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Junkers Ju 88
Ju 88A over France, 1942
Role Dive bomber/Tactical bomber/Night fighter/Torpedo bomber/Heavy fighter
Manufacturer Junkers
Designer W. H. Evers and Alfred Gassner
First flight 21 December 1936
Introduction 1939
Retired 1951 (France)
Primary user Luftwaffe
Number built 15,183[1]
Variants Junkers Ju 188

The Junkers Ju 88 was a World War II German Luftwaffe twin-engine, multi-role aircraft. Designed by Hugo Junkers' company in the mid-1930s to be a so-called Schnellbomber 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 as a flying bomb during the closing stages of conflict.[2]

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,[3] more than any other twin-engine German aircraft of the period. Throughout the production, the basic structure of the aircraft remained unchanged.[4]

Design and development[edit | edit source]

The Ju 85 was a twin-engined bomber aircraft prototype, designed by Junkers in 1935. The Reich Air Ministry requested the aircraft, which differed from the Ju 88 due to the use of a twin fin tail unit. The aircraft was never put into service.[5]

In August 1935, the German Ministry of Aviation submitted its requirements for an unarmed, three-seat, high-speed bomber, with a payload of 800-1,000 kg (1,760-2,200 lb).[6] Junkers presented their initial design in June 1936, and were given clearance to build two prototypes (Werknummer 4941 and 4942).[6] The first two aircraft were to have a range of 2,000 km (1,240 mi) and were to be powered by two DB 600s. Three further aircraft, Werknummer 4943, 4944 and 4945, were to be powered by Jumo 211 engines.[6] The first two prototypes, Ju 88 V1 and V2, differed from the V3, V4 and V5 in that the latter three models were equipped with three defensive armament positions to the rear of the cockpit, and were able to carry two 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) bombs, one under each inner wing panel.

The first five prototypes had conventionally operating dual-strut leg rearwards-retracting main gear, but starting with the V6 prototype, a main gear design debuted that twisted the new, single-leg main gear strut through 90° during the retraction sequence, much like that of the American Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighter. This feature allowed the main wheels to end up above the lower end of the strut when fully retracted [N 1] and was adopted as standard for all future production Ju 88s, and only minimally modified for the later Ju 188 and 388 developments of it. These single-leg landing gear struts also made use of stacks of conical Belleville washers inside them, as their main form of suspension for takeoffs and landings.

By 1938, radical modifications from the first prototype began to produce a "heavy" dive bomber. The wings were strengthened, dive brakes were added, the fuselage was extended and the number of crewmen was increased to four. Due to these advances, the Ju 88 was to enter the war as a medium bomber.

Annular radiator on a wrecked Ju 88

The choice of annular radiators for engine cooling on the Ju 88, which placed these radiators immediately forward of each engine and directly behind each propeller, allowed the cooling lines for the engine coolant and oil-cooling radiators (integrated within the annular design) to be just about as short as possible. The concept may have led to a number of other German military aircraft designs adopting the same solution, such as the Arado Ar 240, Heinkel He 177, Heinkel He 219, the inline powered developments of the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 and the twin-engined Focke-Wulf Ta 154.

Ju 88 assembly line, 1941

The aircraft's first flight was made by the prototype Ju 88 V1, which bore the civil registration D-AQEN, on 21 December 1936. When it first flew, it managed about 580 km/h (360 mph) and Hermann Göring, head of the Luftwaffe was ecstatic. It was an aircraft that could finally fulfill the promise of the Schnellbomber, a high-speed bomber. The streamlined fuselage was modeled after its contemporary, the Dornier Do 17, but with fewer defensive guns because the belief still held that it could outrun late 1930s-era fighters. The fifth prototype set a 1,000 km (620 mi) closed-circuit record in March 1939, carrying a 2,000 kg (4,410 lb) payload at a speed of 517 km/h (320 mph).[8] However, by the time Luftwaffe planners like Ernst Udet had their opportunities to their own "pet" features added (including dive-bombing by Udet), the Ju 88's top speed had dropped to around 450 km/h (280 mph). The Ju 88 V7 was fitted with cable-cutting equipment to combat the potential threat of British barrage balloons, and was successfully tested in this role. The V7 then had the Ju 88 A-1 "beetle's eye" faceted nose glazing installed, complete with the Bola undernose ventral defensive machine gun emplacement, and was put through a series of dive-bombing tests with 250 kg (550 lb) and 500 kg (1,100 lb) bombs, and in early 1940, with 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) bombs. The Ju 88 V8 (Stammkennzeichen of DG+BF, Wrk Nr 4948) flew on the 3 October 1938. The A-0 series was developed through the V9 and V10 prototypes. The A-1 series prototypes were Wrk Nrs 0003, 0004 and 0005. The A-1s were given the Jumo 211B-1 or G powerplants.[9]

Dr. Heinrich Koppenberg (managing director of Jumo) assured Göring in the autumn of 1938 that 300 Ju 88s per month was definitely possible. Göring was in favour of the A-1 variant for mass production.

Production was delayed drastically by developmental problems. Although planned for a service introduction in 1938, the Ju 88 finally entered squadron service (with only 12 aircraft) on the first day of the attack on Poland in 1939. Production was painfully slow, with only one Ju 88 manufactured per week, as problems continually kept cropping up. The Ju 88C series of heavy fighter was also designed very early in 1940, but kept secret from Göring, as he only wanted bombers.

