Junkers Ju 88 Fighter Variants

Aircraft Profile
Ju 88R-1 D5+EV of IV/NJG 3 after restoration
at RAF St Athan. (photo, Keith McKenzie)

Development

[This profile covers the fighter and attack variants of the Junkers Ju 88, bomber and reconnaissance variants will be covered separately.]

By the middle of 1944, the night fighter force had become the strongest and most efficient arm of the Luftwaffe, comprising almost fifteen per cent of its first line strength. From May 1940 onwards, the appearance of ever increasing numbers of RAF bombers at night over Germany had forced the Luftwaffe to set up a powerful night air defence organisation which soon became involved in a bitter see-saw battle for supremacy in the night sky. The Junkers Ju 88 night-fighter was a key weapon in this crucial battle. From 1944 until the end of the war, Ju 88s equipped the vast majority of Nachtjagd units, and constant development of the airframe and of numerous electronic aids maintained its reputation as a formidable fighting machine until the very end.

The Junkers Ju 88 first arose from a German Air Ministry requirement for a dedicated high-speed medium bomber. In a calculated move, Junkers temporarily recruited two engineers from America to help design the new aircraft. W.H. Evers and Alfred Grossner applied their considerable expertise in modern aircraft structural design to produce in the Ju 88 a remarkably efficient and adaptable design. The first prototype (D-AQEN) flew on 21 December 1936, and subsequent testing of additional prototypes confirmed its excellent performance. A production order followed and Luftwaffe service testing commenced early in 1939.

The performance of the prototype had generated early interest in adapting the type for other roles, and one of the first roles considered was that of Zerstörer (heavy-fighter). The Luftwaffe concept of a twin-engined high-speed long-range day fighter was widely shared by other European air forces at the time. Accordingly, in early summer 1939, Junkers modified the Ju 88 V7 prototype to include a forward-firing armament of two 20 mm MG FF cannon and two 7.9 mm MG 17 machine-guns located in a modified nose section partially covered by metal plates. The underfuselage gondola was also removed and the crew reduced to three. Powered by two 1,200 hp Junkers Jumo 211B-1 engines, the unmodified Ju 88 V7 had first flown on 27 September 1938, and was soon back in the air testing the new armament. The new fighter offered a maximum speed similar to that of the much smaller Messerschmitt Bf 110, but with three times the range, and the type was ordered into limited production.

A small batch of early production Ju 88A-1 bombers were converted into Ju 88C-0s during July and August 1939, and used operationally during the invasion of Poland by the Zerstörerstaffel of KG 30 for long-range ground-attack. It was initially planned that the subsequent production variants would be the the Ju 88C-1 with 1,600 hp BMW 801MA air-cooled radials, and the Ju 88C-2 with liquid-cooled 1,200 hp Jumo 211B-1 engines behind annular radiators. In the event, the BMW 801 engines were reserved for the new Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighter and the C-1 and the proposed C-3 derivative were abandoned. The first production model was thus the C-2 with an armament of one 20 mm MG FF cannon and three 7.9 mm MG 17 machine-guns in a new smooth metal nose section. These aircraft were converted on the production line, and retained the ventral gondola. The C-2s were used for more than a year for coastal and anti-shipping patrol, before another role appeared.

From May 1940, the RAF began to attack Germany regularly by night and it was quickly realised that anti-aircraft guns alone would not be able to defend Germany adequately. Accordingly, the Zerstörerstaffel of KG 30 was reinforced with additional Ju 88C-2s and redesignated II/NJG 1 in July, joining the newly established night-fighter force under General Kammhuber. The Gruppe specialised in conducting night intruder operations – hunting RAF bombers over British aerodromes identified by radio intercepts. On 11 September 1940, the Gruppe was redesignated I/NJG 2. The small number of intruder aircraft available was hopelessly inadequate to counter the ever increasing threat from Bomber Command, and the perceived lack of results led to Hitler ordering the end of further intruder operations on 12 October 1941. I/NJG 2 was soon transferred to Sicily for intruder operations over Malta and the Mediterranean.

In the mean time, a new Zerstörer variant had been developed, the Ju 88C-4. This was similar to the C-2, but used the improved airframe of the Ju 88A-4, featuring increased overall wing span from 60 ft 3¼ in (18.37 m) to 65 ft 7½ in (20.0 m) and a sturdier undercarriage. Other improvements included more armour protection for the crew and an extra 7.9 mm MG 15 machine-gun in the rear of the offset ventral gondola. The Junkers Jumo 211B-2 powered C-4 was the first C-series model produced as new-build and not by conversion. Production numbers of the C-4 remained relatively low compared to the bomber variants. A modified version, the Ju 88C-6 was operated by V/KG40 from September 1942 to counter RAF Coastal Command operations against U-boats in the Bay of Biscay. Later the Gruppe was absorbed into ZG 1 but disbanded in June 1944. Other C-6s were used for train-busting on the Russian Front in 1943.

Early in 1942, the new FuG 212 Lichtenstein C-1 radar was experimentally fitted to four of NJG 1s Ju 88C night-fighters. The cumbersome ‘stags antlers’ aerial array reduced maximum speed by 15-25 mph and so the reaction of crews was initially unfavourable, until a number of kills were scored using it. The introduction of radar on the Ju 88C-6 resulted in a designation change to Ju 88C-6b, while existing day-fighter aircraft were retrospectively redesignated Ju 88C-6a. The initial radar fit was the FuG 202 Lichtenstein BC, but by the Autumn of 1942 this had been replaced by the simplified FuG 212 Lichtenstein C-1. In a parallel development, the Ju 88R-series of night fighters differed from the Ju 88C-6b mainly in having BMW 801 engines.

