The Junkers Ju 88 was a German World War II Luftwaffe twin-engined multirole combat aircraft. Junkers Flugzeug- und Motorenwerke designed the plane in the mid-1930s as a so-called Schnellbomber that would be too fast for fighters of its era to intercept. It suffered from a number of problems during later stages of its development and early operational roles. Despite its protracted development, the aircraft one of the Luftwaffes most important assets. The assembly line ran constantly from 1936 to 1945 and more than 16,000 Ju 88s were built in dozens of variants, throughout production the basic structure of the aircraft remained unchanged. In August 1935, the German Ministry of Aviation submitted its requirements for an unarmed, three-seat, design of the Ju-88 began with a study EF59 which evolved into two parallel designs, Ju-85 and Ju-88. The Ju 85 was a bomber aircraft prototype, designed by Junkers in 1935. The Reich Air Ministry requested the aircraft, which differed from the Ju 88 due to the use of a twin fin tail unit, the aircraft was never put into service. Design was initiated by Junkers Chief Designer Ernst Zindel and he was assisted by Wilhelm Heinrich Evers and American engineer Alfred Gassner. Evers and Gassner had worked together at Fokker Aircraft Corporation of America where Gassner had been Chief Engineer, Junkers presented their initial design in June 1936, and were given clearance to build two prototypes. The first two aircraft were to have a range of 2,000 km and were to be powered by two DB 600s, three further aircraft, Werknummer 4943,4944 and 4945, were to be powered by Jumo 211 engines. These single-leg landing gear struts also made use of stacks of conical Belleville washers inside them, as their form of suspension for takeoffs. By 1938, radical modifications from the first prototype began to produce a heavy dive bomber, the wings were strengthened, dive brakes were added, the fuselage was extended and the number of crewmen was increased to four. Due to these advances, the Ju 88 was to enter the war as a medium bomber, the aircrafts first flight was made by the prototype Ju 88 V1, which bore the civil registration D-AQEN, on 21 December 1936. When it first flew, it managed about 580 km/h and Hermann Göring and it was an aircraft that could finally fulfill the promise of the Schnellbomber, a high-speed bomber. The streamlined fuselage was modeled after its contemporary, the Dornier Do 17, the fifth prototype set a 1,000 km closed-circuit record in March 1939, carrying a 2,000 kg payload at a speed of 517 km/h. However, by the time Luftwaffe planners like Ernst Udet had their opportunities to their own pet features added, the Ju 88 V7 was fitted with cable-cutting equipment to combat the potential threat of British barrage balloons, and was successfully tested in this role. The Ju 88 V8 flew on the 3 October 1938, the A-0 series was developed through the V9 and V10 prototypes
A Ju 88A over France in 1942.
Standard Ju 88 main landing gear installation, from the V6 prototype onwards.