Monday 11 July 2011

" die lange Ju 88 " - the Junkers Ju 88 H

First published in Jet & Prop 6/96 this image depicts a rare Ju 88 H-1 with extended rear fuselage. Conceived for long-range recce sorties, the H-1 - including this particular example DO+FS (?) WNr. 430931 - was deployed operationally with 3.(F)/123 during the first half of 1944 over the French Atlantic coast. Operating variants of the Ju 88 D, the Aufklaerungs (recce) unit flew typical Ferne sorties, roaming over the the ocean on convoy-hunting sorties in concert with Luftwaffe bombers and the U-Boote, additional fuel cells mounted in the rear fuselage providing extended endurance. WNr. 430931 was lost on 31 July 1944, shot down over the Atlantic by a Mosquito of 248 Squadron. 

Flugzeug magazine (issues 1 & 2/90) featured an article compiled by Oliver Thiele entitled 'Die lange Ju 88' - unfortunately I don't have access to it. Two more Werknummern 430841 and 430941 are H-1s positively identified according to this article. A 4th H-1 WNr. 430 898 was lost on 6 April 1944 on a test flight shot down by Typhoons over Rennes where 3.(F)/123 was based at that time (Thiele in Jet & Prop 6/97).

According to some estimates Aukl.(F)123 had five or six of the H-1 variants equipped with remote cameras. Defensive armament comprised a twin MG 81 Zwilling and/or two MG 131 13mm machine guns fitted in the upper rear canopy. As the profile below suggests a single forward firing MG was also carried. The lower gondola was absent.

Also operating under the umbrella of Aukl.(F)123 was the Luftwaffe's 'cloud-chasers' Wekusta 2, a Brittany-based weather & long-range recce unit established during 1940 on the He 111 and then the Ju 88 D-1 and D-5 up until early 1944 when the unit received sixteen He 177s. These heavy bombers were deployed during July 1944 following the Normandy landings in ground-attack sorties against Maquis camps in the Gers! (see Pierre Babin in 'Avions' magazine May/June 2008)