The ‘Himmelbett’ defensive system of ground controllers directing night-fighters to within visual range of a their targets was now well established, and the introduction of radar made the last phase of an intercept much easier. Previously quite scarce in the Nachtjagd (most Ju 88Cs were still in the Mediterranean), the Ju 88 now began to equip an increasing number of night-fighter units. Night-fighters were meant to keep to their assigned control sector, but when it was found that a narrow bomber stream would saturate the relatively thin ‘Kammhuber line’ of defensive sectors, a more free-ranging ‘Zahme Sau’ technique – whereby some night-fighters would join and follow bomber stream – was introduced. The long-range Ju 88C-6b and Ju 88R-1 were particularly suited to this role, and began to equip many units. A major set-back for the night-fighters was the use of ‘Window’ jamming by the RAF, first introduced on 24/25 July 1943. This rendered existing ground and airborne radars useless, and it wasn’t until October 1943 that the Ju 88C-6c appeared with a FuG 220 Lichtenstein SN-2 radar which operated on a different frequency. In the meantime, ‘Zahme Sau’ tactics dominated, with night-fighters using FuG 227 Flensburg which homed-in on Allied bomber ‘Monica’ tail-warning radars. By April 1944, the Ju 88C-6c equipped almost the entire Nachtjagd.

In the Summer of 1942, the war on the Russian Front had meanwhile highlighted a need for dedicated ground-attack/tank-buster aircraft. Among the possible solutions was a Ju 88C-4 experimentally fitted with a Nebelwerfer recoilless rocket launcher. This weapon reassembled a six-barrelled gatling gun and the modified aircraft was unofficially known as the Ju 88N or Ju 88Nbwe. Trials of this weapon were soon abandoned in favour of the Ju 88P series. The Ju 88P V1 was a modified Ju 88A-4, with a large belly fairing housing a 75 mm KwK 39 cannon firing forward and two MG 81Z machine-guns at the rear. Trials were relatively successful and a small number of Ju 88P-1 production aircraft were ordered. The Ju 88P-1 featured a Ju 88C solid nose, armour protection for the engines and a 75 mm PaK 40L cannon with a big muzzle brake. The type was issued to a few units in 1943 for operational testing, but proved very unwieldy and vulnerable to enemy fighters. Effectiveness was reduced by the gun’s slow rate of fire. Two further versions, the Ju 88P-2 with two 37 mm BK 3.7 Fak 18 canon and the Ju 88P-3 with increased armour protection were only completed in small numbers. The final tank-buster variant was the Ju 88P-4 with a single 50 mm Bk 5 cannon in a much smaller belly fairing. All four variants saw active service on the Eastern Front in 1944. Some were used as train-busters, while a small number of P-2s were tried as night-fighters and day interceptors against USAAF bomber formations – proving to be completely unsuitable.

The introduction of increasingly heavier armament, more armour, and a radar operator had a detrimental affect on the low-speed handling qualities of the overburdened Ju 88C series, and it was becoming apparent that the development of a specialised Ju 88 night-fighter model was now necessary to restore lost performance and safe handling. In 1943, a Ju 88R-2 was experimentally fitted with the enlarged squared-off tail unit of the Ju 188, becoming the Ju 88 V58. A completely revised armament fit was introduced. Two MG 151/20 cannon were housed in the right-hand side of the nose, and four more located in a ventral tray under the left side of the belly. Designated Ju 88G V1, the new version first flew in June 1943 and served as the prototype for a new series of night-fighters. The Ju 88G-0 pre-production aircraft differed from the prototype in deleting the nose mounted MG 151 cannon, as they blinded the pilot at night. The increased power of the 1,700 hp BMW 801D radials helped restore much of the type’s good handling qualities. The Ju 88G-1 was the first series production version, essentially the same as the G-0. The new model rapidly replaced the Ju 88C from the middle of 1944, many with FuG 227 Flensburg which homed in on British ‘Monica’ tail warning radar. The next production version was the Ju 88G-6a, similar to the G-1 but with two 1,700 hp BMW 801G engines. The Ju 88G-6b carried the FuG 350 Naxos Z radio equipment which homed-in on bomber H2S blind-bombing radar emissions, larger fuel tanks and two MG 151/20 cannon in a ‘Schräge Musik’ installation firing obliquely upwards and forwards from the upper fuselage – usually at an angle of 70 degrees. The pilot simply formated under the bomber and fired upwards in an easy zero-deflection shot.

The final production G series model was the Ju 88G-7, powered by two Jumo 213E engines with MW-50 power boosting to 1,800 hp on take-off. The Ju 88G-7a had FuG 220 Lichtenstein SN-2 radar, while the Ju 88G-7b had FuG 218 Neptune V radar with either the standard ‘toasting fork’ aerials or a Morgenstern array enclosed in a pointed wooden nose cone. The G-7c had FuG 240 Berlin N-1 centimetric radar with the scanner enclosed in a plywood nose cone. Only ten G-7c were completed, before the end of the war.

