Sunday, 13 September 2015

Junkers Ju87 Stuka - The story of Jericho trumpets of doom by Luis German Dzib Aguilar

The Stuka name derived from Sturzkampfflugzeug, the generic German word for dive-bomber. So famous was the Junkers Ju 87 that the term Stuka came to be identified with it in Western eyes.
The Stuka's first advocate was pilot Ernest Udet, who, with 62 victories in World War I, was the highest-scoring German ace to survive, and a national hero. Udet was a formidable aerobatic pilot (albeit a terrible technician) who pressed the Luftwaffe to adopt dive-bombing as a principal means of attack.

Skilled pilots helped the slow Junkers Ju 87 Stuka excel as a tank killer.

The first Junkers Ju 87 Stuka flew in the spring of 1935, and by 1939many were ready to wreak havoc in Poland. There, the Stuka's horrific noise (given a special edge with screaming sirens) and terrifying accuracy exemplified the German Blitzkrieg.

The Stuka was equally effective in the Western campaigns, where it served as mobile artillery, moving through France in close coordination with the Panzer columns. An all-metal, gull-wing aircraft with fixed gear and lots of drag, the Stuka proved too slow and too ill-armed to fight over England and was withdrawn from service there.

The Stuka was very effective in the early years of the African campaigns, however, and through nearly all of the fighting with the Soviet Union in the East.

The Stuka was perfectly suited to the opening days of the war, when the Germans had air superiority. What is surprising, and in its way, noble, was that the Ju 87s and their crews fought on bravely when the tide of war had turned against them. (1)

The Junkers Ju87 was an attacking aircraft. Normally carrying one 250 kg bomb (later 500 kg ) under the fuselage and up to four 50kg bombs under the wings, a formation of Ju87 "Stuka" dive bombers became a deadly cocktail, flying directly overhead their target, then dive bombing at an angle of almost 90 degrees. During the campaigns in Spain, Poland, the Low Countries these deadly formations were devastating, but over the English Channel during the Battle of Britain they could not compete against the superior Hurricane and Spitfire and they ceased to become the attacking force that they were so well known for, and became the victims themselves.

Although a technique of dive bombing existed during the First World War, there was no aircraft designed primarily for this purpose. The first known aircraft designed for the purpose of dive bombing

was the Junkers K47 which was being developed during the mid 1920's, and which flew for the first time in March 1928. It is believed that of the fourteen built, two remained in Germany while twelve were sold the China. Continuing research showed that such aircraft would be an effective weapon when working in close support of ground forces. Advances would be far more effective if concentrated aerial bombardment could pave the way for mechanized troops and infantry and Germany made the decision to manufacture aircraft suited for this role. In 1933, Henschel developed the Hs123 while Junkers continued development of the K47.

Where the Hs123 was a biplane, the Ju 87, developed from the K47 was a single engined monoplane that differed from all previous Junkers aircraft in that it did not have the corrugated ribbed metal stressed skin appearance. Looking very similar to the "Stuka' of the 1940's, the prototype had a fixed undercarriage and the gull-wing appearance and was powered by a Rolls-Royce Kestrel power plant and made its first flight in May 1935. Full scale production of the aircraft commenced in 1937.
The first variant was the Ju87A-1 and had dive brakes added to the outer wings, the kestrel engine was replaced by a Jumo 210Ca 640 horsepower engine which drove a variable pitch three bladed propellor, and a single tail fin replaced the twin fins of the original design. The Ju87A-1 and Ju87A-2 (The A-2 differed by having larger fairings over the landing gear and having a 680 hp Jumo 210Da engine) was delivered to StG163 which saw action with the legion Condor in Spain and the Gruppen proved very effective. By early 1939, all the A series were sent to training units and all the Stukageschwäder were equipped with the more powerful Ju87B series. These were powered by the Jumo 211A direct injection power plant that produced 1,200hp, had more streamlined spats over the landing gear, and was now equipped with an automatic dive control.
This automatic dive control was was an apparatus that was initially set by the pilot, allowing him to choose the pull out height using a contact altimeter. The whole procedure became necessary for the pilot to go through about ten different actions with the apparatus before he opened up the dive brakes under the outer wings. This automatically commenced the dive action of the aircraft, the pilot adjusting the dive angle manually by indicator lines painted on the canopy of the aircraft. the correct line was achieved by aileron control which was usually at about 90 degrees, and the pilot visually seeing his target by the marker on the canopy.

Ju 87D3 Stuka blueprint cutaway.

With the aircraft hurtling earthwards directly at the target, a signal light on the contact altimeter would then come on and the pilot would press the button on the top of his control column and the pull out would commence as the bombs left their cradles. The bombs would continue the same course as the aircraft had during its dive, towards the target while the pilot would be suffering some 6g as the aircraft levelled out ready for its climb skywards.

The accuracy of the bombing run was completely in the hands of the pilot. Its defence were two MG81 belt fed machine guns. The rear gunner operated a machine gun which was reasonably effective, but it was the slow top speed of the aircraft and the poor rate of climb that was to be the downfall of the Ju87. Over combat areas of Europe and in Spain, they managed to hold their own, but they were no match for the fast and maneuverable Hurricanes and Spitfires of the RAF.

Whole Gruppen were being destroyed on missions over the English Channel, and the Luftwaffe had no alternative to withdraw them from operation duties during this period, although as the war progressed, further variants were produced and the Ju87 saw service in Europe and in the Mediterranean. (2)


The principles of dive bombing are simple enough -- put the airplane into a near-vertical dive and drop the bombs close to the target, thus simplifying the complex problem of aiming a bomb from altitude, while moving forward, through windy or turbulent air.But it's not quite so simple to do it. As dive bombing was not a kamikaze tactic, the pilot must pull the aircraft out of the dive just after release. To prevent the airplane from building up too much speed, dive brakes (large perforated flaps) are needed. To endure the gee forces of the pullout, the airframe must be very sturdy. And to learn the proper release and pull-out techniques, the pilot must be highly trained and motivated.Some daring pilots had tried the concept of dive bombing in WWI and the US Marines used it between the wars in Central America.In the early 1930's, as the Luftwaffe secretly rebuilt German air power, the Henschel Hs 123 biplane served as a dive bomber. In 1936, the Luftwaffe decided to replace the Hs 123. Junkers Ju 87 defeated the Arado Ar 81 biplane, the Blohm & Voss Ha 137, and the Heinkel He 118 in the competition.The Ju 87 prototype was an ugly inverted gull wing monoplane. Slotted flaps and ailerons gave good control at low speeds, but produced a lot of drag. The fixed landing gear struts were encased in aerodynamic fairings, "pants," A big radiator bulged below the nose. The fuselage tapered down from the cockpit, offering the pilot a good view. The greenhouse-style canopy housed two - the pilot and rear gunner. Dive brakes extended beyond the trailing edge of the wings. (4)

Variants (5)(6)PrototypesJu 87 V1: W.Nr 4921. Flown on 17 September 1935Ju 87 V2: W.Nr 4922, registration D-IDQR. Flown on 25 February 1936. Flown again as registration D-UHUH on 4 June 1937

Ju 87 V3: W.Nr 4923. Flown on 27 March 1936

Ju 87 V4: W.Nr 4924. Flown on 20 June 1936

Ju 87 V5: W.Nr 4925. Flown on 14 August 1936

Ju 87A "Anton"
The second prototype had a redesigned single vertical stabiliser and a 610 PS (449 kW, 602 hp) Junkers Jumo 210 A engine installed, and later the Jumo 210 Da. The first A series variant, the A-0, was of all-metal construction, with an enclosed cockpit. To ease the difficulty of mass production, the leading edge of the wing was straightened out and the ailerons' two aerofoil sections had smooth leading and trailing edges. The pilot could adjust the elevator and rudder trim tabs in flight, and the tail was connected to the landing flaps, which were positioned in two parts between the ailerons and fuselage. The A-0 also had a flatter engine cowling, which gave the pilot a much better field of vision. In order for the engine cowling to be flattened, the engine was set down nearly .25 m (10 in). The fuselage was also lowered along with the gunner's position, allowing the gunner a better field of fire.

Junkers Ju 87A.
The RLM ordered seven A-0s initially, but then increased the order to 11. Early in 1937, the A-0 was tested with varied bomb loads. The underpowered Jumo 210A, as pointed out by von Richthofen, was insufficient, and was quickly replaced with the Jumo 210D power plant.
The A-1 differed from the A-0 only slightly. As well as the installation of the Jumo 210D, the A-1 had two 220 L (60 US gal) fuel tanks built into the inner wing, but it was not armoured or protected. The A-1 was also intended to be fitted with two 7.92 mm MG 17 machine guns in each wing, but this was dropped due to excessive weight. The two that remained were fed a total of 500 rounds of ammunition, stored in the undercarriage "spats". The pilot relied on the Revi C 21C gun sight for the two MG 17s. The gunner had only a single 7.92 mm MG 15, with 14 drums of ammunition, each containing 75 rounds. This represented a 150-round increase in this area over the Ju 87 A-0. The A-1 was also fitted with a larger 3.3 m (10.8 ft) propeller.
The Ju 87 was capable of carrying a 500 kg (1,100 lb) bomb, but only if not carrying the rear gunner/radio operator as, even with the Jumo 210D power plant, the Ju 87 was still underpowered for operations with more than a 250 kg (550 lb) bomb load. All Ju 87 As were restricted to 250 kg (550 lb) weapons (although during the Spanish Civil War missions were conducted without the gunner).
The Ju 87 A-2 was retrofitted with the Jumo 210Da fitted with a two-stage supercharger. The only further significant difference between the A-1 and A-2 was the H-PA-III controllable-pitch propeller. By mid-1938, 262 Ju 87 As had been produced, 192 from the Junkers factory in Dessau, and a further 70 from Weser Flugzeugbau ("Weserflug" - WFG) in Lemwerder near Bremen. The new, more powerful, Ju 87B model started to replace the Ju 87A at this time.

Production variants

Ju 87 A-0: Ten pre-production aircraft, powered by a 631 hp Jumo 210C engine.

Ju 87 A-1: Initial production version.

Ju 87 A-2: Production version fitted with an improved 671 hp Jumo 210E engine.

Ju 87B "Bertha"

The Ju 87 B series was to be the first mass-produced variant. A total of six pre-production Ju 87 B-0 were produced, built from Ju 87 A airframes. Test flights began from the summer of 1937. A small number, at least three, served as conversion Cs or Es for potential naval variants.

Junkers Ju 87B.

