In general, I have great respect for almost all flying technology that the Germans invented and designed before 1945. It makes sense. But today's character can simply cause a storm of emotions on the topic "Why are you so ?!" And there are a number of good reasons for this.
In general, the 290th can easily compete with our Pe-3 or even surpass it in terms of its plot twist. The Pe-3R, for example, is a reconnaissance aircraft that was made from a fighter, which was made from a bomber, which was originally a fighter.
Beautiful, is not it?
That's about the same thing happened with the Ju.290В. Long-range reconnaissance aircraft converted from a long-range strategic bomber, which was a conversion from a transport aircraft that was originally a long-range bomber.
Not a bit worse, right? People who understand this business will agree. It only seems, but what is there to do from a transport bomber, half a day with welding and a grinder - and you're done. In fact, there is an abyss of nuances.
This complicated and confusing story began long before the war, back in 1935. There were dances with tambourines around the Ju-90, either by transport or by a passenger plane. A passenger plane, the 90th was very advanced for that time. 40 passengers, heated cabin, toilets, luggage compartments …
But at the headquarters of the Luftwaffe, the idea of the "Uralbomber" was in the air, and the Ju.90 came to the attention of Walter Wefer, who dreamed of "Uralbomber", that is, the first strategic bomber of the Luftwaffe.
The result was the Ju.90s transport aircraft. In order for it to become a very decent aircraft in terms of flight performance, it was conceived to supply air-cooled engines BMW-139. Work went on from 1937 to 1939, for experiments was appointed as a volunteer Ju.90-V5 "Würtemberg".
There were many improvements. A new wing, new engines, new chassis, significantly strengthened compared to the passenger, two-wheel struts, tail washers of a larger area.
Well, and the new "trapoklappe" - a hydraulically released loading ramp in the aft fuselage. When fully extended, the ramp rested against the ground and lifted the tail of the aircraft, which made it possible to fit the car under it for direct loading. The ramp could also be released in flight for the release of paratroopers.
In general, the work was not very active, "Junkers" as a whole had enough work even without the 90s.
But 1939 came, and as a result of the Munich Agreement and the subsequent partition of Czechoslovakia, the situation changed dramatically. "Junkers" under the patronage went to three Czech aircraft design bureaus at aircraft factories ("AVIA", "Letov" and "Aero"). And it was decided to transfer the entire program of work on Ju.90s from Dessau to Prague.
The Letov plant in Letnani was used for design work, production of a model and carrying out static tests. The Dessau plant was used for the manufacture of prototype aircraft, their assembly and testing, while the Bernburg plant was responsible for serial production.
And then a serious war began. And the Luftwaffe swept out of the Lufthansa everything it could reach, including the Ju.90b-1 built, and the finished aircraft from the Junkers Czech factories.
By that time, they were already disappointed in the VMW-139 engines, they did not want to fly. Therefore, they were replaced with new 14-cylinder BMW-801MA with a capacity of about 1700 hp.
Perhaps from that moment the Ju.290 appeared. The aircraft was planned to be used as a transport aircraft and a sea long-range reconnaissance aircraft, because the FW-200 was causing well-deserved criticism by that time.
Naturally, military action demanded appropriate decisions. Ju. 290 received an elongated fuselage (2 meters) and a small lower nacelle on the left under the fuselage. And, of course, the appropriate weapons.
The gondola housed an MG-151/20 cannon that fired forward, and a MG-131 machine gun that fired back and down. A turret with a MG-151/20 cannon was installed behind the cockpit (the turret was hydraulically driven), and the third MG-151/20 gun was located in the gunner's tail cockpit. Plus two MG-131 machine guns fired from the side windows.
The set is more than worthy. Taking into account also a good speed (about 440 km / h) for 1941, everything looked more than worthy.
The first Ju.290a-0 was produced by the Bernburg plant in October 1942. The engines, however, were weaker, BMW-801L, with a takeoff power of 1,600 hp. and 1,380 hp. at an altitude of 4 600 m.
The war had already entered the phase when everything was not very rosy. The first combat use of the Ju. 290 took place in the winter of 1943 near Stalingrad. The planes were sent straight from the assembly shops to supply the 6th German army in Stalingrad.
The first flight to the airfield near Stalingrad was made on January 10, 1943. Three days later, the time came for the first losses. Ju.290-V1 crashed during takeoff with evacuated wounded due to overload, and one of the Ju.290a-0 was attacked by LaGG-3 and, due to severe damage, could not land in Stalingrad and was forced to return.
But it was decided that the debut of the Ju.290 was a success, and the Luftwaffe decided to create a whole transport squadron, which was named so: "transport squadron of four-engine aircraft." Тransportgeschwader von viermotorigen Flugzeugen. This unit was born on January 2, 1943.
