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Junkers 88 Bomber

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Junkers 88 - German bomber, WWII.

Junkers 88

When the attack on Poland began on August 31, 1939, only ten Junker 88s were available to participate, so their effect was small. Damage was inflicted upon the British fleet during the invasion of Norway, but at a loss of four Junker 88s. In the invasion of the low countries and France in May of 1940, their numbers had grown and the Junker 88s began to make an impact, destroying over two hundred Allied planes on the ground. Junker 88s also sank the British liner RMS Lancastria which had been pressed into troopship service for a loss of about 5,800 lives, mostly British soldiers. British Prime Minister Churchill was devastated when he was informed, and he ordered news of the disaster to be censored for several years. The Junker 88s suffered heavily in the battle of Britain, with more losses than that suffered by the more numerous Heinkel 111s or Dornier 17s.

By the invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, the bugs had been worked out and production had climbed, so that the Junker 88s had replaced all of the frontline Dornier 17s with the exception of one unit. The Junker 88s were highly successful against Soviet land and naval targets, but anti-aircraft fire and occasional fighter losses took a steady toll. 1942 saw expanded use of the Junker 88s, both as a long range fighter to thwart anti- Uboat operations in the Bay of Biscay, an anti-shipping torpedo plane, and as a night fighter to block the night-time bomber raids upon Germany by the British Bomber Command.

It was as a night-fighter that the Junker 88s played their most successful role, combining speed, firepower, the ability to carry the ever changing electronic warfare gear, and the necessary range to close with the British bomber stream once it had been identified for a particular night.

In the closing days of World War Two one final version of the Junker 88 was built, the mistral. Packed with explosives and bearing a FW 190 fighter mounted on top, the crewless Junker 88 was crashed into the target just as the Fw 190 fighter broke away and returned the pilot to base. Junker 88s were produced to the end of the war with about 15,000 Junker 88s having been built. Photo Source: U.S. Navy Naval Aviation News August 15, 1943.


* Ju 88 facts

Category Bomber
Manufacturer Junkers
First flight December 1936
Used in WW II by
Number built Approx. 15,000
Max. speed 342 mph
Altitude 32,480 feet service ceiling
Range 1,553 miles
* Numbers are approximate