The first production version was the Ju 87 B-1, with a considerably larger engine, its Junkers Jumo 211D generating 1,200 PS (883 kW, 1,184 hp), and completely redesigned fuselage and landing gear. This new design was again tested in Spain, and after proving its abilities there, production was ramped up to 60 per month. As a result, by the outbreak of World War II, the Luftwaffe had 336 Ju 87 B-1s on hand. The B-1 was also fitted with "Jericho trumpets", essentially propeller-driven sirens with a diameter of 0.7 m (2.3 ft) mounted on the wing's leading edge directly forward of the landing gear, or on the front edge of the fixed main gear fairing. This was used to weaken enemy morale and enhance the intimidation of dive-bombing. After the enemy became used to it, however, they were withdrawn. The devices caused a loss of some 20–25 kph (10-20 mph) through drag. Instead, some bombs were fitted with whistles on the fin to produce the noise after release.
The trumpets were a suggestion from Generaloberst Ernst Udet (but some authors say the idea originated from Adolf Hitler). The Ju 87 B-2s that followed had some improvements and were built in a number of variants that included ski-equipped versions (the B-1 also had this modification), and at the other end, with a tropical operation kit called the Ju 87 B-2 trop. Italy's Regia Aeronautica received a number of the B-2s and named them the "Picchiatello", while others went to the other members of the Axis, including Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania. The B-2 also had an oil hydraulic system for closing the cowling flaps. This continued in all the later designs.
The tropicalised versions were initially named the Ju 87 B-2/U1. This was eventually designated the Ju 87 B-2 trop, equipped with tropical emergency equipment and sand filters for the powerplant.
Production of the Ju 87 B started in 1937. 89 B-1s were to be built at Junkers' factory in Dessau and another 40 at the Weserflug plant in Lemwerder by July 1937. Production would be carried out by the Weserflug company after April 1938, but Junkers continued producing Ju 87 up until March 1940. Total production amounted to 697 B-1s (311 by Junkers, 386 by Weserflug) and 225 B-2s (56 by Junkers, 169 by Weserflug). The last Ju 87B rolled off the production lines in October 1940.

Ju 87R

A long range version of the Ju 87 B was also built, known as the Ju 87 R. They were primarily intended for anti-shipping missions. The Ju 87R had a B-series airframe with an additional oil tank and fuel lines to the outer wing stations to permit the use of two 300 L (79,25 US gal) under-wing drop tanks. This increased fuel capacity to 1,080 litres (500 L in main fuel tank of which 480 L where usable + 600 L from drop tanks). To prevent overload conditions, bomb carrying ability was often restricted to a single 250 kg (550 lb) bomb if the aircraft was fully loaded with fuel.
The Ju 87 R-1 had a B-1 airframe with the exception of a modification in the fuselage which enabled an additional oil tank. This was installed to feed the engine due to the increase in range after the addition of the extra fuel tanks.
The Ju 87 R-2 had the same airframe as the B-2, and strengthened to ensure it could withstand dives of 600 kph (370 mph). The Jumo 211D in-line engine was installed, replacing the R-1s Jumo 211A. Due to an increase in overall weight by some 700 kg (1,540 lb), the Ju 87 R-2 was 30 kph (20 mph) slower than the Ju 87 B-1 and had a lower service ceiling. The Ju 87 R-2 had an increased range advantage of 360 km (220 mi). The R-3 and R-4 were the last R variants developed. Only a few were built. The R-3 was an experimental tug for gliders and had an expanded radio system so the crew could communicate with the glider crew by way of the tow rope. The R-4 differed from the R-2 in the Jumo 211J powerplant.Total production amounted to 972 Ju 87R (105 R-1, 472 R-2, 144 R-4), all built by Weserflug. The last Ju 87R rolled off the production lines in October 1941.

Known prototypes:

Ju 87 V6: W.Nr 0870027. Flown on 14 June 1937 (A-0 to B-0 conversion)

Ju 87 V7: W.Nr 0870028. Prototype of the Ju 87B, powered by a 1,000 PS (735 kW, 986 hp) Jumo 211A. Flown on 23 August 1937 (A-0 to B-0 conversion)

Ju 87 V8: W.Nr 4926. Flown on 11 November 1937

Ju 87 V9: W.Nr 4927. Flown on 16 February 1938 as D-IELZ. Flown again as WL-IELZ on 16 October 1939

Ju 87 V15: W.Nr 0870321. Registration D-IGDK. Destroyed in a crash in 1942.

Ju 87 V16: W.Nr 0870279. Stammkennzeichen code of GT+AX.

Ju 87 V17 and Ju 87 V18 may never have been built.

Ju 87C

On 18 August 1937, the RLM decided to introduce the Ju 87 Tr(C). The Ju 87 C was intended to be a dive and torpedo bomber for the Kriegsmarine. The type was ordered into prototype production and available for testing in January 1938. Testing was given just two months and was to begin in February and end in April 1938. The prototype V10 was to be a fixed wing test aircraft, while the following V11 would be modified with folding wings. 
The prototypes were Ju 87 B-0 airframes powered by Jumo 211 A engines. Owing to delays, the V10 was not completed until March 1938. It first flew on 17 March and was designated Ju 87 C-1. On 12 May, the V11 also flew for the first time. By 15 December 1939, 915 arrested landings on dry land had been made. It was found the arresting gear winch was too weak and had to be replaced. Tests showed the average braking distance was 20–35 metres (65–115 feet). The Ju 87 V11 was designated C-0 on 8 October 1938. It was fitted out with standard Ju 87C-0 equipment and better wing-folding mechanisms. 
The "carrier Stuka" was to be built at the Weserflug Company's Lemwerder plant between April and July 1940.

Junkers Ju 87C.

Among the "special" equipment of the Ju 87 C was a two-seat rubber dinghy with signal ammunition and emergency ammunition. A quick fuel dump mechanism and two inflatable 750 L (200 US gal) bags in each wing and a further two 500 L (130 US gal) bags in the fuselage enabled the Ju 87 C to remain afloat for up to three days in calm seas. On 6 October 1939, with the war already underway, 120 of the planned Ju 87 Tr(C)s on order at that point were cancelled. Despite the cancellation, the tests continued using catapults. The Ju 87 C had a takeoff weight of 5,300 kg (11,700 lb) and a speed of 133 kph (82 mph) on departure. The Ju 87 could be launched with a SC 500 kg (1,100 lb) bomb and four SC 50 kg (110 lb) bombs under the fuselage. The C-1 was to have two MG 17s mounted in the wing with a MG 15 operated by the rear gunner. On 18 May 1940, production of the C-1 was switched to the R-1.

Junkers Ju 87C.

Known prototypes

Ju 87 V10: Registration D-IHFH (changed to Stammkennzeichen of TK+HD). W.Nr 4928. First flown 17 March 1938

Ju 87 V11: Stammkennzeichen of TV+OV. W.Nr 4929. First flown 12 May 1938

Ju 87D "Dora"

Despite the Stuka's vulnerability to enemy fighters having been exposed during the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe had no choice but to continue its development, as there was no replacement aircraft in sight. The result was the D-series. In June 1941, the RLM ordered five prototypes, the Ju 87 V21–25. A Daimler-Benz DB 603 powerplant was to be installed in the Ju 87 D-1, but it did not have the power of the Jumo 211 and performed "poorly" during tests and was dropped. The Ju 87 D-series featured two coolant radiators underneath the inboard sections of the wings, while the oil cooler was relocated to the position formerly occupied by the coolant radiator. 
The D-series also introduced an aerodynamically refined cockpit with better visibility and space. In addition, armor protection was increased and a new dual-barrel 7.92 mm MG 81Z machine gun with an extremely high rate of fire was installed in the rear defensive position. Engine power was increased again, the Ju mo 211J now delivering 1,420 PS (1,044 kW, 1,401 hp). Bomb carrying ability was nearly quadrupled from 500 kg (1,100 lb) in the B-version to 1,800 kg (3,970 lb) in the D-version (max. load for short ranges, overload condition), a typical bomb load ranged from 500-1,200 kg (1,100-2,650 lb). 
Junkers Ju 87D in low level flight.
The internal fuel capacity of the Ju 87D was raised to 800 L (of which 780 L were usable) by adding additional wing tanks while retaining the option to carry two 300 L drop tanks. Tests at Rechlin revealed it made possible a flight duration of 2 hours and 15 minutes. With an extra two 300 L (80 US gal) fuel tanks, it could achieve four hours flight time.

The D-2 was a variant used as a glider tug by converting older D-series airframes. It was intended as the tropical version of the D-1 and had heavier armour to protect the crew from ground fire. The armour reduced its performance and caused the Oberkommando der Luftwaffe to "place no particular value on the production of the D-2". The D-3 was an improved D-1 with more armour for its ground-attack role. A number of Ju 87 D-3s were designated D-3N or D-3 trop and fitted with night or tropical equipment. The D-4 designation applied to a prototype torpedo-bomber version, which could carry a 750–905 kg (1,650-2,000 lb) aerial torpedo on a PVC 1006 B rack. The D-4 was to be converted from D-3 airframes and operated from the aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin. Other modifications included a flame eliminator and, unlike earlier D variants, two 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon, while the radio operator/rear gunner's ammunition supply was increased by 1,000 to 2,000 rounds.

The Ju 87 D-5 was based on the D-3 design and was unique in the Ju 87 series as it had wings 0.6 metres (1 foot) longer than previous variants. The two 7.92 mm MG 17 wing guns were exchanged for more powerful 20 mm MG 151/20s to better suit the aircraft's ground-attack role. The window in the floor of the cockpit was reinforced and four, rather than the previous three, aileron hinges were installed. Higher diving speeds were obtained of 650 kph (408 mph) up to 2,000 m (6,560 ft). The range was recorded as 715 km (443 mi) at ground level and 835 km (517 mi) at 5,000 m (16,400 ft).

The D-6, according to "Operating instructions, works document 2097", was built in limited numbers to train pilots on "rationalised versions". However, due to shortages in raw materials, it did not go into mass production. The D-7 was another ground attack aircraft based on D-1 airframes upgraded to D-5 standard (armor, wing cannons, extended wing panels), while the D-8 was similar to the D-7 but based on D-3 airframes. The D-7 and D-8 were both were fitted with flame dampers, and could conduct night operations.

Production of the D-1 variant started in 1941 with 495 ordered. These aircraft were delivered between May 1941 and March 1942. The RLM wanted 832 machines produced from February 1941. The Weserflug company was tasked with their production. From June to September 1941, 40 Ju 87 Ds were expected to be built, increasing to 90 thereafter. Various production problems were encountered. Just one of the planned 48 was produced in July. Of the 25 the RLM hoped for in August 1941, none were delivered. Only in September 1941 did the first two of the planned 102 Ju 87s roll off the production lines. The shortfalls continued to the end of 1941. During this time, the WFG plant in Lemwerder moved production to Berlin. Over 165 Ju 87s had not been delivered and production was only 23 Ju 87 Ds per month out of the 40 expected. By the spring of 1942 to the end of production in 1944, 3,300 Ju 87s, mostly D-1s, D-2s and D-5s had been manufactured.
Total production amounted to 3639 Ju 87D (592 D-1, 1559 D-3 and 1448 D-5), all built by Weserflug. The last Ju 87 D-5 rolled off the production lines in September 1944.
The Ju 87 E and F proposals were never built, and Junkers went straight onto the next variant. Another variant derived from the Ju 87D airframe, the Ju 87H saw service as a dual-control trainer.

