Thursday, June 2, 2022

Warning, This Post Contains Foreshadowing!

English Channel Islands - Junkers Ju-88
As the aircraft above is one of my favorites, had a nice kit of one when I was nobbut a lad, I figured a repeat on a post I did on this bird back in June of 2014 was in order. Also, she figures prominently in the next post of the early part of WWII in Europe.

Which tells you two things:
  1. I've started the post (I'm about halfway into the tale I wish to tell) and
  2. I haven't quite finished it.
Life has been busy, hey, it happens. I don't mean to make y'all wait, but sometimes you have to. Heck fire, most of you were in the military or know enough about the military to realize that most of service life is "hurry up and wait."

I'll do the hurrying bit.

So read up on the Schnellbomber, a fascinating aircraft ...

Coming to a story near you!

P.S. If anyone has any idea which unit wore the insignia depicted on the aircraft above, please, let us know. Thanks!

One of my favorite aircraft of World War II is the German Junkers Ju-88. It saw service on every front where the Germans were engaged and was used in a number of roles.
The Junkers Ju 88 was a German World War II Luftwaffe twin-engined multi role combat aircraft. Designed by Junkers Flugzeug- und Motorenwerke (JFM) in the mid-1930s to be a so-called Schnellbomber ("fast bomber") which would be too fast for any of the fighters of its era to intercept, 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)" (Mädchen für Alles), 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, during the closing stages of the conflict in Europe, as a flying bomb.

Despite its protracted development, the aircraft became one of the Luftwaffe's most important assets. The assembly line ran constantly from 1936 to 1945, and more than 16,000 Ju 88s were built in dozens of variants, more than any other twin-engine German aircraft of the period. Throughout the production, the basic structure of the aircraft remained unchanged. - Wikipedia
And yes, I did have at least one model of a Ju-88 as a boy.

The crew of a Ju-88 of KG-54 prepares for a mission.

Three of the four crewman of a Ju-88 (the fourth man has the camera).

As you can see by these photos, the Ju-88 provided rather cramped working quarters for the crew. You might also notice that all four crewmen are together in the cockpit area, unlike the more spread out layout of an American or British bomber of the time. This was intentional, the Germans did this for morale reasons.

Spitfire and Hurricane pilots liked this layout during the Battle of Britain. One sustained burst into the cockpit area (all that glass!) and you've probably killed or disabled the entire crew. I wonder what the Ju-88 crew's morale was like after such an event.

You can clearly see in this how all four crewmen are bunched together.

The Ju-88's closest counterparts on the Allied side were the Mosquito and the Beaufighter. All three were extremely versatile and useful aircraft.