Versatility and operational development[edit | edit source]

Dive bomber[edit | edit source]

Three Ju 88s in flight over Astypalaia, Greece, 1943

In October 1937 Generalluftzeugmeister Ernst Udet had ordered the development of the Ju 88 as a heavy dive bomber. This decision was influenced by the success of the Ju 87 Stuka in this role. The Junkers development center at Dessau gave priority to the study of pull-out systems and dive brakes.[10] The first prototype to be tested as a dive bomber was the Ju 88 V4 followed by the V5 and V6. These models became the planned prototype for the A-1 series. The V5 made its maiden flight on 13 April 1938, and the V6 on 28 June 1938. Both the V5 and V6 were fitted with four-blade propellers, an extra bomb bay and a central "control system".[10] As a dive bomber, the Ju 88 was capable of pinpoint deliveries of heavy loads; however, despite all the modifications, dive bombing still proved too stressful for the airframe, and in 1943, tactics were changed so that bombs were delivered from a shallower, 45° diving angle. Aircraft and bomb sights were accordingly modified and dive brakes were removed. With an advanced Stuvi dive-bombsight, accuracy remained very good for its time. Maximum bomb load of the A-4 was 3,000 kg (6,600 lb), but in practice, standard bomb load was 1,500-2,000 kg (3,310-4,410 lb).[11] Junkers later used the A-4 airframe for the A-17 torpedo carrier. However, the variant lacked the undernose Bola gondola for a ventral gun position.[10]

Ju 88 preparing for take off, Tunisia, c. 1942-43

Fighter-bomber[edit | edit source]

The Ju 88C series of standard fighter-bomber versions from the C-2 onwards culminated in the Ju 88 C-6, applying experience acquired with the A-4 bomber, equipped with the same Jumo 211J engines but replacing the "beetle's eye" nose glazing with a smoothly curved all-metal nose, pierced only by the barrels of its forward-firing offensive armament. The C-6 was used mostly as fighter-bomber and therefore assigned to bomber units. As a reaction to the increasing number of attacks on German shipping, especially on U-boats in the Bay of Biscay, from July 1942 it started flying anti-shipping patrols and escort missions from bases in France.[12] V/.Kampfgeschwader 40 being formed to operate the C-6.

The aircraft of V./KG 40 (which was redesignated I./Zerstörergeschwader 1 in 1943[13]) were a significant threat to the antisubmarine aircraft and operated as escort fighters for the more vulnerable Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor maritime patrol bombers. Between July 1942 and July 1944, the Ju 88s of KG 40 and ZG 1 were credited with 109 confirmed air-to-air victories,[14] at a cost of 117 losses.[15] They were finally deployed against the Allied Invasion of Normandy in June 1944, incurring heavy losses for little effect before being disbanded on 5 August 1944.[16]

Attack bomber[edit | edit source]

The Ju 88P was a specialized variant for ground attack and to function as a bomber destroyer, designed starting from 1942[17] and produced in small numbers, using examples of the Bordkanone heavy calibre aviation autocannon series. The prototype, derived from a standard Ju 88 A-4, was armed with a 7.5 cm anti-tank gun derived from the 7.5 cm PaK 40 installed in a large conformal gun pod under the fuselage. This was followed by a small batch of Ju 88 P-1, which standardized the solid sheet metal nose of the C version for all known examples of the P-series, and used the new 7.5 cm PaK 40L semi-automatic gun, also known as the Bordkanone BK 7,5.[18] which was also meant for use in the later Henschel Hs 129B-3 dedicated anti-armor aircraft. The Ju 88P-1 was produced in some 40 units, but with the massive cannon installation resulting in a slow and vulnerable aircraft,[17] it was soon replaced by the Ju 88 P-2, featuring two Bordkanone 3.7 cm BK 3,7 guns, whose higher muzzle velocity proved useful against the Russian tanks in the Eastern Front. This aircraft was used by Erprobungskommando 25. The Ju 88 P-3 added further armor for the crew, and was delivered at one Staffel of the Nachtschlachtgruppen 1, 2, 4, 8 and 9 for night attacks in the Eastern Front, in northern Norway (NSGr 8) and Italy (NSGr 9).[17] Finally, the Ju 88 P-4 mounted a smaller-volume ventral gun pod housing a 5 cm auto-loading Bordkanone BK 5 cannon and, in some cases, 6.5 cm solid propellant rockets.[17]

Heavy fighter and night fighter[edit | edit source]

Ju 88C[edit | edit source]

Ju 88C series heavy fighter in flight

The Ju 88C was originally intended as a fighter-bomber and heavy fighter by adding fixed, forward-firing guns to the nose while retaining some bomb carrying ability of the A-series bomber. The C-series had a solid metal nose, and retained the A-series style vertical tail, as well as the ventral Bola gondola under the crew compartment, although this was sometimes removed at unit level in order to reduce weight and drag and thus enhance aircraft performance. The Ju-88C was later used as a night fighter and this became its main role.

The first night fighter version of the Ju 88 was the C-2, based on the A-1 and armed with one 20 mm MG FF cannon and three 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17 machine guns placed in a new metal nose. These examples entered service in Zerstörerstaffel of KG 30 and the unit was renamed II./NJG 1 in July 1940.

The C-6b version was the C-6 Zerstörer plane equipped with FuG 202 Lichtenstein BC low-UHF band airborne intercept radar, using the complex 32-dipole Matratze antennas. The first four C-6b fighters were tested in early 1942 by NJG 1. The trials were successful and the aircraft was ordered into production. In October 1943, many C-6bs were upgraded with new radar systems. The first new radar equipment was the FuG 212 Lichtenstein C-1, followed in 1944 by the VHF-band FuG 220 Lichtenstein SN-2.

