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Junkers Ju88 Volume 1: From Schnellbomber to Multi-Mission Warplane

Junkers Ju88 Volume 1: From Schnellbomber to Multi-Mission Warplane Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review August 2013 Title Junkers Ju88 Volume 1: From Schnellbomber to Multi-Mission Warplane
Author William A. Medcalf with Eddie Creek Publisher Classic Publications
Published 2013 ISBN 9781906537425
Format 336 pages, hardbound MSRP (USD) £60.00


Schnellbomber or Wunderbomber.  Nicknames notwithstanding, the Junkers Ju 88 remains among World War II's most significant weapons.

Now it's the subject of a superb, 2-part history from Classic – an imprint of Ian Allan Publishing.

Germany's RLM, the author observes, conceived the Schnellbomber concept as a "single aircraft type capable of performing a large number of missions" – bomber, heavy fighter and reconnaissance.  Speed and agility would reduce the need for heavy defensive armament.  And the resulting design would replace "interim" bomber types "dating from the initial phase of Germany's aerial rearmament" – the Do 17, He 111 and Ju 86.

After introduction and acknowledgements, the author consumes three chapters and 22 pages of background material before reaching the Ju 88 itself.  There you'll discover the Ju 88's surprising "American roots", its program contenders, gestation, design, production and variants – successful and stillborn.

With such a famous design, the latter – especially the Ju 288 – proved particularly intriguing.  With such failures came ongoing – and progressively desperate – measures to milk more and more from the rapidly aging airframe.  And by 1944, for instance, numbered Ju 88 prototypes exceeded an astonishing 100 – "the last numbered Ju 88 prototype," Medcalf reveals, "being V115".

And that probably excludes Mistel configurations and radical power-plant adaptations.  A proposed Ju 88 T-1 with turbojets, for instance, anticipated a maximum speed of 738 kph –141 kph faster than a piston-engine T-1, and just 4 kph slower than Arado's Ar 234 B-2.

Modelers and rivet-counters will love this book.  Medcalf's sumptuous study sports hundreds of operational and detail photos, 1:72 drawings, tech-manual excerpts, and color profiles.  Janusz Swiaton and Simon Scharz's expertly executed artwork certainly provides excellent modeling inspiration.  And the Flugzeug-Handbücher extracts alone justify the price of admission.

Chapter endnotes, two appendices, selected bibliography and sources complete contents.

This is a fantastic introduction.  Line-up behind me for Volume 2 of Medcalf's excellent Ju 88 history: "At War – Day And Night: Operational And Service History".

Highly recommended!

With thanks to Ian Allan for the review copy:

Ian Allan Publishing Ltd
Terminal House
TW17 8AS