The Junkers 290 was developed directly from the Ju 90 airliner, versions of which had been evaluated for military purposes, and was intended to replace the Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor which by 1942 was proving increasingly slow and vulnerable when confronted by RAF aircraft over the "narrow seas" around Europe. It was also intended to meet the need for large transport aircraft. A bomber version, the A-8, was planned, but never built.
The development programme resulted in the Ju 290 V1 prototype (works no. 290000001), withStammkennzeichen of BD+TX), which first flew on 16 July 1942. It featured a lengthened fuselage, more powerful engines, and a Trapoklappe hydraulic rear loading ramp. Both the V1 and the first eight A-1 production aircraft were unarmed transports. The need for heavy transports saw the A-1s pressed into service as soon as they were completed.
Several were lost in early 1943, including one taking part in the Stalingrad Airlift, and two flying supplies to German forces in Tunisia, and arming them became a priority.
The urgent need for Ju 290s in the long-range maritime reconnaissance role was now also high priority, and resulted in the Ju 290A-2. Three A-1 aircraft were converted to A-2 specification on the assembly line. Production was slow due to the modifications necessary and the installation of strong defensive armament. The A-2 was fitted with FuG 200 Hohentwiel low-UHF band search radar and a dorsal turret fitted with a 20 mm MG 151 cannon. The Hohentwiel radar was successfully used to locate Alliedconvoys at ranges of up to 80 km (50 mi) from an altitude of 499 m (1,637 ft) or100 km (62 mi) from an altitude of 999 m (3,278 ft). It allowed convoys to be tracked while remaining well out of range of any anti-aircraft fire.
The A-3 version followed shortly after with added navigational equipment and probably the heaviest defensive armament of any World War II aircraft; it was fitted with two hydraulically-powered HDL 151 dorsal turrets armed with 20 mm MG 151/20 cannons, with a further 20 mm MG 151/20 and a 13 mm (.51 in) MG 131 machine gun fitted in a gondola beneath the nose, and a 20 mm MG 151/20 fitted in the tail operated by a gunner in a prone position. Two 13 mm (.51 in) MG 131s were also fitted in waist positions (Fensterlafetten). The A-3, along with the A-2, also featured large auxiliary fuel tanks in the fuselage. Both types retained the rear loading ramp so that they could be used as transports if need be.
The improved A-7 version appeared in spring 1944; 13 were completed, and 10 served with FAGr 5. Some A-7s and some A-4s were fitted with a detachable nose turret armed with a 20 mm MG 151/20 for added defense against frontal attack. No bombs were carried, as it was intended that the A-5 and A-7 would be used to launch anti-ship missiles.
Production lines were set up at the Letov aircraft factory in Prague for combat versions of the aircraft, commencing with the Ju 290 A-2, which carried a search radar for its patrol role. Minor changes in armament distinguished the A-3 and A-4, leading to the definitive A-5variant. The A-6 was a 50-passenger transport aircraft.
Product Dimensions: 30 x 20 cm
Shipping Weight: 1 kg
Highly detailed die-cast precision models, die-cast metal body with plastic parts