|Junkers Ju 88|
|Ju 88A over France, 1942|
|Role||Dive bomber/Tactical bomber/Night fighter/Torpedo bomber/Heavy fighter|
|Designed by||W. H. Evers & Alfred Gassner|
|First flight||21 December 1936|
|Number built||circa 15,000|
|Variants||Junkers Ju 188|
The Junkers Ju 88 was a World War II German Luftwaffe twin-engine, multi-role aircraft. Designed by Hugo Junkers' Junkers company in the mid-1930s, it suffered from a number of technical problems during the later stages of its development and early operational roles, but became one of the most versatile combat aircraft of the war. Affectionately known as "The Maid of all Work" (a feminine version of "jack of all trades"), the Ju 88 proved to be suited to almost any role. Like a number of other Luftwaffe bombers, it was used successfully as a bomber, dive bomber, night fighter, torpedo bomber, reconnaissance aircraft, heavy fighter, and even as a flying warhead during the closing stages of conflict. Despite its protracted development, the aircraft became one of the Luftwaffe's most important assets. There were 15,000 Ju 88s built during World War II, more than any other twin-engine German aircraft of the period.
In August 1935, the Reichsluftfahrtministerium submitted its requirements for an unarmed, three-seat, high-speed bomber, with a payload of 800-1,000 kg (1,760-2,200 lb). Junkers presented their initial design in June 1936, and were given clearance to build two prototypes (Werknummer 4941 and 4942). The first two aircraft were to have a range of 2,000 km (1,240 mi) and were to be powered by two DB 600s. Three further aircraft, (Werknummer 4943, 4944 and 4945), were to be powered by Jumo 211 engines. The first two prototypes, Ju 88 V1 and V2, were different from the V3, V4 and V5 in that the latter three models were equipped with three defensive armament positions to the rear of the cockpit, and were able to carry two 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) bombs under the inner wing. The first five prototypes had conventionally-operating dual-strut leg rearwards-retracting main gear, but starting with the V6 prototype, a main gear design that twisted the new, single-leg main gear strut through 90° during the retraction sequence debuted, much like the American Curtiss P-40 fighter design used. This feature allowed the main wheels to end up above the lower end of the strut when fully retracted and was adopted as standard for all future production Ju 88s. These single-leg landing gear struts also made use of stacks of conical Belleville washers inside them, as their main form of suspension for takeoffs and landings. At this time radical modifications began to produce a "heavy" dive bomber. The wings were strengthened, dive brakes were added, the fuselage was extended and the number of crewmembers was increased to four. Despite these advances, the Ju 88 was to enter the war as a medium bomber.
The choice of annular radiators for engine cooling on the Ju 88, which placed these radiators immediately forward of each engine, and directly behind each propeller, allowed the cooling lines for the engine coolant and oil-cooling radiators (integrated within the annular design) to be just about as short as possible. The concept may have led to a number of other German military aircraft designs adopting the same solution, such as the Arado Ar 240, Heinkel He 177, Heinkel He 219, the inline powered developments of the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 and the twin engined Focke-Wulf Ta 154.
The aircraft's first flight was made by the prototype Ju 88V1, which bore the civil registration D-AQEN, on 21 December 1936. When it first flew, it managed about 580 km/h (360 mph) and Hermann Göring, head of the Luftwaffe was ecstatic. It was an aircraft that could finally fulfill the promise of the Schnellbomber, a high-speed bomber. The streamlined fuselage was modeled after its contemporary, the Dornier Do 17, but with fewer defensive guns because the belief still held that it could outrun late 1930s-era fighters. The fifth prototype set a 1,000 km (620 mi) closed-circuit record in March 1939, carrying a 2,000 kg (4,410 lb) payload at a speed of 517 km/h (320 mph). However, by the time Luftwaffe planners had had their own "pet" features added (including dive-bombing), the Ju 88's top speed had dropped to around 450 km/h (280 mph). The Ju 88V7 was fitted with cable-cutting equipment to combat the potential threat of British barrage balloons, and was successfully tested in this role. The V7 then had the Ju 88 A-1 nose installed, complete with the Bola undernose ventral defensive machine gun emplacement, and was put through a series of dive-bombing tests with 250 kg (550 lb) and 500 kg (1,100 lb) bombs, and in early 1940, with 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) bombs. The Ju 88V8 (DG+BF, Wrk Nr 4948) flew on the 3 October 1938. The A-0 series was developed through the V9 and V10 prototypes. The A-1 series prototypes were Wrk Nrs 0003, 0004 and 0005. The A-1s were given the Jumo 211B-1 or G powerplants. 
