9 Junkers Ju 88 – 15,183

Flight Journal - - THE MOST PRODUCED -

Al­though the Junkers 88 first flew in 1936 as a Sch­nell­bomber (fast bomber), it be­came the Luft­waffe’s go-to air­plane for what­ever new three-di­men­sional role needed to be played in Hitler’s evolv­ing drama. The Ju 88 was a bomber and a dive-bomber; it car­ried tor­pe­does; did re­con work; per­formed as a heavy fighter (both night and day); and, when cou­pled with an FW 190 in the Mistal con­fig­u­ra­tion, be­came a fly­ing bomb. It was the Luft­waffe’s fly­ing Swiss Army knife.

It should be noted that a pro­to­type set a record in 1939, car­ry­ing 4,400 pounds of pay­load around a closed course at 320mph. A B-17 with the same load couldn’t touch that speed, but the Ju 88 couldn’t be­gin to match the ’Fort’s range and de­fen­sive ar­ma­ment.

As de­signed, the Junkers took full ad­van­tage of alu­minum mono­coque tech­nol­ogy, com­bined with as many ad­vances in aero­dy­nam­ics as pos­si­ble, al­though the nose shape changed con­sid­er­ably when dif­fer­ent roles were played. For in­stance, as a night fighter, the fa­mil­iar faceted-glass bomber nose was re­placed with a solid alu­minum one mount­ing huge an­tenna ar­rays and as many ma­chine guns and can­non as they could crowd into the bom­bardier’s space.

It’s dif­fi­cult to tell the early air­planes from the late be­cause while both ap­pear to have ra­dial en­gines, they ac­tu­ally don’t. The air­plane was de­signed around the Jumo 211 liq­uid-cooled V-12 with the cir­cu­lar ra­di­a­tors mounted around the front of the en­gine, giv­ing it a ra­dial look. Later ver­sions were of­ten pow­ered by BMW 801 twin-row ra­di­als. To­day, only two fully in­tact ex­am­ples re­main.

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