PZL P-23
PZL P37A/B
Bloch MB-210
Potez Po-633B2
Heinkel He-111
Junkers Ju-88
Junkers Ju-87D
Henschel Hs-129B
Savoia-Marchetti SM 79B ( JRS-79B )
Bristol Blenheim I

The Junkers Ju-88 bomber / reconnaissance aircraft

 

Universally recognized as one of the most versatile and effective combat aircraft to take part in the war, the Junkers Ju-88 was unquestionably the finest bomber and reconnaissance plane the ARR had in WW2.
The Ju-88 was born, like many other German bombers, as a result of RLM's idea of a schnellbomber, meaning a bomber faster than all existing fighters. In 1935, the RLM ( the German Air Ministry ) issued a specification calling for a bomber capable of reaching a speed of 500 km/h with a 800 kg payload. Three German companies answered to the challenge : Henschel came up with the Hs-127, Messerschmitt offered its Bf-162 and Junkers presented two designs : the Ju-85 and the Ju-88.
The Junkers Ju-88 had flown for the first time on the 21st of December 1936. The Ju-88V1 prototype was a twin-engine, low-wing monoplane built in an all-metal configuration with stressed skin construction ; two American engineers had been hired specially for this purpose, since stressed-skin was a new technology for Junkers. As a result, the Ju-88 had a beautiful, compact, well-streamlined cockpit and fuselage, and a pointed nose. The plane was powered two inverted, V-12, Daimler-Benz DB-600 engines, rated at 1000 HP. Both engines were installed in long cowlings with circular radiators, in front of the wing's leading edge, not under the wing, as was the usual practice. Because of its long cowlings and nose, the plane quickly earned the nickname "Dreifinger", meaning "Three fingers". From the third prototype ( V3 ) onwards, the plane had to exchange the DB-600 engines for the new Junkers Jumo 211 engines, since the DB-600's were to be used solely for the new Messerschmitt Bf-109 and Bf-110 fighters.

 

 
 
However, this didn't seem to be a problem when the fifth prototype made an astonishing debut on the 9th of March 1939, when it managed to set a world speed record by flying 1000km with 2000kg of load at an average speed of 517km/h on a closed circuit. By this stage, the plane had been fitted with the four-seat, "beetle eye" cockpit and a
  A Romanian Junkers Ju-88  
ventral gondola under the nose, from which a gunner could fire rearwards. Both these characteristics would be included in the production versions. The aircraft was orderd into production in mid-1939, and given the highest possible priority, but it wasn't so simple.
Luftwaffe's demand that the Ju-88 be capable of dive bombing was a major source of troubles. Dive brakes were installed underneath the wings, and the structure was strenghtenend, but one inevitable drawback appeared immediately : all the extra weight had affected flight performance. Same thing happened when the Luftwaffe also requested that larger internal bomb bays and external bomb racks for four 500kg bombs be mounted. Nevertheless, the Ju-88 remained the finest of all German bombers.
The ARR received its first Junkers Ju-88's on the 16th of June, 1943, when 25 Ju-88A4's and 12 Ju-88D1's were delivered by the Germans. The Ju-88A4's were bombers developed from the original Ju-88, but with longer span wings, a stronger airframe, and Jumo 211J engines, whilst the D1's were a reconnaissance version based on the A series. The Ju-88D's didn't have bomb bays or bomb racks, as all the space was used up by bigger fuel tanks. More Ju-88A4's arrived quickly, so by the end of June 1943, 6 ARR bomber squadrons ( the 74th, 77th, 78th, 80th, 86th and 87th ) were equipped with Ju-88's. The 2nd Long Range Reconnaissance Squadron received the Ju-88D1's.
  Romanian Ju-88A4's returning from a mission. October 1944  
All units equipped with Ju-88's fought on the east front until the 23rd of August, by which time combat losses and accidents reduced their number to four : 77th, 79th and 80th bomber squadrons and the 2nd Long Range Recon Squadron ( the latter one had just four Ju-88D1's left ). Remaining squadrons were used to reform the 5th Bomber Group, which had by now earned the knickname "Our country's fist". The group fought with distinction on the west front during the anti-axis campaign until the end of the war.
 
The Ju-88 was quite popular with the Romanian pilots who appreciated it as easy to fly, responsive and quite maneuverable for a bomber. One interesting detail is that of the two surviving Ju-88's in the world is a Romanian Ju-88D1 used by a pilot who defected to the Allies in 1943. It is currently located in the USAF's museum.

The Romanian Ju-88D1 in USAF's museum

Technical data for the Junkers Ju-88A4

Wingspan
20 meters
Length
14.4 meters
Height
4.85 meters
Weight (empty)
9860 kg
Weight (loaded)
14000 kg maximum
Maximum speed at 5000 meters
470 km/h
Maximum operational ceiling
8300 m
Range
1790 km
Engine
Two Junkers Jumo 211J-1 rated at 1340HP
Armament
Three 7.92 mm MG17 machine guns plus two 13.2 mm MG 15's ( or Seven 7.92 mm MG17's)
Payload
Up to 2500 kg
Crew
4

Technical data for the Junkers Ju-88D1

Wingspan
20.08 meters
Length
14.36 meters
Height
4.8 meters
Weight (empty)
8850 kg
Weight (loaded)
12350 kg maximum
Maximum speed at 5000 meters
480 km/h
Maximum operational ceiling
8300 m
Range
4800 km
Engine
Two Junkers Jumo 211J-1/2 rated at 1340HP
Armament
Three 7.92 mm MG17 machine guns
Crew
4
Numbers received
12

Hosting by WebRing.