Altaya AB15 German Junkers Ju 88A-4 Medium-Bomber (1:144 Scale)
"Guns before butter. Guns will make us powerful; butter will only make us fat."
- Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering, Head of the German Luftwaffe
The Luftwaffe's Junkers Ju 88 was a twin-engine, multi-role aircraft. Among the most versatile planes of the war, it was used as a bomber, close-support aircraft, nightfighter, torpedo bomber and reconnaissance aircraft. A solid aircraft with great performance, it went on to be one of the Luftwaffe's most versatile aircraft. It carried out almost every kind of mission ever imagined, even as a giant flying bomb. It was used in every theater, with many nations, including nations allied against Germany.
The aircraft's first flight was made by Prototype Ju 88V-1, which bore the civil registration D-AQEN, on December 21, 1936. When it first flew, it managed about 580 km/h (360 mph) and Hermann Goring was ecstatic. Finally it was something that could positively fulfill the promise of the Schnellbomber, a bomber so fast fighters could not catch it.
Unfortunately, by the time everyone had had their wish list added (including dive-bombing), the speed had dropped to around 450 km/h (280 mph). The draggy fuselage was modeled after its predecessor, the Dornier Do 17, but with fewer defensive guns because the belief still held that it could out-run fighters. It was also very, very late. Planned for 1938, it finally entered service the day the Germans invaded Poland, and then with only 12 aircraft. Production was painfully slow, and problems with such an advanced machine kept cropping up. The Ju 88C series of heavy fighter was also created very early in 1940, but kept secret from Goring because he only wanted bombers.
The Ju 88A-1 series first flew anti-shipping sorties close to Norway. Ju 88 bombers based at Westerland on the island of Sylt in northern Germany carried out the first Luftwaffe raids against Britain. An attack on Rosyth on October 16th, 1939, succeeding in damaging three ships, but was then engaged in dogfights by Spitfires of 602 and 603 Squadrons of the RAF and two Ju 88s were shot down in the Firth of Forth. A raid on Scapa Flow the next day saw the loss of one Ju 88 to anti-aircraft fire. All combat-ready Ju 88s (some 133), 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 beast. By this time it was seen that the A-1 had major performance problems, and an all-out effort was put into a major rework. The outcome was a longer wingspan that was deemed needed for all A-1s, thus the A-5 was born. Surviving A-1s were rewinged to A-5 specifications as quickly as possible.
The Battle of Britain proved very costly. Its faster speed did not prevent Ju 88 losses exceeding those of its Dornier Do 17 and Heinkel He 111 stable mates, despite being deployed in smaller numbers than either. A series of field kits were made to make it less vulnerable, including the replacement of the rear machine gun by a twin barreled machine gun, and additional cockpit armor.
It was during the closing days of the Battle of Britain that the flagship Ju88A-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 the superb warplane it was hoped to be. The A-4 actually saw more improvements including more powerful engines, but did not see a model code change, unlike other aircraft in the Luftwaffe. The Ju 88C 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 finished product. A definite heavy fighter model was the Ju 88G, which had an enlarged tailfin. It would gradually become the most important Luftwaffe night fighter.
Pictured here is a 1:144 scale replica of a German Junkers Ju 88A-4 medium-bomber.
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Release Date: September 2013
Historical Account: "Ascendancy" - As a 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 degree diving angle. Planes and bomb sights were accordingly modified, and dive brakes were removed. With a quite advanced Stuvi dive-bomb sight, accuracy remained very good for its time. There was also another sight used for level bombing missions. Maximum bomb load of the A-4 was 2800 kg, but in practice, standard bomb load was 1500 to 2000 kg. Various models of the Ju 88 were used in the day fighter, night fighter, tank destroyer, and photo reconnaissance roles. Despite the protracted development process, the aircraft became one of the Luftwaffe's most crucial assets.
The Japanese Navy ordered the specifications of an antisubmarine Patrol/escort fleet aircraft, based on a medium bomber. The Kyushu company took the idea from the Ju 88 to create the Japanese equivalent, the Kyushu Q1W Tokai ("East Sea") "Lorna" antisubmarine patrol/fleet escort aircraft.