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Junkers Ju 390

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Ju 390
Junkers Ju 390 V1
Type trans-Atlantic heavy bomber/transport
Manufacturer Junkers
Maiden flight October 20 1943
Introduced 1943
Retired 1945
Primary user Luftwaffe
Number built 2
Developed from Junkers Ju 90 and Junkers Ju 290

The Junkers Ju 390 was a long-range derivative of the Junkers Ju 290, and was intended to be used as a heavy transport, maritime patrol aircraft, and bomber. It was a design selected for the abortive Amerika Bomber project.

Design and Development

Two prototypes were created by attaching an extra pair of inner-wing segments onto the wings of a basic Ju 90 and Ju 290 airframe, and adding new sections to "stretch" the fuselages. The resulting giant V1 first flew on October 20, 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 maritime patrol version and bomber were to be designated the Ju 390 B and Ju 390 C, respectively. It was suggested that the bomber could have carried the Messerschmitt Me 328 parasite fighter for self-defense. Some test flights are believed to have been performed by Ju 390 aircraft with the anti-shipping Fritz X guided smart-bomb.

Numbers Controversy

Curiously, there is some debate as to whether both of the Ju 390's were completed (some sources state that only one was finished), even though there are very clear photographs of two distinct Ju 390 aircraft in flight! It is known that the first prototype, the V1 (serial marking GH+UK), was shorter because it was modified from the Ju 90 V6 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 Junkerswerke and used for Ju 390 V1 construction), while the second prototype, the V2 (RC+DA), was longer because it was built from a Ju 290 airframe (adapted from the fuselage of Ju 290 A1 werke number J900155), and photographs of the two aircraft clearly show the size differences.

Operational History Ju 390 V1 and V2

The V1 was constructed and largely assembled at Dessau, Germany. The first test flight took place in August 1943. This appears to be the plane referred to by Hitler's Armaments Minister, Albert Speer, in his book "Inside the Third Reich", in which he stated that a Ju 390 was flown by Junkers test pilots via the polar route to Japan and back (after refueling) in 1944. In January 1944, the V1 was assigned to Fernaufklarungsgruppe-Gruppe 5 (FAGr.5) at Mont-de-Marsan, south of Bordeaux, France for operational evaluation (FAGr.5 was a maritime-reconnaissance unit that also operated the Junkers Ju 290). After a few short-distance flights, it believed to have flown from its base to a point 12 miles off the North American Atlantic coast and returned safely. The unit log shows that it was used periodically thereafter until being flown from its base in France to the airfield at Dessau in November 1944, where it was stripped of parts (including its propellers), presumably to keep the other Ju 390 flying, and finally intentionally burned in late April 1945 as the American Army approached.

A Rechlin Test pilot, Oberleutnant Eisermann records in his logbook that he flew the V2 prototype (RC+DA) as late as February 1944. Spanish Nationalist and former Luftwaffe pilot Hans Pancherz claimed in an interview with the Daily Telegraph in September, 1969 that he also flew one of the Ju 390s on a mission to South Africa and back. In the interview, Pancherz never mentions the aircraft flown as being attached to FAGr.5, indicating that he may have flown the V2. The flight was not recorded in his flight log, which would be consistent with operations conducted by the Luftwaffe's special operations air unit, Kampfgeschwader (KG) 200, to which this aircraft may well have been assigned. Pancherz also stated catagorically that the plane was specifically designed to bomb New York. The Ju 390 V2 was assembled in Bernburg, was first flown in October 1943, and was based in Czechoslovakia in an area surrounded by secret SS projects and the famous Skoda armament factories. This aircraft was used for various tests. Among its other wartime activities, it was proposed to test this aircraft as an in-flight refuelling tanker for the Junkers Ju 290A, and successful trials were conducted with the aircraft at Prague-Ruzyne during 1944. It was also successfully tested as a heavy cargo aircraft.

The controversy evidently stems from the fact that the airframe of prototype number 2 (or the V2) was never located after the war. It was reported by Dr. Wilhelm Voss (who served in the SS Skoda works) during an interview with British journalist Tom Agoston that the second prototype flew from Norway to Japan via the polar route on March 28, 1945, and (according to several writers) was "never seen again." Polish author Igor Witowski, in his yet-to-be published book, cites a Polish diplomat who states that he witnessed a Ju 390 being dismantled at an airstrip in Uruguay in 1945, which may explain the fate of the missing plane.

The photograph at was reportedly taken at Prague in 1945.

New York flight

It is claimed by some writers that, in January 1944, the Ju 390 V2 made a trans-Atlantic "test flight" from Mont-de-Marsan to a point about 20km (12 miles) from the coast of the United States and back.[1][2] This claim was first rejected by British authorities in 1944, and again later just after the war, even though there were two internal British Intelligence reports from August 1945 entitled "General Report on Aircraft Engines and Aircraft Equipment" which referred to the mission. The statement made in these British Intelligence reports then surfaced in public a decade later, in the 11 November 1955 issue of "RAF Flying Review". The article attracted correspondence from a German gentleman who had first-hand knowledge of the flight, corroborating an earlier Luftwaffe staff sergeant's (and a member of FAGr.5) interrogation by U.S. Army Air Force intelligence. That correspondent said the aircraft flew to a point within 12 miles north of New York and not out to sea as some speculate. The correspondent also added a new claim that Long island and the New York skyline were photographed (for target identification purposes). There were also two Luftwaffe POWs at Mont-de-Marsan who gave accounts of the Ju-390 flight. The Editor of the "RAF Flying Review", William Green, also received correspondence in early 1956 from someone with knowledge of the flight. That there were many wartime discussions and plans to carry out such a mission is well known. In light of the August 1945 British intelligence reports, it seems likely that the mission was undertaken, possibly by KG 200. KG 200's squadrons operated in complete secrecy from several bases spread out over all of Europe, and did have a close relationship with FAGr 5. Given that individual squadron members and their airbases' ground crews knew little if anything at all about the extent of KG 200's organization and missions, and that many of both FAGr 5 and KG 200s records were deliberately destroyed near the end of the war, it is likely that it will never be known for certain whether this mission occurred or not. What is certain is that the Ju 390 had the capability to carry out such a mission.

Ju 390 export to Japan

The third prototype, the Ju 390 V3, enjoyed relatively low priority, owing to the emphasis being placed on Junkers Ju 290 development, but design work on a bomber-reconnaissance version of the aircraft, the Junkers Ju 390A, continued. Considerable interest was displayed in this ultra-long range monster by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force. In the autumn of 1944, the Japanese government acquired a manufacturing license for the Junkers 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.


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.


Template:Country data Germany

Specifications (Ju 390 V1)

Data from [citation needed]

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:BMW 801D radial engines, 1,272 kW (1,730 hp) each




  1. William Green, Warplanes of the Third Reich, 1970: "a point some 12 miles from the US coast, north of New York".
  2. Smith, J.R.; Anthony Kay (1972). German Aircraft of the Second World War. London: Putnam and Company, Ltd.. ISBN 0-370-00024-2. 


  • 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

External links

See also

Related development

Comparable aircraft

Designation sequence
Me 362 - Me 364 - Ju 388 - Ju 390 - Fw 391 - Ar 396 - Ta 400 Related lists

Template:RLM aircraft designations

cs:Junkers Ju 390 de:Junkers Ju 390 es:Junkers Ju 390 fr:Junkers Ju 390 hr:Junkers Ju 390 it:Junkers Ju 390 nl:Junkers Ju 390 pl:Junkers Ju 390 pt:Junkers Ju 390

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It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Junkers Ju 390".