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The Amazing Junkers JU 390

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KG200 inherited one of the very few Junkers Ju-390s built. This larger six engine development of the Ju-290 had a 32 hour flight endurance and once flew within 12 miles of New York city!

Disputed New York flight in 1944

There is a heavily disputed claim that in January 1944, a Ju-390 prototype made a trans-atlantic flight from Mont-de-Marsan (near Bordeaux) to some 20 km (12 miles) off the coast of the United States and back. Critics claim FAGr.5 (Fernaufklärungsgruppe 5) never flew such a flight. Supporters say the only link between FAGr.5 and the New York flight is the common use of an airfield at Mont-de-Marsan and the veracity of the New York flight is neither proved nor disproved by a lack of unit records for such a flight. Indeed the flight may have had nothing whatsoever to do with FAGr.5 operations.

Whilst the Ju-390's 32-hour endurance would have certainly made such a crossing theoretically possible, there is a lack of evidence to support the claim. Aviation historian Horst Zoeller claims the flight was recorded in Junkers company records.

Critics have also pointed to the vagueness of the aircraft's alleged position and even the date of what would have been a milestone flight. The best known (and maybe earliest publication) of the claim in English was in William Green's Warplanes of the Third Reich in 1970, where he wrote that the Ju 390 flew to "a point some 12 miles from the US coast, north of New York". Critics say the vagueness of detail and lack of corroborating evidence are hallmarks of an urban legend.

Critics believe that the aircraft would have had to overfly parts of the Massachusetts coast in order to fix their location, and point out the likelihood of the aircraft being spotted by observers and/or radar, which it was not. If New York state were meant, this would have put the aircraft closer to Boston. Critics ask why this city wasn't referred to for fixing the position of the claim. Finally, it is questioned how the aircrew would have been able to fix their position so accurately anyway.

Supporters argue that a Ju-390 crew could have obtained a highly accurate fix from public broadcast radio stations. Also that a Ju-390 would not have needed to overfly Massachusetts at all. They say there was no reason why New York City could not have been approached purely from the sea.

Supporters also note that the mission was designed to deliver a single bomb to New York and that such a bomb could only have been the atomic weapon under development. Japan and Germany at the time were using the "Harteck Process" of gaseous uranium centrifuges. Germany in 1944 was shipping both uranium ores and centrifuges to Japan by U-boat.

Junkers Ju 390 V1 in flight.

Supporters of the New York flight say of course the mission was kept secret so as not to tip off the US Government to provide better air defences. It was an ultra top secret test flight for the delivery of an atomic bomb.

Corroboration is gleened from the so-called Silbervogel sub-orbital bomber designed to attack New York from space with only a single bomb. Only one type of bomb was worth all the time and expense involved. Supporters say a mission so secret would never have found its way into FAGr.5 logbooks.

Supporters note the top secret unit, II/KG200 also flew the Ju-390 as did Junkers company test pilots in Czechoslovakia.

Following the war, Hitler's armaments minister Albert Speer also recounted to author James P O'Donnell that a Ju-390 aircraft flown by Junkers test pilots flew a polar route to Japan in 1944.



The Junkers Ju 390


Ju 390
Junkers Ju 390 V1
Role trans-Atlantic heavy bomber/transport
Manufacturer Junkers
First flight 20 October 1943
Introduced 1943
Retired 1945
Primary user Luftwaffe
Number built 2
Developed from Junkers Ju 290

The Junkers Ju 390 was a German aircraft intended to be used as a heavy transport, maritime patrol aircraft, and long-range bomber, a long-range derivative of the Ju 290. It was one of the aircraft (along with the Messerschmitt Me 264 and Focke-Wulf Ta 400) submitted for the abortive Amerika Bomber project.[1]


The Design And Developmenp

Two prototypes were created by attaching an extra pair of inner-wing segments onto the wings of basic Ju 90 and Ju 290 airframes, and adding new sections to lengthen the fuselages.

The first prototype, the V1, (bearing Stammkennzeichen code of GH+UK), was modified from a Ju 90V6 airframe (werke number J4918, civil registration D-AOKD) from July 1940 to April 1941, then to the Luftwaffe as KH+XC, from April 1941 through April 1942, then returned to Junkers and used for Ju 390 V1 construction). It made its maiden flight on 20 October 1943 and performed well, resulting in an order for 26 aircraft, to be designated Ju 390 A-1. None of these were actually built by the time that the project was cancelled (along with Ju 290 production) in mid-1944.

The second prototype, the V2 (RC+DA), was longer than the V1 because it was constructed from a Ju 290 airframe (using the fuselage of Ju 290A1 werke number J900155).

The maritime reconnaissance and long-range bomber versions were to be designated the Ju 390 B and Ju 390 C, respectively. It has been suggested that the bomber could have carried the Messerschmitt Me 328 parasite fighter for self-defense, and some test flights are believed to have been performed by a Ju 390 prototype equipped with the anti-shipping Fritz X guided glide bomb.


Operational History


The V1 was constructed and largely assembled at Junkers' plant at Dessau, Germany, and the first test flight took place on 20 October 1943.[4] Its performance was satisfactory enough that the Air Ministry ordered 26 in addition to the two prototypes. However, the contracts for the 26 Ju 390s were cancelled in June 1944 and all work ceased in September of that year.

On 26 November 1943, the Ju 390V1 - with many other new aircraft and prototypes - was shown to Adolf Hitler at Insterburg, East Prussia.[5]

According to former Junkers test pilot Hans-Joachim Pancherz' logbook, the Ju 390V1 was brought to Prague immediately after it had been displayed at Insterburg, and while there took part in a number of test flights, which continued until March 1944, including tests of inflight refueling.[6]

The Ju 390V1 was returned to Dessau in November 1944, where it was stripped of parts and finally destroyed in late April 1945 as the American Army approached.


The Ju 390 V2 was assembled in Bernburg, was first flown in October 1943, and is said to have been configured for the maritime reconnaissance role. Its fuselage had been extended by 2.5 m (8.2 ft), and it was equipped with FuG 200 Hohentwiel ASV (Air to Surface Vessel) radar and defensive armament consisting of five 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon.[7] Green notes different armament, specifically four 20 mm MG 151/20s and three 13 mm (.51 in) MG 131 machine guns.

Test pilot Oberleutnant Eisermann recorded in his logbook that he flew the V2 prototype (RC+DA) as late as February 1945 However, Kössler and Ott state that the Ju 390V2 was only completed during June 1944, with flight tests beginning at the end of September 1944.[6]

A Ju 390, which may or may not have been the V2, is claimed by some to have made a test flight from Germany to Cape Town in early 1944. The sole source for the story is a speculative article which appeared in the Daily Telegraph in 1969 titled Lone Bomber Raid on New York Planned by Hitler,[8] in which Hans Pancherz reportedly claimed to have made the flight in question.[9] Author James P. Duffy has carried out extensive research into this claim, which has proved fruitless. Kössler and Ott make no mention of this claim either, despite having themselves interviewed Pancherz.


The New York Flight

The first public mention of an alleged flight of a Ju 390 to North America appeared in the 11 November 1955 issue of the British magazine RAF Flying Review, of which aviation writer William Green was an editor. The magazine's editors were skeptical of the claim, which asserted that two Ju 390s had made the flight, though in March 1956, they published a letter from a reader which claimed to clarify the account. This letter stated that a single aircraft had made the flight and that it had reached a point about 19 km (12 mi) off the US east coast, just north of NYC.

