JU88 Recovery – Update from WW2 Treasure Hunters – Episode 1

Episode 1, Season 1, of WW2 Treasure Hunters featured the recovery of a JU88, specifically Junkers 88 A5 Werke No 8138. We went along and helped the Lancashire Aircraft Investigation Team (LAIT – links to website and FB page at bottom of blog). And by helped I mean stood about in a hard hat pointing at stuff…..but it was good pointing and everyone agreed it constituted an excellent contribution. A great bunch of guys and very dedicated to their work, we (they) recovered a substantial proportion of the JU88. LAIT have an excellent display of various aircraft, recovered from their crash sites, at Hangar 42, Blackpool Airport and is well worth a visit. Gratuitous plug over….

This aircraft was shot down by a Bolton-Paul Defiant over Bank’s Marsh, Southport on the 7th April 1941, when it was on it’s way to bomb Liverpool.

Period photograph of the actual JU88 that was recovered
A Bolton-Paul Defiant
Model of the actual aircraft that was recovered
Model of the actual Defiant that brought the JU88 down

The particular aircraft that crashed on Banks Marsh was Ju88A-5 werknumber 8138, fitted with two Junkers Jumo 211 12-cylinder inverted-vee engines. Assigned to the 2nd
Gruppe of the 54th Kampfgeschwader, the aircraft carried the identification code “B3+IN”. The particular aircraft involved in combat with the Ju88 was Defiant Mk.I, serial number N3445. Built at Wolverhampton the aircraft was delivered to No.6 Maintenance unit on the 1st March 1941. It was assigned to No.256 Squadron on the 26th March
1941 and carried identification code ‘JT-F’.

Crew of Ju88A-5 8138 ‘B3+IN’

Pilot – Oberleutnant Guenter KLEMM, 60024-96, aged 30
Navigator – Leutnant Heinrich COSTER, 60029-74, aged 25
Radio Operator – Feldwebel Alfred Helmut Michael HOFMANN, 60023-17, aged 26
Flight Mechanic – Feldwebel Hermann ILSE, 60023-03, aged 25

Crew of Defiant Mk.I N3445 ‘JT-F’

Pilot – Flight Lieutenant Donal Rock West, 42087, aged 20
Air Gunner – Sergeant Reginald Thomas Adams, 759300, aged 20

Details of the combat itself are below, which have been reproduced from a report produced by the Lancashire Aircraft Investigation Team. Thanks guys!

Defiant Mk.I N3445 ‘JT-F’ took-off at 23.43 hrs on the 7th April 1941. Once airborne the Defiant climbed above a layer of 10/10ths cloud and began circling at 10,000ft. No orders were received by radio from ground control and Flight Lieutenant West opted to head towards the Anti-Aircraft Barrage which was active over Merseyside. The shell bursts appeared to be at 10,000ft, so height was increased to 11,000ft and a course of 180° set. Sergeant Adams then reported an enemy aircraft at ‘9 o’clock below’ which he identified as a Ju88, flying at 10,000ft on a roughly parallel course and silhouetted in the moonlight against the layer of cloud below.

Having decided to follow the Fighter Command attack profile ‘A’, Flight Lieutenant West dived the Defiant to overtake and get below the Ju88, while also turning slightly to increase the lateral separation. From this position a gentle climb was commenced with left bank and right rudder inputs applied. This sideslip manoeuvre enabled the Defiant to close-in toward the starboard side of the Ju88 and Sergeant Adams opened fire on it from approximately 150ft below at a range of 200yds. The 1st burst of 2secs gunfire struck the starboard engine of the Ju88 which then burst into flames. The crew of the Ju88 had not sighted the Defiant until it opened fire, but responded to the initial attack by returning fire from the upper rear gun cupola. These bursts of return fire passed over the top of the Defiant, which closed to a range of 100yds. From this position Sergeant Adams focused his 2nd burst of 1½secs gunfire into the starboard engine, which was then engulfed in flames. The Ju88 then began to lose airspeed and the Defiant dropped down and ahead with Flight Lieutenant West commencing a weave manoeuvre as Sergeant Adams fired up into the cockpit of the Ju88. Return fire from one of the front gun positions on the Ju88 again passed over the top of the Defiant, and ceased after another burst of 1½secs gunfire from Sergeant Adams.

