Junkers Ju 88 vol. II


Despite Gefr. Francke’s non-committal report, German propaganda put their own spin on his words, feteing him as the man who had sunk the Ark Royal. To make that statement more credible, Karl Francke was immediately awarded the Iron Cross First and Second Class and promoted to Leutnant, a commissioned officer’s rank. The truth of the ‘sinking’ soon became evident and from that day on Francke was the butt of remarks by his colleagues regarding the validity of his promotion and awards. Lt. Stolp had hit the battlecruiser Hood but the bomb had failed to explode. He, too, was promoted to the rank of Oberleutnant.

A crew from II./KG 30 śin the cockpit of a Ju 88A-1. Visible is the modified gunner’s position with two machine guns. [Kagero's Archive]


The first Ju 88 was lost on October 9. On that day 21 Junkers along with a powerful force of 127 He 111s were out in search of the British fleet. Weather conditions were unfavorable but did not prevent the pilots of I./KG 30 from claiming ten (!) bomb hits on a few cruisers; none was hit in fact, whereas one 3./KG 30 machine was lost to anti-aircraft fire. Despite the damage, pilot Oblt. Konrad Kahl, managed to fly it to within sight of the German coast and the two flyers bailed out to safety.
A week later, on October 16, fifteen I./KG 30 aircraft were deployed against the battlecruiser Hood, reportedly steaming to Rosyth. When the German formation reached the base at the Firth of Forth, Hptm. Pohle spotted the Hood, already in dry dock. Prior to the sortie, he had been very clearly instructed not to attack facilities that might potentially cause civilian casualties. The Hood had to be left alone.
Instead, bombs were dropped on ships anchored in the harbor: the light cruisers Edinburgh and Southampton, and the destroyer Mohawk. The latter was hit by Lt. Horst von Riesen, with eight British sailors killed and seventeen wounded. The diving Ju 88s were greeted with ground and ship fire. Spitfires of No. 602 and 603 Sqns put in an appearance shortly afterwards, inflicting damage to von Riesen’s aircraft, although the Junkers managed to reach the German coast with only one engine running and was able to carry out a successful forced landing. Despite severe damage, the crew escaped unhurt.
Several bombs fell near enough the cruiser Edinburgh for shrapnel fragments to cause damage. As Hptm. Pohle was diving in, his cockpit canopy was swept off in the slipstream but he nevertheless succeeded in dropping a 500kg bomb on the Southampton. Since the warship was not as heavily armored as a battleship, the bomb fell through her three decks, passing right through her hull without exploding! Ju 88 (4D+AK) came under attack from No. 602 Sqn Spitfires. His port engine on fire, Pohle directed the machine away over the sea, F/L George Pinkerton and F/L Archie McKellar giving chase. His aircraft riddled by fire, three of Pohle’s crew were killed and his starboard engine shot out. The only thing he could do was ditch. A British trawler rescued the wounded Pohle, who was then taken prisoner. The same fate befell Oblt. Siegfried Storp’s 1./KG 30 crew. The Royal Navy had sixteen men killed and 44 wounded.

This forced landing of a Ju 88A-4 from KG 51 ended well for the crew. Ironically, the fact that the entire rear section of canopy was shot off made getting out easier. [Kagero's Archive]


The new Kommandeur of I./KG 30 was Hptm. Fritz Doench. The following day, he led four Ju 88s on a sortie against the Scapa Flow naval base. The Junkers were accompanied by thirteen He 111s. The raid inflicted heavy damage on the training ship Iron Duke (ex-battleship). Anti-aircraft fire accounted for one of the Ju 88s, which crashed and burned on the island of Hoy.
The experience gained by I./KG 30 showed clearly that the Ju 88 was capable of inflicting more damage as a dive-bomber than He 111s in level raids. An average 50 per cent accuracy was an extraordinary result compared to other bombers. In addition the Ju 88 was appreciated by crews for the stability of its wide-track landing gear in ground maneuvers, ability to take much damage, its long single-engine flight endurance and long range on combat sorties. Housing the crew together was also an excellent innovation since it greatly facilitated cooperation in flight.
In November, Lehrgruppe 88  was formed at Greifswald under Maj. Friedrich-Karl Knust. This entailed the formation on December 1 of II./KG 30, and of III./KG 30 on January 1, 1940. In addition, the pilots of LG 1, KG 4 and KG 51 began training on the new aircraft. However only a reduced number of crews had an opportunity to become acquainted with the Ju 88, given that only 69 Ju 88A-1s had been built by the end of 1939.