In January 1943, a variety of Ju 87 Ds became "test beds" for the Ju 87 G variants. At the start of 1943, the Luftwaffe test centre at Tarnewitz tested this combination from a static position. Oberst G. Wolfgang Vorwald noted the experiments were not successful, and suggested the cannon be installed on the Messerschmitt Me 410. However, testing continued, and on 31 January 1943, Ju 87 D-1 W.Nr 2552 was tested by Hauptmann Hans-Karl Stepp near the Briansk training area. Stepp noted the increase in drag, which reduced the aircraft's speed to 259 kph (162 mph). Stepp also noted that the aircraft was also less agile than the existing D variants. D-1 and D-3 variants operated in combat with the 37 mm (1.46 in) BK 37 cannon in 1943.

Known prototypes

Ju 87 V 21. Registration D-INRF. W.Nr 0870536. Airframe conversion from B-1 to D-1. First flown on 1 March 1941.

Ju 87 V 22 Stammkennzeichen of SF+TY. W.Nr 0870540. Also airframe conversion from B-1 to D-1. First flown on 1 March 1941.

Ju 87 V 23 Stammkennzeichen of PB+UB. W.Nr 0870542. Also airframe conversion from B-1 to D-1. First flown on 1 March 1941.

Ju 87 V 24 Stammkennzeichen of BK+EE. W.Nr 0870544. Also airframe conversion from B-1 to D-1/D-4. First flown on 1 March 1941.

Ju 87 V 25 Stammkennzeichen of BK+EF. W.Nr 0870530. Also airframe conversion from B-1 to D-4 trop. First flown on 1 March 1941.

Ju 87 V 30, the only known prototype of the Ju 87 D-5. W.Nr 2296. First flown on 20 June 1943.
Ju 87 V 26-28, Ju 87 V 31, and V 42-47 were experiments of unknown variants.

Ju 87G "Gustav"

With the G variant, the aging airframe of the Ju 87 found new life as an anti-tank aircraft. This was the final operational version of the Stuka, and was deployed on the Eastern Front.

The reverse in German military fortunes after 1943 and the appearance of huge numbers of well-armoured Soviet tanks caused Junkers to adapt the existing design to combat this new threat. The Hs 129B had proved a potent ground attack weapon, but its large fuel tanks made it vulnerable to enemy fire, prompting the RLM to say "that in the shortest possible time a replacement of the Hs 129 type must take place." With Soviet tanks the priority targets, the development of a further variant as a successor to the Ju 87D began in November 1942. On 3 November, Erhard Milch raised the question of replacing the Ju 87, or redesigning it altogether. It was decided to keep the design as it was, but to upgrade the powerplant to a Jumo 211J, and add two 30 mm (1.18 in) cannon. The variant was also designed to carry a 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) free-fall bomb load. Furthermore, the armoured protection of the Ilyushin Il-2 Sturmovik was copied - a feature pioneered by the 1916-17 origin Junkers J.I of World War I Imperial Germany's Luftstreitkräfte - to protect the crew from ground fire now that the Ju 87 would be required to conduct low level attacks.
Junkers Ju 87G.
Hans-Ulrich Rudel, a Stuka ace, had suggested using two 37 mm (1.46 in) Flak 18 guns, each one in a self-contained under-wing gun pod, as the Bordkanone BK 3,7, after achieving success against Soviet tanks with the 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon. These gun pods were fitted to a Ju 87 D-1, W.Nr 2552 as "Gustav the tank killer". The first flight of the machine took place on 31 January 1943, piloted by Hauptmann Hans-Karl Stepp. The continuing problems with about two dozens of the Ju 88P-1, and slow development of the Hs 129 B-3, each of them equipped with a large Bordkanone BK 7,5 cm (2.95 in) cannon in a conformal gun pod beneath the fuselage, meant the Ju 87G was put into production.
In April 1943, the first production Ju 87 G-1s were delivered to front line units. The two 37 mm (1.46 in) cannons were mounted in under-wing gun pods, each loaded with a six-round magazine of armour-piercing tungsten carbide ammunition. With these weapons, the Kanonenvogel ("cannon-bird"), as it was nick named, proved spectacularly successful in the hands of Stuka aces such as Rudel. The G-1 was converted from older D-series airframes, retaining the smaller wing, but without the dive brakes. The G-2 was similar to the G-1 except for use of the extended wing of the D-5. 208 G-2s were built and at least a further 22 more were converted from D-3 airframes.

37mm Flak 18 mounted on a Junkers Ju 87G.
Only a handful of production Gs were committed in the Battle of Kursk. On the opening day of the offensive, Hans-Ulrich Rudel flew the only "official" Ju 87 G, although a significant number of Ju 87D variants were fitted with the 37 mm (1.46 in) cannon, and operated as unofficial Ju 87 Gs before the battle. In June 1943, the RLM ordered 20 Ju 87Gs as production variants. The G-1 later influenced the design of the A-10 Thunderbolt II, with Hans Rudel's book, Stuka Pilot being required reading for all members of the A-X project.

Night-harassment variants

The Soviet Air Force practice of harassing German ground forces using antiquated Polikarpov Po-2 and R-5 biplanes at night to drop flares and fragmentation bombs, inspired the Luftwaffe to form its own Störkampfstaffeln (harassment squadrons). On 23 July 1942, Junkers offered the Ju 87 B-2, R-2 and R-4s with Flammenvernichter ("flame eliminators"). On 10 November 1943, the RLM GL/C-E2 Division finally authorised the design in directive No. 1117. This new equipment made the Ju 87 more difficult to detect from the ground in darkness.

Pilots were also asked to complete the new "Blind Flying Certificate 3", which was especially introduced for this new type of operation. Pilots were trained at night, over unfamiliar terrain, and forced to rely on their instruments for direction. The Ju 87's standard Revi C12D gunsight was replaced with the new Nachtrevi ("Nightrevi") C12N. On some Ju 87s, the Revi 16D was exchanged for the Nachtrevi 16D. To help the pilot see his instrument panel, a violet light was installed. On 15 November 1942, the Auxiliary Staffel were created. By mid-1943, Luftflotte 1 was given four Staffeln while Luftflotte 4 and Luftwaffe Kommando Ost (Luftwaffe Command East) were given six and two respectively. In the first half of 1943, 12 Nachtschlachtgruppen had been formed, flying a multitude of different types of aircraft, including the Ju 87, which proved itself ideally suited to the low-level slow flying needed.

Diving procedure 

Ju 87 diving procedure

Flying at 4,600 m (15,100 ft), the pilot located his target through a bombsight window in the cockpit floor. The pilot moved the dive lever to the rear, limiting the "throw" of the control column. (8) The dive brakes were activated automatically, the pilot set the trim tabs, retarded his throttle and closed the coolant flaps. The aircraft then rolled 180°, automatically nosing the aircraft into a dive. Red tabs protruded from the upper surfaces of the wing as a visual indicator to the pilot that, in case of a g-induced black-out, the automatic dive recovery system would be activated. The Stuka dived
at a 60-90° angle, holding a constant speed of 500–600 km/h (350-370 mph) due to dive-brake deployment, which increased the accuracy of the Ju 87's aim. (8)
When the aircraft was reasonably close to the target, a light on the contact altimeter came on to indicate the bomb-release point, usually at a minimum height of 450 m (1,480 ft). The pilot released the bomb and initiated the automatic pull-out mechanism by depressing a knob on the control column. (8) An elongated U-shaped crutch located under the fuselage swung the bomb out of the way of the propeller, and the aircraft automatically began a 6 g pullout. (8) Once the nose was above the horizon, dive brakes were retracted, the throttle was opened, and the propeller was set to climb. The pilot regained control and resumed normal flight. The coolant flaps had to be reopened quickly to prevent overheating. The automatic pull-out was not liked by all pilots. Helmut Mahlke later said that he and his unit disconnected the system because it allowed the enemy to predict the Ju 87s recovery pattern and height, making it easier for ground defences to hit an aircraft.

Physical stress on the crew was severe. Human beings subjected to more than 5 g forces in a seated position will suffer vision impairment in the form of a grey veilknown to Stuka pilots as "seeing stars". They lose vision while remaining conscious; after five seconds, they black out. The Ju 87 pilots experienced the visual impairments most during "pull-up" from a dive. (9)

Eric "Winkle" Brown RN, a British test pilot and Commanding Officer of Captured Enemy Aircraft Flight section, tested the Ju 87 at RAE Farnborough. He said of the Stuka, "I had flown a lot of dive-bombers and it’s the only one that you can dive truly vertically. Sometimes with the dive-bombers...maximum dive is usually in the order of 60 degrees.. When flying the Stuka, because it’s all automatic, you are really flying vertically... The Stuka was in a class of its own." (10)

G-force test at Dessau

Extensive tests were carried out by the Junkers works at their Dessau plant. It was discovered that the highest load a pilot could endure was 8.5 g for three seconds, when the aircraft was pushed to its limit by the centrifugal forces. At less than 4 g, no visual problems or loss of consciousness were experienced. (11) Above 6 g, 50% of pilots suffered visual problems, or "grey" out. With 40%, vision vanished altogether from 7.5 g upwards and black-out sometimes occurred. (12) Despite this blindness, the pilot could maintain consciousness and was capable of "bodily reactions". However, after more than three seconds, half the subjects passed out. The pilot would regain consciousness two or three seconds after the centrifugal forces had dropped below 3 g and had lasted no longer than three seconds. In a crouched position, pilots could withstand 7.5 g and were able to remain functional for a short duration. In this position, Junkers concluded that ⅔ of pilots could withstand 8 g and perhaps 9 g for three to five seconds without vision defects which, under war conditions, was acceptable. (13) During tests with the Ju 87 A-2, new technologies were tried out to reduce the effects of g forces. The pressurised cabin was of great importance during this research. Testing revealed that at high altitude, even 2 g could cause death in an unpressurised cabin and without appropriate clothing. This new technology, along with special clothing and oxygen masks, was researched and tested. When the United States Army occupied the Junkers factory at Dessau on 21 April 1945, they were both impressed at and interested in the medical flight tests with the Ju 87. (13)
Stuka diving.

