Ju 87 Stuka, Junkers

Ju87 Stuka

'Stuka' or 'Sturzkampfflugzeug' was the general German terminology for dive-bombers, but the Ju 87 with its inverted gull wing, and fixed-undercarriage was the most famous and feared of all. The Ju 87 was ugly, sturdy, accurate, but very vulnerable to enemy fighters; it's use demanded air superiority. But its effectiviness in destroying fortifications or ships, or just scaring people, was undoubted. On the eastern front the last Ju 87 versions were employed as anti-tank aircraft with underwing 37mm guns. Over 5700 Stuka's built.

General description

The Stuka's design featured some innovative features, including an automatic pull-up system to ensure that the plane recovered from its attack dive even if the pilot blacked out from the high acceleration, and wind-powered sirens on the wheel covers that wailed during dives to frighten its victims. These were named "Trumpets of Jericho" by Junkers and were a form of psychological warfare. Its rugged fixed undercarriage allowed it to land and take-off from improvised airstrips close to the battlefront, giving close support to the advancing German forces. It was a Ju 87 that achieved the first Axis air victory during World War II, on September 1 when a Luftwaffe Ju 87 pilot shot down a Polish PZL P.11c fighter aircraft.

More than 6,000 Ju 87 were built between 1936 and August 1944.

Although sturdy, accurate, and very effective, the Stuka suffered from low speed and maneuverabilty, with little defensive armament, making it highly vulnerable to enemy fighters. The Germans learned during the Battle of Britain that air superiority must be obtained before ground attack aircraft could be effectively used. After the Battle of Britain, the Stuka was little used in western Europe, but it remained effective further south where Allied fighters were in short supply, perhaps most notably in the Battles of Crete and Malta. Stukas were used in vast numbers on the Eastern Front, although the steady rise in Soviet airpower as the war progressed meant that Stuka squadrons suffered very heavy losses by the final stages of the war.

The diving procedure

Flying at 4,600 meters (15,000 ft), the pilot located his target through a bombsight window in the cockpit floor. After opening the dive brakes and slowing his throttle, he then rolled the aircraft 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 degree angle, accelerating to 600 km/h (350 mph).

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 (1,500 ft). The pilot released the bomb by depressing a knob on the control column to release weapons and to initiate the automatic pull-out mechanism. A clutch located under the fuselage would swing the bomb out of the way of the propeller, and the aircraft would automatically begin a 6 g pullout.

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 remaining bombs under the wings were used for other targets.


Anton (A) - This was the first production version of the Stuka. Relatively underpowered, it could only carry the rated 1,102lb bomb load by leaving the rear gunner behind. The most notable cosmetic features are the "trousered" landing struts, square rudder, and small radiator housing. Three Antons served with the Condor Legion in Spain, problems revealed there were essential in the developement of the Berta. Other than these three examples, none saw combat. Most Antons were assigned to home based units and used for training in 1939.

Berta (B) - The Berta evolved in an attempt to solve the problems discovered in the disappointing performance of the Anton. The primary difference was the installation of the Junkers Jumo 211 A engine, which was rated at 1,100hp. This gave the Ju 87B the necessary power to be a truly effective dive-bomber. The cowling was redesigned to allow for this installation and included the shifting of several support systems and a larger, rounder radiator bath. Another feature that was a completely redesigned of the landing struts. Gone were the ungainly trousers and in there place were much more aerodynamically efficient spats. Also introduced was an automatic pull-out device to prevent pilots that blacked out during a being rudely awakened by an untimely impact into the terrain. Five Ju 87B-1's flew with the Condor Legion and completely eclipsed the Antons performance, thus securing for itself a place in the RLM's tight production schedule.
The Berta was developed into several different versions including the Trop version used by the Afrika Corps and the long ranged R version that was equipped with "strap-on" fuel tanks. The Berta served with distinction in the Polish invasion but revealed severe vulnerabilities a year later during the Battle of Britain, forcing them to be withdrawn to theatres where the Luftwaffe enjoyed some sort of air superiority. The Berta served throughout the war, mainly on the Eastern front and with various airforces, including the Slovakian, Romanian, Hungarian and Italy's Regia Aeronautica.
The Berta was also used as the basis for the C variant which was being developed as a carrier based dive bomber. The C variant was cancelled when it was realized that the Berta's airframe was obsolete.

(C) - The C model was developed for use on Germany's planned aircraft carrier, the Graf Zepplin. The main differences from the B model was the inclusion of a tail hook, folding wings and jettisonable landing gear for ditching at sea.