Many Ju-88C's had their Bola gondolas modified to hold up to 3 forward firing machine guns or cannon. The rear gondola gun position being eliminated. In addition several night fighters were equipped with two "Schrage-Musik" upward firing 20mm cannon in trial fittings and from mid 1943 onward, there was an official field modification kit available for this arrangement.

A small number of the C-series day fighters had their new solid-metal noses specially painted to resemble the bomber A-series' "beetle's eye" faceted clear view nose glazing, in an attempt to deceive Allied pilots into thinking the fighters were actually bombers; the unusual "camouflage" attempt did result initially in a number of Allied aerial losses.[19]

Ju 88R[edit | edit source]

File:Junkers 88k2.jpg

Ju 88 R-1 night fighter captured by British forces at Copenhagen-Kastrup airfield, May 1945.

The Ju 88R series night fighters were basically versions of the Ju 88 C-6 powered by BMW 801 radial engines. The R-1 had 1,560 PS BMW 801L engines and the R-2 had 1,700 PS BMW 801 G-2 engines.

One of the first aircraft from the R-1 series that went into service (Werknummer 360043) was involved in one of the most significant defections which the Luftwaffe suffered. On 9 May 1943, this night fighter, which was stationed with 10./NJG 3 in Norway, flew to the RAF Station at Dyce (now Aberdeen Airport) with its entire crew and complete electronic equipment on board. The fact that Spitfire fighters escorted it towards the end of its flight could indicate that its arrival had been expected. It was immediately transferred to Farnborough Airfield, received RAF markings and serial (PJ876), and was tested in great detail.[20] The preserved aircraft is on exhibit at the RAF Museum, as one of the first two intact Ju 88s in aviation museums (see Survivors below). The Luftwaffe only learned of this defection the following month when members of the crew, pilot Oberleutnant Heinrich Schmitt and Oberfeldwebel Paul Rosenberger made broadcasts on British radio.[21] [N 2] The third crew-member, Erich Kantwill, refused to co-operate with the British and was treated as a normal prisoner–of–war.

Ju 88G[edit | edit source]

All previous night fighter versions of the Ju 88 used a modified A-series fuselage. The G-series fuselage was purpose-built for the special needs of a night fighter, with the A-series' Bola ventral under-nose defensive gun position omitted for lower aerodynamic drag and less weight, and adding the enlarged squared-off vertical fin/rudder tail unit of the Ju 188. G-1 aircraft possessed more powerful armament and like the earlier R-1, used a pair of 1,700 PS BMW 801 radial engines, the G-1 using the later BMW 801G-2 version. Electronic equipment consisted of the then-standard FuG 220 Lichtenstein SN-2 90 MHz VHF radar using eight-dipole Hirschgeweih antennas, plus sometimes additional FuG 350 Naxos with its antenna in a teardrop-shaped fairing above the canopy, or FuG 227 Flensburg radar detector homing devices that had their own trio of twin-dipole antennae: one on each wing leading edge and one under the tail. One Ju 88G-1 of 7. Staffel/NJG 2 was flown by mistake to RAF Woodbridge in July 1944, giving the Royal Air Force its first chance to check out the VHF-band Lichtenstein SN-2 radar and Flensburg radar detector gear.[22]

A British-captured Ju 88 G-6 night fighter equipped with the FuG 240 Berlin cavity magnetron radar.

G-6 versions were equipped with 1,750 PS Jumo 213A inline-V12 engines, enlarged fuel tanks and often one or two 20 mm MG 151/20 cannons in a Schräge Musik ("Jazz Music", i.e. slanted) installation. These guns were pointed obliquely upwards and forwards from the upper fuselage - usually at an angle of 70°.

Some of the final G-series models received updates to the engines, using a pair of high-altitude Jumo 213E inverted V-12s with revised annular radiators, or to the radar, FuG 218 Neptun V/R or the even newer FuG 240 Berlin N-1 cavity magnetron based, 3 GHz-band (centimetric) radar. Only about 15 of the Berlin systems were completed before V-E Day.

Many Luftwaffe night fighter aces, such as Helmut Lent (110 victories) and Heinrich von und zu Sayn-Wittgenstein (87 victories) flew Ju 88s during their careers.

The Imperial Japanese Navy ordered the specifications of an anti-submarine patrol/escort fleet aircraft, based on a medium bomber. Kyūshū closely patterned the Kyūshū Q1W Tokai ("Eastern Sea", Allied codename "Lorna") antisubmarine patrol/fleet escort aircraft after the Ju 88.

Operational history[edit | edit source]

Polish Campaign[edit | edit source]

Only 12 Ju 88s saw action in Poland. The unit Erprobungskommando 88 (Ekdo 88) was responsible for testing new bomber designs and their crews under hostile conditions. They selected 12 aircraft and their crews and attached them to 1./Kampfgeschwader 25.[23] As a result of its small operational numbers, the type made no impact.

