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 concern has
continued its 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 of these planes, the former a bomber and the latter
a reconnaissance plane, follow the proven Junkers Ju-86 design, being 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 clear-visioned, 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, particularly as to the wings, and pilots are therefore
prohibited from stunting them or pulling quickly out of dives.
These planes are fitted with sealed pressure cabins housing the pilot and
one observer or bomber. Within the heated and oxygen-equipped cabin the air
pressure is controlled by a contact altimeter which automatically maintains inside
pressure conditions equivalent to an approximate altitude range of 10,000 to
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
above the altimeter 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 speed of the Ju-86 P types is estimated to be approximately 220 mph up
to 20,000 feet and approximately 185 mph above this altitude. 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 intercepted at approximately 43,000 feet altitude.