The Junkers JU87
“Stuka” epitomises Blitzkrieg with its distinctive
gull wing and screeching dive. When first introduced in 1938
the JU 87 incorporated a number of innovations. These included
dive brakes that automatically deployed to pull the aircraft
out of a dive even if the pilot had blacked out, a rugged
fixed undercarriage allowing use from rough forward or temporary
air strips and its characteristic dive siren; the Jericho
The Stuka was designed principally to act as a ground support
aircraft by backing up ground troops with a precise delivery
of bombs. For this role it was admirably designed but was
intrinsically slow, clumsy in manoeuvre and almost wholly
lacking in defensive armament. When the Luftwaffe accomplished
air superiority it was truly a terrifying weapon. However,
when the Luftwaffe did not have air superiority the Stuka
was extremely vulnerable.
The Stuka's wailing dive sirens first inflicted terror during
the Spanish civil war and during the early phases of the Second
World War the Stuka continued to wreak havoc on its unprepared
foes. In the 1939 campaign in Poland and in May 1940 in France
it seemed to be everywhere, stooping on its victims with impunity.
However, against modern fighters such as the Spitfire and
Hurricane the Stuka found itself a sitting duck and was very
roughly handled. Losses were so high during the Battle of
Britain that the Stukas were quickly withdrawn from the battle,
robbing the Luftwaffe of its primary precision strike weapon.
However, the Stuka continued to perform admirably until the
end of the war wherever the Luftwaffe had air superiority
or allied fighters could not intervene. In the Mediterranean,
Russia and on the North Atlantic convoys the Stuka continued
to be feared as a dive bomber, maritime strike aircraft and
Very few original Stuka's have survived to be exhibited today.
One can be seen at the RAF Museum, Hendon.
Below are the details for the JU 87R as used during the Battle
Type: Dive Bomber/Ground Attack.
Crew: 2 (pilot and radio operator/gunner)
Powerplant: 1,200 hp Junkers Jumo 211Da inverted V12
Maximum Speed: 242 mph
Service Ceiling: 26,200 feet
Range: c 373 miles fully loaded
Armament: 2 x forward firing 7.92mm MG 17 machine guns
1 x 7.92mm MG 15 machine gun in rear cockpit
1x 500Kg bomb on centre lie, 4x 50 Kg bombs on wing racks