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The Junkers Ju 88 was a German multirole combat aircraft used in World War II.


Probably no other aircraft in history has been developed in so many quite different forms for so many purposes - except, perhaps, for the Mosquito. Flown long before World War ll as a civil prototype, after a frantic design process led by two temporarily hired Americans well—versed in modern stressed-skin construction, the first 88s were transformed into the heavier, slower and more capacious A-l bombers which were just entering service as World War ll began.[1] There were many variants, the most common of which were the Ju 88A bomber, and the Ju 88C heavy fighter, and some lesser used variants, such as the Ju 88 G-6 night fighter. It was suited to almost any role, which increased its usefulness. About 16,000 of them were produced in total. It proved to be extremely effective in destroying fortified targets, and was more effective than most other German bomber aircraft. It had a crew of four, the pilot, bombardier, radio operator, and navigator. They used two Junkers Jumo 211J engines. They were removed from service in Germany in 1945, but stayed in the service of other countries until 1951.

A Ju 88 G-6 night fighter variant captured by the British

They were harder to intercept than most bombers were, although they were still relatively easy targets. Some variants were fitted with MG 15  and MG 131 aircraft-mounted machine guns for self-defence, while others were also armed with 20 mm and 37 mm aircraft cannons as well.

A Ju 88C heavy fighter variant


Initial Development

In 1935 the German Air Ministry, who doubted the viability of a multi-role aircraft, issued a requirement for a simple Schnellbomber (fast bomber) capable of carrying a 1,765 lb (800 kg) bombload at 311 mph (500 km/h). In early 1936, four proposals were tendered for the requirement; the Hs 127 from Henschel, the Bf 162 from Messerschmitt, and two proposals from Junkers - the Ju 85 with twin tail fins, and the Ju 88 with single fin. The last of these was selected for production, with work beginning in May 1936.[2]

Following a frantic design process, which began on January 15, 1936 after the hiring of two men with experience of the US aircraft industry, W H Evers and US citizen Alfred Gasser,[3] the first example, the Ju 88V1, made its first flight as a civil prototype on 21 December 1936.[1] After the Ju 88V1 was destroyed shortly after starting flight tests, the test programme resumed using the generally similar Ju 88V2, which began flying on April 10 1937, and was joined on September 13 1937 by the Ju 88V3, in which the DB600 engines were replaced by Junkers jumo 211As[3]

Bomber versions

The formidable bomb load and generally good performance were offset by inadequate defensive armament, and in the A-4 the span was increased. the bomb load and gun power substantially augmented and a basis laid for diverse further development Though it would be fair to describe practically all the subsequent versions as a hodge-podge of lash-ups. the Ju 88 was structurally excellent, combined large internal fuel capacity with great load—carrying capability, and yet was never so degraded in performance as to become seriously vulnerable as were the Dornier and Heinkel bombers Indeed. with the BMW radial and the Jumo 213 engines the later versions were almost as fast as the best contemporary fighters at all altitudes and could be aerobatted violently into the bargain. A basic design feature was that all the crew were huddled together, to improve combat morale: but in the Battle of Britain it was found this merely made it difficult to add proper defensive armament and in the later Ju 188 a much larger crew compartment was provided Another distinctive feature was the large single struts of the main landing gear, sprung with stacks of chamfered rings of springy steel, and arranged to turn the big, soft-field wheels through 90o to lie flat in the rear of the nacelles. In ‘1940 to 1943 about 2.000 Ju 88 bombers were built each year, nearly all A—5 or A-4 versions. After splitting off completely new branches which led to the Ju 188 and 388. bomber development was directed to the streamlined S series of much higher performance. it having become accepted that the traditional Luftwaffe species of bomber was doomed if intercepted, no matter how many extra guns and crew it might carry. Indeed, even the bomb and fuel loads were cut in most S sub-types, though the S-2 had fuel in the original bomb bay and large bulged bomb stowage (which defeated the objective of reducing drag). Final bomber versions included the P series of big-gun anti—armour and close-support machines, the Nbwe with flame—throwers and recoilless rocket projectors, and a large family of Mistel composite-aircraft combinations, in which the Ju 88 lower portion was a pilotless missile steered by the fighter originally mounted on top, Altogether bomber, reconnaissance and related 88s totalled 10.774, while frantic construction of night fighter versions in 1944-45 brought the total to at least 14,980.[1]