In the last few months of the war, a number of G-1 airframes were converted to act as the warhead portion of the Mistel flying bomb. Pilotless missile steered by the fighter mounted on top. A Focke-Wulf Fw 190 was mounted above the Ju 88 to guide it towards the target, before releasing at the last moment. Some isolated successes were scored in attacking bridges.

Immediately after the end of the war, Allied intelligence teams rapidly moved into Germany to secure examples of all the latest aircraft. A significant number of Ju 88G series aircraft were brought back to France, Britain and the USA for thorough evaluation. All of these machines were later scrapped. It does not appear that any example of the Ju 88G reached the Soviet union.
Derived from undoubtedly the most versatile German combat aircraft of WW2, the Ju 88 night-fighter was a refined and formidable aircraft, with a powerful armament, excellent agility and advanced electronic sensors. It is therefore appropriate that Ju 88 night-fighters destroyed more Allied night bombers in WW2 than all other fighters combined.

The crew of D5+EV defected to the Allies on 9 May 1943.
(both photos, Keith McKenzie)

Variants

Requirement Specification: not known
Manufacturers Designation: Ju 88

Development History:
Ju 88C V1 Prototype Zerstörer. Conversion of Ju 88 V7. Four crew, two 1,200 hp (895 kW) Jumo 211B-1 liquid-cooled engines, three MG 15s plus internal bomb load.
Ju 88C-0 Pre-production version of Zerstörer. Conversions of Ju 88A-1 aircraft.
Ju 88C-1 Planned production version of C-0 with two 1,600 hp BMW 801MA air-cooled radial engines. Conversion of A-1 with three MG 17 machine-guns and one 20 mm MG FF cannon. None completed.
Ju 88C-2 Initial production version for Zerstörer role. Modified Ju 88A-1 with new non-glazed nose, two 1,200 hp Jumo 211B-1 engines, 3 crew, three fixed forward-firing 7.9 mm MG 17 machine-guns and one 20 mm MG FF cannon, plus two defensive 7.9 mm MG 15 machine-guns in dorsal and ventral positions. Maximum bomb load 1,102 lb (550 kg).
Ju 88C-3 Modified C-2 with two 1,600 hp BMW 801MA engines. One conversion.
Ju 88C-4 Zerstörer/reconnaissance version. Modified Ju 88A-4 with solid nose, two Jumo 211F-1 engines, increased armament to two 20 mm MG FF cannon in ventral gondola (swapped for cameras in recce role), extra 7.9 mm MG 15 in rear of gondola, more crew armour protection, increased weight, strengthened undercarriage. First new-build version.
Ju 88C-4/R Late production model of C-4 with 1,340 hp (1,000 kW) Jumo 211J-1 or J-2 engines.
Ju 88C-5 Zerstörer version. Improved C-4 with two 1,700 hp (1268 kW) BMW 801D-2, 3 crew, ventral gondola replaced by ‘Waffentropfen’ weapon pack below fuselage with two MG 17s and MG FF cannon replaced by MG 151. 10 pre-production examples only.
Ju 88C-6a Day-Zerstörer version. Modified C-4 with two Jumo 211J-1 or J-2 engines, increased armour plating, fixed armament of three 7.9 mm MG 17s and one 20 mm MG FF cannon in the nose plus two MG FF in re-introduced ventral gondola plus one defensive MG 15 or MG 131. Various armament modifications.
Ju 88C-6b Night-fighter version. Designation applied retroactively to C-6a when fitted with FuG 202 Lichtenstein BC or (by Autumn 1942) FuG 212 Lichtenstein C-1 radar. New HF radio.
Ju 88C-6c As C-6b with FuG 220 Lichtenstein SN-2 plus (some models) Lichtenstein C-1, defensive armament one MG 131, some later with two oblique upward-firing 20 mm MG 151s in dorsal ‘Schräge Musik’ installation. Some with Jumo 211H turbocharged engines.
Ju 88C-7a Intruder version with two Jumo 211J-1 engines, 2-3 crew, ventral gondola replaced by jettisonable ventral weapon pack with two MG FF/M, three fixed forward-firing MG 17s, max bomb load 1,102 lb (500 kg).
Ju 88C-7b As C-7a with underwing bomb-racks, max bomb load 3,305 lb (1,500 kg).
Ju 88C-7c Zerstörer version, modified C-7a, two 1,600 hp BMW 801MA engines, three MG 17 and one MG 151 in nose plus two MG FF in weapon pack, no bomb racks. Pre-production batch only.
Ju 88P V1 Anti-tank prototype. Modified A-4 with one 75 mm KwK 39 anti-tank cannon forward plus twin 7.9 mm MG 81Z aft of large ventral fairing. Two 1,340 hp Jumo 211J engines.
Ju 88P-1 Production model of Ju 88P V1 with solid unglazed nose, KwK 39 replaced by 75 mm PaK 40 anti-tank cannon, 2 or 3 crew, one forward firing MG 81 for sighting of cannon plus two twin MG 81Zs.
Ju 88P-2 As P-1 with two 37 mm BK 3.7 (Flak 38) cannon in large ventral fairing. A-4 conversions.
Ju 88P-3 As P-2 with increased armour plating, two Jumo 211H engines. A-4 conversions.
Ju 88P-4 Heavy fighter/anti-tank version, two Jumo 211J-2 engines, offensive armament reduced to single 50 mm BK 5 cannon, shortened ventral fairing. One aircraft fitted with 22-shot launcher for RZ 65 rockets, for testing.
Ju 88R-1 Night-fighter version. Re-engined C-6b with two 1,600 hp BMW 801MA or 801C engines and FuG 212 Lichenstein C-1 radar. Three MG 17 and one 20 mm MG 151/20 in nose plus two MG FF in ventral gondola.
Ju 88R-2 Version of R-1 with two 1,700 hp BMW 801D and the addition of FuG 202 Lichtenstein BC plus FuG 217 Neptun R tail-warning radar. Some also fitted with FuG 350 Naxos Z passive radar.
Ju 88G V1 Prototype of improved night-fighter version. Modified Ju 88R-2 with two 1,700 hp BMW 801D engines, 3 crew, two fixed MG 151s in fuselage nose and four fixed MG 151/20s in ventral gun tray plus one 13 mm MG 131 at rear of cockpit, FuG 212 Lichtenstein C-1 radar.
Ju 88G-0 Pre-production night-fighter version. Reduced armament (four MG 151/20), FuG 220 Lichtenstein SN-2 radar, more angular fin and rudder shape.
Ju 88G-1 Production version of G-0. BMW 801D engines. Some modified equipment, four MG 151s in ventral gun tray; Lichtenstein SN-2 radar plus FuG-227 Flensburg homing receiver.
Ju 88G-2 Version of G-1 with revised equipment. Production cancelled.
Ju 88G-3 Project only.
Ju 88G-4 Improved version of G-1. Small equipment changes. Some with two oblique upward-firing 20 mm MG 151 in dorsal ‘Schräge Musik’ installation.
Ju 88G-5 Version of G-1 with revised equipment. Project only.
Ju 88G-6a Version of G-4. Dorsal ‘Schräge Musik’ installation now standard with two 20 mm MG 151/20s. Two 1,700 hp BMW 801G engines, improved equipment. Aft facing antenna for SN-2 introduced.
Ju 88G-6b As for G-6a , addition of FuG 350 Naxos Z in cockpit roof, increased fuel capacity.
Ju 88G-6c Two 1,750 hp (1,306 kW) Jumo 213A, reduced fuel capacity, ‘Schräge Musik’ installation moved to just aft of cockpit.
Ju 88G-7a Introduced pointed wing tips from Ju 188, span increased to 72 ft 2 in?, two 1,725 hp Jumo 213E with MW 50 power booster, very broad propeller blades, 3 crew, FuG 220 Lichtenstein SN-2 radar.
Ju 88G-7b As G-7a with FuG 228 Lichtenstein SN-3 or FuG 218 Neptun VR radar (as Ju 88G-7n), some with pointed wooden nose cone.
Ju 88G-7c As for G-7a with FuG 240 Berlin N-1a radar in blunt wooden nose cone. No external aerials.
Ju 88G-8 Long range Zerstörer. As for G-7 but with fuselage of H-2.
Ju 88G-10 Similar to G-8 but used for Mistel programme.
Ju 88G-12 Developed into the Ju 188R series.
Ju 88H-2 Long range fighter version of Ju 88H-1 reconnaissance aircraft. Based on stretched Ju 88D-1 fuselage with Ju 88G-1 wings and engines. Two 20 mm MG 151 cannon in solid nose and four more in belly pack. No radar.
Ju 88N Unofficial designation for one Ju 88C-4 fitted with Nebelwerfer rocket launcher.
Mistel 2 Composite flying bomb with Fw 190A-6 (or Fw 190F-8) upper stage and Ju 88G-1 lower stage. Cockpit section replaced by bolt-on shaped charge warhead.
Mistel S2 Trainer conversion of Mistel 2.
Mistel 3C Composite flying bomb with Fw 190A-8 and Ju 88G-10. Project only.
Two views of the FuG 202 Lichtenstein BC ‘toasting fork’ radar antenna on the Ju 88R-1
(both photos, Keith McKenzie)