According to Green's reporting, in June 1944, Allied Intelligence had learned from prisoner interrogations that a Ju 390 had been delivered in January 1944 to FAGr 5 (Fernaufklärungsgruppe 5), based at Mont-de-Marsan near Bordeaux, and that it had completed a 32-hour reconnaissance flight to within 19 km (12 mi) of the US coast, north of New York City.[10][11] This was, however, rejected just after the war by British authorities.[12] Aviation historian Dr. Kenneth P. Werrell states that the story of the flight originated in two British intelligence reports from August 1944 which were based in part on the interrogation of prisoners, and titled General Report on Aircraft Engines and Aircraft Equipment; the reports claimed that the Ju 390 had taken photographs of the coast of Long Island. These photos have never been discovered.[9]

The claimed flight was mentioned in many books following the RAF Flying Review account, including William Green's own respected Warplanes of the Second World War (1968) and Warplanes of the Third Reich (1970) but without ever citing reliable sources. Further authors then cited Green's books as their source for the claimed flight. Green himself told Kenneth P. Werrell many years later that he no longer placed much credence in the flight.[13]

Werrell himself later examined the available data regarding the Ju 390's range and concluded that although a great circle round trip from France to St. Johns, Newfoundland was possible, adding another 3,830 km (2,380 mi) for a round trip from St. Johns to Long Island made the flight "most unlikely".[14]

Karl Kössler and Günter Ott, in their book Die großen Dessauer: Junkers Ju 89, 90, 290, 390. Die Geschichte einer Flugzeugfamilie ("Great Dessauers...History of an Aircraft Family"), also examined the claimed flight, and thoroughly debunked the flight north of New York. Most importantly, it was nowhere near France at the time when the flight was supposed to have taken place. According to Hans Pancherz' logbook, the Ju 390V1 was brought to Prague on November 26, 1943. While there, it took part in a number of test flights, which continued until late March, 1944. Secondly, they also assert that the Ju 390V1 prototype was unlikely to have been capable of taking off with the fuel load necessary for a flight of such duration due to strength concerns caused by its modified structure; it would have required a takeoff weight of 65 tonnes (72 tons), while the maximum takeoff weight during its trials had been 34 tonnes (38 tons). According to Kössler and Ott, the Ju 390V2 could not have made the US flight either, since they indicate that it was not completed before September/October 1944.[6]


The Ju 390 Export To Japan

Click on Picture to enlarge

Ju 390

Design work was carried out on a bomber-reconnaissance version of the aircraft. Considerable interest was displayed in this ultra-long range aircraft by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force. In the autumn of 1944, the Japanese government acquired a manufacturing license for the Ju 390A-1. Under the licensing agreement, detailed manufacturing drawings were scheduled to be handed over to the Imperial Japanese Army's representative, Major-General Otani, by February 28, 1945.

There is no record of this part of the agreement having been fulfilled. No reference can be found to this Major General Otani mentioned by Russian historians, however ULTRA decrypts of diplomatic signals from Japan's embassy in Berlin concerning the voyage of Japanese submarine I-52 refer to a General Kotani in Germany requiring return passage in connection with transport back to Japan. These same signals refer to other passengers with higher priority.



Ju 390 V1
First prototype.
Ju 390 V2
Second prototype.
Ju 390 A-1
Planned heavy transport version.
Ju 390 B
Planned maritime patrol version.
Ju 390 C
Planned long-range heavy bomber version.


The Specifications Of The Ju 390 V1


General characteristics

  • Crew: 10
  • Length: 34.20 m (112 ft 2 in)
  • Wingspan: 50.30 m (165 ft 1 in)
  • Height: 6.89 m (22 ft 7 in)
  • Wing area: 254 m² (2,730 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 39,500 kg (87,100 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 53,112 kg (117,092 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 75,500 kg (166,400 lb)
  • Powerplant: 6× BMW 801D radial engines, 1,272 kW (1,730 hp) each


  • Maximum speed: 505 km/h (314 mph)
  • Range: 9,700 km (6,030 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 6,000 m (19,700 ft)
  • Wing loading: 209 kg/m² (42.8 lb/ft²)
  • Power/mass: 0.17 kW/kg (0.10 hp/lb)


  • Guns: ** 2 × 20 mm MG 151/20 cannons in dorsal turrets
    • 1 × 20 mm MG 151/20 in tail
    • 2 × 13 mm (.51 in) MG 131 machine guns at waist
    • 2 × 13 mm (.51 in) MG 131s in gondola




  1.  Green, p. 519
  4.  Duffy, p. 54
  5.  Sweeting, C.G. (2001). Hitler's personal pilot: the life and times of Hans Baur. Brassey's. ISBN 1574884026. 
  6.  Kössler, Karl; Günther Ott (1993). Die großen Dessauer: Junkers Ju 89, Ju 90, Ju 290, Ju 390 – Die Geschichte einer Flugzeugfamilie. Berlin: Aviatic-Verlag. ISBN 3925505253. 
  7.  Griehl, Manfred; Joachim Dressel (1998). Heinkel: He 177, 277, 274. Stackpole Books. p. 191. ISBN 1853103640. 
  8.  "Lone Bomber Raid on New York Planned by Hitler". Daily Telegraph: pp. 13. 2 September 1969 
  9.  Duffy, p. 115
  10.  Green, ibid
  11.  Staerck, Christopher; Paul Sinnott, Anton Gill (2002). Luftwaffe: The Allied Intelligence Files. Brassey's. pp. 202–203. ISBN 1574883879. 
  12.  Bukowski, Helmut; Fritz Müller (1995). Junkers Ju 90: Ein Dessauer Riese – Erprobung und Einsatz der Junkers Ju 90 bis Ju 290. Berlin : Brandenburgisches Verl.-Haus. ISBN 389488083X. 
  13.  Duffy, p. 114
  14.  Werrell, Kenneth P. (Summer/June 1988). "World War II German Long Distance Flights: Fraud or Record?". Aerospace Historian 35 (2) 
  • Duffy, James P. (2004). Target America: Hitler's Plan to Attack the United States. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 114. ISBN 0275966844. 
  • Green, William. Warplanes of the Third Reich. London: Macdonald and Jane's Publishers Ltd., 1970. ISBN 0-356-02382-6.
  • Nowarra, Heinz J. Junkers Ju 290, Ju 390 etc.. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Military History, 1997. ISBN 0-7643-0297-3.
  • Speer, Albert. Inside the Third Reich




The Amazing Career Of The Junkers Ju-390 In WWII


The Junkers Ju-390




Welcome to the amazing career and wartime development of the long range Ju-390 aircraft, built during 1943 by Junkers aircraft company. An aircraft tracing it's lineage back through the Ju-290, Ju-90 and Ju-89 types.

Only two prototype aircraft were ever built and even that is vigorously disputed with heated passions by both sides. Such was the long range capability of the Ju-390 that it quickly found itself in demand for specialist missions. In February 1944  the Ju-390 was taken over by the ultra secretive Kampf Geschwader 200 (KG200) unit. The fate of the second prototype is shrouded in mystery and remains at the heart of many conspiracy theories.

Classified intelligence reports from Argentina and Poland which only recently come to light, now suggest the second  Ju-390 was flown to a jungle airstrip in Entre Rios province Argentina in May 1945 [ 1 ][ 2 ] and was then broken up on a German owned ranch in Uruguay [ 3 ] with parts dumped into the Rio Pirana, near Paysandu. The likely location for a jungle or bush airstrip appears to have been in the upper reaches of the Rio Pirana between Uruguay and Argentina, possibly around Concordia.

This is a dead link but you can copy and paste to learn more...,_Entre_Rios



I have attempted to break up the Ju-390 story into subject related segments. To visit them just click on the related headings below:


· Ju-390 ancestry

· Ju-390 performance

· Ju-390 prototypes

· FAGr.5 missions over the Atlantic

· Ju-390 New York flight

· Ju-390 fuel consumption

· Ju-390 flight to Japan

· Japan's Ju-390 ambitions

· Ju-390 Fates 


[ 1 ] Classified Intelligence report of Argentine Economic Ministry 1945 only declassified 1993
[ 2 ] Abril Basti, author 2004 tourist guide "Nazi Barriloche"
[ 3 ] Classified report of Polish diplomat to Uruguay 1945 only declassified 1998 revealed by author Igor Witkowski

(a personal collection of research by Simon Gunson, Wellington New Zealand)



Ju-390 ancestry


The Ural Bomber


The Ju-89 Ural bomber whose wing shape was shared by the first four Ju-90 aircraft


Ju-89 Ural Bomber

The Ju-390 was the end of an aircraft lineage traced back to the abandoned four engined Ju-89 "Ural Bomber," first flown in April 1937. Only three prototypes were flown, but the type set several payload/altitude records reaching 7,242 metres (23,750ft) with a payload of 10,000kg (22,000lb) demonstrating a range of 2,980km (1,862 miles). The relatively underpowered Ju-89 was powered by four 750 hp Daimler Benz DB 600A engines. The Ju-89 was roughly comparable to the British Short Stirling bomber.


Ju-90 Transports

The Ju-90's maiden flight took place on 28 August 1937. the aircraft was nicknamed the big Dessauer. Germany's national airline Deutsch Luft Hansa (DLH) conducted several long range tests with the 40 seat Ju-90. Following these tests, the prototype Ju-90 V1 broke up in mid air from structural failure caused by overspeed. This accident gives rise to various myths about the Ju-90's alleged structural weakness, when in fact the aircraft was simply mishandled. All aircraft have a VNE speed beyond which they are liable to break up. The aircraft which crashed did not share a similar wing to subsequent Ju-290 and Ju-390 aircraft. 