De Havilland Mosquito
Bristol Beaufighter

The Ju 88 was certainly an excellent aircraft. It was easy to fly, gentle, responsive, and manoeuverable, without vices. These were the characteristics which also made it an excellent nightfighter. A point of criticism for allied test pilots was the cockpit. The extensive framing of the many panels resulted in a fairly restricted view. In the bomber versions it was also rather cramped and inefficient, although the close grouping of the crew made communication easier. (Source)
Ju-88 Variants
  • Ju-88 A-series: Main bomber type with Jumo 211 engines.
  • Ju-88 A-0: Pre-production aircraft.
  • Ju-88 A-1: Initial production variant. 895 kW (1,200 hp) Jumo 211B-1 engines
  • Ju-88 A-2: Jumo 211 G-1 engines.
  • Ju-88 A-3: Conversion trainer. Dual controls.
  • Ju-88 A-4: Improved variant. Longer span wings, due to rounded wingtips. Modified with new bomb dropping equipment to produce a A-15 "special" bomber variant. The Ministry of Aviation refused to authorise mass production of the A-15, as the wooden bomb bay "bulge" caused too much drag and a thus a reduction in speed.
  • Ju-88 A-5: Earlier models of Ju-88 upgraded with longer A-4 wings and other equipment.
  • Ju-88 B-series: Prototype with all-new fully glazed "stepless" crew compartment nose, developed into Junkers Ju 188.
  • Ju-88 B-0: 10 pre-production aircraft with "stepless" fully glazed nose.
  • Ju-88 C-series: Zerstörer, fighter-bomber and night fighter, based on A-series, but with sheet metal nose.
  • Ju-88 C-1: Heavy fighter, 20 converted from A-1, Jumo 211 engines
  • Ju-88 C-2: Heavy fighter, 20 converted from A-5
  • Ju-88 C-3: Heavy fighter with BMW engines, none built
  • Ju-88 C-4: Heavy fighter, reconnaissance variant, based on A-5. 60 built and 60 converted from A-5
  • Ju-88 C-5: Heavy fighter, like C-4 but with BMW 801 engines, up to four converted
  • Ju-88 C-6: Heavy fighter and Night fighter, based on A-4, Jumo 211J engines with 1420 PS, 900 built
  • Ju-88 D-series: Long-range photo-reconnaissance variants, based on the Ju-88 A-4.
  • Ju-88 D-1: Long-range photo-reconnaissance variant based on Ju-88 A-4.
  • Ju-88 D-2: Long-range photo-reconnaissance variant based on Ju-88 A-5.
  • Ju-88 D-3: Tropicalized long-range photo-reconnaissance variant based on Ju-88 A-4.
  • Ju-88 D-4: Tropicalized long-range photo-reconnaissance variant based on Ju-88 A-5.
  • Ju-88 D-5
  • Ju-88 G-series: Night fighter, new fuselage with A-series' ventral Bola (Bodenlafette) gondola omitted, tail section from Ju 188, aerodynamically improved conformal gun pod for a quartet of forward-firing 20 mm calibre, MG 151/20 autocannons below the former bomb bay.
  • Ju-88 G-1: BMW 801 radial engines with 1700 PS, FuG 220 Lichtenstein SN-2 radar
  • Ju-88 G-6: Junkers Jumo 213A inverted V12 engines with 1750 PS, used either FuG 220 Lichtenstein SN-2 90 MHz or FuG 218 Neptun 158/187 MHz frequency radar, either with the usual Hirschgeweih eight-dipole aerial setup or experimentally with the more aerodynamic Morgernstern tripled crossed-dipole aerials. Some very-late-war aircraft equipped with experimental FuG 240 Berlin cavity magnetron based 3 GHz radar, with dish antenna in bulbous solid nose. Optional with Schräge Musik upward firing guns with two 20 mm or 30 mm guns.
Night fighter version. The "antlers" sticking out of the nose are actually the radar antennae.
  • Ju-88 G-7: Identical to G-6, but with Jumo 213E high-altitude engines, planned for use with FuG 218/220 with Morgenstern array or FuG 240. The G-7 was also to be installed with wings from the Junkers Ju 188.
  • Ju-88 G-3, 4 and 8 not produced.
  • Ju-88 H-series: Long-range photo-reconnaissance, fighter variants, based on the stretched Ju-88G-series fuselage.
  • Ju-88 H-1: Long-range maritime reconnaissance variant.
  • Ju-88 H-2: Fighter variant.
  • Ju-88 H-3: Long-range maritime reconnaissance variant.
  • Ju-88 H-4: Fighters variant.
  • Ju-88 P-series: Anti-tank and anti-bomber variant with single Bordkanone series 75 mm (2.95 in), 50 mm (1.97 in), or twin 37 mm (1.46 in) calibre cannon in conformal ventral fuselage gun pod mount, which mandated removal of the Bola gondola under the cockpit section, conversion of A-series bomber. Produced in small series only, they were perceived as a failure for both anti-tank and anti-bomber use.
  • Ju-88 P-1: Heavy-gun variant fitted with single 75 mm (2.95 in) Bordkanone BK 7,5 cannon in ventral gun pod. Appeared in mid-1942 in small numbers.
Ju-88 P-1
  • Ju-88 P-2: Heavy-gun variant with twin 37 mm (1.46 in) Bordkanone BK 37 cannon in ventral gun pod.
  • Ju-88 P-3: Heavy-gun variant with twin 37 mm (1.46 in) Bordkanone BK 37 cannon in ventral gun pod, and additional armor.
  • Ju-88 P-4: Heavy-gun variant with single 50 mm (1.97 in) Bordkanone BK 5 cannon in ventral gun pod. There were 32 built.
  • Ju-88 P-5: Heavy-gun variant with single 88 mm
  • Ju-88R: C-series night fighters with BMW 801 engines.
  • Ju-88 S-series: High-speed bomber series based on Ju-88 A-4 but with ventral Bola gondola omitted, smoothly glazed nose with radial-ribbed supports instead of the "beetle's eye" of the A-version, and GM-1 nitrous-oxide boost, fastest of all variants.
  • Ju-88 S-0: Fitted with two BMW 801 G-2 engines, single 13 mm (.51 in) dorsal gun and 14 SD65 (65 kg/143 lb) bombs.
  • Ju-88 S-1: Fitted with two BMW 801 G-2 engines, the GM-1 boost system and could carry two SD1000 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) bombs externally.
  • Ju-88 S-2: Fitted with two turbocharged BMW 801J engines, wooden bomb bay extension as used on the Ju-88 A-15.
  • Ju-88 S-3: Fitted with two 1,671 kW (2,240 hp) Jumo 213A engines and GM-1 boost system.
  • Ju-88 T-series: Three-seat photo-reconnaissance version of S-series.
  • Ju-88 T-1: Based on the Ju-88 S-1 but with bomb bays fitted for extra fuel of GM-1 tanks.
  • Ju-88 T-3: Based on the Ju-88 S-3.
Yes, quite a few variants off of the same basic airframe. There is a museum in the UK which I need to visit someday, they have the nose of a KG-54 Ju-88 on display. The Shoreham Aircraft Museum in Shoreham Village, Sevenoaks, Kent.