History

Key Dates: (All Ju 88 references are very vague on precise dates)
15 January 1936    Start of Ju 88 project design
21 December 1936    Ju 88 V1 first flight
27 September 1938    Ju 88 V7 first flight (to Ju 88A-0 standard)
summer 1939    Ju 88 V7 converted to Zerstorer configuration as Ju 88C prototype
July 1939    Ju 88C-0 first flight
July-August 1939    First batch of Ju 88C-0s converted
September 1939    First operational use of Ju 88C-0 (by Zst./KG30)
late 1940    First delivery of Ju 88C-2 production version to Luftwaffe (to Zst./KG30)
17 July 1940    Luftwaffe Nightfighter force established
July 1940    First delivery of Ju 88C-2 variant
July 1940    Zst./KG30 becomes II/NJG 1
11 September 1940    II/NJG 1 redesignated I/NJG 2
December 1940    First delivery of Ju 88C-4 variant
12 October 1941    Night intruder operations over Britain prohibited
December 1941    I/NJG 2 transferred to Sicily
early 1942    First test radar fitted to a Ju 88C
April 1942    I/NJG 2 transferred to North Africa
mid 1942    Ju 88C-6a first flight
Summer 1942    Ju 88P V1 conversion of Ju 88A-4
late 1942    First production version with radar: Ju 88C-6b
early 1943    Ju 88R-1 deliveries start
June 1943    Ju 88 V58 converted from Ju 88R-2 as Ju 88G prototype
October 1943    Ju 88C-6c introduced with FuG 220 radar not susceptible to original ‘Window’ jamming
Spring 1944    First production Ju 88G-1 first flight
May 1944    Ju 88G-1 enters service
mid 1944    Ju 88G-6a first flight
3 March 1945    Mass night intruder operation over Britain
Side view of the Ju 88R-1
(photo, Keith McKenzie)

