Amercom ACLB30 German Junkers Ju 290A-5 Transport - I./Fernaufklaerungsgruppe 5, 1944 (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 Junkers Ju 290 was a large, four-engine long-range transport and maritime patrol aircraft used by the Luftwaffe late in World War II that had been developed from an earlier airliner.
The Junkers 290 was developed directly from the Ju 90 airliner, versions of which it had been evaluated for military purposes, and was intended to replace the relatively slow Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor which by 1942 was proving increasingly vulnerable when confronted by Royal Air Force aircraft, and the Fw 200's air frame lacked sufficient strength for the role. The Ju 290 was also intended to meet the need for large transport aircraft. A bomber version, the A-8, was planned, but never built. Design was headed by Konrad Eicholtz.
The development program resulted in the Ju 290 V1 prototype BD+TX, which first flew on July 16th, 1942. It featured a lengthened fuselage, more powerful engines, and a Trapoklappe hydraulic rear loading ramp. Both the V1 and the first eight A-1 production aircraft were unarmed transports. The need for heavy transports saw the A-1s pressed into service as soon as they were completed. Several were lost in early 1943, including one taking part in the Stalingrad Airlift, and two flying supplies to German forces in Tunisia, and arming them became a priority.
The urgent need for Ju 290s in the long-range maritime reconnaissance role was now also high priority, and resulted in the Ju 290A-2. Three A-1 aircraft were converted to A-2 specification on the assembly line. Production was slow due to the modifications necessary and the installation of strong defensive armament. The A-2 was fitted with FuG 200 Hohentwiel low-UHF band search radar and a dorsal turret fitted with a 20 mm MG 151 cannon. The Hohentwiel radar was successfully used to locate Allied convoys at ranges of up to 80 km (50 mi) from an altitude of 500 m (1,600 ft) or 100 km (62 mi) from an altitude of 1,000 m (3,300 ft). It allowed convoys to be tracked while remaining out of range of anti-aircraft fire and carrier based fighters.
The A-3 version followed shortly after with additional navigational equipment and a heavier defensive armament. It was fitted with two hydraulically powered HDL 151 dorsal turrets armed with 20 mm MG 151/20 cannons, with a further 20 mm MG 151/20 and a 13 mm (.51 in) MG 131 machine gun fitted in a typically German Bola gondola (a fitment for almost all German WW II bomber aircraft) directly underneath the forward dorsal gun turret, and a 20 mm MG 151/20 fitted in the tail operated by a gunner in a prone position. Two 13 mm (.51 in) MG 131s were also fitted in waist positions (Fensterlafetten). The A-3, along with the A-2, also featured large fuselage auxiliary fuel tanks. Both retained the rear loading ramp so that they could be used as transports if required.
The improved A-7 version appeared in spring 1944; 13 were completed, and 10 served with the long-range reconnaissance group, Fernaufklarungsgruppe (FAGr) 5. Some A-7s and some A-4s were fitted with a detachable nose turret armed with a 20 mm MG 151/20 for added defense against frontal attack. No bombs were carried, as it was intended that the A-5 and A-7 would be fitted with the FuG 203 Kehl radio guidance system to launch MCLOS-guided Fritz X and Hs 293 anti-ship missiles.
Production lines were set up at the Letov aircraft factory in Prague for combat versions of the aircraft, commencing with the Ju 290 A-2, which carried the aforementioned Hohentwiel maritime search radar for its patrol role. Minor changes in armament distinguished the A-3 and A-4, leading to the definitive A-5 variant. The A-6 was a 50-passenger transport aircraft.
Pictured here is a 1:144 scale replica of a German Junkers Ju 290A-5 transport that was attached to I./Fernaufklaerungsgruppe 5 during 1944.
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Release Date: December 2016