Junkers Ju 390

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

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 approached to within 12.4 miles of New York, although this range was only possible without a useful payload.

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.

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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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