Soon the squadron was renamed LTS-290, as it was planned to equip it with Ju.290. True, at the time of its formation, it had only two Ju.290a, four Ju.90B and one Fw.200b.
The LTS-290 was primarily intended for operations over the Mediterranean Sea, but was under command from Berlin, performing long-distance transport in the interests of the high command of the Luftwaffe.
The squadron was used mainly to supply troops in Tunisia, Corsica and Sardinia. By the end of April, both Ju 290s had been lost to the fighting. Then the Ju.290s were produced as a naval reconnaissance aircraft.
The decision to convert the Ju. 290 into a naval reconnaissance aircraft was made under pressure from the naval department, which desperately needed an aircraft capable of operating over the main routes of Allied Atlantic convoys and directing flocks of submarines to convoys.
The Fw.200 Condor was too vulnerable. What was really needed was a new plane, faster and with a longer range.
The first variant of the Ju.290a-2 naval reconnaissance aircraft was a simple alteration of the transport version of the a-1. Moreover, the alteration was really not very big. The aircraft was equipped with a set of appropriate navigation equipment, another turret with an MG.151 / 20 cannon, and additional fuel and oil tanks in the fuselage. The hydraulic ramp was not removed. Just in case.
Well, the FuG-200 Hoentville radar was not at all superfluous.
The engines were at first all the same BMW-801L, which were soon replaced by the new BMW-801D with a takeoff power of 1,700 hp. and 1,450 hp. at an altitude of 2,000 m.
Some of the aircraft were equipped with Focke-Wulf turrets with MG-151/20 cannons, which had better aerodynamics. In general, in the course of exploitation, they worked constantly on weapons and protection at Junkers.
As a result, the aircraft received armor protection for the pilots, an emergency fuel drain system, and sealed tanks. All this considerably made the plane heavier; the takeoff weight reached 40 tons. But it was worth it, especially the armor. The commander and co-pilot were protected in the same way as few crews: their armor on the back and sides confidently held 20-mm cannon shells.
13 mm MG-131 machine guns in the side windows gave way to MG-151/20 cannons. The cannons were equipped with specially designed aerodynamic compensators so that they could be more easily deployed in the oncoming air flow.
The crew was increased to 9 people.
A total of 11 marine reconnaissance aircraft Ju.290a-5 were built. But in the spring of 1944, an airplane took to the skies, which became the prototype of the A-7 series. The Ju.290a-7 had a radically redesigned nose, where the armor glass was improved and another 20mm MG-151/20 cannon was pushed into it, which increased the total armament to seven 20mm cannons and one 13mm machine gun.
To this were added three universal ETC mounts, one under the fuselage, two under the wing. Each could carry a 1000 kg bomb, a Henschel Hs.294 missile or an FX-1400 Fritz-X guided bomb. The result was a scout with the functions of a strike aircraft and a bomb load that some clean bombers could envy.
The maximum take-off weight increased to 46,000 kg, the maximum speed at an altitude of 5,800 m was 435 km / h, and the flight range was 5,800 km.
A series of 25 such reconnaissance planes was laid down, but in reality four of them were completed and the Ju.290a-7 did not have time for the war. One of the A-7s was captured and transported to the United States on its own for testing.
Simultaneously with the A-7, a version of the A-6 was developed and an aircraft was built, which was planned for a personal one for Hitler himself. Ju.290a-6 was supposed to replace the personal "Condor" of the Fuhrer, but the story turned out to be more interesting.
For Hitler, the plane was to be built as a high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft, with a pressurized cockpit. Work on the pressurized cabin was carried out in Prague, but no success was achieved. So the plane was finished as a 50-seat passenger without pressurizing the cockpit.
Sent this Ju.290a-6 to I / KG.200 at Finsterwald for special transports. At one time the plane was "lost" and was found … in Barcelona, where, according to the documents, Captain Brown, the first commander of the aforementioned LTS-290, flew it.
The challenging Captain Brown and the challenging group I / KG.200, which was responsible for transporting fleeing Nazi criminals.
Who brought the Ju.290a-6 to Barcelona in April 1945 remains a mystery. Nevertheless, the plane remained in Spain, and until 1956 it flew as a civilian plane (after disarmament, of course). Then he was written off, as it became unrealistic to find spare parts.
There was also a simply brutal project, Ju.290a-8, which at the end of 1944 began to be assembled in Bernburg. Its takeoff weight reached 45,000 kg.
It is difficult to say what the Junkers wanted to say with this aircraft. He flew at about the same speed as a regular reconnaissance aircraft (435 km / h), but the flight range was significantly reduced by reducing the amount of fuel.