Operators

Military Operators

Germany – Luftwaffe (28+ Night fighter Gruppes ; 6+ Zerstorer Gruppes; various Misc. units)
France – Air Force (3+ Ju 88G-6 and 1+ Ju 88R-1 captured)
UK – Royal Air Force (1 Ju 88R-1 with No.1426 (Enemy Aircraft) Flight)
UK – Royal Air Force (1 Ju 88R-1, 1 Ju 88G-1 & 4 Ju 88G-6 with the Central Fighter Establishment)
USA – USAAF (1 captured Ju 88G-6 for evaluation by ATI)

Government Agencies

UK – RAE Farnborough (1 Ju 88R-1, 1 Ju 88G-1 and 8+ Ju 88G-6 for evaluation)
UK – Chemical Warfare Establishment (2+ Ju 88G for trials)
UK – Radio Warfare Establishment/BDSU (2 Ju 88G-6 for trials)

Civilian Operators

France – Arsenal de l’Aeronautique (3+ Ju 88G-6 ex-AdlA for missile testing)

Specifications

Junkers Ju 88C-6c
Role: Night-fighter
Crew: Three
Dimensions: Length 47 ft 1.25 in (14.36 m); Height 16 ft 7.5 in (5.06 m); Wing Span 65 ft 7.5 in (20.0 m); Wing Area 586.63sq ft (54.5 sq m)
Engine(s): Two liquid cooled, 12 cylinder inverted-Vee, Junkers Jumo 211J-1 (or J-2) of 1,340 hp (? kW) each.
Weights: Empty Equipped 19,973 lb (9,060 kg); Normal Take-off 27,227 lb (12,350 kg); Maximum Take-off ? lb (? kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed 303 mph (488 kph) at 19,685 ft (6,000 m); Cruising speed 263 mph (423 kph) at same altitude; Time to 19,685 ft (6,000 m) 12 min 42 sec; Service ceiling 32,480 ft (9,900 m); Normal range on internal fuel 1,230 mls (1,980 km).
Armament: Three fixed forward-firing 20mm MG FF/M cannon and three fixed forward-firing 7.9mm MG 17 machine guns in lower nose section, one flexible 13 mm MG 131 machine-gun at rear of cockpit. Optional ‘Schräge Musik’ installation in upper fuselage with two 20 mm MG 151 cannon firing obliquely forward
Junkers Ju 88G-1
Role: Night-fighter
Crew: Four
Dimensions:Length (excluding radar) 47 ft 8.5 in (14.54 m), (including SN-2 aerials) 54 ft 1.5 in (16.50 m); Height 15 ft 11 in (4.85 m); Wing Span 65 ft 7.5 in (20.0 m); Wing Area 586.63sq ft (54.5 sq m)
Engine(s): Two 14 cylinder, air cooled, BMW 801D-2 radials of 1,700 hp (1268 kW) each.
Weights: Empty Equipped 20,020 lb (9,081 kg); Normal Take-off 28,870 lb (13,095 kg); Maximum Take-off 32,385 lb (14,690 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed 356 mph (573 kph) at 27,890 ft (8,500 m) with SN-2 but no upward-firing guns, 342 mph (550 kph) at same altitude with ‘Schräge Musik’ installation; Service ceiling 29,000 ft (8,840 m); Normal range 1,553 mls (2,500 km); Maximum endurance on internal fuel 4.75 hours.
Armament: Four fixed forward-firing 20mm MG 151 cannon in ventral tray with 200 rounds each and one flexible 13 mm MG 131 machine-gun at rear of cockpit with 500 rounds. Optional ‘Schräge Musik’ installation in upper fuselage with two 20 mm MG 151 cannon firing obliquely forward
Junkers Ju 88G-7b
Role: Night-fighter
Crew: Three
Dimensions:Length (excluding radar) 47 ft 8.5 in (14.54 m); Height 15 ft 11 in (4.85 m); Wing Span 65 ft 7.5 in (20.0 m); Wing Area 586.63sq ft (54.5 sq m)
Engine(s): Two liquid cooled, 12 cylinder inverted-Vee, Junkers Jumo 213E of 1,725 hp (? kW) each.
Weights: Empty Equipped 20,503 lb (9,300 kg); Normal Take-off 28,885 lb (13,100 kg); Maximum Take-off 32,353 lb (14,675 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed 270 mph (434 kph) at sea level, 363 mph (585 kph) at 33,500 ft (10,200 m), 389 mph (626 kph) at 29,529 ft (9,000 m) with MW-50 emergency boost; Cruising speed 348 mph (560 kph) at 29,529 ft (9,000 m); Initial rate of climb 1640 ft/min (500 m/min); Time to 30,185 ft (9,200 m) 26 min 24 sec; Service ceiling 32,810 ft (10,000 m); Normal range 1,398 mls (2,250 km); Endurance (at maximum economical cruising speed) 3.72 hours at 29,800 ft (9,083 m).
Armament: Four fixed forward-firing 20mm MG 151 cannon in ventral tray with 200 rounds each, two fixed oblique upward-firing 20mm MG 151 cannon in dorsal ‘Schräge Musik’ position with 200 rounds each, one flexible 13 mm MG 131 machine-gun at rear of cockpit with 500 rounds.