Operational History (14) (15) (16)

Condor Legion and the Spanish Civil War

Among the many German aircraft designs that participated in the Legion Condor, and as part of other German involvement in the Spanish Civil War, a single Ju 87 A-0 (the V4 prototype) was allocated serial number 29-1 and was assigned to the VJ/88, the experimental Staffel of the Legion's fighter wing. The aircraft was secretly loaded onto the ship Usaramo and departed Hamburg harbor on the night of 1 August 1936, arriving in Cadiz five days later. The only known information pertaining to its combat career in Spain is that it was piloted by Unteroffizier Herman Beuer, and took part in the Nationalist offensive against Bilbao in 1937. Presumably the aircraft was then secretly returned to Germany.

Junkers Ju 87A with the Condor Legion, Spain, 1938.

In January 1938, three Ju 87 As arrived. Several problems became evident - the spatted undercarriage sank into muddy airfield surfaces, and the spats were temporarily removed. In addition, the maximum 500 kg (1,100 lb) bomb load could only be carried if the gunner vacated his seat, therefore the bomb
load was restricted to 250 kg (550 lb). These aircraft supported the Nationalist forces and carried out anti-shipping missions until they returned to Germany in October 1938.
The A-1s were replaced by five Ju 87 B-1s. With the war coming to an end, they found little to do and were used to support Heinkel He 111s attacking Republican positions. As with the Ju 87 A-0, the B-1s were returned discreetly to the Reich.
The experience of the Spanish Civil War proved invaluable - air and ground crews perfected their skills, and equipment was evaluated under combat conditions. Although no Ju 87s had been lost in Spain, however, the Ju 87 had not been tested against numerous and well-coordinated fighter opposition, and this lesson was to be learned later at great cost to the Stuka crews.

World War II

All Stuka units were moved to Germany's eastern border in preparation for the invasion of Poland. On the morning of 15 August 1939, during a mass formation dive bombing demonstration for high ranking commanders of the Luftwaffe at Neuhammer training grounds near Sagan, 13 Ju 87s and 26 crew members were lost when they crashed into the ground almost simultaneously. The planes dived through cloud, expecting to release their practice bombs and pull out of the dive once below the cloud ceiling, unaware that on that particular day the ceiling was too low and unexpected ground mist formed, leaving them no time to pull out of the dive.


On 1 September 1939, the Wehrmacht invaded Poland, triggering World War II. Generalquartiermeister der Luftwaffe records indicate a total force of 366 Ju 87 A and Bs were available for operations on 31 August 1939. At exactly 0426, a Kette ("chain" or flight of three) of Ju 87s of 3./StG 1 led by Staffelkapitän Oberleutnant Bruno Dilly carried out the first bombing attack of the war. The aim was to destroy the Polish demolition charges wired to the Tczew bridges over the Vistula River. The Stukas attacked 11 minutes before the official German declaration of hostilities and hit the targets. However, the mission failed and the Poles destroyed the bridge before the Germans could reach it.
A Ju 87 achieved the first air victory during World War II on the morning of 1 September 1939, when Rottenführer Leutnant Frank Neubert of I./StG 2 "Immelmann" shot down a Polish PZL P.11c fighter while it was taking off from Balice airfield; its pilot, Captain Mieczys?aw Medwecki, was killed. The Luftwaffe had a few anti-shipping naval units such as 4.(St)/TrGr 186. This unit performed effectively, sinking the 1540-ton destroyer ORP Wicher and minelayer ORP Gryf of the Polish Navy (both moored in a harbour).
On one occasion, six Polish divisions trapped by encircling German forces were forced to surrender after a relentless four-day bombardment by StG 51, 76 and 77. Employed in this assault were 50 kg (110 lb) fragmentation bombs, which caused appalling casualties to the Polish ground troops. Demoralised, the Poles surrendered. The Stukas also participated in the Battle of Bzura which resulted in the breaking of Polish resistance. The Sturzkampfgeschwader alone dropped 388 tonnes (428 tons) of bombs during this battle.Once again, enemy air opposition was light; the Stukawaffe (Stuka force) lost just 31 aircraft during the campaign.


Operation Weserübung began on 9 April 1940 with the invasions of Norway and Denmark, Denmark capitulated within the day whilst Norway continued to resist with British and French help.

The campaign was not the classic Blitzkrieg of fast-moving armoured divisions supported by air-power as the mountainous terrain ruled out close Panzer/Stuka cooperation. Instead, the Germans relied on Fallschirmjäger (paratroops), airborne troops transported by Junkers Ju 52s and specialised ski troops. The strategic nature of the operation made the Stuka essential. The Ju 87s were given the role of ground attack and anti-shipping missions. The Stuka proved to be the most effective weapon in the Luftwaffe's armoury carrying out the latter task.

On 9 April, the first Stukas took off at 10:59 from occupied airfields to destroy Oscarsborg Fortress, after the loss of the German cruiser Blücher, which disrupted the amphibious landings in Oslo through Oslofjord. The 22 Ju 87s had helped suppress the Norwegian defenders during the ensuing Battle of Drøbak Sound, but the defenders did not surrender until after Oslo had been captured. As a result, the German naval operation failed. StG 1 caught the 735 ton Norwegian destroyer Æger off Stavanger and hit her in the engine room. Æger was run aground and scuttled. The Stukageschwader were now equipped with the new Ju 87 R, which differed from the Ju 87 B by having increased internal fuel capacity and two 300l underwing drop tanks for more range.The Stukas, however, had numerous successes against Allied naval vessels. HMS Bittern was sunk on 30 April. The French large destroyer Bison was sunk along with HMS Afridi by Sturzkampfgeschwader 1 on 3 May 1940 during the evacuation from Namsos. Bison's forward magazine was hit, killing 108 of the crew. Afridi, which attempted to rescue Bison's survivors, was sunk with the loss of 63 sailors.

France and the Low Countries

The Stukawaffe had learned some lessons from the Polish and Norwegian campaigns. The failures of Poland and the Stukas of I.StG 1 to silence the Oscarborg fort ensured even more attention was paid to pin-point bombing during the Phoney War period. This was to pay off in the Western campaign. When Fall Gelb began on 10 May 1940, the Stuka helped swiftly neutralise the fortress of Eben Emael. The headquarters of the commander responsible for ordering the destruction of the bridges along the Albert Canal was stationed in the village of Lanaken (14 km/ mi to the north). However, the Stuka demonstrated its accuracy when the small building was destroyed by four direct hits. As a result, only one of the three bridges was destroyed, allowing the German Army to rapidly advance.
The Sturzkampfgeschwader were also instrumental in achieving the breakthrough at the Battle of Sedan. The Stukawaffe flew 300 sorties against French positions, with StG 77 alone flying 201 individual missions. When resistance was organised, the Ju 87s were vulnerable. For example, on 12 May, near Sedan, six French Curtiss H-75s from Groupe de Chasse I/5 attacked a formation of Ju 87s, shooting down 11 out of 12 unescorted Ju 87s without loss.
The Luftwaffe benefited from excellent ground-to-air communications throughout the campaign. Radio equipped forward liaison officers could call upon the Stukas and direct them to attack enemy positions along the axis of advance. In some cases the Stukas responded in 10–20 minutes. Oberstleutnant Hans Seidemann (Richthofen's Chief of Staff) said that "never again was such a smoothly functioning system for discussing and planning joint operations achieved".
During the Battle of Dunkirk, many Allied ships were lost to Ju 87 attacks. The French destroyer Adroit was sunk on 21 May 1940, followed by the paddle steamer Crested Eagle on 28 May. The British destroyer HMS Grenade was sunk on 29 May and several other vessels damaged by Stuka attack. By 29 May, the Allies had lost 31 vessels sunk and 11 damaged. In total, 89 merchantmen (of 126,518 grt) were lost, and the Royal Navy lost 29 of its 40 destroyers used in the battle (8 sunk, 23 damaged and out of service). Allied air power was ineffective and disorganised, and as a result, Stuka losses were mainly due to ground fire. Some 120 machines, one-third of the Stuka force, were destroyed or damaged by all causes.

Battle of Britain

For the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe's Order of battle consisted of five Geschwader equipped with the Ju 87. Lehrgeschwader 2's IV.(St), Sturzkampfgeschwader 1's III. Gruppe and Sturzkampfgeschwader 2's III. Gruppe, Sturzkampfgeschwader 51 and Sturzkampfgeschwader 3's I. Gruppe were committed to the battle. As an anti-shipping weapon, the Ju 87 proved a potent weapon in the early stages. On 4 July 1940, StG 2 made a successful attack on a convoy in the English Channel, sinking four freighters: Britsum, Dallas City, Deucalion and Kolga. Six more were damaged. That afternoon, 33 Ju 87s delivered the single most deadly air assault on British territory in history, when 33 Ju 87s of III./StG 51, avoiding Royal Air Force (RAF) interception, sank the 5,500 ton anti-aircraft ship HMS Foylebank in Portland Harbour, killing 176 of its 298 crew. One of Foylebank's gunners, Leading Seaman John F. Mantle continued to fire on the Stukas as the ship sank. He was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cro ss for remaining at his post despite being mortally wounded. Mantle may have been responsible for the single Ju 87 lost during the raid.
During August, the Ju 87s also had some success. On 13 August the opening of the main German attacks on airfields took place. It was known to the Luftwaffe as Adlertag (Eagle Day) Messerschmitt Bf 109s of Jagdgeschwader 26 were sent out in advance of the main strike and successfully drew off RAF fighters, allowing 86 Ju 87s of StG 1 to attack RAF Detling unhindered. The attack killed the station commander, destroyed 20 RAF aircraft on the ground and a great many of the airfield's many buildings. However, Detling was not an RAF Fighter Command station.
The Battle of Britain proved for the first time that the Junkers Ju 87 was vulnerable in hostile skies against well-organised and determined fighter opposition. The Ju 87, like other dive bombers, was slow and possessed inadequate defences. Furthermore, it could not be effectively protected by fighters because of its low speed, and the very low altitudes at which it ended its dive bomb attacks. The Stuka depended on air superiority, the very thing being contested over Britain. It was withdrawn from attacks on Britain in August after prohibitive losses, leaving the Luftwaffe without precision ground-attack aircraft.
Steady losses had occurred throughout their participation in the battle. On 18 August, known as the Hardest Day because both sides suffered heavy losses, the Stuka was withdrawn after 16 were destroyed and many others damaged. According to the Generalquartiermeister der Luftwaffe, 59 Stukas had been destroyed and 33 damaged to varying degrees in six weeks of operations. Over 20% of the total Stuka strength had been lost between 8 and 18 August; and the myth of the Stuka shattered. The Ju 87s did succeed in sinking six warships, 14 merchant ships, badly damaging seven airfields and three radar stations, and destroying 49 British aircraft, mainly on the ground.

