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Junkers JU 87 “Stuka”



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 Trumpet.

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 Losses were so high during the Battle of Britain that the Stukas were quickly withdrawn from the battle, robbing the Luftwaffe of its primary precision strike weapon.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 tank buster.

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 of Britain

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


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