Production

Design Centre

Head of Design Team: Ernst Zindel (Structural design by W.H. Evers & Alfred Gassner)
Design Office: Junkers Flugzeug und Motorwerke AG, Dessau

Manufacture

Ju 88 Fighter Production by Year:

Year Total Variants
1939 0* Ju 88C-0
1940 62** Ju 88C-2
1941 66 Ju 88C-4/5
1942 257 Ju 88C-6
1943 706 Ju 88C/R
1944 2518 Ju 88C/R/G
1945 355 Ju 88G-6/7
Total: 3964  

* = Conversions only, not new-build.
** = Converted on the production line.

Junkers Ju 88 Production Locations:
Arado at Brandenburg-Neuendorf (A-series bombers only, Nov 1939-Mar 1942 + wings only until Aug 1942)
ATG at Leipzig-Mockau (fuselages & tails, not wings + final assembly 1940-June 1944)
Dornier (North) at Wismar (A-series fuselages and tails, 1939-Jan 1942)
Dornier (South) at Friedrischshafen (A-series bombers only, 1939-Dec 1940)
Heinkel at Oranienburg (complete aircraft 1940-Aug 1942, wings only until March 1943)
Henschel at Berlin-Schönefeld (complete aircraft from mid 1939, night-fighters only 1944-Feb 1945)
Junkers at Bernburg (all variants 1938-1945)
(Fuselages from Aschersleben, wings from Halberstadt, tails from Leopoldshall with assembly at Bernburg)
Siebel at Halle (wings and final assembly, early 1940 – April 1944)
Also factories in Czechoslovakia and France by 1944

Major sub-assemblies produced by Volkswagen at Wolfsburg (tail units for Junkers until mid 1944) and AEG at ?? (tail units for Arado & others until mid 1944).

Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
Ju 88C V1 1 a/c converted ? summer 1939
Ju 88C-0 few A-1 converted ? Jul-Aug 1939
Ju 88C-1 nil    
Ju 88C-2 62+ A-1 converted ? early Summer 1940-end 1940
Ju 88C-3 1 C-2 converted ? 1941
Ju 88C-4 <100 new build ? Sept 1941-spring 1942
Ju 88C-5 10 ? early 1942
Ju 88C-6a ) ? spring 1942
Ju 88C-6b )2,500+ ? late 1942
Ju 88C-6c ) ? Oct 1943-June 1944
Ju 88C-7a ? ? late 1943
Ju 88C-7b ? ? 1943
Ju 88C-7c ? ? 1943
Ju 88C series total c. 3,200*
Ju 88P V1 1 conv A-4 ? Summer 1942
Ju 88P-1 ? conv A-4 ? 1943
Ju 88P-2 ? conv A-4 ? ?
Ju 88P-3 ? conv A-4 ? ?
Ju 88P-4 32 conv A-4 ? 1944
Ju 88P series total ?
Ju 88R-1 ? ? early 1943-early 1944
Ju 88R-2 ? ? 1943-1944
Ju 88R series total ?
Ju 88G V1 1 R-2 converted ? spring 1943
Ju 88G-0 ? ? 1944
Ju 88G-1 ? ? spring 1944
Ju 88G-4 ? ? 1944
Ju 88G-6a ? ? 1944
Ju 88G-6b ? ? 1944
Ju 88G-6c ? ? 1944
Ju 88G-7a ? ? late 1944
Ju 88G-7b ? ? Feb 1945
Ju 88G-7c 10 ? spring 1945
Ju 88G-8 ? ? 1945
Ju 88G-10 ? ? 1945
Ju 88G series total c. 800
Ju 88H-2 10 Merseburg 1943
Mistel 2 125 ? ?
Total: 3964 (fighters)    

* = includes R-series total.

Total Produced: 15,018 a/c (All variants)

Production List

To be added.

More Information

Books

‘Junkers Ju 88 – Star Of The Luftwaffe’
by Manfred Griehl
Published by Arms & Armour Press, Sept 1990 ISBN: 1 85409 043 7
* History and technical development of each variant.

‘Junkers Ju 88’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Ron Mackay
Published by The Crowood Press, Oct 2001 ISBN: 1 86126 431 3
* Comprehensive history of Ju 88.

‘Junkers Ju 88 Over All Fronts’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Joachim Stein
Published by Schiffer Publishing, 1991 ISBN: 0 88740 3123
* Pictorial history of the Ju 88.

‘Junkers Ju 88 In Action Vol 2: Aircraft in Action No.113’
by Brian Filley
Published by Squadron/Signal Publications, July 1991 ISBN: 0 89747 258 6
* Traces the development of the fighter versions. Very well illustrated.

‘The Junkers Ju 88 Night Fighters: Profile No.148’
by Alfred Price
Published by Profile Publications Ltd, 1967 ISBN: n/a
* Concise well illustrated history of the Ju 88C/G variants.

‘German Night Fighter Aces Of World War 2: Osprey Aircraft Of The Aces – 20 [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Jerry Scutts
Published by Osprey Publishing, 1998 ISBN: 1 85532 696 5
* Covers the development, tactics and leading aces of the Luftwaffe night fighter force. Some factual errors.

‘Nachtjagd-The Night Fighter Versus Bomber War Over The Third Reich 1939-1945’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Theo Boiten
Published by The Crowood Press, June 1997 ISBN: 1 86126 086 5
* Traces the parallel development of RAF night bombing and Luftwaffe night fighting during WW2. Very well written.