On 19 August, the units of VIII. Fliegerkorps moved up from their bases around Cherbourg-Octeville and concentrated in the Pas de Calais under Luftflotte 2, closer to the area of the proposed invasion of Britain. On 13 September, the Luftwaffe targeted airfields again, with a small number of Ju 87s crossing the coast at Selsey and heading for Tangmere. After a lull, anti-shipping operations attacks were resumed by some Ju 87 units from 1 November 1940, as part of the new winter tactic of enforcing a blockade. Over the next 10 days, seven merchant ships were sunk or damaged, mainly in the Thames Estuary, for the loss of four Ju 87s. On 14 November 19 Stukas from III./St.G 1 with escort drawn from JG 26 and JG 51 went out against another convoy; as no targets were found over the estuary, the Stukas proceeded to attack Dover, their alternate target.Bad weather resulted in a decline of anti-shipping operations, and before long the Ju 87 Gruppen began re-deploying to Poland, as part of the concealed build-up for Operation Barbarossa. By spring 1941, only St.G 1 with 30 Ju 87s remained facing the United Kingdom. Operations on a small scale continued throughout the winter months into March. Targets included ships at sea, the Thames estuary, the Chatham naval dockyard and Dover and night-bomber sorties made over the Channel. These attacks were resumed the following winter.

North Africa and the Mediterranean

In response to the Italian defeats in Greece and North Africa, the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht ordered the deployment of some German forces to these theatres. Amongst the Luftwaffe contingent deployed was the Geschwaderstab StG 3, which touched down in Sicily in December 1940. In the next few days, two Gruppen - some 80 Stukas - were deployed under X. Fliegerkorps.
The first task of the Korps was to attack British shipping passing between Sicily and Africa. The Ju 87s first made their presence felt by subjecting the British aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious to heavy attack. The crews were confident that they could sink it as the flight deck had an area of about 6,500 square metres. On 10 January 1941, the Stuka crews were told that four direct hits with 500 kg (1,100 lb) bombs would be enough to sink the carrier. The Ju 87s delivered six and three damaging near-misses but the ship's engines were untouched and she made for the besieged harbour of Malta.
The Italian Regia Aeronautica was equipped for a while with the Stukas. In 1939, the Italian government asked the RLM to supply 100 Ju 87s. Italian pilots were sent to Graz in Austria to be trained for dive-bombing aircraft. In the spring of 1940, between 72 to 108 Ju 87 B-1s, some of them ex-Luftwaffe aircraft, were delivered to 96° Gruppo Bombardamento a Tuffo. The Italian Stuka, renamed Picchiatello, was in turn assigned to Gruppi 97°, 101° and 102°. The Picchiatelli were used against Malta, Allied convoys in Mediterranean and in North Africa (where they took part in conquering Tobruk). They were used by the Regia Aeronautica up to 1942. Some of the Picchiatelli saw action in the opening phase of the Italian invasion of Greece in October 1940. Their numbers were low and ineffective. The Italian forces were quickly pushed back. By early 1941, the Greeks had pushed into Italian occupied Albania. Once again, Hitler decided to send military aid to his ally.

Regia Aeronautica Junkers Ju 87R (WkNr 5763) of 96 Gruppo 209a Squadriglia Fernando Bartolomasi, Libya, 1941.

In March, the pro-German Yugoslav government was toppled. A furious Hitler ordered the attack to be expanded to include Yugoslavia. Operation Marita commenced on 7 April. The Luftwaffe committed StG 1, 2 and 77 to the campaign. The Stuka once again spearheaded the air assault, with a front line strength of 300 machines, against minimal Yugoslav resistance in the air, allowing the Stukas to develop a fearsome reputation in this region. Operating unmolested, they took a heavy toll of ground forces, suffering only light losses to ground fire. The effectiveness of the dive bombers helped bring about Yugoslav capitulation in just ten days. The Stukas also took a peripheral part in Operation Punishment - Hitler's retribution bombing of Belgrade. The dive bombers were to attack airfields and anti-aircraft gun positions whilst the level bombers struck civilian targets. Belgrade was badly damaged, with 2,271 people reported killed and 12,000 injured.
In Greece, despite British aid, little air opposition was encountered. As the Allies withdrew and resistance collapsed, the Allies began evacuating to Crete. The Stukas inflicted severe damage on Allied shipping. On 22 April, the 1,389 ton destroyers Psara and Ydra were sunk. In the next two days, the Greek naval base at Piraeus lost 23 vessels to Stuka attack.
During the Battle of Crete, the Ju 87s also played a significant role. On 21–22 May 1941, the Germans attempted to send in reinforcements to Crete by sea but lost 10 vessels to "Force D" under the command of Rear-Admiral Glennie. The force, consisting of the cruisers HMS Dido, Orion and Ajax, forced the remaining German ships to retreat. The Stukas were called upon to deal with the British naval threat. On 21 May, the destroyer HMS Juno was sunk and the next day the battleship HMS Warspite was damaged and the cruiser HMS Gloucester was sunk, with the loss of 45 officers and 648 ratings. The Ju 87s also crippled the cruiser HMS Fiji that morning, (she was later finished off by Bf 109 fighter bombers) while sinking the destroyer HMS Greyhound with one hit.As the Battle of Crete drew to a close, the Allies began yet another withdrawal. On 23 May, the Royal Navy lost the destroyers HMS Kashmir and Kelly, followed by HMS Hereward on 26 May; Orion and Dido were also severely dama ged. Orion had been evacuating 1,100 soldiers to North Africa; 260 of them were killed and another 280 wounded.
The Sturzkampfgeschwader supported Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel's Deutsches Afrikakorps (DAK) in its two year campaign in North Africa; its other main task was attacking Allied shipping. In 1941, Ju 87 operations in North Africa were dominated by the Siege of Tobruk, which lasted for over seven months. It served during the Battle of Gazala and the First Battle of El Alamein, as well as the decisive Second Battle of El Alamein, which drove Rommel back to Tunisia. As the tide turned and Allied air power grew in the autumn of 1942, the Ju 87 became very vulnerable and losses were heavy. The entry of the Americans into North Africa during Operation Torch made the situation far worse; the Stuka was obsolete in what was now a fighter-bomber's war. The Bf 109 and Fw 190 could at least fight enemy fighters on equal terms after dropping their ordnance but the Stuka could not. The Junkers's vulnerability was demonstrated on 11 November 1942, when 15 Ju 87 Ds were shot down by Uni ted States Army Air Forces (USAAF) Curtiss P-40Fs in minutes.
By 1943, the Allies enjoyed air supremacy in North Africa. The Ju 87s ventured out in Rotte strength only, often jettisoning their bombs at the first sight of enemy aircraft. Adding to this trouble, the German fighters had only enough fuel to cover the Ju 87s on take off, their most vulnerable point. After that, the Stukas were on their own.
The dive bombers continued operations in southern Europe; after the Italian surrender in September 1943, the Ju 87 participated in the last campaign-sized victory over the Western Allies, the Dodecanese Campaign. The Greek Dodecanese Islands had been occupied by the British; the Luftwaffe committed 75 Stukas of StG 3 based in Megara (I./StG 3), Argos (II.StG 3) and later parts of II./SG 3 in Rhodos, to recover the islands. With the RAF bases some 500 kilometres (310 mi) away, the Ju 87 helped the German landing forces rapidly conquer the islands.

Eastern front

The Eastern Front brought new challenges. A Ju 87 B-2 is fitted with ski undercarriage to cope with the winter weather, 22 December 1941.On 22 June 1941, the Wehrmacht commenced Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. The Luftwaffe order of battle of 22 June 1941 contained four Sturzkampfgeschwader. VIII. Fliegerkorps under the command of General der Flieger Wolfram von Richthofen was equipped with units Stab, II. and III./StG 1. Also included were Stab, I., II. and III. of Sturzkampfgeschwader 2 Immelmann. Attached to II. Fliegerkorps, under the command of General der Flieger Bruno Loerzer, were Stab, I., II. and III. of StG 77. Luftflotte 5, under the command of Generaloberst Hans-Jürgen Stumpff, operating from Norway's Arctic Circle, were allotted IV. Gruppe (St)/Lehrgeschwader 1 (LG 1).
The first Stuka loss on the Soviet-German front occurred early at 03:40–03:47 in the morning of the 22 June. While being escorted by Bf 109s from JG 51 to attack Brest Fortress, Oberleutnant Karl Führing of StG 77 was shot down by an I-153. The Sturzkampfgeschwader suffered only two losses on the opening day of Barbarossa. As a result of the Luftwaffe's attention, the Soviet Air Force in the western Soviet Union was nearly destroyed. The official report claimed 1,489 Soviet aircraft destroyed. Göring ordered this checked. After picking their way through the wreckage across the front, Luftwaffe officers found that the tally exceeded 2,000. In the next two days, the Soviets reported the loss of another 1,922 aircraft. Soviet aerial resistance continued but ceased to be effective and the Luftwaffe maintained air superiority until the end of the year.
The Ju 87 took a huge toll on Soviet ground forces, helping to break up counterattacks of Soviet armour, eliminating strongpoints and disrupting the enemy supply lines. A demonstration of the Stuka's effectiveness occurred on 5 July, when StG 77 knocked out 18 trains and 500 vehicles. As the 1st and 2nd Panzer Groups forced bridgeheads across the Dnieper river and closed in on Kiev, the Ju 87s again rendered invaluable support. On 13 September, Stukas from StG 1 destroyed the rail network in the vicinity as well as inflicting heavy casualties on escaping Red Army columns, for the loss of just one Ju 87. On 23 September, Hans-Ulrich Rudel (who was to become the most decorated serviceman in the Wehrmacht) of StG 2, sank the Soviet battleship Marat, during an air attack on Kronstadt harbor near Leningrad, with a hit to the bow with a single 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) bomb.
Also during this action, Leutnant Egbert Jaeckel sank the destroyer Minsk, while the destroyer Steregushchiy and submarine M-74 were also sunk. The Stukas also crippled the battleship Oktyabrskaya Revolutsiya and the destroyers Silnyy and Grozyashchiy in exchange for two Ju 87s shot down.
Elsewhere on the Eastern front, the Junkers assisted Army Group Centre in its drive toward Moscow. From 13–22 December, 420 vehicles and 23 tanks were destroyed by StG 77, greatly improving the morale of the German infantry, who were by now on the defensive. StG 77 finished the campaign as the most effective Sturzkampfgeschwader. It had destroyed 2,401 vehicles, 234 tanks, 92 artillery batteries and 21 trains for the loss of 25 Ju 87s to hostile action.
At the end of Barbarossa, StG 1 had lost 60 Stukas in aerial combat and one on the ground. StG 2 lost 39 Ju 87s in the air and two on the ground, StG 77 lost 29 of their dive-bombers in the air and three on the ground (25 to enemy action). IV.(St)/LG1, operating from Norway, lost 24 Ju 87s, all in aerial combat.

