The Junkers Ju 90 was a four engined transport aircraft that was developed from the Ju 89 heavy bomber. Although the Ju 89 had made a successful maiden flight on 7 December 1936 the Luftwaffe was losing interest in strategic bombers, and on 29 April 1937 work on both the Ju 89 and Dornier Do 19 was officially halted.
Junkers decided to turn their heavy bomber into a transport aircraft. This used the wings, tail and engine of the Ju 89 V3, but with a new fuselage. The resulting aircraft was a low-wing monoplane with twin fins and rudders, a rectangular cross-section to the fuselage, and a swept back leading edge to the wings, which also had the standard Junkers double-wing, with ailerons and flaps on the small second wing. The Ju 90 could carry forty passengers.
The Ju 90 V1 made its maiden flight on 28 August 1937, powered by the same DB 600A engines as the Ju 89 V2. It has a short lifespan, and crashed during flutter tests on 6 February 1938.
It was followed by the V2, which was powered by four 830hp BMW 132H air-cooled radial engines. This aircraft too was short lived, and crashed on 26 November 1938 during tropical trials at Bathurst in Africa.
Two more prototypes (V3 and V4) were followed by ten aircraft in the B-1 series (also known as the V5 to V14). Of these aircraft the V6 replaced the V2 in tests, while V8 and V9 were originally built for South African Airways as the Ju 90Z-2, powered by Pratt & Whitney SC3-G Twin Wasp engines. These aircraft were completed by the summer of 1939, but never delivered.
In 1940 the Ju 90s were impressed into the Luftwaffe and used as transport aircraft, beginning their operational careers during the Norwegian campaign. On 2 January 1943 six Ju 90B-1s and the V4 became part of the equipment of the newly formed Viermotorige Transportstaffel (four-engine transport squadron), serving alongside two Ju 290s, one Ju 252 and one Fw 200B. This unit, by then redesignated as LTS 290, took part in the airlift at Stalingrad, before moving to the Mediterranean. The Ju 90 remained in service until the autumn of 1943, by which time work had moved on to the Ju 290.
Engine: Four BMW 132H air-cooled radial engines
Power: 830hp each
Wing span: 114ft 10 ¾in (35.02m)
Length: 86ft 3 ½in (26.3m)
Empty weight: 35,274lb (16,000kg)
Loaded weight: 50,706lb (23,000kg)
Max Speed: 217mph at 8,200ft
Cruising Speed: 199mph at 9,840ft
Service Ceiling: 18,044ft
Range: 775 miles (normal), 1,300 miles (maximum)