But what the Germans arranged with the weapons is simply a question and admiration at the same time.
Two more armored turrets with MG-151 cannons were installed on the fuselage (above and below).
The tail unit was radically altered, the shooter was now sitting, the tower was fully armored, and TWO MG-151 guns with vertical barrels were installed in it.
All towers were equipped with hydraulic drives.
Well, one MG-151 cannon was still in the bow gondola, two MG-151 in the side mounts, and two MG-131 in the tail of the gondola.
A total of 7 20mm cannons and two 13.1mm machine guns. More than enough to feel confident.
Three planes managed to assemble to incomplete readiness. After the liberation of Czechoslovakia, having collected all spare parts and aircraft at the airfields, the enterprising Czechs began assembling Ju.290a-8 at the Letov plant, using units from Ju.290b-2.
Interesting decisions happened. For example, screws for Ju.290 were never found, so they tried to supply screws from Fw.190a, which, despite their smaller diameter, were quite suitable and which were in bulk at factories. The aircraft flew in August 1946 as the Czechoslovak L-290 Orel.
They tried to make a 48-seater passenger liner out of it with the prospect of mass production. However, the “Eagle” did not arouse interest among potential buyers and was sent for disassembly.
And the last in the history with Ju.290.
At the end of 1943. work began on a new modification of the base design, the Ju.290b-1, which was essentially a new aircraft, not a modification.
The "trapoklappe" was removed from the design, thus excluding the possibility of using the aircraft as a transport aircraft. Ju.290b was intended exclusively for the role of a sea reconnaissance aircraft and a long-range high-altitude bomber.
The structure of the B-1 was reinforced and the cabins were to be hermetically sealed. In the nose and tail were installed sealed towers "Borzig" with four MG-131 machine guns in each, on the fuselage there were two hermetic towers with a pair of MG-151/20 cannons in each, under the fuselage was placed a remotely controlled tower also with a pair of MG-151 / twenty. For this tower, an aiming post was set up at the site of the lower gondola. Experienced Ju.290b-1 flew in the summer of 1944 without hermocabins, with wooden mock-ups of the turrets.
But another aircraft was proposed for production, the Ju.290b-2.
It was distinguished by the lack of sealing of the towers and the cockpit, the installation of side MG-151 cannons, the replacement of the tail turret with the MG-131 rifle mount for two MG-151/20 cannons according to the A-8 model. But the plane did not go into production, the lack of resources already affected.
For the combat use of the Ju-290a of all modifications as naval reconnaissance group FAGr.5, stationed in Mont-de-Marsan (France), was formed. Ju-290А from this group were used to detect Allied sea convoys on the distant approaches to the British Isles and to guide these convoys of submarines. In August 1944, after the Allied landings in France, the group was redeployed to Germany.
Almost until the last days of the war, Ju-290a aircraft were used in the I / KG 200 special forces group, performing covert operations.
In addition to taking someone to Spain, during one of these operations, a Junkers Ju-290a, taking off from Vienna on November 27, 1944, landed five Arab paratrooper agents south of Mosul (Iraq).
The Junkers Ju-290a aircraft belonged to a rather rare subclass of long-range four-engined reconnaissance aircraft in the Luftwaffe. Despite their small number, and only 65 vehicles were produced, the Ju-290a played, together with the FW.200 "Condor", a very significant role in supporting the activities of submarines on ocean communications.
In the initial period of World War II, aircraft were a very significant help for German submarines, but the appearance of escort aircraft carriers in the escort convoys significantly reduced the effectiveness of these machines.
On the whole, the aircraft was very good both in terms of flight characteristics and in terms of weapons and capabilities. And one can only express satisfaction with the fact that the Nazis simply could not create a sufficient number of such machines.
Wingspan, m: 42, 00.
Length, m: 29, 10.
Height, m: 6, 80.
Wing area, m2: 203, 70.
- normal takeoff: 45,000;
- maximum takeoff: 46,000.
Engine: 4 x VMW-801D x 1700.
Maximum speed, km / h: 435.
Cruising speed, km / h: 350.
Practical range, km: 6 050.
Rate of climb, m / min: 180.
Practical ceiling, m: 6,000.
Crew, pers.: 9.
- two guns MG-151/20 - one each in the two upper towers with hydraulic drive;
- two guns MG-151/20 in side mounts;
- one MG-151/20 cannon in the bow of the lower gondola;
- one MG-151/20 cannon in the tail mount;
- one MG-151/20 cannon in the bow installation;
- one 13 mm MG-131 machine gun in the tail section of the nacelle.
Up to 3000 kg of bombs or 3 rockets Hs.293, or Hs.294, or FX-1400 "Fritz-X".