Junkers Ju 390

The Junkers Ju 390 was one of three long-range bombers designed to bomb New York from bases in Europe, and it has been claimed that on one test flight it actually reached within 12 miles of the city.

Front view of Junkers Ju 390
Front view of Junkers Ju 390

Plans of the Junkers Ju 388 and Junkers Ju 390
Plans of the Junkers Ju 388 and Junkers Ju 390

Work on the Ju 390 began after Germany declared war on the United States. Three designs were submitted in response to a RLM request for a bomber with a range of 7,450 miles - the Focke Wulf Ta 400, the Messerschmitt Me 264B and the Junkers Ju 390. Of these the Ju 390 was the easiest to produce, as it was simply a scaled up version of the existing Ju 290C.

The sources disagree on the exact size of the Ju 390, but all agree that it was at least 50m long and with a 33-34m wing span. This was achieved by adding extra fuselage bays and wing sections and two more engines, giving the Ju 390 six BMW 9-801E engines, each producing 1,970hp.

The Ju 390 V1 made its maiden flight on 20 October 1943 at Merseburg. The first flight was a success, and in April 1944 plans were put in place for the production of six more test aircraft (V2 to V7) and a production series. In tests the V1 achieved a speed of 294mph, and a potential range of 7,452 when lightly loaded.

Early in 1944 the aircraft was delivered to Fernaufklärungsgruppe 5 at Mont de Marsan in France, for tests over the Atlantic. On one of these flights the aircraft may have approached to within 12.4 miles of New York, although this range was only possible without a useful payload, and the entire story is based on wartime prisoner interrogations that have since been discredited.

In the summer of 1944 Hitler issued a decree that cancelled all work on bomber aircraft, and concentrated instead on fighters. This ended the Ju 390 project, although the second prototype was probably completed. Both aircraft were scrapped before the end of the war.

Aircraft of the Luftwaffe 1935-1945, Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage. Combines a good background history of the Luftwaffe with a comprehensive examination of its aircraft, from the biplanes of the mid 1930s to the main wartime aircraft and on to the seemingly unending range of experimental designs that wasted so much effort towards the end of the war. A useful general guide that provides an impressively wide range of information on almost every element of the Luftwaffe (Read Full Review)
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (14 November 2009), Junkers Ju 390 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_junkers_ju390.html

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