Fall Blau to Stalingrad; 1942

In early 1942, the Ju 87s gave the Germany Army (Heer) yet more valuable support. On 29 December 1941, the Soviet 44th Army landed on the Kerch Peninsula. The Luftwaffe was only able to dispatch meager reinforcements of four Kampfgruppen (bomber group. Note: not Kampfgeschwader, meaning bomber wing) and two Sturzkampfgruppen, (dive bomber groups) belonging to StG 77. With air superiority, the Ju 87s operated with impunity. In the first 10 days of the Battle of the Kerch Peninsula, half the landing force was destroyed, while sea lanes were blocked by the Stukas inflicting heavy losses on Soviet shipping. The Ju 87's effectiveness against Soviet armour was not yet potent. Later versions of the T-34 tank could withstand Stuka attack in general, unless a direct hit was scored but the Soviet 44th Army had only obsolescent types with thin armour which were nearly all destroyed.

During the Battle of Sevastopol, the Stukas repeatedly bombed the trapped Soviet forces. Some Ju 87 pilots flew up to 300 sorties against the Soviet defenders. Luftflotte 4's StG 77 flew 7,708 combat sorties dropping 3,537 tonnes of bombs on the city. Their efforts help secure the capitulation of Soviet forces on 4 July.For the German summer offensive, Fall Blau, the Luftwaffe had concentrated 1,800 aircraft into Luftflotte 4 making it the largest and most powerful air command in the world. The Stukawaffe strength stood at 151. During the Battle of Stalingrad, Stukas flew thousands of sorties against Soviet positions in the city. StG 1, 2 and 77 flew 320 sorties on 14 October 1942. As the German Sixth Army pushed the Soviets into a 1,000 metre enclave on the west bank of the Volga River, 1,208 Stuka sorties were flown against this small strip of land. The intense air attack, though causing horrific losses on Soviet units, failed to destroy them. The Luftwaffe's Sturzkampfgeschwader made a maximum effort during this phase of the war. They flew an average of 500 sorties per day and caused heavy losses among Soviet forces, losing an average of only one Stuka per day.The Battle of Stalingrad marked the high point in the fortunes of the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka. As the strength of the Soviet Air Forces grew, they gradually wrested control of the skies from the Luftwaffe. From this point onward, Stuka losses increased.

Kursk and decline; 1943

The Stuka was also heavily involved in Operation Citadel, the Battle of Kursk. The Luftwaffe committed I, II, III./St.G 1 and III./StG 3 under the command of Luftflotte 6. I., II, III. of StGs 2 and 3 were committed under the command of Hans Seidemann's Fliegerkorps VIII. Hauptmann Rudel's cannon-equipped Ju 87 Gs had a devastating effect on Soviet armour at Orel and Belgorod. The Ju 87s participated in a huge aerial counter-offensive lasting from 16–31 July against a Soviet offensive at Khotynets and saved two German armies from encirclement, reducing the attacking Soviet 11th Guards Army to just 33 tanks by 20 July. The Soviet offensive had been completely halted from the air.
Losses were considerable, however. Fliegerkorps VIII lost eight Ju 87s on 8 July, six on 9 July, six on 10 July and another eight on 11 July. The Stuka arm also lost eight of their Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross holders. StG 77 lost 24 Ju 87s in the period 5–31 July (StG had lost 23 in July–December 1942), while StG 2 lost another 30 aircraft in the same period. In September 1943, three of the Stuka units were re-equipped with the Fw 190F and G (ground attack versions) and began to be renamed as Schlachtgeschwader (attack wings). In the face of overwhelming air opposition, the dive-bomber required heavy protection from German fighters to counter Soviet fighters. Some units like SG 2 Immelmann continued to operate with great success throughout 1943-45, operating the Ju 87 G variants equipped with 37 mm cannons, which became tank killers, although in increasingly small numbers. In the wake of the defeat at Kursk, Ju 87s played a vital defensive role on the southern wing of the Eastern Front. To combat the Luftwaffe, the Soviets could deploy some 3,000 fighter aircraft. As a result, the Stukas suffered heavily. SG 77 lost 30 Ju 87s in August 1943 as did SG 2 Immelmann, which also reported the loss of 30 aircraft in combat operations. Despite these losses, Ju 87s helped the XXIX Army Corps break out of an encirclement near the Sea of Azov.The Battle of Kiev also included substantial use of the Ju 87 units, although again, unsuccessful in stemming the advances. Stuka units were with the loss of air superiority, becoming vulnerable on the ground as well. Some Stuka aces were lost this way. In the aftermath of Kursk, Stuka strength fell to 184 aircraft in total. This was well below 50 percent of the required strength. On 18 October 1943, StG 1, 2, 3, 5 and 77 were renamed Schlachtgeschwader (abbreviated as "SG") wings, reflecting their ground -attack role, as these combat wings were now also using ground-attack aircraft, such as the Fw 190F-series aircraft. The Luftwaffe's dive-bomber units had ceased to exist.

Operation Bagration to Berlin 1944–1945

Towards the end of the war, as the Allies gained air supremacy, the Stuka was being replaced by ground-attack versions of the Fw 190. By early 1944, the number of Ju 87 units and operational aircraft terminally declined. For the Soviet summer offensive, Operation Bagration, 12 Ju 87 Gruppen and five mixed Gruppen (including Fw 190s) were on the Luftwaffe's order of battle on 26 June 1944. Gefechtsverband Kuhlmey, a mixed aircraft unit, which included large numbers of Stuka dive bombers, was rushed to the Finnish front in the summer of 1944 and was instrumental in halting the Soviet fourth strategic offensive. The unit claimed 200 Soviet tanks and 150 Soviet aircraft destroyed for 41 losses. By this juncture, the Luftwaffe continued to resist Soviet air attacks but it had little impact on the ground war.
By 31 January 1945, only 104 Ju 87s remained operational with their units. The other mixed Schlacht units contained a further 70 Ju 87s and Fw 190s between them. Chronic fuel shortages kept the Stukas grounded and sorties decreased until the end of the war in May 1945.

Facts About Stuka (17)

“Only he is lost who gives himself up for lost”

Hans-Ulrich Rudel was born on 2 July 1916 in Konradswaldau, Silesia, a province in the Kingdom of Prussia. Today it is Grzedy in the administrative district of Gmina Czarny Bór, within Walbrzych County, Lower Silesian Voivodeship, in south-western Poland. He was the son of Lutheran minister Johannes Rudel and his wife Martha, née Mückner. He was raised in a number of different Silesian parishes. As a boy he was a poor scholar but a very keen sportsman. In August 1936, after his Abitur (University-preparatory high school diploma), he joined the Luftwaffe as an officer cadet, and began basic training at the "School of Air Warfare" at Wildpark-Werder.

In June 1938, he joined I./Sturzkampfgeschwader 168 in Graz as an officer senior cadet. Rudel had difficulty learning the new techniques and was considered unsuitable for combat flying, so on 1 January 1939, he was transferred to the Reconnaissance Flying School at Hildesheim for training in operational reconnaissance. He was promoted to Leutnant (second lieutenant) on that date. (18) After completing training, he was posted to Fernaufklärunqsgruppe 121 (Long-Range Reconnaissance Group) at Prenzlau.
Rudel was a teetotaler and non-smoker. His fellow pilots coined the phrase Hans-Ulrich Rudel, er trinkt nur Sprudel (Hans-Ulrich Rudel, he drinks only sparkling water).

According to official Luftwaffe figures, Rudel flew some 2,530 combat missions (still a world record). He was never shot down by another pilot, only by anti-aircraft artillery. He was shot down or forced to land 32 times, several times behind enemy lines.

27 March 1944

Major Rudel, Gruppenkommandeur in einem Schlachtgeschwader, vernichtete im Süden der Ostfront an einem Tage 17 feindliche Panzer. (19)

Major Rudel, commander of a ground-attack group, destroyed 17 enemy tanks in a single day in the south of the eastern front.

28 March 1944

Zwischen Dnjestr und Pruth griffen starke deutsche Schlachtfliegergeschwader in die Kämpfe ein. Sie zerstörten zahlreiche feindliche Panzer und eine große Zahl motorisierter und bespannter Fahrzeuge. Dabei vernichtete Major Rudel wiederum neun feindliche Panzer. Er hat damit in mehr als 1800 Einsätzen allein 202 feindliche Panzer vernichtet. (20)

Between Dnyestr and Pruth large German aerial assault units joined the battle. They destroyed numerous enemy tanks and a large number of motorized and horse-drawn vehicles. On this occasion Major Rudel once more destroyed nine enemy tanks. On more than 1800 missions he has destroyed 202 enemy tanks.

3 June 1944

Major Rudel, mit dem höchsten deutschen Tapferkeitsorden ausgezeichnet, flog an der Ostfront zum 2000. Male gegen den Feind. (21)

Major Rudel, decorated with the highest German award for bravery, flew his 2000th mission against the enemy on the eastern front.

6 August 1944

27 weitere Panzer wurden durch Schlachtflieger vernichtet. Hiervon schoß Major Rudel allein 11 Panzer ab und erzielte damit seinen 300. Panzerabschuß durch Bordwaffen. (22)

27 more tanks were destroyed by ground-assault aircraft. Major Rudel alone destroyed eleven, taking his total to 300 tanks destroyed with aircraft guns.

10 February 1945

Oberst Rudel schoß in den letzten Tagen 11 sowjetische Panzer ab und erhöhte damit seine Abschußerfolge auf 516 Panzer. (23)

Colonel Rudel destroyed eleven Soviet tanks in the last few days, increasing his personal score to 516 tanks.

Hans-Ulrich Rudel in 1944


Two intact Ju 87s survive:

Ju 87D Stuka in Decline (29)(30)(31)(32)

Ju 87 R-2/Trop. Werk Nr. 5954

This aircraft is displayed in the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. It was abandoned in North Africa and found by British forces in 1941. The Ju 87 was donated by the British government and sent to the USA during the war. It was fully restored in 1974 by the EAA of Wisconsin. (24)

Ju 87 G-2, Werk Nr. 494083

A later, ground-attack variant, this is displayed at the Royal Air Force Museum in London; it was captured by British troops in Germany in 1945. It is thought to have been built in 1943–1944 as a D-5 before being rebuilt as a G-2 variant, possibly by fitting G-2 outer wings to a D-5 airframe. The wings have the hard-points for Bordkanone BK 3,7 gun-pods, but these are not fitted. After the war, it was one of 12 captured German aircraft selected by the British for museum preservation, rather than be used for technical evaluation and it was assigned to the keeping of the Air Historical Branch. The aircraft was stored and displayed at various RAF sites until 1978, when it was moved to the RAF Museum., where it has remained. (25) In 1967, permission was given to use the aircraft in the film Battle of Britain and it was repainted and modified to resemble a 1940 variant of the Ju 87. The engine was found to be in excellent condition and there was little difficulty in starting it, but returning the aircraft to airworthiness was considered too costly for the filmmakers, (25) and ultimately, models were used in the film to represent Stukas.[166] In 1998, the film modifications were removed, and the aircraft returned to the original G-2 configuration. (25)
Werk Nr. 5954, Chicago Museum of Science and Industry (2010)
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Deutsches Technikmuseum, with a veteran gunner speaking of his combat in North Africa
Werk Nr. 494083, RAF Museum (2006)

Ju 87 B-2 replica outside the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre (2011)

Other aircraft survive as wreckage, recovered from crash sites:

Junkers Ju 87 R-2 Werk Nr. 0875709 is owned by Paul Allen's Flying Heritage Collection (FHC) and is believed to be under a long-term restoration to fly. It served bearing the Stammkennzeichen of LI+KU with 1./St.G.5, and was recovered to the United Kingdom in 1998 before being sold to the FHC. (26) It is likely to be the best candidate for an airworthy restoration.