Dr. Heinrich Koppenberg (managing director of Jumo) assured Göring in the autumn of 1938 that 300 Ju 88s per month was definitely possible. Göring was in favour of the A-1 variant for mass production.
Production was delayed drastically with developmental problems. Although planned for a service introduction in 1938, the Ju 88 finally entered squadron service (with only 12 aircraft) on the first day of the attack on Poland in 1939. Production was painfully slow with only one Ju 88 manufactured per week, as problems continually kept cropping up. The Ju 88C series of heavy fighter was also designed very early in 1940, but kept secret from Göring, as he only wanted bombers.
In October 1937 Generalluftzeugmeister Ernst Udet had ordered the development of the Ju 88 as a heavy dive bomber. This decision was influenced by the success of the Ju 87 Stuka in this role. The Junkers development center at Dessau gave priority to the study of pull-out systems, and dive brakes. The first prototype to be tested as a dive bomber was the Ju 88V4 followed by the V5 and V6. These models became the planned prototype for the A-1 series. The V5 made its maiden flight on 13 April 1938, and the V6 on 28 June 1938. Both the V5 and V6 were fitted with four-blade propellers, an extra bomb bay and a central "control system". As a dive bomber, the Ju 88 was capable of pinpoint deliveries of heavy loads; however, despite all the modifications, dive bombing still proved too stressful for the airframe, and in 1943, tactics were changed so that bombs were delivered from a shallower, 45° diving angle. Aircraft and bomb sights were accordingly modified and dive brakes were removed. With an advanced Stuvi dive-bombsight, accuracy remained very good for its time. Maximum bomb load of the A-4 was 2,500 kg (5,510 lb), but in practice, standard bomb load was 1,500-2,000 kg (3,310-4,410 lb). Junkers later used the A-4 airframe for the A-17 torpedo carrier. However, the variant lacked a ventral gun position.
The standard fighter-bomber version became the Ju 88C-6, applying experience acquired with the A-4 bomber, equipped with the same Jumo 211J engines. The C-6 was used mostly as fighter-bomber and therefore assigned to bomber units. As a reaction to the increasing number of attacks on German shipping, especially on U-boats in the Bay of Biscay, from July 1942 started flying anti-shipping patrols and escort missions from bases in France. V/.Kampfgeschwader 40 being formed to operate the C-6.
The aircraft of V./KG 40 (which was redesignated I./Zerstörergeschwader 1 in 1943) were a significant threat to the antisubmarine aircraft and operated as escort fighters for the more vulnerable Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor bombers. Between July 1942 and July 1944, the Ju 88s of KG 40 and ZG 1 were credited with 109 confirmed air-to air victories, at a cost of 117 losses. They were finally deployed against the Allied Invasion of Normandy in June 1944, incurring heavy losses for little effect before being disbanded on 5 August 1944.
The Ju 88C was originally intended as a fighter-bomber and heavy fighter by adding fixed, forward-firing guns to the nose while retaining some bomb carrying ability of the A-series bomber. The C-series had a solid metal nose, and retained the A-series style vertical tail, while omitting the ventral Bola gondola under the crew compartment. It was later used as a night fighter and this became the main role of the Ju 88C.
The first night fighter version of the Ju 88 was the C-2, based on the A-1 and armed with one 20 mm MG FF cannon and three 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17 machine guns placed in new metal nose. These examples entered service in Zerstörerstaffel of KG 30 and the unit was renamed II./NJG 1 in July 1940.
The C-6b version was the C-6 Zerstörer plane equipped with FuG 202 Lichtenstein BC low-UHF band airborne intercept radar. The first four C-6b fighters were tested in early 1942 in NJG 1. The trials were successful and the aircraft was ordered into production. In October 1943, many C-6bs were upgraded with new radar systems. The first new radar equipment was the FuG 212 Lichtenstein C-1, followed in 1944 by the FuG 220 Lichtenstein SN-2.