Ju-90 V4 registered D-ADLH in Deutsch Luft Hansa service


Early Ju-90s shared the same swept wing form as the Ju-89 however from the Ju-90 V5 onwards the type gained a new straight wing shape similar to the subsequent Ju-290.

Ju-90 V2 in flight displaying an early wing shape

From the Ju-90 V6 prototype onwards the Ju-90 was modified with a hydraulically lowered ramp or Trapoklappe which actually lifted the aircraft's tail as depicted in this photograph of the Ju-90 V7:


Ju-90 V7 displaying it's tail ramp standard from the V6 onwards


Early Ju-90 aircraft were considerably underpowered with just four 9 cylinder, 830hp BMW 132 engines and a take off weight of 33,680kg. These BMW 132, engines were developments of the Pratt & Whitney R-1690 -25 Hornet engine.

With the Ju-90 V7 however, the type received more powerful 1550hp BMW 139 engines. (subsequently updated to BMW 801C engines of 1660hp). Gradually refinements of the Ju-90 became the definitive Ju-290 design. The Ju-90 V11 and V12 were predesignated as the Ju-290 V1 and V2 respectively. You Tube has excellent footage of some early Ju-90 aircraft taxying and taking off for those interested to search the footage.

Ju-290 types

The Ju-290 V1 prototype first flew 16 July 1942. The first eight production Ju-290 A-1 variants were unarmed transports. Several were lost in the Stalingrad airlift and evacuation from Tunisia.

The Ju-290 A-2 variants became maritime patrol aircraft which ranged far out into the Atlantic at low level with FuG 200 Hohentwiel radar and defensive machine guns. The Ju-290 A-3 variant with BMW 801D engines was heavily armed for the same mission as the A-2 but with extra auxiliary fuel tanks. The A-4 type with BMW 801D2 engines received a nose turret A-4, Works number. 0165, was experimentally equipped with attachments for FX1400, Hs293, and Hs294 missiles, and fitted with FuG 203e radar.

The A-5 variant had a longer fuselage and BMW801G engines. It was developed to launch the Fritz-X anti shipping glide bomb. The A-5 variant had increased armour protection and self sealing fuel tanks.

In February 1944 Japan Kommando was created to provide transport flights to Japan. One modified Ju-290 A-5 aircraft commanded by Deutsche Luft Hansa pilot Flugkapitan Rudolf Mayr trialed flights to Manchuria.  

A Ju-290 A-5 Luftwaffe code KR+LA in it's maritime patrol role


The Ju-290 A-6 became a 50 seat transport for the Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler as his personal transport operated by LTS.290.

the Ju 290 A-7 version; the A-7 could carry three Henschel Hs293 glide bombs or Fritz-X anti-ship missiles and featured a redesigned nose section which combined a 20mm cannon installation with the FuG 200 radar aerial array.

The Ju-290 A-8 was developed as a long range nuclear bomber for Japan which was developing nuclear weapons in great secrecy in occupied northern Korea. Three Ju-290 A-8 were intended to be flown to Japan via Tsitsihar (inner Mongolia) however the Japanese government were too fearful of provoking war with Russia to allow overflight of the Soviet Union.

The Ju-290 A-9 was a civilianised long range aircraft modified to carry extra fuel (total 23,800 litres) for flights to Japan via Bulgaria and China or from Petsamo in Finland via Ningxia in China.


Junkers EF53 Airliner

Ironically the Ju-390 was inspired by a pre-war civil airliner design designated EF 53, intended to win a Deutsch Luft Hansa (DLH) contract calling for an aircraft able to fly 20,000kg over 9,000km. DLH favoured the Bv222 for the contract. Following commencement of war with Britain the designation was changed to EF100 as the Luftwaffe took an interest in the design for military reasons. Contracts for development of the EF100 however were cancelled in 1941.

In 1942 RLM urged revival of the EF100 for maritime reconnaisance work. In late 1942 however all work on the EF100 halted for reasons not explained. The Ju-390 however was already in progress and was saving time, effort and cost by adapting the existing Ju-290 design.   

It is worth making an observation from drawings of the EF100 (see below) that the fuselage proportions more closely match Ju-390V2 GH+UK than the V1 prototype's dimensions of RC+DA. This may be a reflection of windtunnel test results from the EF100 project



Ju-390 performance

After it's birth in October 1943, in May 1944 the Ju-390 was re-certified with greater range and Gross take off weight.This followed the stripping of 5,000kg of equipment, such as armaments, radar sets etc from the airframe. To put it bluntly, the Ju-390 was nothing if not slow. It had almost double the wing area of a B-29 bomber however providing amazing lift. 

V1 Fuselage    31.1 metres
V2 Fuselage    34.4 metres (112 ft. 2.5 in)
Height             6.89 metres  (22 ft. 7 in)
Span               50.3 metres
(165 ft)
Wing area     
254 m² (2,730 ft²)

Gross MTOW             75,500kg (166,448 lb) / 80,500kg (post May 1944)
Design payload         10,000kg   ( 22,046 lb)
Empty                        36,900kg ( 81,350 lb) / 31,900kg (after May 1944)
Fuel Weight              28,600kg  ( 62,995 lb) 10,500 US gal / 39,740 Litres
Consumption Cruise   275 US gal /hour (1650 litres/hour)  @ 1800 rpm

Max Cruise            272kt (505 kph)
Econ Cruise           232kt (430 kph)
Landing speed        66kt (122 kph)

Runway performance
Take off distance at Gross weight    550 metres (1,833 ft)
Landing distance at Gross weight    510 metres (1,700 ft)

Range  7,400 nautical miles (13,760 km) @ Economical cruise speed (232 kt)



Ju-390 prototypes


Junkers EF100 Project

During 1940 Junkers developed a draft EF53 proposal for a six engined trans Atlantic airliner to win a contract from Deutsch Luft Hansa. The DLH contract was lost to the Bv222 Wiking flying boat and in 1941 the EF53 project was abandoned. What most people today consider was the EF100, was in fact the EF53.   

In 1942 however RLM called for proposals for a maritime patrol aircraft able to reach USA and back. Junkers were encouraged to revise the EF53 proposal as a military aircraft with greater range. In all likelihood the Ju-90B was developed from the EF53 project. The Ju-90S which became the Ju-290 was most likely the militarised version of EF53 for RLM. The draft proposal which followed was the EF100 military patrol transport. This contest was also known as the Amerika Bomber. Messerscmitt proposed the Me-264 as the Amerika Bomber. Focke Wulf offered the Ta-400.

The EF100 was extensively wind tunnel tested and was in fact the forerunner for the Ju-390 prototype built in 1943. The EF100 airliner project was intended to be developed after the war as the Ju-390D.


One or two aircraft ?

A hotly contested argument rages whether a second Ju-390 prototype was ever built. This owes in part to postwar testimony at a British military hearing by Junkers chief engineer for Ju-390 production and similar testimony from the Ju-390 project pilot, Hans Jochim Pancherz who both claimed only one prototype was ever built.

There the story might have ended except that the Ju-390 V1 prototype was retired to the airfield at Dassau and stripped of propellers where it sat conspicuously derelict until destroyed there in 1945. Then Oberleutnant Joachim Eissermann recorded in his log book flying the Ju-390 V2, twice on 9 February 1945. Contrary to modern embellishments, Eissermann's log book did not record the aircraft by it's registration markings. Only that it was the V2 prototype. The first flight was 55 minutes of familiarisation flying around Reichlin air base. The second flight  was a 22 minute delivery trip to Larz.

In their 1993 book, Die Grosen Dessauer: Junkers Ju-89, 90, 290, 390 Karl Kossler and Gunter Ott suggest the second Ju-390 was not constructed and flown before September/October 1944, yet RLM cancelled all Ju-390 contracts in May 1944.

If the Ju-390 contract was canceled in May 1944, then it could not have been completed in September 1944. Kossler and Ott have gotten it wrong.

Soviet historical sources claim the unfinished Ju-390 airframe was in fact the V3 prototype. The Ju-390 V3 prototype was intended for completion in the "summer" of 1944.

In fact the original RLM contract in March 1942 was let for three prototypes and we have evidence for the existence of two aircraft. What can be said truthfully is that only one Ju-390 airframe was found in Germany after the War. That is not however conclusive proof that only one was built. 


Evidence for two flying prototypes

I do not speak German and have not read Kossler and Ott's book. I have however read descriptions of the contents by native German speakers and from that source, I understand their book juxtaposes the famous picture of a Ju-390 with Luftwaffe codes RC+DA with another photo of the same aircraft in Luftwaffe codes GH+UK. I understand Kossler and Ott claim the photo of RC+DA is a fake.


