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The Junkers Ju 488

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The Ju 488A production model,

image from Geheimprojekte der Luftwaffe Band II: Strategische Bomber 1935-1945

Some sources claim that this was a development of the Ju 388, but it actually was a four-engined long-range bomber, built of Ju 188, Ju 288 and Ju 388 parts. The development of the Ju 488 was ordered from manufacturers in occupied France, who were not very motivated. When the prototype finally neared completion, it had to be transported to Germany because of the Allied advance, but before it could be moved it was destroyed by the French resistance.

 

Junkers Ju 488

          The Junkers Ju 488 was Germany's last real attempt to create a four-engined, long range bomber. In early 1944, Junkers design department at Dessau made a proposal to simply and quickly produce a heavy bomber, using a minimum of new building jigs or parts. Basically, the Ju 488 was to be constructed out of existing Junkers aircraft. The Ju 388K was to supply the pressurized crew cabin, the Ju 188E supplied the rear fuselage, the ventral pannier was to come from the Ju 88A-15 and Ju 388K series, outer wing sections from the Ju 388K and finally the entire twin fin tail section from the Ju 288C. Added to this collection was a new center fuselage section and a parallel wing center section, to carry the four engines.

          The Ju 488 V401 and V402 was to be entirely of metal construction, with the exception of the ventral pannier, which was constructed of wood. The fuselage had an internal bomb bay and five fuel tanks located behind the fuselage and above the bomb bay. The mid-fuselage mounted wing was tapered on the outer wing panels and featured a two spar, all metal construction, with a total of eight fuel tanks within the wing. Four BMW 801TJ 14 cylinder radial engines (driving four bladed propellers) were mounted in individual nacelles, with each nacelle containing a single main landing gear leg, which retracted to the rear. One interesting design workaround was that the outer engines had to be mounted lower on the wing, because the wing dihedral would have left the landing gear a little short from reaching the ground. No defensive armament was to be fitted to either the V401 or V402.

          Proceeding in parallel with the first two 488 prototypes' construction,  a new, larger aircraft was being designed. This was to be the production model (Ju 488A), and four prototypes (V403-406) were ordered. This new version deleted the wooden ventral pannier and the wing was moved further to the rear. The BMW 801TJs were to be replaced by four Jumo 222A-3 or B-3 liquid cooled 24 cylinder four row radial engines. Perhaps the biggest change was the lengthened fuselage, which was to use a welded steel tube construction with a sheet metal covering towards the front portion of the aircraft, and a fabric covering for the rear. An extra fuel tank (six total) could now be carried within the fuselage, for a maximum total of 15066 liters (3980 gallons). Defensive armament consisted of a remote controlled tail barbette with two MG 131 13 mm machine guns and a single remote controlled dorsal turret with two MG 151 20 mm cannon, both controlled from the pressurized cockpit via a periscope.

          Work was begun on the Junkers Ju 488 V401 and V402 prototypes in the former Latécoère factory at Toulouse in early 1944. The plan was for the fuselage and the new wing center section to be built in Toulouse, all other components would come from the Junkers Dessau and Bernburg factories. It was hoped to have the Ju 488 in operational service by mid-1945. Construction was well advanced when the decision was made in July of 1944 to move the existing work done to date to Bernburg by train, due to the rapidly advancing Allied invasion forces. On the night of July 16-17, resistance fighters led by M. Elissalde, a mechanic at the Latécoère plant, succeeded in destroying the Ju 488 V401 fuselage and center wing section to the extent they could not be salvaged. After the last of the German forces evacuated the city in late August 1944, the V402 forward fuselage section was found covered and abandoned on a railway siding. No record seems to exist as to the final disposition of this last remaining Ju 488 piece. The entire Ju 488 program was discontinued in November 1944, when it was realized that a new large bomber aircraft was not needed at this stage in the war. An attempt was made to offer the Ju 488 design to the Japanese, but they were not interested.
 

 

Junkers Ju 488 V401 (V403) 
Dimensions
   Span     Length    Height     Wing Area 
30.84 m 
101' 2"
20.24 m 
66' 5"
  87 m² 
936.46 ft²
(31.29 m) 
(102' 8")
(23.24 m) 
(76' 3")
(7.1 m) 
(23' 4")
(88 m²) 
(947.22 ft²)

 

Junkers Ju 488 V401 (V403) Weights
Empty Takeoff Fuel Bomb Load Wing Loading
  26600 kg 
58643 lbs
5420 kg 
11949 lbs
2000 kg 
4409 lbs
305.75 kg/m² 
62.62 lbs/ft²
(21000 kg) 
(46297 lbs)
(36000 kg) 
(79366 lbs)
(9100 kg) 
(20062 lbs)
(5000 kg) 
(11023 lbs)
(409.1 kg/m²) 
(33.79 lbs/ft²)

 

Junkers Ju 488 V401 (V403) Performances
Max. Speed Service Ceiling Max. Range
690 km/h 
429 mph 
(690 km/h) 
(429 mph)
(11350 m) 
(37237')
3142 km 
1953 miles 
(4500 km) 
(2796 miles)

 

The Junkers Ju 488 V401 during assembly at the Latécoère factory in Toulouse.

 

Here, the wings are being attached. Please note that the horizontal tail has been mounted, but not the twin vertical 
fins and rudders. In the foreground is the V402 wing. 
In this view, the section of the fuselage between the 
pressurized cockpit and the wing section has not 
yet been added 
   
Right: A photo taken from the rear, showing 
various Ju 488 components under construction.

 

The Junkers Ju 488 V401 after the sabatoge of July 16-17, 1944.

 

Above and left: The damage was quite extensive, and the 
Ju 488 V401 was not salvageable.

All above photos from the collection of Philippe Ricco

luft.com

Click on Picture to enlarge

 

 

Last Updated

02/10/2014

 

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