Junkers 88 R1 (PJ876)

Junkers 88 R1 (PJ876)  [@ RAF Hendon]

One of the most versatile and effective combat aircraft ever produced, the Junkers 88 (Ju 88) remained of vital importance to the Luftwaffe throughout World War 11, serving as a bomber, dive-bomber, night fighter, close support aircraft, long-range heavy fighter, reconnaissance aircraft and torpedo-bomber.  It is one of the truly great multi-role combat aircraft. 

It was not until the Battle of Britain, however, that the Ju 88 A played a major role in German operations.  Ju 88s took part in a number of daylight actions against British radar stations, airfields and ports in the opening phases of the Battle of Britain.  The Ju 88 A1 was the main variant used and possessed a good performance, was reasonably manoeuvrable for its size and could take a great deal of punishment.  However its lack of armoured protection and insufficient defensive armament meant that it was relatively easy prey for RAF fighters.  At the time of the Battle of Britain the Ju 88 was at the beginning of its service career and its remarkable adaptability, particularly as a night fighter, had still to be exploited by the Luftwaffe.  The Ju 88 As saw considerable action in the Balkans and the Mediterranean and on the Eastern Front.  Some of their most outstanding service, however, was in the Arctic, where aircraft of KG 26 and KG 30, based in northern Norway, carried out devastating attacks on Allied convoys to Russia.

Junkers 88 R1 (PJ876)

Junkers 88 R1 (PJ876)  [@ RAF Hendon]

The prototype Ju 88 (Ju 88 V1) flew for the first time on the 21st December 1936, powered by two 1000 hp DB 600A in-line engines; the second prototype (Ju 88 V2) was essentially similar, except that it was fitted with Jumo 211A V12 inline, liquid cooled, power-plants, the engines that were mostly to power the aircraft throughout its career.  Later prototypes introduced defensive armament positions to the rear of the cockpit, wing mounted bomb hard points (V3, V4 & V5) and a redesigned under-carriage (V6).  The V4 was the first prototype to be tested as a dive-bomber and was followed by the V5 and V6.  These models became the planned prototype for the A1 series.  The V5 made its maiden flight on 13th April 1938 and the V6 on 28th June 1938.  Both the V5 and V6 were fitted with four bladed propellers, an extra bomb bay and a central "control system".  Ju 88 V7 first flew on the 27th September 1938 and it became the Ju 88 A0 standard.

A pre-series batch of Ju 88 A0s was completed during the summer of 1939 with the first production Ju 88 A1s being delivered to a test unit, Erprobungskommando 88.  In August 1939 this unit was re-designated 1/KG 25 and soon afterwards it became 1/KG 30 carrying out its first operational mission, an attack on British warships in the Firth of Forth, in September.  About 60 operational aircraft were in service by the end of the year.  The Ju 88 A was built in 17 different variants up to the Ju 88 A17, with progressively up-rated engines, enhanced defensive armament and improved defensive capability.  The most widely used variant was the Ju 88 A4, which served in both Europe and North Africa.  This was the first version to incorporate technical improvements resulting from the combat experience gained during the battles of France and Britain; it had extended-span wings, Jumo 211J engines and a heavier defensive armament.  Twenty Ju 88 A4s were supplied to Finland and some were supplied to Italy, Romania and Hungary.  The Ju 88 A5 was generally similar, with some equipment changes.

Junkers 88 R1 (PJ876) Junkers 88 R1 (PJ876)

Junkers 88 R1 (PJ876)  [@ RAF Hendon]

