JU 88 (Malta — 185 fsw)

Background

The Junkers Ju 88 is a German WW II twin-engine aircraft that had multiple roles. Similar to other German bombers, it had different modifications / configurations and was used as a bomber, a diver bomber, torpedo bomber, reconnaissance plane, etc. with more than 15,000 built.

Photo from Smithsonian Institution

While looking for photos for this story, I ran across the above photo which has an interesting backstory. In 1943, a Romanian pilot defected and flew the above Ju 88 to Cyprus and it eventually ended up in the US where it became part of our fleet (sharp eyed readers will note the US markings on the German plane)! It is only one of two remaining complete aircraft and is on display at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

The Ju 88 had a crew of four (bombardier front/gun, radio/rear gun, navigator/ventral gun, pilot). The wingspan was about 66 feet and the length was about 47 feet. The Ju 88 was powered by two large V-12 liquid-cooled engines and had a 3-bladed propellers. One of the “features” of this wreck is the engines and I took plenty of pictures of them. I’d imagine that being V-12 liquid cooled engines would make them relatively heavy but powerful.

The most similar US airplane would have been the B-25 Mitchell which had a crew of 5 and relied on two Wright Cyclone R-2600-19 14-cylinder air-cooled radial engines.

The Wreck

The Ju 88 was first located in 2009 and was only opened for diving in May 2019 and is managed by Heritage Malta which means it requires a special permit to dive. Simon and Dive Systems are one of the dive shops / boats that are allowed to dive the site and is, of course, managed the permit process which is strictly enforced.

The airplane is pretty well preserved with the two large engines visible up front. The airplane is upside down and the tail section is short distance away. Unfortunately, we didn’t know about the tail section so we didn’t go explore it. Apparently it still has the swastika painted on it.

Given how many Ju 88 airplanes (and others) were shot down in that area, I don’t believe that this specific airplane has been identified.

Since the wreck is at about 57m / 185 feet deep, you get some reasonable bottom time without incurring too much decompression time but it is definitely a technical dive. I think we had about twenty minutes which allowed me enough time to take pictures for a photogrammetry model and also to take pictures of some of the details of the wreck.

There were quite a lot of fish on the wreck. In fact, one of the wings was basically covered in a “carpet” of fish. You can see that in both some of the photos and in the photogrammetry model if you zoom in and look closely.

Photogrammetry Model

Below is a link to the photogrammetry model I built along with some screenshots. Note that I shot the pictures for the photogrammetry model with natural light since I only had strobes with me and not video lights.

Here is a link to the model:

Photos

Below are photos from some of the key areas of the site. Keep in mind that the fuselage is “upside down.”

Engine Photos

Big V-12 engines on either side of the fuselage.

Fish swimming above one of the engines
Fish “nesting” on the wing
Bomb bay area (note all the reinforcements which added significant weight)
Bomb bay area detail
Front section of the plane

References

Wikipedia

Jumo 211 Engine on Wikipedia

Malta Dives

Heritage Malta

One thought on “JU 88 (Malta — 185 fsw)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s