A small number of the C-series fighters had their new solid-metal noses specially painted to resemble the bomber A-series' "beetle's eye" faceted clear view nose glazing, in an attempt to deceive Allied pilots into thinking the fighters were actually bombers; the unusual "camouflage" attempt did result initially in a number of Allied aerial losses.
The Ju 88R-series night fighters were basically versions of the Ju 88 C-6b powered by BMW 801 radial engines. The R-1 had 1,560 PS BMW 801L engines and the R-2 had 1,700 PS BMW 801 G-2 engines.
One of the first aircraft from the R-1 series that went into service (Werknummer 360043) was involved in one of the most significant defections which the Luftwaffe suffered. On 9 May 1943, this night fighter, which was stationed with 10./NJG 3 in Norway, flew to the RAF Station at Dyce (now Aberdeen Airport) with its entire crew and complete electronic equipment on board. The fact that Spitfire fighters escorted it towards the end of its flight could indicate that its arrival had been expected. It was immediately transferred to Farnborough Airfield, received RAF markings (PJ876), and was tested in great detail. The preserved aircraft is on exhibit at the RAF Museum. The Luftwaffe only learnt of this defection the following month when members of the crew, pilot Oberleutnant Heinrich Schmitt and Oberfeldwebels Paul Rosenberger and Erich Kantwill, made broadcasts on British radio.
All previous night fighter versions of the Ju 88 used a modified A-series fuselage. The G-series fuselage was purpose-built for the special needs of a night fighter, with the A-series' Bola ventral under-nose defensive gun position omitted for lower aerodynamic drag and less weight. G-1 aircraft were fitted with the enlarged squared-off vertical fin/rudder tail unit of the Ju 188, more powerful armament and 1,700 PS BMW 801 G-2 radial engines plus additional FuG 350 Naxos or FuG 227 Flensburg homing devices as well as the now-standard FuG 220 Lichtenstein SN-2 90 MHz VHF radar.
G-6 versions were equipped with 1,750 PS Jumo 213A inline-V12 engines, enlarged fuel tanks and often one or two 20 mm MG 151/20 cannons in a Schräge Musik ("Jazz Music", i.e. slanted) installation. Guns were firing obliquely upwards and forwards from the upper fuselage - usually at an angle of 70°.
Some of the final G-series models received updates to the engine, a high-altitude Jumo 213E or to the radar, FuG 218 Neptun V/R or the even newer FuG 240 Berlin N-1 cavity magnetron based, 30 GHz-band (centimetric) radar. Only about 10-20 of those were completed before V-E Day.
The Imperial Japanese Navy ordered the specifications of an anti-submarine patrol/escort fleet aircraft, based on a medium bomber. Kyūshū closely patterned the Kyūshū Q1W Tokai ("Eastern Sea", Allied codename "Lorna") antisubmarine patrol/fleet escort aircraft after the Ju 88.
Only 12 Ju 88s saw action in Poland. The unit Erprobungskommando 88 (Ekdo 88) was responsible for testing new bomber designs and their crews under hostile conditions. They selected 12 machines and their crews and attached them to 1./Kampfgeschwader 25. As a result of its small operational numbers, the type made no impact.
The Luftwaffe committed II./Kampfgeschwader 30 to the campaign under X. Fliegerkorps for Operation Weserübung. The unit was equipped with Ju 88s and engaged Allied shipping as its main target. On 9 April 1940, Ju 88s of KG 30 dive-bombed, in cooperation with high-level bombing Heinkel He 111s of KG 26, and helped damage the battleship HMS Rodney and sink the destroyer HMS Gurkha. However, the unit lost four Ju 88s in the action, the highest single loss of the aircraft in combat throughout the campaign.
