To look at, the Junkers Ju88 looks clumsyand and all out of proportion. But as it was shown during the period ofthe Second World War, it was perhaps one of the most versatile aircraftof the period. It was first designed back in 1936 as a "Schnellbomber"a fast daylight bomber and surprisingly had its first flight in that sameyear and was soon to display its superior performance. With the demiseof Professor Junkers, the engineers saw the potential of this fast mediumbomber and felt that still improvements could be made that Germany couldproduce an outstanding aircraft. Knowing the advantages of tactical divebombing, with the pilot aiming the aircraft at the target, tests were carriedout after dive brakes had been fitted. It was to prove that the Ju88 couldadd another advantage over other bombers that had been produced in Germanyat the time.
Prior to the outbreak of the Second WorldWar, five variants had been produced but the Ju88 never saw service inany of the early campaigns such as the Spanish Civil War or the invasionof Poland, but tests were still being carried out during this period. ByMarch 1939, a fifth variant managed a speed of 517km per hour (321.2 mph)over a 1.000 kilometre (621 miles) test and with a payload of 2,000 kilograms(4409 pounds), set a record for a bomber of its type. When war did eventuallybreak out in September 1939, the Ju88A-1 was at last to enter service althoughthe first recorded mission was not flown until late in that month.
The introduction of the Ju88 was to boostthe strength of Germany's bomber forces which already had He111 and Do17bombers already in service. The Ju88 was heavier than both the Dornier and theHeinkel, but even with a bombload of two 500 or 250 kilogram bombs undereach wing, and twenty eight 50 kilogram bombs stored internally, the two1,200 hp Jumo 211B engines made it faster than the other two bombers.Although the Ju88 had an extensive array of machine guns for defensivepurposes, two in the rear fusalage, one underneath, one in the cockpitand even one that could be operated by the pilot. The main problem wasthat all forward machine guns had to be operated by the Flight Engineerwith the exception of the pilots gun. Impressive enough, it was adequatein operations over northern France, but against the much faster Hurricanesand Spitfires during the Battle of Britain that had been developed to superiorstandards it was to prove inneffective against the British fighters ascasualty lists were later to prove. One of the aircrew of the Ju88 was the Flight Engineer who had the task of operating and firing four machine guns, always having to jump from one gun to another. This was possibly one of the worst faults of the Ju88 which was never improved.
The Ju88 gained success in the raids onradar stations where it proved that its dive bombing capablities were toprove successful. In many massed raids, the attrition rate was not to theproportions of the He111 and Do17, this was possibly due to the fact thatwhen under attack, the Ju88 could break into as dive at considerable speed.
This was proved in a number of mass attacks by Ju88s during the Battle of Britain. One of the most successful of the Luftwaffe raids was and attack on Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight on August 12th 1940. They managed to carry out their attack successfully, then if they were intercepted by Britsh fighters as they were on this occasion, they were able to dive at high speed thus evading contact with the fighters.
The Ju88 remained unchanged during the Battle of Britain. But the following year the Ju88C was introduced and with its three MG machine guns mounted in the modified solid nose, as well as a 20mm Cannon, and two MG15 machine guns able to be fired from the fusalge it made the Ju88 almost a fighter rather than a bomber. Other variants included the Ju88D which was a long range recconnaissence aircraft, the Ju88 G was primarily developed for the night fighter role, and the Ju88H which had a lengthened fusalage and had an increased fuel capacity had to further variants, one as a fighter and the other as a reconnaissence aircraft.
As the war continued, and the British fighters became faster, more manoeverable and better armed, the Luftwaffe suffered badly. But still the Ju88 could claim that its losses were far less than that of the Heinkel and the Dornier. In all, over 15,000 Ju88s were built during the 1939-1945 war, and many historians claim that had more Ju88s been built and used during the Battle of Britain and in the Blitz on London, damage would have been far greater than it was.
Junkers Ju 88 Specifications
|Type||Medium range bomber|
|Power Plant||Junkers Jumo 211B 1,200hpx 2|
|Laden weight||27,500 lbs|
|Max Speed ||Approx 286 mph @ 16,000feet.|
|Cruising Speed||Approx 239 mph|
|Rate of Climb||Not known|
|Max range||1,553 miles|
|Service Ceiling||26,500 feet|
|Bomb Load||5,510 lbs (max)|
|Armament ||6 x 7.9mm machine guns (2more lateral guns were added later)|
|Wingspan||59 feet 10¾inch|
|Length||47 feet 1 inch|
|Height||15 feet 5 inch|
|Wing Area||540 square feet|