If that were true then the aircraft themselves would have identical airframe dimensions. In fact they do not, because they are different aircraft.



In order to better appreciate the difference in airframe proportions it helps to flip one aircraft and match their fuselages alongside each other. Then the different proportions become obvious.



Given their other erroneous claims that the V2 must have been constructed after September/October 1944 when in fact the RLM Ju-390 contract was cancelled in May 1944, then it raises serious doubts about the credibility of their book as authoritative research source, or indeed the credibility of their research. Even the most uninformed researcher would have little trouble learning the Nazi Government had ordered all production be switched to fighters in may 1944. The Ju-390 V2 simply could not have been completed after May 1944.

Author Geoffrey Brooks advises me in private correspondence from RLM documents which he has studied, that in June 1944 Junkers was paid for seven Ju-390 prototype aircraft in various stages of completion. 

Aother footnote... Junkers historian Horst Zoeller claims the aircraft marked RC+DA was doctored from another picture of a Ju-290.

In late October 2008 I wrote to Zoeller asking if he could forward me the donor Ju-290 photograph which he says was doctored. I still await a response with interest. I have never seen a photo of a Ju-290 in the same exact pose as RC+DA. His claim is demonstrably false by the Ju-290 photo displayed below. RC+DA has more fuselage ahead of the wing not only when compared with GH+UK, but also when compared with a standard Ju-290. 

I attach below a photo of the very first Ju-290 aircraft developed from the Ju-90 V11 prototype aircraft. This is the only other photo which I am aware of with a Ju-290 in a similar pose from underneath.




Ju-390 V1

The V1 prototype is often referred to as the "bomber" version. It was employed with FuG 200 Hohentweil radar by FAGr.5 at mont de Marsan in a maritime reconnaissance role over the Atlantic. Ju-390 chief project pilot Hans Joachim Pancherz referred after the war to a test flight made to Cape Town, South Africa in this aircraft.

The aircraft was constructed at Merkersberg by modification of Ju-90 V6, werke number Wnr 4918 and was first flown 20 October 1943 by Flugkapitan Hans Joachim Pancherz with Dipl Ing. Gast as co-pilot. It's length was increased ahead of the wing from the standard Ju-290's length of 28.6 metres to 31.1 metres.

History records that the Ju-390V1 was longitudinally unstable. The Ju-390 aircraft RC+DA clearly has a greater weight forward and just visually looks as though it would be unstable. What could be termed a visual corroboration. 


Ju-390 V2

The V2 aircraft was an unarmed transport version with a longer fuselage than the V1. It also appears to have been shortened ahead of the wing. This aircraft is reported making it's first flight from Bernberge in August 1943, flown by Flugkapitan Hans Werner Lerche.

V1 appears to have been converted from Ju-90 V9, werke number Wnr 4921. The length of the V2 was increased to 34.2 metres. The fuselage ahead of the wing was also shortened and unlike that on RC+DA was longer aft of the wing. .


Ju-390 V3

Conversion apparently from Ju-90 V10, werke number Wnr 4922. This aicraft may have been intended as a flying tanker aircraft for air to air refueling trials. Such trials were conducted around Prague with the V1 aircraft in early 1944. Construction of the V3 appears abandoned in May 1944 when all production was switched to emergency fighter construction. 


Ju-390 Construction Ceased June 1944

Conventional historians who assert the existence of only one Ju-390 assert the V2 was broken up before completion. A contrary view is that it was actually the uncompleted V3 aircraft which was broken up in June 1944. By May 1944 orders had already been issued to switch all production to fighters.

On 29 June 1944 KdE Reichlin condemned the Ju-390 saying that it would be unsuitable because the wing was not strong enough for the intended 10,000 payload. That declaration is likely to require some qualification. Reichlin was testing the Ju-390 for an intended role as the Ju-390C bomber at the time.

The wing was very lightly loaded. The weight of fuel was evenly distributed across it's span. On the ground it had four sets of main undercarriage. For the transport role it was likely quite strong enough. The requirements for a bomber role are quite different, such as requiring higher cruise speeds to avoid interception. 

The Ju-390 had a relatively slow VMO speed of 272 knots. If flown beyond this speed it was likely to break up as would  any aircraft flown in excess of design speeds. This does not imply it was unsafe below VMO.

Fuhrer der Atlantik expressed concern with the Ju-290 type (which very similar characteristics) as being too slow. As a slow transport the Ju-390 had extreme long range and was quite safe. If re-engined to obtain higher speeds and carrying extra weight from gun armament then the Ju-390 likely was inadequate. It was likely that the Ju-390's wing was unsuitable in a specific situation when pushed to higher speeds.

The Ju-90 prototype broke up in mid air when it was pushed to higher speeds than the type was intended for. This is a dynamic effect related to airspeed. Not to structural weakness.

The bomber version of the Ju-390 was intended to launch either parisite fighters or large rocket powered glide bombs at New York. It was the weight of these weapons which the wing was too weak to carry. Not the fuel weight of a mission to New York.



FAGr.5 missions over the Atlantic

Focke Wulf FW200 aircraft had achieved considerable success against Allied shipping convoys in the Western approaches to UK, but with the advent of Hurricane fighters launched from CAM ships the Focke Wulf was found incapable of defending itself. 

When the Ju-290A-1 transport emerged a replacement for the FW200 was urgently required. Losses of Ju-290A-1 transports at Stalingrad and Tunisia, resulted in some A-1 aircraft being armed and converted to A-2 aircraft, with a variety of gun mounts sporting MG151 20mm cannon. These A-2 aircraft were then superceeded by the even more heavily armed Ju-290A-3. Both A-2 and A-3 versions received large auxiliiary fuel tanks inside their fuselages to extend their ranges.

As these armed aircraft became available they were requisitioned by Fliegerfuhrer Atlantik (Air Director Atlantic). They were assigned to a newly formed unit 1/Fernaufklarungs Gruppe 5 (FAGr.5) formed 1st July 1943 reconstituted from an earlier unit 3/Aufkl.10. 2/FAGr.5 was formed from 3/Aufkl.100. From November 1943 FAGr.5 began operation from Mont de Marsan, near Bordeux, France.  

These Ju-290 were equipped with extra radios and FuG200 Hohentweil radars which permitted them to shadow Allied convoys from 54 nautical miles distance at 3,300 feet altitude and call in U-boat attacks. The Ju-290 A-4 type was even equipped to launch Hs293 anti shipping missiles, or the FX 1400.

The Ju-390 never appears to have been formally assigned to FAGr.5 however it is said to have operated flights from Mont de Marsan in early 1944.

In August 1944 following the Normandy landings, FAGr.5 hastily fled it's bases at Mont de Marsan shifting to Muhldorf in Bavaria.



Ju-390 New York flight


A captured Photographic technician, Unteroffizer Wolf Baumgart, was interrogated by the US Ninth Air Force and his testimony was recorded by the A.P.W.I.U. Report 44/1945. In that report Baumgart is quoted claiming that a Ju-390 flew from Mont de Marsan, France,  to within 12 miles of New York city. He further stated that photographs were taken of the city's skyline. The same A.P.I.W.U report also references corroboration by a more senior Luftwaffe officer, who added that the Ju-390 had an in-flight endurance of 32 hours. 

On 11 November 1955 when Green was editor of the "RAF Review" he referred to two British Intelligence reports dated from August    1945 entitled "General Report on Aircraft Engines   and Aircraft Equipment." This British Intelligence report drew from British and not   US sources. It also drew from various wartime Enigma decrypts which in 1955 were classified. in fact because the British Government re-sold captured Enigma machines to many African nations, it had to keep Enigma classified well after the war because it continued to provide intelligence long into the Cold War era. Enigma was not declassified until 1996, so Green was unable to identify Enigma decrypts as a source for RAF intelligence reports. The reports however became the basis of Green's claims for a flight to New York in 1944

What is known of William Green, is after quoting from the British Intelligence reports an unidentified former German serviceman began a lengthy correspondence with Green which later formed a basis for many of Green's claims about the New York flight in his book.


Capacity of the Ju-390 to perform such a flight

The fuel consumption of the Ju-390's BMW801D/E engines are well known and documented. From that and knowledge of the aircraft's fuel load it can easily be deduced what the range would be for a range of power settings and altitudes. At 232 knots the Ju-390 could theoretically fly 7,400 nautical miles. The aircraft had a very low ground footprint with an ACN of 7.5 enabling it to fly from dirt airstrips at gross weight. Merseberg where one of the Ju-390 aircraft made it's first flight had a dirt airstrip of less than 1,000 feet. The Ju-290A-7 Alles Kaput first landed at Merseberg to surrender to Watson's Whizzers.  