Werknummer 360043, PJ876 was reportedly flown by a defector(s) (or an agent of the Secret Service) from Norway to RAF Dyce, Aberdeen, on the 9th May 1943.  Two (pilot and wireless op/gunner) of the three man crew fully co-operated much to the consternation of the third man, the Flight Engineer, who was incarcerated as a POW.  The pilot could have arranged this defection with the British Secret Service which wanted to acquire information about German night-fighter radar technology.  The aircraft had been in service with 10./NJG 3 in Norway and was registered as D5+EV.  Reporting a fake engine fire to his German radio station the pilot landed at Dyce under Spitfire (165 Squadron) protection.  It has been suggested that he had pro-British sympathies and whilst serving with 2/NJG2 he had landed in the UK at Debden (14th /15th February 1941) and in Lincolnshire (20th May 41) on clandestine intelligence missions connected with British intelligence.  Believing that the plane was lost in the sea the Germans declared it lost.  One month later they learned by a radio transmission from the BBC what really had happened.  On the 11th May 1943 Professor R V Jones (Assistant Directorate of Scientific Intelligence and an expert on German radar systems) arrived at Dyce to take charge of the evaluation of the aircraft and its equipment.  On the 14th May, under Beaufighter escort, PJ876 was flown from RAF Dyce to the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) at Farnborough by Sqn Ldr R A Kalpas for consequent day and night time testing.  At this time RAF bomber losses were exceptionally high due to night-fighter interceptions.  Detailed analysis of 360043 brand new FuG 202 Lichtenstein radar revealed that the night-fighter was using the signals from Monica (a cm radar device fitted to a bomber to give early warning of an impending night-fighter attack) to “home in” on the bomber itself.  The Germans had developed the technology to receive centimetre wavelength radar signals but not the technology to generate them using a magnetron which had been invented at Birmingham University.  PJ876 was also used to evaluate the impact of “Window” or chaff (aluminium stripes) on German radar.  On the 6th May 1944 PJ876 was flown to the 1426 (Enemy Aircraft) Flight base at RAF Collyweston.  When 1426 was disbanded on the 21st January 1945 PJ876 being selected for preservation, along with other aircraft, and stored.  In 1976 PJ876 was restored to Luftwaffe livery and placed on display at RAF Hendon during August 1978. 

Junkers 88 G1 (714628)   Junkers 88 G1 (714628)

Junkers 88 G1 (714628)  [@ Deutsches Technik Museum, Berlin]

The Ju 88 B was the subject of a separate development programme, and eventually evolved into the Ju 188, which made its operational debut later in the war.  Chronologically, the next major production series started with the Ju 88 C0 (a Ju 88 V7 conversion) heavy fighter (Zerstörer), which first flew in the July of 1939 and entered operational service in the September of the same year with KG30.  In July 1940 the first production version of the Ju 88 C2 entered service with KG30 (now II/NJG 1) and was used for intruder operations over the British Isles.  It was a Ju 88 A1 conversion with a 'solid' nose housing three MG 17 machine guns and a 20 mm (0.79 in) MG FF cannon, plus a single rearward-firing MG 15.  Powered by Jumo 211 B1 engines, it had a three man crew and a maximum bomb load 1,102 lb (550 kg).  It was followed in December 1949 by a relatively small number of  Ju 88 C4s (a Zerstörer/reconnaissance), using the same extended-span wing of the Ju 88 A4 but with Jumo 211 F1 engines.  The Ju 88 C4/R was a late production model of the C4 with Jumo 211 J1 or J2 engines, while the Ju 88 N was an unofficial designation given to one Ju 88 C4 when fitted with a Nebelwerfer rocket launcher.  The C5 variant (10 built) was an improved C4 and was powered by BMW 801 D2 engines.  The next variant (from mid 1942), the Ju 88 C6 (6a, 6b and 6c), had Jumo 211 J1 or J2 engines and two 20 mm (0.79 in) cannon added to its forward armament, the rear MG 15 being replaced by an MG 131.  The Ju 88 C6 and the last variant in this series, the C7 (7a, 7b and 7c), were used as both day (6a, 7c) and night (6b, 6c) fighters, while the 7a and 7b were employed in the intruder role.

The Ju 88 G production series made its appearance in the Spring of 1944.  This version, which used the angular tail unit of the Ju 188 and carried improved Lichtenstein AI radar, was a highly effective night fighter.  The prototype, Ju 88 G V1, was a modified Ju 88 R2 with BMW 801D radial engines first flew in June 1943.  With a crew of three it was armed with two fixed MG 151s in the nose and four fixed MG 151/20s in a ventral gun tray plus one 13 mm MG 131 at the rear of the cockpit and a FuG 212 Lichtenstein C1 radar.  Following on was the G0, G1 and G4 production variants.  The Ju 88 G6a was a version of the G4 but with the dorsal 'Schräge Musik' configuration, an aft facing antenna for SN 2 radar and 801G power-plants.  Similar to the 6b, the Ju 88 G6b had a FuG 350 Naxos Z in the cockpit roof and increased fuel capacity while the Ju 88 6c with its reduced fuel capacity was powered by Jumo 213A inline V12 engines and had the 'Schräge Musik' installation moved to just aft of the cockpit.  Powered by Jumo 213E engines the Ju 88 G7a, 7b and 7c variants introduced the pointed wing tips from the Ju 188 and improved radar detection.  The Ju 88 G8 was designed to be a long range Zerstörer, it was similar to the G7 but with the fuselage of the Ju 88 H2.  Similar to the G8 the Ju 88 G10 was used for the Mistel programme while the Ju 88 G12 was developed into the Ju 188 R series.  Some of the final G series models received the updated high-altitude Jumo 213E engine and/or updated radars (FuG 218 Neptun V/R or the FuG 240 Berlin N-1 cm radar), but only a small number of these were in service by the time the war ended.