One of the oddest uses for the Ju-88 was in the Mistel project.
Mistel (German for "mistletoe"), was the larger, unmanned component of a composite aircraft configuration developed in Germany during the later stages of World War II. The composite comprised a small piloted control aircraft mounted above a large explosives-carrying drone, the Mistel, and as a whole was referred to as the Huckepack ("Pick-a-back" in British English, "piggyback" in American English), also known as the Beethoven-Gerät ("Beethoven Device") and Vati und Sohn ("Daddy and Son").

The most successful of these used a modified Junkers Ju 88 bomber as the Mistel, with the entire nose-located crew compartment replaced by a specially designed nose filled with a large load of explosives. The upper component was a fighter aircraft, joined to the Mistel by struts. The combination would be flown to its target by a pilot in the fighter; then the unmanned bomber was released to hit its target and explode, leaving the fighter free to return to base. The first such composite aircraft flew in July 1943 and was promising enough to begin a programme by Luftwaffe test unit KG 200, code-named "Beethoven", eventually entering operational service. - Wikipedia

Ju-88 Mistel attached to a Me-109.

A very versatile aircraft, one of the Sarge's favorites. Of course, I have so many favorites, expect to see all of them here on the blog, eventually...

This film ends abruptly as it's part of a longer program, but it's interesting. (Somewhat better than one I found on a Japanese website which goes from discussing the Ju-88 to the Fw-200 Condor practically in mid-sentence! Gave me a headache it did.)

Tank Buster!


  1. Interesting aircraft to be sure, though not one of my builds in adolescence; never cared for the look and one (two?) rifle-caliber MG's didn't seem comparable to the .50's on our side. The tankbuster-version appeals to the "gun-guy" in me.
    That "morale-building" (never heard that "justification" before) greenhouse always seemed a vulnerability to me; apparently it was.
    Boat Guy

    1. In its bomber version it was not a well-armed machine, that's for sure. One MG forward, one aft, and one underneath. It relied on speed, but of course, all modern fighters were faster than it. Clustering the crew together works in a tank, not so much in an aircraft. The greenhouse canopy and the cramped cockpit weren't what I call "features."