Dora (D) - With the development of new attack aircraft proceeding slowly, it was decided to put a improved version of the successful Ju 87 into production, thus the Dora was born. The Dora's were without a doubt the prevailing type later in the war and a dozen versions were produced or planned. Most versions incorporated mainly engine, armament and armor changes but several version stand out. The D-3 was at one time modified to carry two personel pods attatched to the upper wings. These parachute delivered pods were, if successful, to be used for the delivery of clandestine agents. The D-4 was modified to carry torpedoes. A D-1 was modified and redesignated a Ju 87E, a ill-fated attempt to breath life into the doomed carrier based dive bomber project. D-7 and D-8 versions were modified for night harrassment dutied. The single most successful version was the Gustav, detailed below.

Gustav (G) - In 1943 the first G-1's entered service (these being converted from D-3's). The G-1 was designed for one purpose only, to kill tanks (in a way, along with the Il-2 Stormavik, the ancestor of the A-10 Warthog). To accomplish this mission, the Gustav was equipped with two 37mm Flak 18 cannons. The G-1, and later the G-2 (converted from the long wingspan D-5) proved to be highly successful in "tankbusting", soon earning nicknames like 'Kanonenvogel' (Cannonbird) and 'Panzerknacker' (tank cracker). Most Gustavs were used on the Eastern front but could be found on the Western front as well by the end of the war.

Engine: Single Engine All Models
Ju 87A-2 - 680 hp Jumo 210 Da with a two-stage supercharger
Ju 87B-1 - 1,100 hp Jumo 211 A
Ju 87B-2 - 1,200 hp Jumo 211 Da 12 Cylinder liquid-cooled inverted Vee
Ju 87R-1 - Same powerplant as Ju 87B-1
Ju 87R-2, R-3 - Same powerplant as Ju 87B-2
Ju 87C - 1,100 hp Jumo 211 A
Ju 87D-1 to D5, G, H - 1,400 hp Jumo 211 J 12 Cylinder liquid-cooled inverted vee
Ju 87D-7 & D-8 - 1,500 hp Jumo 211 P 12 Cylinder liquid-cooled inverted vee

Barrel Armaments
Ju 87A-2 - One 7.92mm MG 15 manually aimed in rear cockpit
Ju 87B series, R series, C - Two 7.92mm Rheinmetall MG 17 machine guns in wings, One 7.92mm MG 15 manually aimed in rear cockpit
Ju 87D-1 to D-3, D-7 - Two 7.92mm Rheinmetall MG 17 machine guns in wings, one 7.92mm MG 81Z twin machine guns manually aimed in rear cockpit
Ju 87D-4 - Two underwing WB81 weapon containers each housing six MG 81 guns.
Ju 87D-5, D-8 - Two 20mm MG 151/20 cannon in wings, one 7.92mm MG 81Z twin machine guns manually aimed in rear cockpit Ju 87G - Two 37mm Flak 18 Bord Kannone (12 rounds of ammo carried per gun)
Ju 87H - None (Used for training)

Drop Ordnance
Ju 87A - Single 250kg bomb
Ju 87B, C - One 250kg bomb on the centerline trapeze and two 50kg bombs on each wing
Ju 87D - Various loads up to a maximum 3,968 lbs
Ju 87D-4 - One 1,687lb LT F5b Torpedo or loads of similar weight.
Ju 87G - None

Ju 87AJu 87BJu 87DJu 87G
Production1936-19381938-19411941-1944refitted Ju 87D
Roleground attackground attackground attackanti-tank
Length10.8 m11.1 m11.1 m11.1 m
Wingspan13.8 m13.8 m13.8 m13.8 m
Height3.9 m3.9 m3.9 m3.9 m
Wing area31.90 m²31.90 m²31.90 m²31.90 m²
Empty weight2273 kg2760 kg2810 kg3600 kg
Maximum weight3324 kg4400 kg5720 kg5100 kg
EngineJunkers Jumo 210DJunkers Jumo 211DJunkers Jumo 211JJunkers Jumo 211J
Maximum Power720 hp1200 hp1410 hp1410 hp
Maximum Power530 kW883 kW1037 kW1037 kW
Maximum speed310 km/h340 km/h354 km/h344 km/h
Dive speed550 km/h600 km/h600 km/h
Range with bombs800 km600 km1165 km1000 km
Ceiling9430 m8100 m9000 m7500 m
Climb3000 m in 8.8 min3000 m in 14 min3000 m in 13.6 min
Forward guns17.92 mm MG 1727.92 mm MG 1727.92 mm MG 1727.92 mm MG 17
237 mm BK 37
Rear guns17.92 mm MG 1517.92 mm MG 1517.92 mm MG 81Z
(twin MG 81)
17.92 mm MG 81Z
(twin MG 81)
Maximum bombs250 kg500 kg1800 kgnone
Typical bombs1250 kg1250 kg
+ 450 kg
1500/1000 kg
+ 450 kg

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