The Luftwaffe's order of battle for the French campaign reveals all but one of the Luftwaffe's Fliegerkorps (I. Fliegerkorps) contained Ju 88s in the combat role. The mixed bomber units, including the Ju 88, of Kampfgeschwader 51 (under the command of Luftflotte 3) helped claim between 233 and 248 Allied aircraft on the ground between 10-13 May 1940. The Ju 88 was particularly effective at dive-bombing. Between 13-24 May, I. and II./KG 54 flew 174 attack against rail systems, paralysing French logistics and mobility. On 17 June 1940, Junkers Ju 88s (mainly from Kampfgeschwader 30) destroyed a "10,000 tonne ship", the 16,243 grt ocean liner RMS Lancastria, off Saint-Nazaire, killing some 5,800 Allied personnel. Some 133 Ju 88s were pressed into the Blitzkrieg, but very high combat losses and accidents forced a quick withdrawal from action to re-train crews to fly this very high performance aircraft. Some crews were reported to be more scared of the Ju 88 than the enemy, and requested a transfer to a He 111 unit. By this time, major performance deficiencies in the A-1 led to an all-out effort in a major design rework. The outcome was a longer, 20.08 m (65 ft 10½ in) wingspan, from extended rounded wing tips, that was deemed needed for all A-1s; thus the A-5 was born. Surviving A-1s were modified as quickly as possible, with new wings to A-5 specifications.
By August 1940, A-1s and A-5s were reaching operational units, just as the battle was intensifying. The Battle of Britain proved very costly. Its faster speed did not prevent Ju 88 losses exceeding those of its Dornier Do 17 and Heinkel He 111 stablemates, despite being deployed in smaller numbers than either. Ju 88 losses over Britain in 1940 amounted to 313 machines between July-October 1940. Do 17 and He 111 losses for the same period amounted to 132 and 252 machines destroyed respectively. A series of field kits were made to make it less vulnerable, including the replacement of the rear machine gun by a twin-barreled machine gun, and additional cockpit armour.
It was during the closing days of the Battle of Britain that the flagship Ju 88 A-4 went into service. Although slower yet than the A-1, nearly all of the troubles of the A-1 were gone, and finally the Ju 88 matured into a superb warplane. The A-4 actually saw additional improvements including more powerful engines, but, unlike other aircraft in the Luftwaffe, did not see a model code change. The Ju 88 C series also benefited from the A-4 changes, and when the Luftwaffe finally did decide on a new heavy fighter, the Ju 88 C was a powerful, refined aircraft.
By summer 1941, most of the units equipped with the Dornier Do 17 were upgrading to the Ju 88. With a few exceptions, most of the German bomber units were now flying the He 111 and Ju 88. The Ju 88 was to prove a very capable and valuable asset to the Luftwaffe in the east. The Ju 88 units met with instant success, attacking enemy airfields and positions at low level and causing enormous losses for little damage in return. 3./Kampfgeschwader 3 attacked Pinsk airfield in the morning of the 22 June 1941. It caught, and claimed destroyed, 60 Soviet bombers on the ground. The 39 SBAP Regiment of the 10 Division SAD actually lost 43 Tupolev SBa and five Petlyakov Pe-2s. Ju 88s from Kampfgeschwader 51 destroyed over 100 aircraft after dispatching 80 Ju 88s to hit airfields. In general the Soviet aircraft were not dispersed and the Luftwaffe found them easy targets. A report from the Soviet 23rd Tank Division of the 12th Armoured Corps reported a low-level attack by Ju 88s on 22 June, resulting in the loss of 40 tanks. However, the Ju 88s were to suffer steady attritional losses. At 0415 on 22 June 1941, III./KG 51 attacked the airfield at Kurovitsa. Despite destroying 34 Polikarpov I-153s, the Ju 88s were intercepted by 66 ShAP I-153s. Six Ju 88s were shot down before the German fighter escort dealt with the threat. By the end of the first day of the campaign, Ju 88 losses amounted to 23 destroyed.
Due to the lack of sufficient numbers of Ju 87 Stukas, the Ju 88 was employed in the direct ground support role. This resulted in severe losses from ground fire. Kampfgeschwader 1, Kampfgeschwader 76 and Kampfgeschwader 77 reported the loss of 18 Ju 88s over enemy territory on 23 June. KG 76 and KG 77 reported the loss of a further four Ju 88s, of which 12 were 100% destroyed.