Magazines

To be added.

Links

Junkers Ju 88 Image Archive
(26 Ju 88 photos, including fighter versions)

AirWar Europe
(Several good pictures of a Ju 88G)

Junkers Ju 88 Gallery
(Several Ju 88 photos – mostly the bomber version)

Junkers Ju 88
(Concise coverage of the fighter versions)

Warbirds Resource Group – Junkers Ju 88
(Specifications for main versions, including C-6 and G-7b)

WW2 Warbirds: The Junkers Ju 88
(Specifications for main versions and summary table of each different version)

Inspection of Crashed or Captured Enemy Aircraft – Junkers Ju 88
(PDF file of 16th July 1944 official intelligence report)

Shop

Flight Simulator Models:
To be added.

Scale Models:
To be added.

Scale Drawings:
‘Junkers Ju 88: Model Art No.444’
Published by Model Art, 1995 ISBN: n/a
* Superbly illustrated modellers guide from Japan.

‘Junkers Ju 88: Aero Detail 20’
Published by Aero Detail, 199? ISBN: n/a
* Another well illustrated modellers guide from Japan.

Videos:

‘Luftwaffe – Junkers Ju 88’ [Order this video from Amazon UK]
DD Video, Catalogue Number: DD590
* Film profile of the type.

The Martin-Baker MB designs

One of the most obscure piston powered aircraft projects ever conceived by a British corporation has to be the Martin-Baker MB series. The small English company, founded by James Martin and Val Baker in the early 1930s, was at the outside looking in terms of the British Royal Air Force’s design and development programs. But that changed in the summer of 1938 (August 3rd) when the company’s MB-2 single seated fighter, powered by a Napier Dagger engine, took to the air on its maiden flight. The aircraft flew flawlessly prompting the RAF to take a hard look at the, by that time, unknown corporation. Martin-Baker followed the success of the MB-2 with the MB-3. The new air platform was design around a May 1939 Ministry of Defense (MoD) specification, F-18.39, which called for an aircraft that can ascertain speeds above 400 mph within a heavily armed airframe. The new 3 version would have been able to achieve the stated speed at an operational ceiling of 15,000 feet. It was designed with a powerful six 20mm cannons fitted along its wing structures. Only one MB-3 sample, unit R2492, flew. It did so on August 3rd 1942. Unfortunately the unit was lost a month later when during a routine testing exercise; the aircraft staled in mid air prompting the sample to plumb to the ground. The crash, not only put the entire MB-3 program in jeopardy, but the death of the test pilot, company founder Baker; was a serve blow that would have dire consequence for the small company in the years ahead.

Constant development and production delays assured that the MB-3 would never achieve full production status. In the sprig of 1943, the MoD canceled its pre-production order for the 3 version. With the end of the company’s biggest contract up to that date, James Martin was finally free of government constraints. Free to pursue his life log dream. Free to design the company’s greatest air structure, the MB-5. The version 5 of the basic MB concept was basically a redesigned MB-4, an air platform that was never developed past mockup status, with a more powerful engine base and a streamline fuselage. The new power plant planned for the 5 version was the Rolls-Royce Griffon engine. The engine, coupled with a new teardrop canopy design and rear fuselage radiator gave the 5 a distinct flying capability.


The MB-5 in flight. (photo, via author)

Although different in many aspects from the 3 unit, the 5 was also loosely based on the same 18.39 specification. Martin’s new airplane made its maiden flight on the morning of May 23rd 1944. It only took one flight for Martin and the rest of his dedicated staff to know they had something special in the aircraft. With a top speed profile of 460 mph, the MB-5 was able to outrun the best of the Luftwaffe’s piston engine fighters. It flight operational ceiling was 20,000 feet which again, was better than any German piston aircraft of the times. The 5 unit was an overwhelming success that an Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment’s Boscombe Down report called the basic MB-5 design “an excellent and infinitely better, from the engineering and maintenance point of view, than any other similar type of aircraft”. The plane was also a big success with all the pilots who flew it. Its streamline airframe made it easy to maneuver it and its reinforced wing structure gave it the stability to become one of the world’s best gun platforms. Despite the high acclimates the aircraft ran into the same problem as the 3 version, delays. Add to this the fact that World War II has just ended, and the “writing was on the wall” when it came to the future of the whole 5 program. In the fall of 1945, the company finally pulled the plug on its most successful aircraft design.

Martin will go on with the design and development two jet powered aircraft, but by the late 1940s the company shifted its overall philosophy towards the production of ejection seats and area that made this little British company a household name.