Battle of Norway[edit | edit source]

The Luftwaffe committed II./Kampfgeschwader 30 to the campaign under X. Fliegerkorps for Operation Weserübung.[24] The unit was equipped with Ju 88s and engaged Allied shipping as its main target. On 9 April 1940, Ju 88s of KG 30 dive-bombed, in cooperation with high-level bombing Heinkel He 111s of KG 26, and helped damage the battleship HMS Rodney and sink the destroyer HMS Gurkha. However, the unit lost four Ju 88s in the action, the highest single loss of the aircraft in combat throughout the campaign.[25]

Battle of France[edit | edit source]

Ju 88A, circa 1940

The Luftwaffe's order of battle for the French campaign reveals all but one of the Luftwaffe's Fliegerkorps (I. Fliegerkorps) contained Ju 88s in the combat role. The mixed bomber units, including the Ju 88, of Kampfgeschwader 51 (under the command of Luftflotte 3) helped claim between 233 and 248 Allied aircraft on the ground between 10–13 May 1940.[26] The Ju 88 was particularly effective at dive-bombing. Between 13–24 May, I. and II./KG 54 flew 174 attack against rail systems, paralysing French logistics and mobility.[27] On 17 June 1940, Junkers Ju 88s (mainly from Kampfgeschwader 30) destroyed a "10,000 tonne ship", the 16,243 grt ocean liner RMS Lancastria, off Saint-Nazaire, killing some 5,800 Allied personnel.[28] Some 133 Ju 88s were pressed into the Blitzkrieg, but very high combat losses and accidents forced a quick withdrawal from action to re-train crews to fly this very high-performance aircraft. Some crews were reported to be more scared of the Ju 88 than the enemy, and requested a transfer to an He 111 unit.[29] By this time, major performance deficiencies in the A-1 led to an all-out effort in a major design rework. The outcome was a longer, 20.08 m (65 ft 10 12 in) wingspan, from extended rounded wing tips that had already been standardised on the A-4 version, that was deemed needed for all A-1s; thus the A-5 was born. Surviving A-1s were modified as quickly as possible, with new wings to A-5 specifications.

Battle of Britain[edit | edit source]

By August 1940, A-1s and A-5s were reaching operational units, just as the battle was intensifying. The Battle of Britain proved very costly. Its higher speed did not prevent Ju 88 losses exceeding those of its Dornier Do 17 and Heinkel He 111 stablemates, despite being deployed in smaller numbers than either. Ju 88 losses over Britain in 1940 amounted to 313 machines between July–October 1940. One notable incident involved ground fighting between the crew of an A-1 and soldiers from the London Irish Rifles during the Battle of Graveney Marsh on 27 September 1940. It was the last action between British and foreign military forces on British mainland soil.[30] Do 17 and He 111 losses for the same period amounted to 132 and 252 machines destroyed respectively.[31][32] A series of field kits were made to make it less vulnerable, including the replacement of the single MG 15 rear machine gun by a twin-barreled MG 81Z machine gun, and additional cockpit armour.

A German crew rest next to their Ju 88A variant, summer 1942

It was during the closing days of the Battle of Britain that the flagship Ju 88 A-4 went into service. Although slower yet than the A-1, nearly all of the troubles of the A-1 were gone, and finally the Ju 88 matured into a superb warplane. The A-4 actually saw additional improvements including more powerful engines, but, unlike other aircraft in the Luftwaffe, did not see a model code change. The Ju 88 C-series also benefited from the A-4 changes, and when the Luftwaffe finally did decide on a new heavy fighter, the Ju 88C was a powerful, refined aircraft.

Eastern Front[edit | edit source]

By the summer of 1941, most of the units equipped with the Dornier Do 17 were upgrading to the Ju 88. With a few exceptions, most of the German bomber units were now flying the He 111 and Ju 88. The Ju 88 was to prove a very capable and valuable asset to the Luftwaffe in the east. The Ju 88 units met with instant success, attacking enemy airfields and positions at low level and causing enormous losses for little damage in return. 3./Kampfgeschwader 3 attacked Pinsk airfield in the morning of the 22 June 1941. It caught, and claimed destroyed, 60 Soviet bombers on the ground. The 39 SBAP Regiment of the 10 Division SAD actually lost 43 Tupolev SBa and five Petlyakov Pe-2s. Ju 88s from Kampfgeschwader 51 destroyed over 100 aircraft after dispatching 80 Ju 88s to hit airfields. In general the Soviet aircraft were not dispersed and the Luftwaffe found them easy targets.[33] A report from the Soviet 23rd Tank Division of the 12th Armoured Corps described a low-level attack by Ju 88s on 22 June, resulting in the loss of 40 tanks. However, the Ju 88s were to suffer steady attritional losses. At 0415 on 22 June 1941, III./KG 51 attacked the airfield at Kurovitsa. Despite destroying 34 Polikarpov I-153s, the Ju 88s were intercepted by 66 ShAP I-153s. Six Ju 88s were shot down before the German fighter escort dealt with the threat.[34] By the end of the first day of the campaign, Ju 88 losses amounted to 23 destroyed.[35]

Ju 88A of LG 1 over the Eastern Front, 25 September 1941

Due to the lack of sufficient numbers of Ju 87 Stukas, the Ju 88 was employed in the direct ground support role. This resulted in severe losses from ground fire. Kampfgeschwader 1, Kampfgeschwader 76 and Kampfgeschwader 77 reported the loss of 18 Ju 88s over enemy territory on 23 June. KG 76 and KG 77 reported the loss of a further four Ju 88s, of which 12 were 100% destroyed.[36]

In the north, the VVS North-Western Front lost 465 aircraft on the ground, 148 of them bombers, to the Ju 88s of KG 1. A further 33 were damaged. Out of a total of 1,720 aircraft deployed by the VVS Northern Front on 22 June,[37] it lost 890 and a further 187 suffered battle damage in eight days.[38] The Ju 88s units helped virtually destroy Soviet airpower in the northern sector.