Fighter versions

The Ju 88 night fighters (especially the properly designed G-series) were extremely formidable. bristling with radar and weapons and being responsible for destroying more Allied night bombers than all other fighters combined The Ju 88 fighter family began in the summer of 1939, when the V7 prototype was authorized for conversion into a Zerstorer with heavy forward-firing armament. Despite its size, the Ju 88 was clearly potentially a better heavy fighter than the Bf 110, having excellent speed. great manoeuvrability and immense structural strength. in the long—range anti-shipping and intruder roles it promised to have few. if any, equals, and the V7 with an MG FF cannon and three MG l7 machine guns firing ahead also demonstrated that the Ju 88 was a superb gun platform. In 1939 there was little apparent need for such a heavy fighter. but Junkers managed to continue fighter development with the BMW—radial-powered C—series. The Ju 8802 was for more than a year the only fighter sub-type. used in small numbers for coastal and anti—shipping patrol and then proving ideal for the newly formed night—fighter force in July 1940. The C-2 units made many night intruder missions over Britain, and in December received the C—4,[1] designed from the start as a fighter, and one wing was transferred to the Mediterranean theatre. The C—4 had two extra 2Omm cannon in the offset ventral blister. and could also carry 12 MG 81 machine guns in two pods for ground attack via the C-5 came the C-6. built in much greater numbers, with a wide variety of weapons firing in all directions. On the Eastern front some had noses painted to look like the less formidable bomber, presumably to deceive Soviet pilots into getting in front. From the C-6b the night-fighter versions carried radar, either Lichtenstein FuG 202 or 212 A parallel series was the Ju 88R, with BMW radials instead of Jumo 2l1, an example of which defected to Aberdeen on 9 May 1943 and laid bare most of the previously secret features of what was by now a now formidable and refined aircraft. Many other sub—types followed. some of them having Schrage Musik slanting cannon armament. and leading finally to the superb G—series with Ju 188 tail to restore the lost performance and safe handling which had been degraded by overloading with weapons and radar. Subject of the cutaway. the G also had properly th0ught—out night~fighter armament. with guns moved from the nose (where they blinded the pilot) to a ventral tray. Lethality of these late—model G-series was greatly augmented by adding FuG 350 Naxos. which horned unerringly on the RAF bombers H2S radar. and FuG 227 Flensburg which homed on the bombers Monica rear-warning radar. which had been added for the bombers own protection![4]

Use by other nations

As well as the Luftwaffe, a number of air forces also operated the Ju-88, primarily as part of the Axis. [5]


The Finnish bomber unit LeLv (squadron) 44 was transferred to Germany in March 1943,[6] and equipped with 24 ex-Luftwaffe Ju-88A-4s, passing their Bristol Blenheims to LeLv 48. The first 12 were placed in Finnish hands on 10 April, and ferried to Poli via Helsinki-Malmi. The remaining aircraft followed on 20 April, with one example being lost during the ferry flight.[7] The four flights of LeLv 44 each received four Ju-88s, carrying out their first operation - an attack against the Leningrad-Murmansk railway line - on 30 May 1943.[N 1]


A number of ex-Luftwaffe aircraft, which had been left behind due to the Allied Invasion, were used against their former operators during late 1944 and early 1945.[5]


Between the summer of 1942 and 1 March 1944, Hungary received 164 German aircraft, including 51 Ju 88A-4s, Ju 88Cs and Ju 88Ds. Early in January 1943, nine Ju 88s - presumably Ju 88Ds - were passed to long range reconnaissance squadron I./1. In addition, a dozen Ju 88As were received by 102/1 bomber squadron.[9] A single Ju 88A was included in the complement of 101/3 fast bomber squadron, established in October 1944 under the command of Captain Adolf Peterdi.[10]


A number of Ju 88A-4s were assigned to 9 Stromo Bombardamento Tuffo.[11]


Grupul 5 Bombardment, comprising Esc 77, 79 and 80, were equipped with Ju 88A-4 at Kirovgrad in May 1943.[12] These aircraft were not transferred to the FARR, but were given on loan, due to German fears of a separate Romanian-Hungarian war over the disputed territory of Transylvania.[13] At the same time, the reconnaissance unit Escadrila 2 Recunoastre received a dozen Ju 88D-1 strategic reconnaissance aircraft.[12]


