Junkers Ju 388

The Ju 388 was a development of the Ju 188, which based on the well-known Ju 88. Consequently, the first plane, the Ju 388 L-0 V 7, PG+YA, c/n 300001, was built from a Ju 188 E/F and came to fly in December 1943, even before the first actual prototypes, V 1 to V 6, could be completed. Wings and tail wing were taken from the Ju 188 without modification, the landing gear originated from the Ju 88. In contrast to the Ju 188, the Ju 388 was equipped with a pressurised cabin and was designed as a high-altitude aircraft. In order to maximize the aircraft's velocity, the aircraft was hardly armed. At its tail, there was a remote control gun turret with two MG 131. While wing de-icing was performed with hot air from the engines, there was a separate, fuel driven Kärcher heater to de-ice the elevators. There were three versions, Ju 388 J (night fighter), Ju 388 L (reconnaissance) and Ju 388 K (bomber). The latter is unfortunately not treated in the manual of January 1945, because the K series had already been cancelled by that time.

This page is mainly dedicated to the Ju 388 L, because one aircraft survived in the depot of the National Air & Space Museum. It is the plane with the serial number 560 049, a Ju 388 L-1, which was manufactured at Weserflug's Liegnitz/Silesia plant. Parts of the fuselage were made by ATG and Niedersächsische Metallwerke Brinckman & Mergell (Hamburg-Harburg). The aircraft was captured by US troops in Merseburg at the end of the war and then shipped to the USA aboard the HMS Reaper with other valuable German aircraft (Operation Sea Horse) for detailed evaluation tests. These were conducted at Wright Field, Ohio. The aircraft bore the marking FE-4010 (later T2-4010). The aircraft was also on display at the Dayton air show. In 1947, after the tests had been finished, the Ju 388 was donated to the Smithsonian Institution. In contrast to other German aircraft, the Ju 388's cockpit is almost in its original state. And this is how the cockpit looks today:

Click here for a tour of the Cockpit!

Technical Data

This Ju 388 L-1, c/n 340 284, was manufactured by ATG. Note that part of the canopy is lying on the ground in front of the aircraft.

Year: 1943
Length: 14.87 m
Wingspan: 22.00 m
Height: 4.90 m
Wing Area: 56 m²
Engine: BMW 801 TJ-0
with: 1615 HP
Number of Engines: 2
Top speed: 616 km/h
Range: 2,220 km
Ceiling: 12,800 m
Usage: Reconnaissance
Crew: 3 persons
Nickname: Störtebeker*
Armament: 2 MG 131
Weight (empty): 10,000 kg
Gross Weight: 13,700 kg
Built: ~ 100
* Störtebeker, born in Wismar, was a famous German pirate of the Middle Ages. He was rather popular because people regarded him as being a kind of avenger of the poor. When Stockholm was under siege in the late 14th century, his pirate organisation supplied the city with food they had stolen from merchant ships of the wealthy Hanse trade organization. Störtebeker was eventually captured and executed in Hamburg in 1401.

The radio equipment consisted of FuG 10 with TZG 10 and ZG 16, Peil G6, FuBl 2 F, FuG 101 A, FuG 25 a, FuG 16 ZY, FuG 217 and FuG 130.

"Hinweise für Technische Außenstellen", issued by the Inspektion des Fl.-Techn.-Truppendienstes, Gr. II, Ref. C, Az.: Tgb. Nr. 4569/45 geh. on 2/8/1945 (length, range, weights and radio equipment)
Junkers Kurz-Baubeschreibung Nr.110145 Ju 388 L-1 und J-3 of the Junkers Flugzeug- und Motorenwerke AG, Dessau
Fertigungsunterlage F-388.00-02 of the Junkers Flugzeug- und Motorenwerke (JFM) dated 6/4/1944 (Ju 388 J and K) and 8/2/1944 (Ju 388 L). 
Ju 388 K-0 (im Bau befindlich) und Misteln in Merseburg
When reaching Merseburg in the spring of 1945, advancing US Forces discovered an unfinished Ju 388 K-0 or L-0/Nacht (Night) along with two Mistel aircraft in an abandoned hangar. In front of the aircraft, two BMW 801 TJ-0 engines had apparently been waiting for installation. The large number "34" painted on the side of the cockpit section hints at the 34th Ju 388 K-0 produced, and thus at WNr. 230 734, but this has not been fully ascertained yet.

Further, authoritative information on the Junkers Ju 388 can be found in our Junkers Ju 388 book, which was published with Aviatic in 2003 (in German) and appeared in an English edition 2006, which you can order here.

Download & Links

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I would never have managed building this site completely on my own. Therefore, I am greatly indebted to the following individuals or institutions for their assistance with documents, photos and information:
Archives of the Deutsches Museum, R. Brasack, Mr. Crow, Tom Davidson, Tom Dietz, Udo Hafner, Martin Handig, Thomas Haworth, Jeff & John Houser, Russ Lee, Art Medcalf, NASM Washington DC, Peter Petrick

© 07.04.2023 by Dr. Christoph Vernaleken. This article may not be published - as whole or in excerpts - in any form without written permission of the author