Again, the Ju 88 demonstrated its dive-bombing capability. Along with He 111s from KG 55, Ju 88s from KG 51 and 54 destroyed some 220 trucks and 40 tanks on 1 July, which helped repulse the Soviet South Western Front's offensive. The Ju 88s destroyed most rail links during interdiction missions in the area, allowing Panzergruppe 1 to maintain the pace of its advance.[39]

Ju 88 units operating over the Baltic states during the battle for Estonia inflicted severe losses on Soviet shipping, with the same dive-bombing tactics used over Norway, France and Britain. KGr 806 sank the Soviet destroyer Karl Marx on 8 August 1941 in Loksa Bay Tallinn.[40] On 28 August the Ju 88s had more success when KG 77 and KGr 806 sank the 2,026 grt steamer Vironia, the 2,317 grt Lucerne, the 1,423 grt Artis Kronvalds and the ice breaker Krisjanis Valdemars (2,250 grt). The rest of the Soviet "fleet", were forced to change course. This took them through a heavily mined area. As a result, 21 Soviet warships, including five destroyers, struck mines and sank. On 29 August, the Ju 88s accounted for the transport ships Vtoraya Pyatiletka (3,974 grt), Kalpaks (2,190 grt) and Leningradsovet (1,270 grt) sunk. In addition, the ships Ivan Papanin, Saule, Kazakhstan and the Serp i Molot were damaged. Some 5,000 Soviet soldiers were lost.[41]

Finnish Air Force[edit | edit source]

Finnish Air Force Junkers Ju 88 A-4. The FAF aircraft code for Ju 88 was JK

In April 1943, as Finland was fighting its Continuation War against the USSR, the Finnish Air Force bought 24 Ju 88s from Germany.[42] The aircraft were used to equip No. 44 Sqn which had previously operated Bristol Blenheims, but these were instead transferred to No. 42 Sqn. Due to the complexity of the Ju 88, most of 1943 was used for training the crews on the aircraft, and only a handful of bombing missions were undertaken. The most notable was a raid on the Lehto partisan village on 20 August 1943 (in which the whole squadron participated), and a raid on the Lavansaari air field (leaving seven Ju 88 damaged from forced landing in inclement weather).[43] In the summer of 1943, the Finns noted stress damage on the wings. This had occurred when the aircraft were used in dive bombing. Restrictions followed: the dive brakes were removed and it was only allowed to dive at a 45-degree angle (compared to 60-80 degrees previously). In this way, they tried to spare the aircraft from unnecessary wear.

Ju 88 cockpit hood preserved at the Finnish Aviation Museum in Vantaa

One of the more remarkable missions was a bombing raid on 9 March 1944 against Soviet Long Range Aviation bases near Leningrad, when the Finnish aircraft, including Ju 88s, followed Soviet bombers returning from a night raid on Tallinn, catching the Soviets unprepared and destroying many Soviet bombers and their fuel reserves, and a raid against the Aerosan base at Petsnajoki on 22 March 1944.[43] The whole bomber regiment took part in the defence against the Soviets during the fourth strategic offensive. All aircraft flew several missions per day, day and night, when the weather permitted.[44]

No. 44 Sqn was subordinated Lentoryhmä Sarko during the Lapland War (now against Germany), and the Ju 88s were used both for reconnaissance and bombing. The targets were mostly vehicle columns. Reconnaissance flights were also made over northern Norway. The last war mission was flown on 4 April 1945.[45]

After the wars, Finland was prohibited from using bomber aircraft with internal bomb stores. Consequently, the Finnish Ju 88s were used for training until 1948. The aircraft were then scrapped over the following years.[45] No Finnish Ju 88s have survived, but an engine is on display at the Central Finland Aviation Museum, and the frame structure of a German Ju 88 cockpit hood is preserved at the Finnish Aviation Museum in Vantaa.

Variants[edit | edit source]

Ju 88A[edit | edit source]

Junkers Ju 88 A-4

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, as the wooden bomb bay "bulge" caused too much drag and a thus a reduction in speed.[46]

Ju 88B[edit | edit source]

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 88C[edit | edit source]

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 88D[edit | edit source]

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 88G[edit | edit source]

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 88G-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.
Ju 88 G-7
Like G-6, but with Jumo 213E high-altitude engines, planned to be used with FuG 218/220 with Morgenstern array or FuG 240. Was in production but none finished.

Ju 88H[edit | edit source]

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 88P[edit | edit source]

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[47] 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.[48][49]
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.[49]
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.[48]
Ju 88 P-5
Heavy-gun variant with single 88 mm

Ju 88R[edit | edit source]

C-series night fighters with BMW 801 engines.

Ju 88S[edit | edit source]

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 88T[edit | edit source]

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.

Operators[edit | edit source]

A captured Junkers Ju 88A-5, RAF serial HM509, of No. 1426 (Enemy Aircraft Circus) Flight based at Collyweston, Northamptonshire, in flight.

Ju 88 heavy fighters parked beside a Reichsautobahn used as a highway strip, early 1945

  • Armée de l'Air operated aircraft captured in Toulouse repair depot and other captured by the RAF and USAAF handed over to the French.
  • French Navy (Postwar)
  • Luftwaffe
 Kingdom of Romania
 United Kingdom
 Soviet Union
 Spanish State
  • Spanish Air Force bought ten aircraft and put into service another 15 interned during the war.

Survivors[edit | edit source]

Only two complete aircraft exist. They were both flown into British hands by defecting crews during the war.

