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The Surviving Ju 388

Updated on September 3, 2016
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The Ju 388 at the Paul E. Garber Facility, Silver Hill, MD, May 1998.The Smithsonian's Ju 388 while it was stored outside.The Junkers Ju 388.
The Ju 388 at the Paul E. Garber Facility, Silver Hill, MD, May 1998.
The Ju 388 at the Paul E. Garber Facility, Silver Hill, MD, May 1998. | Source
The Smithsonian's Ju 388 while it was stored outside.
The Smithsonian's Ju 388 while it was stored outside. | Source
The Junkers Ju 388.
The Junkers Ju 388. | Source

The National Air & Space Museum's Ju 388

The National Air & Space Museum has a Ju 388L-1 (work number 560049) in deep storage at the Paul E. Garber Facility in Silver Hill, Maryland. It is the sole surviving Ju 388. The Germans completed this Ju 388 in early 1945. In March 1945 U.S. forces captured this aircraft at Merseburg. This was one of the aircraft transported to the U.S. on the HMS Reaper. The USAAF gave it the tail number FE-4010 and later changed the number to T2-4010. The USAAF added 10 flight hours to this aircraft at Wright Field, Ohio.[i] This aircraft was a display at the Dayton, Ohio in 1946. In October 1946 this was one of about 25 aircraft put on display at the Douglas Aircraft Plant in Orchard Place Airport, Park Ridge, Illinois. It was part of the National Aeronautical Collection. In September 1947 the National Aeronautical Collection was transferred to the Smithsonian.[ii] The Smithsonian moved the aircraft to the Paul E. Garber Facility in 1954. It was initially kept outside but was eventually moved indoors.


[i] Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (http://airandspace.si.edu/collections/artifact.cfm?object=nasm_A19600325000)

[ii] Luftwaffe over Ohio!, by Paul Straney, Air Classics in Volume 27, Number 7 (July 1991).

Development

The Junkers Ju 388 Störtebeker[i] was a revised version of the Ju 88. The Ju 388 had a pressurized cabin and the Ju 388L’s engines had methanol-water injection. The Germans produced 103 Ju 388s[ii]. Only 23 reached Luftwaffe units. Ju 388s did fly some reconnaissance missions. The Germans did have plans to use Ju 388s as bomber-destroyers, night-fighters, and bombers. Ju 388s tested the Ruhrstahl X-4 and Henschel Hs-298 radio-controlled air-air missiles.[iii] On May 25, 1944 the General-Luftzeugmeister-Amt (Department of the Chief of Aircraft Procurement and Supply) called for the termination of the He 219 night-fighter program in favor of the Ju 388J and Ta 154 programs. Minister of Armaments Albert Speer soon overruled that order. The He 219 was already in production and flying combat missions. The Ju 388 V3, which was a bomber prototype, could carry a maximum bomb load of 6,610 lbs. Its normal bomb load would have been 4,400 lbs. Its defensive armament consisted of 2 un-aimed rear firing machine guns. The Germans believed its primary defense was its speed. The Germans had a similar belief about the Ju 88. It was believed the Ju 88s could outrun enemy fighters[iv], but at the advent of World War II modern fighters were much faster.


[i] Störtebeker, is a reference to the 14th century privateer Klaus Störtebeker.

[ii] The Luftwaffe War Diaries, by Cajus Bekker © 1964 by Macdonald & Company, Ltd.

[iii] Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (http://airandspace.si.edu/collections/artifact.cfm?object=nasm_A19600325000)

[iv] The Luftwaffe War Diaries, by Cajus Bekker © 1964 by Macdonald & Company, Ltd.

How Would it Stack Up?

Ju 388s did fly reconnaissance missions and the Ju 388L-1 had a service ceiling of 44,100 feet. The altitude capability and its maximum range of over 1,800 miles would seem to make it a capable aircraft in this role. As a night-fighter the Ju 388J-1 had speed similar to the Ju 88 night-fighters. A version with a superior engine may have given it a good advantage over the Ju 88s. The plans were to have DB603F engines, with a maximum take-off power of 2,400hp, available after the spring of 1945. While it may have been able to serve in the bombing role it wouldn’t have been available in numbers to make it much more than a nuisance bomber.

Against the B-29 Threat

 
Ju 388J-1
B-29
Service Ceiling
42,600'
31,850'
Maximum Speed
335mph @ 26,300'
365mph @ 25,000'
Armament
2x30mm & 4x20mm cannons
1x20mm cannon 12x.50 cal machine guns
A concern of the Germans was the U.S. might deploy their B-29s against Germany. The high flying Superfortress could fly at altitudes difficult for most German aircraft. Notes: Maximum speed for the J-1 was 362mph @ 40,300'. The J-1's BMW 801TJ

Ju 388 Night-Fighter Comparison

 
Ju 88G-7b
Ju 388J-1
He 219A-7
Maxumum Speed
402mph @ 29,800'
362mph @ 40,400
416mph @ 22,965'
Maximum Endurance
5.2 hours
4.45hours
3.7hours
Wing Loading
49lb/sq. ft.
51lb/sq. ft.
70lb/sq. ft.
Armament
6x20mm & 2x13mm(rear firing)
2x30mm & 4x20mm
4x30mm & 4x20mm
Source: Warplanes of the Third Reich by William Green (c) 1970

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    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Interesting read. The allies did have one plane that could climb higher than the JU88 and that was the De Havilland Mosquito that had an operational ceiling around 47,000 feet and believe it or not was primarily made from balsa wood!

      Maybe with the JU 388 the Germans would have had one that could deal with the 'Mossie'

      Enjoyed the hub

      Blessings

      Lawrence

    • Robert Sacchi profile image
      Author

      Robert Sacchi 2 years ago

      Thank you for reading and the input. It seemed the Mosquito held the advantage over the Ju 388. Except possibly for long range reconnaissance the Ju 388 was obsolete before it was deployed. I didn't stack it up against the jets because the difference in performance would be too great.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      It was amazing how much technology advanced in the five years of ww2. There were quite a few things that were being tested during the early part of the war that were already obsolete before the reached units in the field.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 14 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Amazing to have the only surviving plane of that type on display.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image
      Author

      Robert Sacchi 14 months ago

      Unfortunately it is in storage now. The National Air & Space Museum is so backlogged in their restoration, and they are going to do some renovation to the DC museum, it will take decades before many of these aircraft will get restored.

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