Data for Ju BSA-4, C-6, G-7. S-1

  • Origin: Junkers Flugzeug und Motorenwerke AG, dispersed among 14 plants with subcontract or assembly by ATG, Opel, Volkswagen and various French groups.
  • Type: Military aircraft designed as dive bomber but developed for level bombing. close support. night fighting. torpedo dropping, reconnaissance and as pilot-less missile.
  • Crew: two to six.
  • Engines: (A-4) two 1,34Ohp Junkers Jump 211.1 12-cylinder inverted-vee liquid-cooled; (C-6) same as A-4; (G-7) two 1,8B0hp Junkers Jumo 213E 12-cylinder inverted-vee liquid-cooled: (S-1) two 1.700hp BMW 801 G 18-cylinder two-row radials.
  • Dimensions: Span 65ft 10 1/2 in (20.13m) (early versions 59ft 10 3/4 in), length 47ft 2 1/4 in (14.4m); (G-7, 54ft 15in), height 15ft 11in (4.85m), (C-6) 16ft 7 1/2 in (5rn).
  • Weights: Empty (A-4) 17,637lb (8000kg), (C-6b) 19,090|b (866Okg), (G-7b) 20,0621b (9100kg); (S-1) 18,300lb (8300l<g): maximum loaded (A-4) 3O,865lb (14,000kg), (C-6b) 27.500lb (12.485kg); (G-7b) 32,35Olb (14,690kg), 23.100lb (10,490kg).
  • Performance: Maximum speed (A-4) 269n'iph (433km/h), (C~6b) 300mph (480km/h), (G-7b) (no drop tank or flame-dampers) 402mph (643km/h); (S-1) 373mph (600krn/h): initial climb (A-4) 1,312ft (400m)/min: (C-6b) about 98511 (300m)/min, (G-7b) 1,640fi (500m)/min. (S-1) 1.804ft (550m)/min. service ceiling (A-4) 26.900ft (8ZO0m); (C-6b) 32.48011 (9900m); (G-7b) 28.870ft (8BOOm), (S-1) 36.09011 (11,000m); range (A-4) 1.112 miles (1790km). (C-6b) 1,243 miles (2000km): (G-7b) 1.430 miles (2300krn); (S-1) 1,243 miles (2000km)
  • Armament: (A-4) two 7.92mm MG 81 (or one MG 81 and one 13mm MG 131) firing forward, twin MG 81 or one MG 131 upper rear, one or two MG 81 at rear of ventral gondola and (later aircraft) two MG 81 at front of gondola. (C-6b) three 20mm MG FF and three MG 17 in nose and two 20mm MG 151/20 firing obliquely upward in Schrage Musik installation: (G-7b) four MG 151/20 (200 rounds each) firing forward from ventral fairing. two MG 151/20 in Schrége Musik installation (200 rounds each) and defensive MG 131 (500 rounds) swiveling in rear roof. (S-1) one MG 131 (500 rounds) swiveling in rear roof; bomb loads (A-4) 1.100lb (500 kg) internal and external racks rated at 2,200 lb (1,000 kg) (inners) and 1,100 lb (500kg) (outers) to maximum total bomb load of 6.614|b (3000kg), (C-6b and G-7b, nil); (S4) up to 4.410lb (2,000kg) on external racks.
  • History: First flight (Ju 88V1) 21 December ‘I936, (first Ju 88A—1) 7 September 1939; (first fighter, Ju 88C-O) July 1939; (Ju 88C-6) mid-1942. (first G-series) early 1944; (S series) late 1943; final deliveries, only as factories were overrun by Allies.[14]



  1. The remaining examples were placed in reserve with LeR (air regiment) 4[8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Wood, Tony and Bill Gunston. Hitler's Luftwaffe. Salamander Books. 1997. ISBN 0 86101 935 0 Page 210
  2. World Aircraft Information Files Aviation Partwork. Midsummer Books Ltd. File 162 Sheet 1 (World Military Aircraft:Junkers Ju 88 - Development)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Green, William. Famous Bombers of the Second World War. Purnell Book Services. 1975. Page 182
  4. Wood, Tony and Bill Gunston. Page 211
  5. 5.0 5.1 WAIF File 162 Sheet 2 (World Military Aircraft:Junkers Ju-88 - Bomber versions)
  6. Kay, Antony L and J R Smith. German Aircraft of the Second World War. Putnam Aeronautical Books. 2002. ISBN 0 85177 920 4 Page205-206.
  7. Neulen, Hans Werner. In the Skies of Europe - Air Forces allied to the Luftwaffe 1939-1945. The Crowood Press. 2000. ISBN 1-86126-326-0 Page 210
  8. Neulen, Hans Werner. Page 211
  9. Neulen, Hans Werner. Page 131
  10. Neulen, Hans Werner. Page 145
  11. Green, William - Bombers. Page 185
  12. 12.0 12.1 Neulen, Hans Werner. Page 105
  13. Neulen, Hans Werner. Page 93-94
  14. Wood, Tony and Bill Gunston. Pages 208 & 210

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