    2. They were certainly. "features" to the RAF as you point out.

    3. The clustered crew configuration seems reminiscent of a WW1 British observation plane. Pilot and observer were close together, separated by the gas tank. One burst amidships was almost certain to get at least one of the three.

    4. Why yes, that would definitely be a "bad thing."

    5. Eric Brown figured out that if you come at a Condor from dead ahead, at the same level the Condor is flying at, the top turret can't depress enough to get you, and the gondola gun can't elevate enough, and you can use the fifties of your Wildcat to pulp the flight crew.

      I would think that with the entire crew in the bulb at the nose, and only rifle caliber defensive guns, once CVEs made their appearance in the convoys, FAA Corsairs and Wildcats could deal with JU-88s flying anti shipping missions very effectively.

      I know it isn't part of the story, but tomorrow is Midway Day. YAY, DICK BEST!

  2. And now, I am smarter.

    Are there any still flying, Sarge?

    1. There are only two complete aircraft, both in museums. There are a number of partial aircraft recovered from crash sites (including underwater) which are being restored. I doubt there will be one restored to flying condition. Cost would be pretty high.

    2. It's almost like... the losing side had all their toys broken, mostly in the process of losing.

    3. That and the fact that their factories were reduced to dust and ashes for the most part, thus the plans and specs most likely as well. It's tough enough to restore US Warbirds to flying condition.Boat

    4. I would think that, while aviation metalsmiths, given enough money, could make a JU-88, but I bet the cost of making the engines would be insurmountable.

  3. Good kit. At the IWM Duxford we don’t have a JU88 but we do have a complete Bf109, complete with bent prop blades having been shot up and force landed in Sussex. We also have the tail section and an engine from the Me110 flown to Scotland by Hitlers Deputy, Rudolf Hess. He didn’t get back either (except to Nuremberg as a defendant). Let me know when you’re visiting.

    1. I need to get back to Blighty!

    2. To a degree, a victim of mid 1930s assumptions. It definitely could outrun even most advanced biplane fighters. But just at this time monoplanes with retractable landing gear appeared, which, coupled with radar ended the myth of bomber always coming thru. Luckily the resourceful design made it adaptable for many missions more than daylight bombing. And where own fighters escorting could establish air superiority, it could do original mission just fine...

  4. Dang, Sarge! It was Fugly compared to the Mosquito. It even made the Beaufighter look more lovely. I put together a lot of WWII models in my youth (IIRC). Mosquito was one of my favorites as was the Corsair. B-26 in Bombers. There's a B-25 in the Nimitz (Doolittle Raid exhibit) that's pretty nice. My Boss at the Airport actually owned one (or a portion thereof). Got to ride in it once. WAAAAYYYYY Cool!

    1. Well sure, if ya wanna judge on looks alone. But I remember the old saying, "if it looks fast, it is fast." I guess in this case you could say, "if it looks ugly, it probably flies ugly." But truth be told, this has been said of the Ju-88:

      "The Ju 88 was certainly an excellent aircraft. It was easy to fly, gentle, responsive, and maneuverable, without vices. These were the characteristics which also made it an excellent nightfighter."

      But it carried a relatively small bomb load (3,100 pounds) and "packed" five 7.92 mm machine guns (on the A4 model). Certainly nothing compared to the Flying Fortress - 4,500 pound bomb load (for long missions) and up to 13 .50 caliber MGs (on the G).

      Because of the long engine nacelles and the nose lining up with those, the Ju-88's nickname was the Dreifinger, "three fingers."

  5. The engine nacelles on that De Havilland Mosquito look very similar to your beloved Spitfire. Anything more than a coincidence?

    1. Well, the Mossy used the same engine as the Spitfire, so I doubt that it's coincidence.


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