Junkers Ju 88 D-1/Trop, "Baksheesh", USAF Museum (2007)

  • Ju 88 D-1/Trop, Werk Nr. 430650
This is a long-range, photographic reconnaissance aircraft that was in the service of the Romanian Air Force. On 22 July 1943, it was flown to Cyprus by a Romanian pilot who wanted to defect to the British forces on the island. Four Hurricanes from No. 127 Squadron escorted it to the airfield at Tobruk
Given the name Baksheesh, it was allocated the RAF serial number HK959 and test–flown in Egypt. However, by this point in the war, the RAF had already acquired three Ju-88s in flying condition and "Baksheesh" was handed over to the U.S. Army Air Force, who flew it across the South Atlantic to Wright Field.
In the US, it was registered as FE-1598 and used for examination and test flying from 1943 to 1944. In 1946 the aircraft was placed in storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. It was shipped to the US Air Force Museum on 6 January 1960. It was previously painted in spurious Luftwaffe markings, appropriately of a German WW II Aufklärungsgruppe (reconnaissance group) while on unrestored, outdoor display; however it is presently finished in its original-style Romanian military insignia and is on protected indoor display in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.[50]

Ju 88 R-1, Werk Nr. 360043, RAF Museum (2007)

  • Ju 88 R-1, Werk Nr. 360043
This aircraft is thought to have been built in mid–1942 as a model A–1 bomber, before being converted to a model R–1 fighter in early 1943. It was flown to Scotland by its defecting crew in May 1943; two of the three crew on board (who may have been British agents)[51] had taken the decision to defect after being ordered to shoot down a civilian BOAC Mosquito courier flight from Sweden to the UK,[52]
The aircraft took off from Aalborg, Denmark on 9 May, landing at Kristiansand, Norway for refuelling, it then took off again, supposedly for a mission over the Skagerrak. The defecting crew instead flew west to Scotland while holding the third crewmember at gunpoint. The aircraft was detected by British radar as it approached the Scottish coast and two Spitfires from 165 Squadron were scrambled. They intercepted 360043 one mile inland, whereupon the Ju 88 lowered its undercarriage, waggled its wings and dropped flares, signalling the crew's intent to surrender. The Spitfires escorted 360043 to RAF Dyce, where it received slight damage from the airfield's anti-aircraft guns while attempting to land. The Spitfire pilots (an American and a Canadian) were Mentioned in Dispatches for taking the risk not to open fire on the Ju 88 upon interception.
The capture of this aircraft was of great intelligence value at the time, as it was fitted with the latest UHF-band FuG 202 Liechtenstein BC A.I radar, for which a new form of the Window radar interference method, set up for UHF-band airborne radar jamming, was developed soon afterwards. The Ju 88R-1 was operated by the RAF's No. 1426 (Enemy Aircraft) Flight and evaluated in depth by various British groups, including the Royal Aircraft Establishment and the Fighter Interception Unit. It was used to assist in teaching enemy aircraft recognition skills prior to the D-Day landings, and was last flown in May 1945. In September 1954 and again in September 1955, it was displayed on Horseguards Parade for Battle of Britain week. The aircraft was restored in 1975 and fitted with reproduction radar antenna as all its radar equipment had been removed during the war. In August 1978 moved to the RAF Museum, its present home.[51]

Several reasonably intact aircraft have been recovered from underwater and remote land crash sites in recent years; some of these aircraft are under restoration for static display. Notable examples include:

  • Ju 88 A-1, Werk Nr. 0880119, with Geschwaderkennung of U4+TK
This aircraft is the subject of a long term restoration project at the Norwegian Armed Forces Aircraft Collection at Gardermoen, near Oslo, Norway. It first flew in January 1940 and served with 2.Staffel/Kampfgeschwader 30, under the call sign U4+TK during Operation Weserübung, the German invasion of Norway. In April 1940, it was operating from the frozen surface of the Jonsvatnet, a lake near Trondheim in Norway. The lake was being used as an improvised airfield by the Germans, who were conducting operations against and Allied naval ships and against the towns of Namsos and Narvik[53] Towards the end of April, warmer weather made the frozen lake surface unusable for flying operations and a number of aircraft were abandoned on the ice, sinking into the lake when it melted completely.[53] The Ju 88 was recovered in late 2003, in an operation that also saw the recovery of a Heinkel 111 (Werk Nr. 2320) and the tail section of a second Ju 88.[53]
  • Ju 88 A-4, Werk Nr.0881478 4D+AM (ex-Stammkennzeichen of BH+QQ)
This aircraft is displayed at the Norsk Luftfartsmuseum, the Norwegian Aviation Museum at Bodø Airport. On the 13 of April 1942, it was returning from an attack on Soviet ships when it ran out of fuel. The crew bailed out in the vicinity of Snefjord but the aircraft continued its flight and, remarkably, was left comparatively intact after crash-landing on a hillside at Garddevarre in Finnmark in the far north of Norway. It remained there until recovered by the Norsk Luftfartsmuseum in 1988.[54]
  • Ju 88 A-5, Werk Nr. 0886146 with Stammkennzeichen of CV+VP
This aircraft is held at the Deutsches Technikmuseum near Berlin.[51] It was delivered to the Luftwaffe in June 1940 and assigned to the bomber unit Kampfgeschwader 54, who flew it in the Battle of Britain and during the German invasion of the Soviet Union.[55]
By June 1942, it was serving with a training unit, Kampffliegerschule 3 based on the German Baltic coast.[56] On the night of the 29 June, it was stolen by two German personnel who intended to fly to Britain and defect to the Allied side. The attempt failed and the aircraft came down in Kilsfjord, a fjord near Kragerø, Norway.[57] One man drowned but the other, Willi Voss, was rescued by Norwegian civilians. However, he was subsequently captured, returned to Germany and executed in January 1943, even though some accounts claim Voss was forced by the other man to fly at gunpoint.[56] The aircraft flew was recovered in August 2000.[57] Restoration work was carried out in Norway between 2000 and 2004; it was moved to Germany in August 2006.[58]