That such a flight could have taken place was quite logical. The Ju-390 was built entirely in response to a RLM request for an "Amerika" bomber capable of reaching New York and returning. In fact the Junkers Ju-290 had been developed from the Ju-90 in response to the EF-53 project in 1940 for a four engined airliner to reach New York from France.

The six engined EF-100 project was based upon the four engined EF-53 project. The EF-100 was a military project in response to an RLM request for a long range maritime patrol aircraft able to reach America and back. Thye EF-100 led directly to the Ju-390 design. That 1942 contest resulted in proposals for the Messerschmitt Me264; the troubled Heinkel He-177 and the unbuilt Focke Wulf Ta400. RLM eventually favoured the Ju-390.


Common Objections by Critics

Critics of the New York flight routinely make the same objections. One is that the Ju-390 lacked the fuel, or else had too high a fuel consumption to make a round trip. Fuel consumption is addressed on one of the other pages on this website. To recap however, about 53,000lb of fuel were required to provide take off power and then cruise at 12,000 feet for 32 hours endurance. This was sufficient to permit a return flight with a 10,000kg payload.

For it's maiden flight in August 1943 the Ju-390 was limited to a 38,000kg Maximum Take Off Weight (MTOW). It subsequently emerged that the Junkers company simply set this as an arbitrary limit based on the earlier Ju-90 whose abilities were well known.  As test flights expanded the aircraft's performance envelope, the Ju-390 V1's MTOW was first certified at 75,500kg and later in May 1944 after shedding 5,000kg of equipment was recertified at 80,500kg.

Another common criticism is that the Ju-390's wings were too weak. Two aspects explain this problem. Firstly following July 1944's Bomb plot against Hitler, RLM was taken over by the SS. The SS were less interested in the Ju-390 than had been the Luftwaffe. The SS were more interested in developing the winged A-4b with a boosted take off for a mission similar to the Sanger Bredt sub orbital bomber. The Ju-390 was considered redundant by the SS.


Author and co-author on various books about the Luftwaffe, in addition to being a research translator, Geoffrey Brooks kindly informed me in 2008 what the genesis of this claim was. The Ju-390 was capable of long range flight and the wings were strong enough for long range flights. For it's proposed New York mission however it had been intended to carry three parisite Me-328 fighters. In September 1944 however, RLM announced that the Ju-390 wings were too weak for the Amerika Bomber mission. One photo survives of a Ju-90 model used for windtunnel testing of the parasite concept. Of interest the aircraft model pictured had tailfins peculiar to the Ju-90 V7 and V8 which helps identify the likely date when testing commenced.



Contemporary Comparisons

Some cynics suggest the aircraft could not possibly have taken off at this weight. The Ju-290 had approximately 20% more horsepower than the B-29 and wings with approximately 80% more wing area, yet nobody questions the B-29's ability to perform similar range missions.

If scaled the Ju-290 had more in common with the Convair B-36 Peacemaker depending on which variant could take off in just 1500 metres at full load. Later B-36 models could manage take off in under 1400 metres. The point is not exactly which B-36 one compares the Ju-390 with. The point is that the B-36 proves size and weight themselves do not prevent a relatively short take off.

The EF100 was in effect developed as the Ju-390. Predicted performance of the EF100 compiled by Junkers provided information about the Ju-390's performance which had not survived through Luftwaffe records. Most importantly, wind tunnel tests predicted the Ju-390's take off performance at Gross weight as 550 metres.


An Interesting Tidbit of Information

A correspondent to a forum discussion named James Newsome confidently asserted that his neighbour Anna Kreisling co-piloted the Ju-390 from Norway to Ohio, then back out to sea past New York to Mont de Marsan in France. Shortly after posting this Newsome declined to answer further questions about Kreisling's identity.

Whilst it could have been a hoax comment, it is still possible that it wasn't and that Kreisling does not wish to be identified. If anyone knows who Kreisling is, please inform me privately. I would be willing to keep it secret under embargo for period of time to protect persons still alive.

I share these comments in the hopes that some day the riddle might be solved.    


Ju-390 fuel consumption

Cynics who question the likelihood of a Ju-390 return flight from Mont de Marsan in early 1944 to within 12 nautical miles of New York city, often dispute whether the aircraft had sufficient fuel. In an attempt to clarify issues I have attempted to ascertain and publish the correct facts.

When first certified in late 1943, the Ju-390's Maximum Take Off Weight (MTOW) was cited as 75,500kg with an 8,000km range. According to pilot Hans Joachim Pancherz, the aircraft was put through a weight reduction program in May 1944 and re-certified with an MTOW of 80,500kg with a range of 11,000km.

Critics of the New York flight point to a postwar denial by Pancherz that the flight occurred. 

Pancherz denied the New York flight, but then he also told British investigators after the war that only one Ju-390 ever flew. We now know from multiple sources that Pancherz lied on this point therefore if he lied once then he most likely lied on other matters too.

What Pancherz did admit was that he flew a Ju-390 to Cape Town. In January 1944 a Ju-290 A4 aerial tanker aircraft registered CE+YZ was performing trials over the Atlantic with a Ju-390 from Mont de Marsan. This was the same time period during which Baumgart claimed the New York flight occurred.

Critics of the New York flight who rely upon Pancherz's denial as part of their evidence against the New York flights, then go on to denounce him when they are reminded of the Cape Town flight. One thing is clear. A return flight to Cape Town was impossible without either air to air refuelling or a landing somewhere en-route. 

Critics remain unconvinced of the Ju-390's range capability, so I made an effort to track down an April 1945 report on bench testing of the BMW 801D engines by NACA, forerunner of the agency now known as NASA. Early flights by the Ju-390 used BMW 801D engines. The BMW 801E engine was  an experimental engine often mentioned as being fitted to the Ju-390. It was in fact intended for the Export aircraft planned for production   by Japan. The BMW 801E had modified gearing on the supercharger to give better fuel consumption and an extra 100hp at altitude. 

Page 29 of that NACA report discloses an individual engine on lean settings below 21,000 feet altitude consumes either:

· 250 L/hr (40.83 US Gal/hr) at 1600rpm (1469.9lb/hr for six engines), or

· 275 L/hr (45.83 US Gal/hr) at 1800rpm (1649.9lb/hr for six engines)

Above 21,000 feet the supercharger cut in automatically and almost doubled fuel consumption.
From the chart published below on this page one can see the lower it's altitude the lower a Ju-390's consumption was.


32 Hour Endurance

Reichsluftministerium (RLM) performance specification for the Ju-390 were to carry 10,000kg (22,000lb) over 8,000 kilometres. Fuel capacity with such a payload when the aircraft's empty weight is subtracted from MTOW results in 57,268lb.

Interestingly 32 hours worth of fuel consumption at 1800 rpm equates 52,797lb of fuel. Thus a 32 hour endurance attributed to the Ju-390 is well within known take off weight and fuel consumption. A Ju-390 therefore could carry 10,000kg from France to New York and back with a 4,471lb weight buffer, though this spare weight capacity may have been consumed in take off power at the start of such a flight. Fuel consumed by a Focke Wulf 190A fighter powered with a BMW 801D engine to reach 19,000 feet, equates 1152lb for six engines. 




Could the Ju-390 take off fully loaded for New York ?

The other objection often made is that a Ju-390 could not possibly take off with the weight of fuel required. The Ju-390 and American B-29 bomber had relatively similar take off weights therefore I've created a table to compare the Ju-390 with the B-29 bomber and the Convair B-36 bomber. It may be surprising, but the Ju-390 had a 14% better power to weight ratio than a B-36 and the B-36 at MTOW required only 1,500 metres of runway, implying the Ju-390 required less runway. The Junkers Ju-390 had poorer power to weight ratio than the B-29 but better than the B-36 and clearly relied on it's big wing area. The B-29 obviously suffered a higher wing loading .      Judge for yourself:




Difference Ju-390 v B-29

  Installed horsepower

10,380 hp 



Ju-390 17.95% more power  


75,500 kg (166,400 lb)   

60,560 kg (133,800lb)

   190,000kg  (410,00 lb)

Ju390 24.6% heavier

wing area 

      254 m²      (2,730 ft²) 

       161.3 m²         (1,736 ft²)  

                     443.3 m.2                              (4,772 sq.ft) 

  79.7% more than B-29

power to weight ratio 

    0.17 kW/kg        ( 0.10 hp/lb) 


  120 kW/kg  (0.086 hp/lb) 

  Ju-390 only 15% of B-29



· UK Air Ministry report PRO AIR40/53 (for BMW 801D)

· UK Air Ministry report PRO AIR40/55 (for BMW 801E)

· NACA Technical Memorandum Report MR E5D19 (archived by Nasa as PDF #19930093290_1993093290)



Ju-390 flight to Japan


Flights to Japan commenced before Germany's invasion of Russia in July 1941 with Operation Barbarossa. Stalin had been keen in fact to join the Axis Pact prior to this but Japan objected citing the anti communist anti Comintern Pact. Stalin however had been allowing use of the trans Siberia railway for trade between Germany and Japan prior to Barbarossa.

