The Junkers JU
88 was perhaps one of the most versatile aircraft to have
ever flown. Its basic design was based on a passenger airliner
and the rugged combat version was rushed into service just
before World War II started and was to suffer numerous teething
troubles before the definitive A 4 variant entered service
during the Battle of Britain.
As with the Heinkel He 111 and Dornier Do 17, it was believed
that the 88's speed would allow it to avoid interception and
so it was initially given a very weak defensive armament.
Designed in the mid 1930's this philosophy worked against
the obsolescent opposition the 88 first encountered. However,
against modern fighters, such as the Spitfire and Hurricane,
the 88 would find itself vulnerable. Despite being used in
smaller numbers it suffered higher losses than either of its
stablemates the Heinkel 111 and Dornier 17 during the air
fighting over Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain.
After the Battle of Britain the JU 88 continued to be built
in huge numbers and as well as continuing in the bomber role
also became by far the most successful of Germany's night
fighter types. The JU 88 also served in many other roles including
dive bomber, torpedo bomber, night intruder and tank buster.
The night fighter variants were particularly successful; having
radars, heavy cannon armaments and speeds of up to 400 mph
and were responsible for destroying more allied night bombers
than all other German fighter types combined.
The statistics given below are for the original bomber versions,
the A4 which began to equip Luftwaffe bomber squadrons during
the Battle of Britain.
Type: Medium Bomber
Crew: 3 (pilot, navigator/bombardier and radio operator)
Powerplant: 2 x 1,340 hp Junkers Jumo 211 inverted V12
Maximum Speed: 269 mph
Service Ceiling: 26,900 feet
Range: c 1,110 miles fully loaded
Armament: 2 x 7.92mm MG 81 machine guns in front cockpit
1 x 7.92mm MG 81 machine gun in upper rear cockpit
1x 7.92mm MG 81 machine gun in rear of under cockpit gondolier.
Up to 3,000 kg of bombs in internal bay and on wing racks.