Specifications Ju 88 A-4[edit | edit source]

Data from[citation needed]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 4 (pilot, bombardier/front gunner, radio operator/rear gunner, navigator/ventral gunner)
  • Length: 14.36 m (47 ft 2⅞ in)
  • Wingspan: 20.08 m (65 ft 10½ in)
  • Height: 5.07 m (16.63 ft)
  • Wing area: 54.7 m2 (587 ft2)
  • Loaded weight: 8,550 kg (18,832 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 14,000 kg[59] (30,865 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Junkers Jumo 211J[60] liquid-cooled inverted V-12, 1,044 kW (1,420 PS, 1,401 hp) each


  • Maximum speed: 510 km/h[59] (317 mph) at 5,300 m (17,389 ft) without external bomb racks or 433 km/h (269 mph) at 4,500 m (14,765 ft) at 14,000 kg (30,865 lb)
  • Range: 2,430 km[59] (1,429 mi)maximum internal fuel
  • Service ceiling: 9,000 m (29,500 ft) at average weight, without bombs
  • Rate of climb: 235 m/min (770 ft/min)


  • Guns:
    • 1 × 7.92 mm MG 81J machine gun on flexible mount in front windscreen, firing forward with 1,000 rounds.[N 3]
    • 1 × 7.92 mm MG 81J machine gun on flexible mount in lower fuselage nose glazing, firing forward with 1,000 rounds.
    • 2 × 7.92 mm MG 81J machine guns on flexible mount in the rear of the cockpit canopy, firing aft with 1,000 rounds each.[61]
    • 1 × 7.92 mm MG 81Z twin machine gun on flexible mount in the rear ventral Bola position, firing aft with 1,000 rounds.[59][61]
  • Bombs: Up to 1,400 kilograms (3,100 lb) of ordnance internally in two bomb bays rated at 900 kg (2,000 lb) and 500 kg (1,100 lb) or up to 3,000 kg (6,600 lb) externally. Carrying bombs externally increased weight and drag and impaired the aircraft's performance. Carrying the maximum load usually required rocket-assisted take-off.
Armament options
  • Additional option for a pair of 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 15 machine guns on flexible "Donut" mountings firing laterally, one on each side of the cockpit canopy.
  • A single 13 mm (.51 in) MG 131 machine gun was sometimes used instead of the 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 81J or MG 81Z machine guns in the A-Stand, B-Stand or ventral Bola positions.
  • Aircraft may carry one 20 mm MG FF cannon in the nose for ground attack purposes, with 90 rounds of ammunition, in place of the Lotfernrohr 7 bombsight[61][62]
  • A modification of the Ju 88 A-4, the Ju 88 A-13 could mount the Waffenbehälter WB 81A or WB 81B (firing with 15° downwards deflection) gun pods on the external bomb racks for ground attack duties, each "watering can" containing three 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 81Z twin machine guns, for strafing enemy troops.

Specifications Ju 88 G-1[edit | edit source]

Data from [63]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 3
  • Length: 15.50 m (without radar) (50.85 ft)
  • Wingspan: 20.08 m (65.88 ft)
  • Height: 5.07 m (16.63 ft)
  • Wing area: 54.7 m2 (587 ft2)
  • Empty weight: 9,081 kg[64] (20,020 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 13,100 kg (28,880 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 14,690 kg[64] (32,385 lb) (overload)
  • Powerplant: 2 × BMW 801G-2 double-row radials, 1,250 kW (1,700 PS, 1,677 hp) each


  • Maximum speed: 550 km/h (342 mph) at 8,500 m (27,890 ft)
  • Range: 2,500 km (1,553 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 9,900 m (32,480 ft)
  • Wing loading: 240 kg/m2 (49.2 lb/ft2)
  • Power/mass: 0.18 kW/kg (0.12 hp/lb)
  • Endurance: 4 hours[64]


  • Guns:
    • 4 × 20 mm MG 151/20 cannons, firing forwards from an integral ventral gun pod.
    • 1 or 2 × 13 mm (.51 in) MG 131 machine guns in the rear cockpit, firing rearwards.
    • 1 or 2 × 20 mm MG 151/20s as Schräge Musik, firing forwards and upwards at an 30- to 45-degree angle, Optional.

Specifications Ju 88 P-3[edit | edit source]

Data from [17]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 3
  • Length: 14.85 m ()
  • Wingspan: 20 m ()
  • Height: 4.85 m ()
  • Wing area: 54.56 m2 ()
  • Empty weight: c. 11,080 kg ()
  • Max. takeoff weight: c. 12,670 kg ()
  • Powerplant: 2 × Jumo 211J-2 12-cylinder inverted-vee, 1,420 PS (1,044 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 360 km/h
  • Range: 1,580 km ()
  • Service ceiling: c. 5500 m ()


  • Guns:
    • 2 × 37 mm Bordkanone BK 3,7 cannon in a conformal gun pod under the front fuselage, firing forwards.
    • up to 6 x 7.92 mm machine guns.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Animation[7]
  2. See present-day photo of this aircraft in the "Survivors" section.
  3. This gun could be also fixed in place with a retractable forward barrel brace for strafing attacks.[61]