Early flights had involved the giant Blohm und Voss Bv222 V1 aircraft operated by Deutsch Luft Hansa from Kirkenes, in occupied Norway and later from an unknown date these flights departed Nautsi Air Base in Finland. Horst Zoeller, a Junkers historian who maintains the Junkers website told me by email of at least one confirmed BV222 flight to Sakhalin. Deutsche Luft Hansa is known to have proposed a Bv222 mission to Japan as late as October 1943.

Bv222 in service with Deutsche Luft Hansa


Another aircraft prior to Operation Barbarossa capable of flights to Japan was the Messerschmitt Me261. Outwardly it looked like a much enlarged Bf-110 twin engined fighter. In detail however it  had an entirely novel airframe able to accomodate it's crew and between 7-8 passengers. It's role was as a long range courier aircraft for important passengers and documents. The Me-261's first flight was 23 December 1940. It proved it's range on various closed circuit trials over Europe, but it is uncertain whether it ever actually flew to the Far East.  

Following Germany's invasion of Russia, Japan which maintained diplomatic relations with Moscow throughout the war objected to Luftwaffe overflights of the Soviet Union to maintain contact with Japan, so subsequent connecting flights were made by civil registered aircraft in Deutsche Luft Hansa DLH registrations. 

From 1941 to 1943 Germany ran a highly effective fleet of surface blockade running freighters. Ships with famous names like Orsorno, Pietro Orseolo, Tannenfels, Weserland, Burgenland, Alsterufer and Rio Grande maintained an effective shuttle of supplies and personnel to and from Japan, but by 1943, assisted by Enigma interceptions, the Royal Navy began to sink these vessels. U-boats taking up to three month voyages maintained some sort of connection during 1944, but for high priority items and passengers a reliable air link needed to be created.

On 30 June 1942, a successful flight from Saporoshje (near Rostov) to Ninghsia (modern Ningxia) proved a link could be viable. The flight used a Savoia Marchetti S.75 RT (RT = Rome -Tokyo) trimotor aircraft. It's route was north of the Caspian and Aral seas then through the Altai Range past Lake Balkhash to Ningxia. The aircraft's navigator Dr Publio Magini was of the opinion that had they not been required to land at Ninxia, with the fuel aboard they could have continued on to reach Tokyo.


S.75 RT arrives at Ningxia 1 July 1942



Ju-290 Flights to Manchuria

The original authority on flights to Manchuria (more properly Tsitsihar)was British author and aviation historian William Green in his book Warplanes of the Third Reich, first published 1968. The most significant source for this story was the interrogation of a Luftwaffe photographer attached to the long range recconnaisance unit FAGr.5 at Mont de Marsan. Unteroffizer Wolf Baumgart, as a prisoner of war, was interrogated in August 1944 by the US Ninth Air Force, cited in A.P.W.I.U. Report 44/1945. Baumgart's accounts were apparently corroborated by a more senior Luftwaffe officer whom I have yet to identify.

Baumgart however was not the only source and likely was not even his source at all. On 11 November 1955 when Green was editor of the "RAF Review" he referred to two British Intelligence reports dated from August 1945 entitled "General Report on Aircraft Engines   and Aircraft Equipment." This British Intelligence report drew from British and not US sources. It also drew from various wartime Enigma decrypts which in 1955 were classified. in fact because the British Government re-sold captured Enigma machines to many African nations, it had to keep Enigma classified well after the war because it continued to provide intelligence long into the Cold War era.  Enigma was not declassified until 1996, so Green was unable to identify Enigma decrypts as a source for RAF intelligence reports. 

What is known of Green however is that after quoting from the British intelligence reports an unidentified former German serviceman began a lengthy correspondence with him which did form a background for Green's claims in his book. 

In February 1944 when KG200 took over all long range special missions, Hitler tasked the head of his own VIP flight Hauptman Braun to form a Japan Kommando flying an air bridge to Japan. This unit was also known as 14/TGS.4 (or 14 Transportgeschwader 4).

A Ju-290 A-5 aircraft was requisitioned and modified at the DLH maintenance facility on Rusnye aerodrome at Prague. Not at the nearby Junkers factory in Prague. Deutsche Luft Hansa pilot Flugkapitan Rudolf Mayr was placed in charge of  the Manchurian flight operation. Aircraft were stripped of armaments, military markings and were given civil DLH markings.

A War Ministry report (AIR 40/203) detailed in mid October 1944, a POW gave information under interrogationthat since the beginning of 1944, there had been "regular air travel between Gernmany and Japan established for the transport of high officials flown by old experienced Hansa pilots."

Deutsch Luft Hansa pilots thought to have flown these missions to Ningxia included Flugkapitan Nebel, Flugkapitan Mattias (died April 1946 in Soviet captivity), Flugkapitan Erich Warsitz [1], Flugkapitan Hermann Quenzler [2] (Dornier Test Pilot), and test pilot Karl Patin.

The first Ju-290 aircraft used to trial flights to Manchuria



Trial flights began with Ju-290A-5 werke # J900170 Luftwaffe code KR+LA. This aircraft also had KG200 codes 9V+DH. It was destroyed by air raids at Reichlin in 1945. It’s fuel capacity was increased and for long range operations, MTOW was increased from the Ju-290’s standard 41.3 tons to 45 tons.

In March 1944 three other Ju290 aircraft were transferred to Versuchsverband OKL carrying Luftwaffe codes T9+, thence they were stripped of all weaponry and civilianised for Deutsch Luft Hansa (DLH) service on flights to China. Modification included fitting fuel tanks for 23,800 litres. Each of the aircraft also then received civil registrations.

These three aircraft were Ju-290A-9  werke # J900183, former Luftwaffe code KR+LN. From February 1944 this aircraft became T9+VK. It was attacked on the ground at Finsterwalde in April 1944 and scrapped at Travenmunde in September 1944.

Also Ju-290A-9 werke # J900182, former Luftwaffe code KR+LM. From February 1944 this aircraft became T9+UK. This aircraft was lost whilst on the ground refueling to strafing fire by four Soviet flown Hurricanes near the village of Utta, near Astrakhan in July 1944. 

Ju-290 A7 werke # J900185, former Luftwaffe code KR+LP was the third conversion to become T9+WK. Later in it's career it was attacked over the southern eastern front in May 1944 and returned from the mission beyond all hope of repair.*

On 2 September 1944 Ju-290A-3 werke # J900163 Luftwaffe code PI+PQ was ordered to be converted for a mission to China to carry VIP Ulrich Kessler, but work on the aircraft was interrupted by general anti Nazi uprisings in Bulgaria where the aircraft was to fly from. The aircraft was eventually blown up in May 1945 to prevent it's capture.

Me-264 flights to Japan

In his book "Messerschmitt Me264, Amerika Bomber, The Luftwaffe's Lost Transatlantic Bomber," author Fobert Forsyth cites various sources for regular Me264 flights from a frozen runway on Lake Inari (Petsamo) in northern Finland to Ninghsia carrying important persons, documents and cargo. Such flights became impossible after September 1944 when threatened with US bombing raids on Helsinki, Finland was forced to capitulate to Russia. 

Prior to the Normandy landings, British interrogation of a Luftwaffe POW in April 1944 disclosed that the Me-261 had already made a flight to Tokyo in August 1943.


J-390 flights to Japan

On Tuesday 23 May 1944 Reichsmarshall Goering convened a conference. It was attended by Minister for armaments and War production Albert Speer, Air Marshall Erhard Milch, General der Flieger Gunther Korten, Petersen, Diesing, Knemeyer and Saur to confront the he-177's failings. Goering demanded other options for long range reconnaisance be developed urgently. From this meeting was set up a special long range reconnaisance unit, or Aufklarungsgruppe. It is noteworthy that following this meeting the Ju-390 and He-177 were no longer deemed available for long range reconnaisance and were already placed under control of KG200. 