714628 was built in 1944 and was assigned to 7/NJG 6 (Luftflotte 4 East) at Wiener/Neustadt.  Sent on a “day-time” mission to attack Russian ground targets in the vicinity of the Lake Balaton,Hungary, 714628 was attacked by Russian fighters and finally shot down over the lake near the village of Balatonföldvar on the night of 4/5th December 1944] killing all 3 crew.  The crew were never found and are still classified as missing.  The heavily damaged remains were discovered by Hungarian divers in the summer of 1995 and later salvaged on the 12th July 1996.  In 1997 the remains were sold to the Deutsches Technik Museum with reconstruction beginning in 2005.  With so many parts missing or damaged beyond repair the reconstruction was performed in cooperation with the Norwegian Air Force Museum at Gardemoen and Bodo.  Substantial parts of WNr. 0797 4d+HA of KG30, a Ju 88 C4 which was recovered in 2001 in Norway, were used in the reconstruction.  The rear fuselage was taken from the WNr. 0797 and parts of the tail unit from 714628.  The wings and engines will follow on.  714628 is the only surviving Junkers Ju 88 G nightfighter in the world.

Junkers 88 G1 (714628)   Junkers 88 G1 (714628)

Junkers 88 G1 (714628)  [@ Deutsches Technik Museum, Berlin]

Two more sub-variants, the Ju 88 H and the Ju 88 R series (early 1943), brought the Ju 88 fighter line to an end.  The Ju 88 H2 and H3 was a long range fighter version of  the Ju 88 H1 and H3 (a long range reconnaissance variant based upon on the Ju 88 D1 fuselage with Ju 88 G1 wings and engines) and with two 20 mm cannon in a solid nose and four more in a belly pack.  Powered by BMW 801 radial engines, the Ju 88 R series of night fighters were basically Ju 88 C6b conversions.  The R1 had BMW 801 MA or 801C engines while the R2, similar to the R1 but with improved radar equipment, had BMW 801 D engines.

A specialist anti-tank version of the Ju 88, the Ju 88 P, also made its appearance during WW2 armed with either a 75 mm (2.95 in) cannon (Ju 88 PV1, P1) or two 37 mm (1.46 in) cannon (Ju 88 P2, P3).  Ju88 PV1 was the prototype, a modified A4, and powered by Jumo 211J engines while the JU 88 P1 was its production variant.  The Ju 88 P2s were A4 conversions as were the Ju 88 P3s but they incorporated increased armour and Jumo 211H engines.  While the Ju 88 P4 was a heavy fighter and anti-tank version, powered by Jumo 211 J2 engines it was armed with a single 50 mm cannon.  In fact, one of these aircraft was latter fitted with a 22-shot launcher for the testing of RZ 65 rockets.

Toward the very end of WW2 a number of Ju 88 G1 airframes were converted to act as the warhead portion of the Mistel 2 flying bomb.  The cockpit section being replaced by a bolt-on shaped charge warhead.  A Focke-Wulf  Fw 190 A6 or an Fw 190 F8 was mounted above the pilotless airframe to guide it towards the target before being released at the very last moment.  Some Mistel 2s were converted into a trainer, the Mistel S2.  Some bridges were attacked successfully by the composite system.  The Mistel 3C was formed by the joining of an Fw 190 A8 and Ju 88 G10 but it never went into production.

Total production of the Junkers 88 was 14,676 aircraft, of which about 3900 were fighter or ground attack variants.

[I would like to thank Matti for the contributions made to the Ju 88 details]