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Ju-88 bomber - may 1940

The Junkers factory had produced two offensive products that impressed the Luftwaffe command: the dive bomber Ju-87 Stuka and the multi-role bomber Ju-88. Although the addition 'Stuka' is often only linked to the notorious Ju-87, it is in fact also applicable to the Ju-88. 'Stuka' was a common German military abbreviation that stands for 'Sturzkampffleugzeuge' that literally means 'dive-bomber'. Although the Ju-88 was not equally capable of an almost vertical dive towards its target, it was indeed capable of steep recoverable angles during attack. It lacked the siren in the wheel-base [which produced the hauling sound the Ju-87 was well-known for during dives] but it was largely addressed to as a dive bomber by its victims. This later caused military historians who studied the army reports of the May War to think that the Germans had applied far more Ju-87 dive bombers than they actually did. Later it was realised that most of the diving attacks on Dutch ground positions had actually been performed by the Ju-88 bombers.

The Ju-88 was planned to become the prime bomber of the Luftwaffe in 1937 when the first production orders were given to Junkers. The first tests had shown the prototype to be capable of top-speeds [unloaded] of up to 575 km/hr, which easily exceeded the top-speed of all competitive designs [Do-17, He-111]. The Germans invented a new name for this type of plane: Schnellbomber, or 'fast bomber'. Additionally demanded features were however responsible for a considerable decrease of the top-speed of the first production models, and when finally the first series had become operational the top-speed had even dropped to a mere 450 km/hr. Also the introduction date had been postponed due to all design changes, and as such the first Staffels [Squadrons] were only available at the eve of battle in September 1939. In May 1940 only very few Ju-88 suadrons were operational, and moreover, the high expectations of the plane were far from being met. The Ju-88 proved at least as vulnerable to AAA and enemy fighters as its competitors [Do-17, He-111], and relatively many were lost. During the final test, the Battle of Britain, the Ju-88 even showed a worse score sheet than the He-111. The Ju-88 would later get plenty of other roles [torpedo-plane, night-fighter, heavy fighter], and that's why this type is these days addressed as a multi-role plane.

The Ju-88 types that flew during the May War were mostly the A-1 series, which were armed with three machineguns for self-defence, and capable of carrying a 1,000 kg internal pay-load and another 1,000 kg of external pay-load on pylons under the wings. In May 1940 many Ju-88 were indeed fitted with four 250 kg bombs under the wings, which were often dropped in diving mode. During the first day of the invasion over Holland the Ju-88 had the main task of attacking the AAA. They were very unsuccessful however and hardly managed to destroy any battery.

Category 13 May / Armament and equipment (69 images)