With the fall of France, 2 Staffel, Fernaufklarungsgruppe 5 (2/FAGr.5) based at mont de Marsan had been disbanded in August 1944   and reassigned to Kommando Nebel for development of long range reconnaisance and communications flights under the command of Hauptmann Georg Eckl. Hitler's new Luftwaffe chief of staff Generalleutnant Werner Kreipe recorded in his war diary that on 5 August 1944 that hitler called for renewed efforts to prepare the Me-264 for a bombing raid on New York.

Aviator and pre war explorer Hans Bertram was commissioned by RLM apparently in July 1944 to write a report called Ostasienflug (east Asian Flight Project) to plan for a regular courier service to Tokyo using the Me-264.The mission called for a duration of 33 hours flown at 188 knots. Two routes were proposed. The longest from Berlin to Linz, Hungary, roumania, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Tsitsihar in china and finally to Tokyo. The other route proposed was through northern India and Burma to Rangoon.


Evidence of a Ju-390 flight to Tokyo in 1944  

The first public hint of a Ju-390 mission to Japan arose in the memoirs of Hitler's former armaments minister Albert Speer "Inside the Third Reich" In his book Speer referred to Ju-390 flights to Tokyo "via the Polar Route" in 1945. Speer had little to gain by revealing these flights and in fact made the comment quite non-chalently almost in passing.

Speer also mentioned the Ju-390 flight to Tokyo being flown by civil test pilots which seems to identify them as Dornier Test Pilot Flugkapitan Quenzler, and test pilot Karl Patin.

In 1995 the radio operator from U-234, Wolfgang Hirschfeld wrote his book "Atlantik Farewell, Das Letzte U-boot" (Atlantic farewell, The Last U-boat) In his book Hirschfeld notes that following a collision in the Kettegat between Denmark and Sweeden with another U-boat, surfacing beneath her, U-234 was forced into a Norwegian port for repairs in March 1945. Hirschfeld noted that urgently needed cargo had to be offloaded and flown on to Japan.

Ironically the cargo referred to may itself have been production drawings for the Ju-390 which are often cited as having been dispatched on a U-boat which never reached Japan. Since the Ju-390 licensed production agreement agreement for the Ju-390 was not signed until 28 February 1945, the only U-boat which this could refer to was the U-234.

Russian aviation historian Sergey Platov notes on his website that these Ju-390 production plans were accompanied by a Japanese military attache from Berlin, Major General Otani all flown to Tokyo with aboard a Ju-390.

A Post war report by the War Department, entitled "NA/HW 13/47 - German Technical Aid to Japan" dated 31 August 1945 at pages 134-145, discussed how three Messerscmitt engineers with technical documents for Japanese construction of the Me-209; Me 309; Me 264, Me 262; Me 410 and me 323 would be flown to Japan. Technical drawings would be accompanied by engineers Rolf von Chilingensperg, Riclef Schmerus and August Bringewald who were to immediately be posted to assist Japanese production for two years. Speer was an enthusiastic backer of this proposal. . 



· "Messerschmitt Me264, Amerika Bomber, The Luftwaffe's Lost Transatlantic Bomber," by Fobert Forsyth

· Ju-290 aircraft converted, Sweeting and Boyne, p. 125

· "Inside the Third Reich" by Albert Speer

· "Atlantik Farewell, Das Letzte U-boot" by Wolfgang Hirschfeld


[1] In April 1983, Flugkapitän Erich Warsitz suffered a stroke and as a result died at the age of 76 years 12 July 1983 at Barbengo Switzerland.

[2] Hermann (aka Henry, aka Ivan) Quenzler was recruited as a test pilot for Lockheed's CIA Skunk Works. He later went to Seattle and worked there for Boeing on the Boeing 707 and SST. He died in 9th September 2002 survived by two daughters.



Japan's Ju-390 ambitions


Japan's A-bomb project

During World War 2, Japan had two competing projects to develop a nuclear bomb. The Imperial Japanese Army's project was headed by scientist Dr Yoshio Nishina at the Rikken Institute in Tokyo. The Imperial Japanese Navy project was headed by Professor Bunsuku Arakatsu. From 1943 the two projects were amalgamated and shifted to a laboratory at Hungnam in what is now North Korea.

An American journalist Snell, attached to Major Furman's ALSOS intelligence mission in Korea claimed to have interviewd a a witness in Seoul during September 1945 who gave information of a successful Japanese A-bomb test blast two days after the bombing of Hiroshima. The informant may have been Prince Chichuba under a false alias.

Beginning on 7 July 1943, General Touransouke Kawashima began requesting supply of Uranium Oxide (Yellow Cake) from mines in Czechoslovakia. Requests were made via the Japanese embassy in Berlin. US Magic decrypts reveal that the Allies were well aware of Uranium requests and shipments by U-boat.

In September 1944 Hitler issued a decree BFHQ 219/44 demanding maximum co-operation with Germany's ally Japan. One thing which Japan badly needed was a bomber delivery system able to reach USA. 

Export He-177 bombers

In 1943 three He-177 aircraft V36, V37 and V38 (W.Nr.550002) were converted with extra large bomb bays for an atomic bomb, intended for export to Japan. Ironically Japan declined to accept delivery when it became apparent that the delivery flight would overfly the Soviet Union. Japan did not wish to risk provoking war with Russia.


Export Ju-290 bombers

Three Ju-290A-8 export bomber aircraft were also completed with special bomb-bays in their bellies for export to Japan as "nuclear bombers." Japan lacked long range aircraft with which to bomb the US mainland. These "A-8" aircraft were apparently never delivered to Japan owing to the loss of airfields at Konstanza in Bulgaria by Soviet occupation in September 1944.


Japanese License built Ju-390

When the Ju-390 design was disclosed the Imperial Japanese Army attache Maj General Otani took an interest. On 28 February 1945 a contract was signed for designs and production rights in Japan of the Ju-390. The intention was to ship plans to Japan by U-boat. The only U-bpat bound for Japan after 28 February 1945 was U-234. This U-boat suffered an underwater collision in the Kattegat between denmark and Sweeden, when another U-boat attempted to surface beneath her. She was forced to put into Christiansand for repairs. U-234's radio operator Wolfgang Hirschfeld wrote after the war that urgent cargo was off loaded with the intention of flying it to Japan.

When U-234 was unloaded at Portsmouth New Hampshire in late May 1945 by the US Navy, there was a 70 ton discrepancy in cargo manifests with the cargo manifest at Keil in March 1945.

Reichs Armaments and War Production Minister Albert Speer wrote after the war that the Ju-390 flew to Japan via the polar route on 28 March 1945, flown by civil test pilots. Maj General Otani is said to have accompanied the flight. My enquiries were not able to identify such a general in Germany during WW2. However when I began to read ULTRA decrypts of diplomatic signals about intended return cargos and passengers for submarine I-52, I discovered that high priority was given for the return of Major General Kotani.


Ju-390 Fates

The conventional view of the Junkers Ju-390 story hold that only one prototype was ever built, being the Ju-390 V1. This version asserts that the Ju390 V1 was first flown from a dirt airstrip at Merseberg on 20 October 1943, piloted by civilian Flugkapitan Hans Joachim Pancherz and engineer Dipl-Ing Gast.

However there is also an earlier claim that the Ju-390 made it's first flight in August 1943 at the hands of famous Reichlin Test pilot Flugkapitan Hans Werner Lerche at Bernberg.

The conventional view therefore is that the Ju-390V1 was retired from service and flown to Dessau in November 1944 where it was stripped of propellers and sat derelict until destroyed. There are conflicting claims of it's destruction by a US 8th Air Force raid on 16 January 1945 and other claims that it was burned in April 1945 to prevent capture.

Either way it is generally accepted the Ju-390 V1 ended it's career at Dessau in November 1944 and remained derelict until destroyed in 1945. RC+DA appears to have been the aircraft destroyed at Dessau in 1945.


Ju-390 identities


Before addressing their fates I believe it is important to correctly identify which aircraft were which prototypes.


RC+DA appears to have the shorter fuselage Ju-390 V1and to have been equipped as a maritime patrol aircraft.


GH+UK appears to have been the longer fuselage Ju-390 V2 equipped for a transport role.


In October 1943 Major Hoffmann recommended that Ju-390 production should commence immediately and there was no need for further prototype aircraft. Hoffmann urged proceeding straight to series production. Air Marshall Erhard Milch adopted Hoffmann's recommendation. The first prototype had been flying since August 1943. This aircraft displayed some longitudinal instability. The second aircraft had a much longer fuselage with a greater tail movement arm. The Ju-390 V2 was redesignated as the production standard Ju-390 A1. Junkers company records incidentally suggest the A1 aircraft did fly.