The Deutsches Technikmuseum in Berlin has the wreckage of two complete aircraft that were recovered from separate crash sites near Murmansk in 1990 and 1994. These wrecks were purchased from New Zealand collector Tim Wallis, who originally planned for the remains to be restored to airworthy, in 1996.

The Sinsheim Auto & Technik Museum displays the remains of an aircraft that crashed near Saint-Tropez in 1944 and was raised from the seabed in 1989.

In October 2006, a Ju 87 D-3/Trop. was recovered underwater, near Rhodes. (27)

Junkers Ju 87 B-2 9801 (serial number: 0406) is under reconstruction at Yugoslav Aeronautical Museum.

A full-size static replica was constructed in Blenheim, New Zealand for airshow use and is now on display at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. In addition, at least two 7/10 flyable replicas of the Ju 87B have been built based on a design by Louis Langhurst in the United States, and other scaled replicas have been built and flown in Russia and Serbia.

The fuselage of a Junkers Ju 88 was raised 6 miles off the coast of the German Island of Rügen in June 2012, the team of German Army researchers having thought it to be a Stuka as the two Junkers designs shared several parts, including the engines, and from the way it sat in the seabed it reportedly appeared to have been a Ju 87. (28)

During the invasion of France in May 1940, the Stuka proved as terrifying as it had in Poland, helping to bring about the appallingly rapid collapse of French resistance. However, this was the high tide of the Stuka. During the Battle of Britain over the summer of 1940, the Ju-87 proved far too vulnerable to British Royal Air Force (RAF) fighters. One out of five Stukas was shot down, and the type was withdrawn from the effort on 19 August 1940. There had been a faction in the Luftwaffe that had recognized even before the outbreak of war that the Stuka was an obsolescent aircraft and likely to suffer heavily in the face of effective air opposition. Reichsmarshal Hermann Goering, head of the Luftwaffe, had sided with the advocates of the Stuka, but now the beliefs of the doubters were starting to prove justified. The writing was on the wall for the Ju-87, though its career was far from over.
After the Stuka's bloodying in the Battle of Britain, it went on to achieve its former successes in the Mediterranean theater. Stukas badly damaged the Royal Navy carrier HMS ILLUSTRIOUS on 10 January 1941, and sank the cruiser HMS Southampton on 11 January. The Ju-87 also put in very useful service in the capture of the Balkans and Crete in the spring of 1941. Stukas devastated Royal Navy vessels during the Crete campaign, helping to send the cruiser HMS Gloucester to the bottom; also sinking the destroyers Greyhound, Kelley and Kashmir; and badly damaging several other RN ships.

The Ju-87 also proved highly effective in North Africa, at least initially. With the invasion of the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941, the Stuka was as destructive as ever, leading the Blitzkrieg deep into the USSR while Red air power was completely crushed. Red Army troops nicknamed it the "Musician" or "Screecher".
At that time, Junkers was working on the definitive "Ju-87D" series. The initial "Ju-87D-1" subvariant featured a Jumo 211J-1 engine with 1,045 kW (1,400 HP), driving a new VS-11 propeller. The new engine permitted a much cleaner installation than its predecessors, and the airframe was redesigned accordingly with a new engine cooling scheme, eliminating the older "broken nose" appearance of the Stuka. An entirely new canopy with better aerodynamics was fitted; the main landing gear fairings were reduced in size and tidied up. The fairings would actually be generally removed in service, since they didn't provide much improvement in speed and were a nuisance in muddy field operations. The tailfin was once again enlarged.
Greater engine power also permitted more protective armor and fuel capacity, with the Ju-87D-1 featuring the outer wing tanks pioneered by the Ju-87R series. The Ju-87D-1 retained the twin fixed forward MG-17 guns, but replaced the single MG-15 gun in the rear with twin MG-81 guns of the same caliber, ganged together side-by-side on a common flexible mount, for a total of four guns. The MG-81 had a faster rate of fire than the MG-15, and had belt instead of magazine feed. (Very early production apparently had twin rear MG-17 guns instead.)
The Ju-87D-1 could carry a 1,800 kilogram (3,970 pound) bomb over short ranges, and the airframe and bomb crutch were reinforced appropriately. A more typical bombload was a 1,000 kilogram (2,200 pound) bomb on the crutch and two 50 kilogram (110 pound) bombs under each wing, though when used in the close-support role the wings were usually fitted with "Waffenbehaelter (weapons containers)", including a container with six MG-81 machines guns, or a container with twin 20 millimeter MG-FF cannon. As with the Hs-123, cluster munitions with butterfly bombs were also a popular weapon for schlacht missions; the container was released and promptly fell open, to scatter its munitions over a wide area.


_____________________ _________________ _______________________

Spec Metric English 
________________ _________________ _______________________ 

Wingspan 13.8 meters 45 feet 3 inches
Wing area 31.90 sq_meters 343.37 sq_feet
Length 11.5 meters 37 feet 9 inches
Height 3.9 meters 12 feet 10 inches
Empty Weight 3,900 kilograms 8,600 pounds
Normal Loaded Weight 5,842 kilograms 12,880 pounds
MTO Weight 6,600 kilograms 14,550 pounds
Max Speed 410 KPH 255 MPH / 220 KT
Normal Speed 320 KPH 200 MPH / 175 KT
Service Ceiling 7,300 meters 24,000 feet
Range, Internal Fuel 820 kilometers 510 MI / 445 NMI
Range With Tanks 1,535 kilometers 955 MI / 830 NMI
____________________ _________________ _______________________

The Ju-87D-1 began to replace the Ju-87B-2 in production in mid-1942 and was put to use in combat in the East and in North Africa (in the form of the "Ju-87D-1/Trop" modification). A similar variant, the "Ju-87D-2", was built in parallel, differing only in having a strengthened rear fuselage and a stronger tailwheel with a glider tow attachment, to be used in North Africa and the Mediterranean.

Production was heavy enough to allow the D-series to replace the less capable B-series in frontline units. The D-series was mostly used in the close-support role, since it was tough and could carry and deliver a lethal warload, though it had to dodge enemy fighters by hiding at low level if fighter cover wasn't available.

By that time, the sunshine days of the Stuka were clearly over. In the first year of the war in the East the Red Air Force had been ineffective, but by mid-1942 Soviet air power was beginning to recover. At the same time, Allied air power in North Africa was beginning to make itself painfully felt against the Ju-87. By 1943 the Stuka was clearly on the defensive on all fronts, unable to survive in the face of effective fighter opposition.

The D-series Stuka had been regarded as the end of the line, an interim solution to be manufactured until something better was available. Production of the Stuka had tapered off through 1941, with a total of only 476 Stukas of all types delivered in that year. Unfortunately for the Reich, it quickly became apparent that nothing better was going to be available any time soon. The planned replacement, the Messerschmitt Me-210 twin-engine heavy fighter and attack aircraft, turned out to be wildly "snakebitten", requiring a long time and a lot of effort to work out its bugs. It was ultimately produced in relatively small numbers as the much more workable "Me-410", but it was a case of too little and much too late. Stuka production ramped back up again, heavily, in 1942, with 917 D-series machines delivered; 1,844 were delivered in 1943.

Manufacturing had moved on to the "Ju-87D-3" in late 1942, with this variant featured improved armor protection to optimize for the schlacht role. It did retain the underwing dive brakes, but had no bomb crutch and no sirens. Some Ju-87D-3s were converted to "Ju-87D-4" torpedo bombers, but they were not used operationally and were later converted back to Ju-87D-3 configuration. The Ju-87D-3 was used in experiments with personnel pods, with one such pod carried on the top of each wing outboard of the landing gear. Two people could ride in tandem in each pod, and in principle the pods could be released in a shallow dive, to deploy parachutes for a soft landing. The whole scheme was questionable and though the Stuka was evaluated with the pods, apparently they were never paradropped.
Since the Stuka had undergone the "weight creep" that typically afflicts combat aircraft over their evolution, its wing loading had become unacceptable, and in early 1943 production moved on in turn to the "Ju-87D-5", which featured distinctive "pointy" extended wingtips to improve handling, as well as the jettisonable landing gear developed for the Ju-87C series. The dive brakes were deleted after initial Ju-87D-5 production since it was used almost exclusively in the schlacht role. The two forward-firing MG-17 machine guns were also replaced with twin MG-151/20 20 millimeter cannon.

Confronted with a hostile air environment, by mid-1943 the Stuka was limited mostly to night operations. The Ju-87D-5 had no particular optimizations for flying at night, with pilots coming in low and slow and dropping antipersonnel bombs on groups of incautious Allied troops. The Luftwaffe learned that game from the Soviets, who had become fond of using little Po-2 biplanes on such harassment raids earlier in the war.
Although a "Ju-87D-6" subvariant was planned, with the focus apparently being the simplification of manufacturing, it was not built. The next variant, the "Ju-87D-7", was a Ju-87D-5 with night flight instrumentation and long flame-damper exhausts to hide the exhaust glow from the pilot or potential enemies. The Ju-87D-7 also featured a further uprated Jumo 211P engine with 1,118 kW (1,500 HP). There was also a "Ju-87D-8" variant, which was a conversion of the Ju-87D-5 to Ju-87D-7 specification. A "Ju-87E" torpedo-bomber was considered, but was canceled after Germany gave up work on aircraft carriers in early 1943, twin-engine aircraft such as the Junkers Ju-88 being able to perform torpedo attacks out of land bases. The D-series Stukas were the last new-build Ju-87s, with the last of them rolled out in September 1944. Total production of all Stuka variants amounted to over 5,700 machines.