The Ju88 then entered a gentle dive and Flight Lieutenant West decided to break-away to the left and complete a tight orbit to reposition for an attack on the port side of the Ju88. As the Defiant closed in again the Ju88 suddenly entered a steep dive and descended into the layer of cloud. Oberleutnant Klemm, Leutnant Coster and Feldwebel Hofmann then bailed out of the Ju88, however, Feldwebel Ilse remained with the aircraft, presumably having been severely wounded or killed during the combat engagement. Following the Ju88 down through the cloud layer the Defiant emerged in time for the crew to observe a vivid red flash and then identify the blazing wreckage of the Ju88 which had crashed on the edge of the marsh adjoining the Ribble Estuary. Flight Lieutenant West then set course back to RAF Squires Gate, landing at 00.12hrs on the 8th April.

It was close to midnight when witnesses on the ground observed the Ju88 explode as it struck the ground and according to press reports ‘spectators saw a real pyrotechnic display as the blazing plane became the seat of numerous minor explosions, various coloured lights bursting from the wreckage’. Three civilians from Lytham, on the north side of the Ribble Estuary, headed in the direction of the burning wreckage from the Ju88 and having waded across a tidal gutter heard Oberleutnant Klemm calling for assistance. He had a badly injured right arm and was carried to the embankment at the edge of the marsh where he was received by members of the Police and then taken to Lytham Hospital. On the south side of the Ribble Estuary members of the Home Guard, Police and Civil Defence Workers set out onto the marsh and having reached the wreckage, which continued to burn for several hours, began searching the surrounding area. Leutnant Coster had landed close to the main river channel and having walked along it for some distance headed back towards the wreckage of the aircraft where he came across members of the search party and surrendered. The body of Feldwebel Ilse was found amongst the wreckage of the aircraft, but Feldwebel Hofmann was not accounted for until his body washed ashore on the 15th of May. His parachute and the aircrafts radio set were found on a sandbank in the estuary the morning after the crash, but it is not known if he either bailed out of the aircraft too low, landed in water and drowned or died due to injuries. Ilse and Hofmann were later buried together in the German Military Cemetery at Cannock Chase in Staffordshire.

The crash site
The resting place of the men who died

The recovery work took place on a saltwater marsh, so the recovery work had to move at a pace, as the holes soon filled with water.

That’ll be one of the wheels then. Smiles all round!
Yep…it’s a wheel.

I won’t go through the pictures of any more items being recovered, as there are plenty of pictures of that in a previous blog, (https://stephentaylorhistorian.com/2017/10/10/junkers-88-ribble-estuary/). Instead I thought it would be great to see how things have moved on since then.

Cleaning in progress
Bomb rack in soak to loosen the mud and muck
Clean bomb rack
Hydraulic jack from undercarriage door
Big chunk!
Some of the pieces were in remarkable condition
Looks brand new!
Jumo 211 engine
Could this be a bullet strike?
Jumo 211 engine
Jumo 211 engine
engine mount
Engine mount
flame damper
Exhaust flame dampers
Handle from gondola MG15 cupola
Handle from gondola MG15 cupola
jumo manifold duct
Manifold duct
lifeboat release mechanism
Part of lifeboat release mechanism
pitot tube tip
End of a pitot tube
undercarriage door bracket
Undercarriage door bracket
Main landing gear door bracket
Engine door hinge point
Frame number 21
Far left part of propellor hub attachment ring. Far right, tail plane trim drive shaft
Bomb rack attachment point
Fresh out of the marsh


There are SO many MORE parts to see, but if you want to the see them, you need to visit the museum!



Website http://laituk.org/

Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/groups/2016312151925993/

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