Citations[edit | edit source]

  1. Kay 2004, p. 161.
  2. Taylor 1969, p. 178.
  3. Angelucci and Matricardi 1978 p. 118.
  4. Angelucci and Matricardi 1978, pp. 118-119.
  5. Suchenwirth 1968, p. 156.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Dressel and Griehl 1994, p. 71.
  7. "Retraction." rcgroups.com. Retrieved: 22 October 2010.
  8. Winchester 2004, p. 146.
  9. Dressel and Griehl 1994, p. 75.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Dressel and Griehl 1994, p. 74.
  11. Winchester 2004, p. 147.
  12. Goss 1997, p. 10.
  13. Goss 1997, p. 121.
  14. Goss 1997, p. 222.
  15. Goss 1997, p. 242.
  16. Goss 1997, p. 174.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 War Machine, Aerospace Publishing, 1983, p. 2374 (from the Italian version, De Agostini, Novara, 1986).
  18. BK 7,5 development
  19. . Wurger "Junkers Ju 88C-6 Winter Camo." WW2aircraft.net, 23 August 2006. Retrieved: 15 April 2012.
  20. Verlag 1994, p. 93.
  21. Scutts 1998, p. 47.
  22. [File:Ju 88 woodbridge.pdf]
  23. Weal 2000, p. 8.
  24. Hooton 2007, p. 32.
  25. Hooton 2007, p. 34.
  26. Hooton 2007, p. 62.
  27. Hooton 2007, p. 66.
  28. Hooton 2007, p. 88.
  29. Heinkel He 111. Network Projects Production, 1993.
  30. Green, Ron and Mark Harrison. "Forgotten frontline exhibition tells how Luftwaffe fought with soldiers on Kent marshes." KentOnline, 30 September 2009. Retrieved: 21 August 2010.
  31. Aircraft Strength and Losses.
  32. Cooksley, Peter G. The Battle of Britain. London: Ian Allan Ltd, 1990. ISBN 978-0-7110-1878-5.
  33. Bergström 2007, p. 14.
  34. Bergström 2007, p. 16.
  35. Bergström 2007, p. 20.
  36. Bergström 2007, p. 22.
  37. Bergström 2007, p. 131.
  38. Bergström 2007, p. 29.
  39. Bergström 2007, p. 39.
  40. Bergström 2007, p. 36.
  41. Bergström 2007, p. 60.
  42. Stenmann 1995, p. 35.
  43. 43.0 43.1 Stenmann 1995, p. 37.
  44. Stenmann 1995, pp. 37–38.
  45. 45.0 45.1 Stenmann 1995, p. 39.
  46. Dressel and Griehl 1994, p. 78.
  47. Polmar, Norman and Dana Bell. One Hundred Years of World Military Aircraft. Annapolis, Maryland: US Naval Institute, 2003. ISBN 978-1-59114-686-5.
  48. 48.0 48.1 Staerck, Chris and Paul Sinnott. Luftwaffe: The Allied Intelligence Files. Washington, DC: Potomoc Books, 2002. ISBN 978-1-57488-387-9.
  49. 49.0 49.1 Rickard, J. "Junker Ju 88P." historyofwar.org, 30 June 2007. Retrieved: 19 January 2011.
  50. United States Air Force Museum Guidebook 1975, p. 27.
  51. 51.0 51.1 51.2 "Ju 88 R-1, Werk Nr. 360043." RAF Museum. Retrieved: 14 February 2010.
  52. Jones 1979, pp. 417–418.
  53. 53.0 53.1 53.2 "The use of Jonsvatnet as a temporary Airfield during April 1940." Ju88.net. Retrieved: 12 September 2012. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "jonsvatnet" defined multiple times with different content
  54. Sørensen, Kjell. "Junkers Ju 88 A-4 Garddevarre Finnmark." flyvrak - World War II Aircraft wreck sites in Norway & other countries. Retrieved: 11 September 2012.
  55. "The Plane." Ju88.net. Retrieved: 12 September 2012.
  56. 56.0 56.1 "Prelude to disaster." Ju88.net. Retrieved: 12 September 2012.
  57. 57.0 57.1 Hinton, Douglas. "Restoration: Desperate Journey, A Junkers Ju 88 is pulled from a Norwegian lake." Air and Space, 2001. Retrieved: 11 September 2012.
  58. "Restoration 2000–2004." Ju88.net. Retrieved: 12 September 2012.
  59. 59.0 59.1 59.2 59.3 Nowarra 1987, p. 87.
  60. Manfred and Griehl 1994, p. 77.
  61. 61.0 61.1 61.2 61.3 Griehl 2004, p. 51.
  62. Dressel and Griehl 1994, p. 77.
  63. Munson 1983, p. 78.
  64. 64.0 64.1 64.2 Donald 1994, p. 179.

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

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  • Bergström, Christer. Barbarossa: The Air Battle, July–December 1941. London: Chevron/Ian Allen, 2007. ISBN 978-1-85780-270-2.
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  • Die großen Luftschlachten des Zweiten Weltkriegs: Flugzeuge - Erfolge - Niederlagen (in German). Gebunden, Germany: Neuer Kaiser Vlg GmbH, 1994. ISBN 3-7043-6029-5.
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  • Stenman, Kari. "Short But Gallant: The Career of the Finnish Junkers Ju 88s". Air Enthusiast, No 60, November–December 1995. Stamford, UK: Key Publishing, pp. 35–39. ISSN 0143-5450.
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External links[edit | edit source]

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