In the north, the VVS North-Western Front lost 465 aircraft on the ground, 148 of them bombers, to the Ju 88s of KG 1. A further 33 were damaged. Out of a total of 1,720 aircraft deployed by the VVS Northern Front on 22 June, it lost 890 and a further 187 suffered battle damage in eight days. The Ju 88s units helped virtually destroy Soviet airpower in the northern sector.
Again, the Ju 88 demonstrated its dive-bombing capability. Along with He 111s from KG 55, Ju 88s from KG 51 and 54 destroyed some 220 trucks and 40 tanks on 1 July, which helped repulse the Soviet South Western Front's offensive. The Ju 88s destroyed most rail links during interdiction missions in the area, allowing Panzergruppe 1 to maintain the pace of its advance.
Ju 88 units operating over the Baltic states during the battle for Estonia inflicted severe losses on Soviet shipping, with the same dive-bombing tactics used over Norway, France and Britain. KGr 806 sank the Soviet destroyer Karl Marx on 8 August 1941 in Loksa Bay Tallinn. On 28 August the Ju 88s had more success when KG 77 and KGr 806 sank the 2,026 grt steamer Vironia, the 2,317 grt Lucerne, the 1,423 grt Artis Kronvalds and the ice breaker Krisjanis Valdemars (2,250 grt). The rest of the Soviet "fleet", were forced to change course. This took them through a heavily mined area. As a result, 21 Soviet warships, including five destroyers, struck mines and sank. On 29 August, the Ju 88s accounted for the transport ships Vtoraya Pyatiletka (3,974 grt), Kalpaks (2,190 grt) and Leningradsovet (1,270 grt) sunk. Furthermore, the ships Ivan Papanin, Saule, Kazakhstan and the Serp i Molot were damaged. Some 5,000 Soviet soldiers were lost.
In April 1943, as Finland was fighting its Continuation War against the USSR, the Finnish Air Force bought 24 Ju 88s from Germany. The aircraft were used to equip No. 44 Sqn which had previously operated Bristol Blenheims, but these were instead transferred to No. 42 Sqn. Due to the complexity of the Ju 88, most of 1943 was used for training the crews on the aircraft, and only a handful of bombing missions were undertaken. The most notable was a raid on the Lehto partisan village on 20 August 1943 (in which the whole squadron participated), and a raid on the Lavansaari air field (leaving seven Ju 88 damaged from forced landing in inclement weather). In the summer of 1943, the Finns noted stress damage on the wings. This had occurred when the aircraft were used in dive bombing. Restrictions followed: the dive brakes were removed and it was only allowed to dive at a 45 degree angle (compared to 60-80 degrees previously). In this way, they tried to spare the aircraft from unnecessary wear.
One of the more remarkable missions was a bombing raid on 9 March 1944 against Soviet Long Range Aviation bases near Saint Petersburg, when the Finnish aircraft, including Ju 88s, followed Soviet bombers returning from a night raid on Tallinn, catching the Soviets unprepared and destroying many Soviet bombers and their fuel reserves, and a raid against the Aerosan base at Petsnajoki on 22 March 1944. The whole bomber regiment took part in the defence against the Soviets during the fourth strategic offensive. All aircraft flew several missions per day, day and night, when the weather permitted.
No. 44 Sqn was subordinated Lentoryhmä Sarko during the Lapland War (now against Germany), and the Ju 88s were used both for reconnaissance and bombing. The targets were mostly vehicle columns. Reconnaissance flights were also made over northern Norway. The last war mission was flown on 4 April 1945.
After the wars, Finland was prohibited from using bomber aircraft with internal bomb stores. Consequently, the Finnish Ju 88s were used for training until 1948. The aircraft were then scrapped over the following years. No Finnish Ju 88s have survived, but an engine is on display at the Central Finland Aviation Museum, and the structure of a German Ju 88 cockpit hood is preserved at the Finnish Aviation Museum in Vantaa.
Around 14 aircraft still exist, although many of these are little more than collections of wreckage recovered from remote crash sites. Several reasonably intact airframes have been recovered from underwater crash sites in recent years, some of these aircraft are under restoration for static display, such as WNr.0881203 in Bodø and WNr.0880119 at Oslo Airport, Gardermoen. Only two complete aircraft exist:
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