– Raul Colon

More information:
The Royal Air Force and Aircraft Design 1923 to 1939, Colin Sinnott, Frank Cass 2001
Bristol Aircraft since 1910, C.H. Barnes, Putman Books 1964
Planemakers II, David Mondey, Jane’s Defense, 1982

The Front Machine Gun War: Spring of 1915 Through Summer 1916

Before the forwarded firing machine gun was introduce in the Western Front, all air to air encounters featured small guns, mostly pistols and single fire rifles, engagements which seldom generated in a shot down. A new method was in need if any of the combatants were to achieve air superiority over the other. The idea for the a nose mounted, forward firing, through the engines propellers; was conceived before the outbreak of hostilities in August 1915 but only France have ordered a model aircraft that was fitted with such a radical system: the Morane Type I. Unfortunately for France, the Type I proved to be an unreliable flying platform and it was quickly replaced by the most modern Type L. It was in a Type L that the famous French aviator Roland Garros (assigned to the Escadrille MS 23) shot down three German airplanes in early April 1915. His “victories” usher in a new age in air operations: the air-to-air combat. Garros’ Type L was fitted with the ingenious component designed by Saulnier. The propeller’s blades were fitted with steel plate deflectors to prevent bullets shooting off them. On the morning of April 19th, Garros’ Morane was shot down behind the German lines. The Germans took the plane and closely examined the propeller steel plates. At the same time, a German engineer named Schneider developed the Interrupter Gear which mechanically prevented the machine gun from firing at the instant a propeller blade passed the gun barrel. This new invention came in just as Anthony Fokker’s new scout, monoplanes were being assembled. Fokker’s team immediately began to fit each new model with the interrupter gear.

Fokker’s latest development was the Eindecker or E type which was a basic conceived scout platform design for reconnaissance patrols but not original intended for air to air encounters. The E type was initially deployed in small numbers in the Fliegerabteilungen. But it was not long before aces such as Oswald Boelcke and Max Immelmann figured it out how to engage and shot down Allied planes with their new, more maneuverable and, now armed with a workable machine gun system. These men, among others, were the ones who introduced the first series of rudimentary air combat tactics in the history of aviation. As more German pilots learned the art of combat tactics, casualties among the British and French air reconnaissance squadrons increased on an alarming rate. History records that on June 1915, four German E types downed the first French piloted aircraft utilizing the new interrupter as their main attack weapon. The following month, two British’s B.E.2Cs were forced to land by a formation of three E types. Those two encounters marked the first time a scout plane have managed to force out of the air an enemy plane. The stage was set for aerial combat to become more realistic and less romantic.

By early November 1915, the German air to air attacks had gathered them the name of “The Fokker Scourge”. But as with any conflict, the other side began to catch up, although slowly at first. In July 19th, the legendary ace pilot George Guinevere shot down a Fokker E type while flying a Morane/Saulnier Type N. On Christmas Eve, 1915, on his 19th birthday, the young flyer was awarded the distinguished Cross of the Legion d’Honeur. He would go one to shot down six more enemy aircraft before the spring of 1916 was over. But for all of his attributes, Guynemer did not generate the kind of excitement that the German ace Immelmann did. Know as the Eagle of Lille by the French, Immelmann was the first of many pilots (a list that included the most famous combat ace of all times, Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron) Oswald Boelcke instructed in the new arts of combat tactics. Boelcke’s legacy to flying can still be felt today. This bright and discipline German aviator was the first to put into writing the first series of combat maneuvers and counter actions. His actions on and off the battlefield earned him the prestigious Pour le Merite. Boelcke went on to record forty confirm victories before his death on October 28th 1916. Although Boelcke is now one of the most recognized figures of the early days of combat aviation, at the time of the beginning of the Great War, it was Immelmann, who commanded more respect and admiration, even from Germany’s enemies. Immelmann cold and calculated method of maneuvering coupled with the precision and lethality of his firing sequence, made him the more fear ace of his time. In a furious, albeit, short career; Immelmann managed to shot down fifteen Allied aircraft. But as in the case of many of his peers, he could not elude death in the skies. He was downed on June 18th 1916 near the town of Lens.

At first, the British were slow to adjust to the new air reality. Unlike the Germans, and to a lesser extend the French; the British were hesitate to, not only use the synchronize system, but to place grater emphasis on the monoplane design. During the late 1915 through the summer of 1916, British aircraft design and development was concentrated around the biplane platform, and to a lesser extend, the pusher airplane. The British thought, correctly at the time, that a biplane platform offer a much higher operational radius than a monoplane. The biplane design, so went the British thinking, maximized its much large lifting area in order to produce faster times and greater climb rate while preserving an overall high level of agility and structural integrity. The biplane, pusher platform was conceived in order to, not only achieve that profile but to gain an element missing from much of the British aircraft inventory: firepower. With the propeller blade sitting on the back of the airframe, the aircraft’s nose could now be fitted with a heavy, forward firing machine gun. This is how the venerable Airco D.H.2 was born. The D.H.2 design was destined to become the Royal Flying Corps’ (RFC) mainstay aircraft during the last months of 1915 and well into 1916. In fact, it was a squadron of D.H.2s, Number 24; that would become the RFC’s first true dedicated fighter formation. Commanded by Major Lanoe G. Hawker VC, the No. 24 reached French territory on February 1916. Until that time, the RFC was mostly utilizing outdated B.E.2Cs which have suffered tremendous losses in head to head encounters with E types during most of the autumn and winter of 1915. The B.E.2C and its companion platform, the F.E.2B suffered from, among other things, lack of fixed defensive armament and maneuverability speed. The new D.H.2s were not better platforms. Although it possessed a forward firing, heavy machine gun, the D.H.2 had a slow rate of turn and thus became an easy pray for the flock of E types now patrolling the skies above northern France. It is a testament to Hawker and the pilots he lead that they could, almost single handling, acquired air parity with Germany over the Western Front.

– Raul Colon

References:
The First World War, Hew Strachan, Penguin Books 2004
The German Army on the Somme 1914-1916, Jack Sheldon, Pen &Sword Books 2005
The World’s Great Fighters, Roberk Jackson, Chartwell Books 2001