariants including the Ju 88A-6 with balloon cable fender, the Ju 88A-6/U three-seat long-range maritime bomber with FuG 200 Hohentwiel search radar, the Ju 88A-9, Ju 88A-10 and Ju 88A-11 which were tropicalized versions of the Ju 88A-1, Ju 88A-5 and Ju 88A-4 respectively, the Ju 88A-14 antishipping strike bomber, the Ju 88A-15 with bulged bomb bay capable of enclosing 3000kg (6614 lb) of bombs, and the Ju 88A-17 torpedo-bomber.
Ju 88As saw considerable action in the Balkans and Mediterranean, and of course on the Eastern Front. Perhaps their most outstanding service was however with HI/KG 26 and KG 30 when based in northern Norway for operations against the Allied North Cape convoys in 1.941-2; in all, the 120 Ju 88As involved are estimated to have sunk 27 merchant ships and seven naval vessels. Ju 88As of LG l operated with similar success against the Malta convoys during the summer of 1942.
Towards the end of the war many redundant Ju 88As were converted to become the unmanned, explosivefilled component of the Mistel composite aircraft weapon that was used with some success in the last desperate months of the Third Reich.
Specification Junkers Ju 88A-4
Type: four-seat medium/dive bomber
Powerplant: two 1,340-hp (1000-kw) Junkers Jumc 211J-1 or 211J-2 inverted V-12 piston engines
Performance: maximum speed 450 km/h (280 mph) at 6000 m (19,685 ft); climb to 5400 m (17,715 ft) in 23 minutes; service ceiling 8200 m (26,900 ft); range 2730 km (1,696 miles)
Weights: empty 9860 kg (21,737 lb); maximum take-off 14000 kg (30,865 lb)
Dimensions: span 20.00 m (65 ft 7 in); length 14,40 m (47 ft 2% in); height 4.85 m (15 ft 11 in); wing area 54.50 m2 (586.63 sq ft)
Armament: up to seven 7.92-mm (0.31 in) MG15 or MG81 machine-guns, plus a maximum internal and external bombload of 3600 kg (7,935 lb)