The Junkers Ju 88 was one of the Luftwaffe’s most successful twin-engine multirole combat aircraft of WWII.
Originally designed in the mid-1930s as a fast bomber, its initial development was plagued with technical problems due largely to the Junkers factory trying to meet the German High Command’s often-conflicting requirements.
Goering only wanted a fast bomber while others saw the need for a long range heavy fighter – as a consequence the protracted development resulted in the aircraft only just entering service on the first day of the invasion of Poland, when 12 were delivered to forward bases.
Production in the first year of the war was agonizingly slow with only one JU-88 rolling off the production line a week.
Eventually design issues and performance criteria were ironed out and the JU-88 assembly line ran constantly from 1936 to 1945 with more than 16,000 Ju 88s being built in a number of variants including Dive Bomber, Fighter Bomber, Heavy fighter and Maritime Attack Aircraft.
While the JU-88 was capable of delivering pinpoint bombing of heavy ordinance, its dive-bombing role proved too stressful for its airframe and modifications were made to strengthen its wing roots and the dive brakes were removed to lessen its attack angle.
Never the less, the JU 88 proved devastating to allied ground forces during the battle of France when it joined mixed bomber units in late 1939 -1940, attacking rail systems and shipping paralyzing French logistics across the country.
Months later it joined the raids against the British mainland as a fighter-bomber escort for the Dornier Do 17 and the lumbering Heinkel heavy bomber.
Despite its high speed, JU-88 losses during the Battle of Britain far exceeded those of the Dornier and Heinkel. This was largely due to its initial light armenance and the inadequate training of its crew who had only recently been converted to the high-performance aircraft.
Many of its inexperienced crew were said to be more scared of the Ju 88 than the enemy and of the 39 losses recorded for July 1940 only 20 were actually due to combat with the others being written off in training accidents, crashes, or malfunctions over the mainland Europe.
As a result the JU-88 was withdrawn the British Blitzkrieg and underwent some major structural and systems modifications with all crews being retrained as well its single MG machine guns being replaced by the more powerful twin-barreled MG 81Z.
With attacks on it’s U Boat fleet leaving and returning from their French submarine pens skirting the Bay of Biscay, the new JU-88C variant was immediately deployed on anti-shipping patrols and escort missions for both the vulnerable U Boats and the Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor which while becoming the scourge of allied shipping in the North Atlantic was itself – extremely vulnerable to fighter attack.
Other JU-88’s were deployed to the Eastern Front with armor piercing heavy cannons installed in the nose and in a large gun pod beneath the fuselage.
The heavy cannons of the JU-88 almost succeeded in stopping the Russian tank offensive in its tracks as the Luftwaffe upgraded the slower Dornier Do 17 to the heavy ground attack JU-88 across the Eastern front. One raid in June 1941 caught the Soviet 23rd Tank Division in the open resulting in 40 tanks being destroyed while a further 100 soviet fighters and bombers were destroyed on the ground.
In the Baltic States the JU-88 relentlessly attacked Soviet shipping inflicting severe losses and blunting the Soviets’ Western front offensive but by this time the tide had well and truly turned and although production continued right up to Germany’s surrender in 1945, advances in allied fighter design and ground defensive firepower continued to take their toll on the JU-88 and it was finally relegated to night fighter duties in the last months of the war.
All Junkers JU-88 Instruments listed below come complete with detailed Scale Model, Mango Wood Stand & Plaque plus Printed Fact Sheet featuring photo of instrument in aircraft cockpit.
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Ju88 4D+DR Fuselage wreckage
Rare airframe section from Ju 88 4D+DR shot down during...