It appears RC+DA was the Ju-390V1 and the Ju-390V2, fitted with BMW801E engines was redesignated as the Ju-390 A1. It is recorded by Junkers that the Ju-390A1 transporter was built and GH+UK was clearly the transporter version as compared with RC+DA which was clearly equipped with a bomb aimers gondola as a maritime patrol aircraft. 

This type of switch happened previously when the the Ju-90 V11 was redesignated as the Ju-290V1 and Ju-90 V12 was redesignated as  J-290 V2. The Ju-90 V6 airframe was itself re-designated Ju-390 V1.


Sporrenberg's Iestimony

The unconventional explanation for the fate of Junkers second Ju-390 prototype concerns an alleged flight from an airfield  at Schweidnitz in Poland to evacuate a Bell shaped ionising centrifuge used by the Nazis for advanced research of high energy fields. This bell device has become the subject of various claims, attracting cynicism from some and fantastic claims from others. It is sufficient however to describe it for what it was. Simply a centrifuge which spun Mercury until it fluoresced into a plasma. The plasma interacted with a variety of compounds placed in a porcelain container at the core    of the centrifuge to create some very high voltage radiation. It's purpose continues to spark debates. The Bell project was known by the nazi codename Cronos Laternentraeger.

In his book Wunderwaffe, by Igor Witkowski, it was stated that there are Polish depositions extant in WW2 War Crimes      proceedings against SS Gruppenfuehrer Jakob Sporrenberg which indicate that "Cronos/Laternentraeger" was a project in plasma physics.Sporrenberg was captured in Norway, held by the British in 1946 and then returned to Poland to stand  trial. He was hung in December 1952. Before his execution he was interviewed at length and these interview reports were not declassified until 1998.

Kammler oversaw this project. He was frequently at Gross-Rosen concentration camp which supplied labour for an immense underground construction in the Eulengebirge Mountains and was linked by a long subterranean tunnel to the underground galleries at Waldenburg (modern Walbrzych) where "Cronos/Laternentraeger" experiments took place. The existence of this complex is confirmed in a document dated Warsaw 6 May 1947 "Action for De-Arming Oder Line" which speaks of the removal of huge quantities of machinery from the interior of the location before it was destroyed by explosives.


Ju-390 orders 17 April 1945

The last communication from Kammler is a cable timed at 1100 on 17 April 1945 addressed to SS-Fuehrungshauptamt/Org. Abt.ROEM1 which reads:

"Betr: LKW Junkers

Gemaess Fuehrerbefehl gehen Massnahmen Strahlflugzeug Militaerischen voraus. Bin deshalb nicht in der Lage gewesen, gewuenschten LKW freizustellen. Bau-Insp. der Waffen-SS Reich Sued, Gez. Kammler"




"Re: Lorry Junkers In accordance with Fuhrer-Order jet aircraft measures take precedence over military. Have therefore not been in the position to release the lorry you require.Bau-Insp etc, signed Kammler."

An extarordinary aspect of this was that Kammler was turning down a request for the Ju-390 from Hitler's headquarters in April 1945. What was Hitler's headquarters requesting ?


Where was the Ju-390 in April 1945 ?

The answer to that question is in a book called "The Berlin Bunker" by James P O'Donnell, published 1979, ISBN 0-340-04402-8 compiled by interviewing 250 survivors from Hitler's bunker in the last days of the Reich. At page 251, O'Donnell cites Riechs Minister Albert Speer talking about Hitler's pilot Hans Baur. Baur it seems was obsessed in the last days with using the Ju-390 to fly Hitler to Japan.

Speer said Baur had serious plans to fly Hitler out on 23, 28 and 29 April 1945. Speer quoted Baur saying to him after the war, "right up to the last days I could have flown the Fuhrer anywhere in the world."

Baur however was denied use of the Ju-390 for Hitler by Kammler. The world learned in 2004 from then 93 year old Hauptmann Ernst Koenig that on 1 May 1945 he received orders from Baur to prepare a six engined Bv222 flying boat       to fly VIP passengers from Norway to Greenland.   


Rudolf Schuster's Testimony

In his book, "Wunderwaffe" page 242, Witkowski says the Ju-390 flew from Prague to Opole, Poland. In the Soviet map pictured below are the front lines around Schweidnitz during April 1945.



Another witness SS Hauptsturmfuhrer Rudolf Schuster of the SS Economic Ministry (WHVA) said the airfield was at Schweidnitz 100km west of Opole in an area still     held by the 17th Army. The 1st Panzer Army still held territory east, near Opole and the 4th Panzer Army still held territory west of Schweidnitz (modern Swidnica) Schuster was with the special economic department of the SS. His testimony survives to us at the Berlin Document centre. Critics say there is no record of Schuster's name in the SS, but the same can be said of many Luftwaffe personnel after the Nazis deliberately destroyed personnel files at Linz in April 1945.

Nuclear scientist Professor Walther Gerlach had been involved with the Nazi Bell device. Gerlach was the only Nazi scientist handed over to the Americans by the British. His wartime diary remains classified top secret by the CIA.

Sporrenberg testified that mathematician Elizabeth Adler, rocketry expert and Luftwaffe officer Herman Oberth, plus SS officer and high voltage specialist Dr Kurt Debus were said to have accompanied the Ju-390 flight when it departed Schweidnitz, with the Nazi Bell for Bodo in northern Norway.


Testimony from Dr Wilhelm Voss

In 1974 British Journalist Tom Agoston interviewed Kammler's boss in charge of the SS Skoda works, Dr Wilhelm Voss. His guest Voss, unaware of the testimony from either Schuster, or Sporrenberg told Agoston about the Ju-390 flight from Schweidnitz to Bodo and the Bell. Voss was in hiding at Agoston's lodgings seeking to avoid indictment at Nuremberg. Voss later became involved in Nazi gun running to Palestinians through Syria after WW2.  


Arriving Bodo Norway

Sporrenberg claims the Ju-390 was kept under SS guard at Bodo under tarpaulins painted in pale colours of the Sweedish Air Force. Bodo was a small fishing town of 5000 Norwegians. The airfield nearby had been hastily built by the British in 1940 as a base for Hurricanes and Gladiator fighters.

The Luftwaffe took over Bodo airfield basing a collection of Me-109, Ju-87 Stukas and a handful of Ju-88/Ju-188 there. Bodo's 1200 metre runway was formed by planking over a marsh area. It would have had a relatively weak flexible runway. Fortuitously the Ju-290 was capable of landing on runways with Pavement Construction Numbers (PCN) of just 7.5.

The Ju-390 according to data for the EF-100 was also capable of landing in just 510 metres of runway. It had an exceptionally slow stall speed of just 66 knots.  

By 1945 as seen from the following RAF reconnaissance photograph, Bodo had a sophisticated system of aircraft revetments and taxiways [1]

Bodo under attack in 1943 by aircraft from USS Ranger :

Today Bodo is a commercial airport and a base for Norwegian F-16 fighters:



An amazing flight to Argentina in May 1945



From Bodo to Argentina

According to several 1945 claims, a six engined, or multi engined German transport plane arrived at a private aerodrome at Puntas de Gualeguay in Argentina 195 km north of Buenos Aires where it unloaded a bell device and some passengers.

One report alluding to this was an Argentine Economic Ministry report which was only declassified in 1993. the report referred to a Bell device being unloaded. Prior to declassification of Polish archives in 1998 there was no public knowledge of the Nazi Bell device, thus the Argentine report was an entirely independent corroboration of Sporrenberg, Schuster and Voss.

Witkowski then refers to previously classified report by a Polish diplomat who witnessed a Junker 390 being dismantled in May 1945 at an airfield on a German ranch along a road east from Paysandu city towards Rivera, near the village of "19 de Abril" in Paysandu Province, Uruguay. Local folklore has it that parts of the aircraft were cut up and dumped in the Rio Uruguay.[1]

The aircraft's arrival is also quoted in Abel Basti's 2004 tourist guide to "Barriloche Nazi."

Three independent sources corroborated each other about a Ju-390 flight from Silesia to Bodo. Two further reports independently corroborate the arrival of this aircraft in Argentina and/or Uruguay in May 1945. All five cross corroborate each other that the Ju-390 evacuated a bell device from the war in Europe.

[1] With thanks to Bodo airline pilot Ulf Larsstuvold

[2] With thanks to Ohrdruf of axishistoryforum, former Paysandu inhabitant



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