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"German Sub-Stratosphere Planes" from Intelligence Bulletin

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]   Intelligence report on the German Junkers Ju86 high-altitude airplane, from the Intelligence Bulletin, November 1942.

[Editor's Note: The following article is wartime information on enemy tactics and equipment published for Allied soldiers. In most cases, more accurate data is available in postwar publications.]



The German Air Force has devoted considerable attention to specialized high-altitude aircraft. Several years ago a two-engined monoplane built by Junkers broke the world's altitude record. Since then the Junkers people have continued their experiments, taking out a number of patents on devices in connection with sub-stratospheric flying.

Development of the German high-altitude plane is exemplified by the Ju 86, P1 and P2 types. Both planes, the former a bomber and the latter a reconnaissance plane, follow the proved Junkers, Ju 86, design. They are two-engined, low-wing, all-metal monoplanes fitted with the typical "double wing" flaps and ailerons, but having twin fins and rudders.

Both types have a transparent, short-nosed cabin. In appearance they are somewhat similar to the Ju 88, and at high altitudes have been mistaken for this plane.

The Ju 86 P types are powered with two Junkers Diesel Jumo 207 A/1 liquid-cooled engines of approximately 1,000 horsepower each. The structure of these planes is quite light, especially the wings. For this reason, pilots are prohibited from stunting them or pulling quickly out of dives.

These planes are fitted with pressurized cabins housing the pilot and one observer or bomber. Within the heated and oxygen-equipped cabin, the air pressure is controlled automatically to maintain inside pressure conditions equivalent to those at an altitude range of 10,000 to 11,500 feet.

If, owing to leaks or other causes, the cabin pressure falls or rises beyond either of the above limits, the pilot is warned by means of a light signal and the sounding of a horn.

The pilot and his observer or bomber wear extra-heavy flying suits and gloves. For bailing out at high altitudes parachutes are generally provided with oxygen-breathing apparatus. If, however, this equipment is lacking, the crew are instructed to make a "free fall" and not to open their parachutes until reaching an altitude of about 13,000 feet.

The maximum speed of the Ju 86 P types is estimated to be from 260 to 290 mph at 30,000 feet, and normal cruising speed at the same altitude is estimated at 230 to 250 mph. Ranges of 1,400 to 1,750 miles are believed possible.

While no definite ceiling has been established, it is thought that the Ju P1 is able to attain an altitude of approximately 39,300 feet with full bomb load, and that the Ju P2 can reach a considerably higher altitude. Very recently an aircraft believed to be a Ju 86 P2 was observed at approximately 43,000 feet.

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