Ju 87F & Ju 187/Ju 87G/Ju 87H

Junkers engineers had begun work on a improved successor to the Ju-87 in mid-1940, to be designated the "Ju-87F". As often happens in such circumstances, one change followed another and by the spring of 1943 the new aircraft was so unlike the Ju-87 that it was redesignated the "Ju-187".
The only major feature that the Ju-187 retained from the Ju-87 was the inverted gull wing, and even that was modified, resulting in a wider span and revised layout. The fuselage was almost completely new and much cleaner, with the engine set low to give the pilot a good forward field of view, and the rear gunner controlling a gun barbette just behind the cockpit. The barbette was to be fitted with an MG-131 13-millimeter gun and an MG-151/20 20 millimeter cannon in a top-and-bottom arrangement.
The landing gear was to be fully retractable, with the main gear retracting backwards and rotating 90 degrees to lie flat in the wings, and the machine was to be powered by a Jumo 213 engine with 1,325 kW (1,776 HP) takeoff power. Offensive armament was to include a fixed MG-151/20 cannon in each wing, with typical bombloads consisting of a 1,000 kilogram (2,200 pound) bomb on the centerline and four 250 kilogram (550 pound) bombs under the wings. However, as the design evolved it became increasingly obvious that the Ju-187's capabilities were no great leap ahead of those of the Ju-87D-5, and so the Ju-187 program was abandoned in the fall of 1943 without a prototype being flown.

That was not quite the end of Stuka development. Attacking moving tanks with conventional bombs was inaccurate, leading to a search for a way to improve the Stuka's antitank capability. In the summer of 1942, a Ju-87D-3 was fitted with heavy antitank cannon, resulting in the "Ju-87G-1", which featured a BK 3.7 / Flak 18 37 millimeter antitank gun with a six-round magazine mounted under the wing outside each main landing gear assembly. The gun pods were removeable and could be replaced with ordinary bomb racks.
Trials of the Ju-87G-1 were actually performed in late 1942 by the Luftwaffe's Hans-Ulrich Rudel, who would go on to rack up a score of 519 armored vehicles with the type. All Ju-87G-1s were modifications of Ju-87D-3 machines; a number of "Ju-87G-2s" were built as conversions of Ju-87D-5 machines.The first of these "panzerjaeger (armor hunter)" Stukas reached the Russian front in October 1943. Although the G-series was very successful at first, racking up large numbers of kills against Soviet armor, it was not very survivable. The antitank guns had terrific punch and were accurate, but the gun pods were heavy and draggy, doing little to improve the Stuka's already poor performance. Rudel's "III/SG.2" was the only Luftwaffe unit operating the Stuka on day operations at the end of 1944, with other Stukas flying night attack missions. Daylight close-support had moved on to heavily-armored versions of the Focke-Wulf FW-190 fighter, though there would never be enough of them to go around.
Beginning in 1943, a number of D-series machines were converted to dual-control trainers for the schlacht role, with these machines given the designation of "Ju-87H". They retained the subvariant number of the original D-series machine: a Ju-87D-1 became a "Ju-87H-1", a Ju-87D-3 became a "Ju-87H-3", and so on. All armament was removed and side blisters were fitted to the rear of the canopy to give the instructor a forward view.

Stuka in Foreign Service & Variant-Powerplant Summary

The Stuka was provided to most of Germany's allies. The Italians received 50 ex-Luftwaffe Ju-87B-2 and Ju-87B-2/Trop machines in the summer of 1940, with Italian Stukas seeing service in North Africa. They were quickly followed by a batch of Ju-87R-2 machines. Later, the Italians received 46 Ju-87D-2 and Ju-87D-3s, plus a few more Ju-87R-2s. The Allies honestly thought the Italians built the Stuka under license and assigned a fanciful designation of "Breda 201 Picchiatelli" to Italian Stukas, but the Stuka was never produced by anybody but Junkers and Weser.
Hungary received ten Ju-87B-2s in 1941, though these machines were only used for training. The Hungarians received at least 12 D-series machines in 1942 and 1943, using them against the Soviets beginning in August 1943. They were badly cut up in combat, leading to the withdrawal of these squadrons in October. The Hungarian Stuka force was re-formed and thrown back into the fight against the Red Army in June 1944, but within two months the Hungarians had begun to transition to the schlacht FW-190.
Rumania received 40 Ju-87B-2s in 1940, with these machines flying in support of Rumanian forces following the invasion of the USSR in June 1941. The Rumanians received 115 D-series machines in 1942 and 1943, using them to replace the less effective B-series aircraft. In August 1944 the Rumanian government was overthrown by a coup, with the new government allying itself with the USSR and turning on the Germans; Rumanian Stukas apparently performed attacks on the Nazis.
Bulgaria received 12 R-series machines in 1942, followed by 32 Ju-87D-5s in 1943. They were used in fighting partisans and may have seen some action against the Germans after the surrender of Bulgaria in September 1944. The Slovak satellite state received a few D-series machines, but it is unclear if they ever saw combat. The Croat satellite state received 15 Ju-87D-5s and some R-series machines, with a few of these aircraft possibly used against the Red Army in the summer of 1944, before most of the Croat forces deserted. A number of Stukas fell into Allied hands, particularly in North Africa, and were evaluated to assess the type's strengths and weaknesses.

A Stuka variant list follows. Initial prototypes and A-series machines included:

Ju-87 V1: Initial prototype with Rolls Royce Kestrel engine and twin tailfins.

Ju-87 V2: Second prototype with Jumo 210Aa engine and single tailfin.

Ju-87 V3: Third prototype, with lowered engine and larger rudder.

Ju-87 V4: Fourth prototype, larger tailfin, revised landing gear pants.

Ju-87A-0: Initial preproduction batch, much like the V4 but with Jumo 210Ca engine, simplified wing, and full armament of one fixed MG-17 and one flexible MG-15 machine gun.

Ju-87A-1: Initial full production variant, very similar to Ju-87A-0.

Ju-87A-2: More powerful Jumo 210Da engine and new propeller.

B-series through R-series Stukas included:

Ju-87 V6: Ju-87A-1 fitted with Jumo 211 engine for evaluation.

Ju-87 V7: Ju-87A-1 remodeled as prototype for the B-series Stuka.

Ju-87B-0: B-series preproduction batch, with new fuselage, substantially more powerful Jumo 211A engine, larger tailfin, sliding canopy elements, spat landing gear, and a second fixed MG-17 gun.

Ju-87B-1: Initial full-production B-series variant, similar to Ju87B-0 but with Jumo 211Da engine.

Ju-87B-2: Uprated Jumo 211D engine, new propeller, and other small improvements. Modification kits were introduced for the Ju-87B-2, such as the "Ju-87B-2/U2" with a new radio, "Ju-87B-2/U3" with more armor for close-support, "Ju-87B-2/U4" with ski landing gear, and "Ju-87B-2/Trop" with sand filters and survival kit for desert use. Similar kits were fitted to the Ju-87B-1 and later Stukas.

Ju-87C-0: Small batch of carrier-capable Stukas, much like the B-series but with folding wings, catapult attachment, arresting gear, floatation gear, inflatable life-raft, and jettisonable landing gear.

Ju-87R-1: Long-range variant with "wet" wing attachments and additional internal fuel. There were other very similar subvariants in the R-series, including the "Ju-87R-2", "Ju-87R-3", and "Ju-87R-4", but the R-series was not built in large quantities.

D-series through F-series Stukas included:

Ju-87D-1: Initial production D-series machine, with Jumo 211J-1 engine and new propeller, generally redesigned airframe and canopy, more armor, and rear MG-15 gun replaced by twin MG-81 guns.

Ju-87D-2: Similar to D-1 but with glider tow attachment.

Ju-87D-3: Like D-1 but with more armor for close-support role.

Ju-87D-4: Land-based torpedo-bomber conversion of Ju-87D-3, not used operationally, all converted back to original Ju-87D-3 specification.

Ju-87D-5: Longer wings, jettisonable landing gear, no dive brakes, MG-17 guns replaced by MG-151/20 cannon.

Ju-87D-6: Retooled design, not proceeded with.

Ju-87D-7: Night attack variant with flame damper exhausts and other optimizations.

Ju-87D-8: Conversion of Ju-87D-5 to Ju-87D-7 night-attack configuration.

Ju-87E: Carrier-based torpedo-bomber variant, never flew.

Ju-87F / Ju-187: Follow-on Stuka derivative with retractable landing gear and many other refinements, never flew.

Ju-87G-1: Ju-87D-3 conversion with twin 37-millimeter cannon for tank-busting role.

Ju-87G-2: Ju-87D-5 conversion with twin 37-millimeter cannon for tank-busting role.

Ju-87H: Trainer conversions of Ju-87D, with an H-series conversion retaining the subvariant number of the D-series machine from which it was converted -- a Ju-87D-3 became a Ju-87H-3, for example.

Story by Luis German Dzib Aguilar

Stuka lied (33)(34)

Viel schwarze Vögel ziehen
Hoch über Land und Meer,
Und wo sie erscheinen, da fliehen
Die Feinde vor ihnen her.
Sie lassen jäh sich fallen
Vom Himmel tiefbodenwärts.
Sie schlagen die ehernen Krallen
Dem Gegner mitten ins Herz.

Wir sind die schwarzen Husaren der Luft,
Die Stukas, die Stukas, die Stukas.
Immer bereit, wenn der Einsatz uns ruft,
Die Stukas, die Stukas, die Stukas.
Wir stürzen vom Himmel und schlagen zu.
Wir fürchten die Hölle nicht und geben nicht Ruh,
Bis endlich der Feind am Boden liegt,

Bis England, bis England, bis Engeland besiegt-
Die Stukas, die Stukas, die Stukas!

Wenn tausend Blitze flammen,
Wenn rings sie Gefahr bedroht,
Sie halten stets eisern zusammen,
Kameraden auf Leben und Tod!
Wenn Beute sie erspähen,
Dann wehe ihr allemal,
Nichts kann ihren Augen entgehen,
Den Stukas, Adlern gleich aus Stahl!

Tod säen sie und Verderben
Rings über des Feindes Land.
Die Spuren sind Trümmer und Scherben
Und lodernder Himmelsbrand.
Es geht schon in allen Landen
Ihr Name von Mund zu Mund.
Sie schlagen die Werke zuschanden,
Die Schiffe schicken sie auf Grund.


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Just, Gunther. Stuka Pilot Hans Ulrich Rudel. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Military History, 1986, ISBN 0-88740-252-6. P. 54

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Junker Ju 87 Stukageschwader 1937-1941 (Osprey Combat Aircraft, No 1), by John Weal

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Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, p. 192.

Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, p. 438.

Vanags-Baginskis, Alex. Ju 87 Stuka. London: Jane's Publishing Company Limited, 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0191-3. p. 51

"Junkers Ju 87 G-2 494083/8474M." RAF Museum. Retrieved 26 September 2010.

Classic Wings issue 44, p. 28.

"Hellenic Aviation News." Retrieved: 1 September 2010.

"WWII Plane Wreck On Bottom Of Baltic Sea Not JU87 Stuka Divebomber, But Larger JU88 Aircraft". 15 June 2012. Retrieved14 January 2013.

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