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-Junkers Ju 87-


The Junkers Ju 87 or Stuka (from Sturzkampfflugzeug, "dive bomber") was a two-seat (pilot and rear gunner) German ground-attack aircraft. Designed by Hermann Pohlmann, the Stuka first flew in 1935 and made its combat debut in 1936 as part of the Luftwaffe's Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War.

The aircraft was easily recognizable by its inverted gull wings, fixed spatted undercarriage and its infamous Jericho-Trompete ("Jericho Trumpet") wailing siren, becoming the propaganda symbol of German air power and the Blitzkrieg victories of 1939–1942. The Stuka's design included several innovative features, including automatic pull-up dive brakes under both wings to ensure that the aircraft recovered from its attack dive even if the pilot blacked out from the high acceleration. Although sturdy, accurate, and very effective, the Ju 87 was vulnerable to modern fighter aircraft, like many other dive bombers of the war. Its flaws became apparent during the Battle of Britain; poor manoeuvrability, lack of speed and defensive armament meant that the Stuka required heavy fighter escort to operate effectively.

The Stuka operated with further success after the Battle of Britain, and its potency as a precision ground-attack aircraft became valuable to German forces in the Balkans Campaign, the African and Mediterranean Theaters and the early stages of the Eastern Front campaigns where Allied fighter resistance was disorganised and in short supply. Once the Luftwaffe had lost air superiority on all fronts, the Ju 87 once again became an easy target for enemy fighter aircraft. In spite of this, because there was no better replacement, the type continued to be produced until 1944. By the end of the conflict, the Stuka had been largely replaced by ground-attack versions of the Focke-Wulf Fw 190, but was still in use until the last days of the war. An estimated 6,500 Ju 87s of all versions were built between 1936 and August 1944.

Oberst Hans-Ulrich Rudel was the most notable Stuka ace and was the most highly decorated German serviceman of the Second World War. He was the only serviceman to receive the highest German military award, the Knight's Cross with golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, on 29 December 1944.

The Ju 87 B series was to be the first mass produced variant. The first variant, the Ju 87 B-0, was produced in small numbers. A total of six Ju 87 B-0s 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. Most of the prototypes were conversions from the Ju 87 A-1.

The next major variant 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 the fuselage and landing gear were completely redesigned. 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 damage enemy morale and enhance the intimidating effect of dive-bombing. After the enemy became used to it, they were to be withdrawn. The devices also caused a loss of some 20–25 km/h (10-20 mph) through drag. Instead some bombs were fitted with whistles installed on the fin of the bomb to produce the noise after release.

The trumpets were a suggestion from Generaloberst Ernst Udet (but some authors say they were an idea from Adolf Hitler himself). 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.

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 Bremen by July 1937. Production would be carried out by the Weserflug company after April 1938. But another 352 Ju 87 B-1s were built at Junkers up until March 1940. From August 1938 to March 1940 the Weserflug company produced 740 Ju 87s. In total an estimated 700 Ju 87 B-1s and 230 B-2s were delivered to the Luftwaffe of which 550 were built at Junkers. The remaining machines were built at Weserflug's Bremen factory.

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. Internal fuel capacity was increased by adding two inner-wing 240 L (60 US gal) fuel tanks and by using two standardised Luftwaffe 300 L (80 US gal) capacity under-wing drop tanks. This increased capacity to 1,080 litres. Bomb carrying ability was reduced to a single 250 kg (550 lb) bomb if the aircraft was fully loaded with fuel.

The naval variant of the Ju 87 B was known as the Ju 87 C, and these were built to operate from the aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin. The carrier was never completed, and all of these were converted back to the Ju 87 B standard. 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 km/h (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 km/h (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 was installed with an expanded radio system which was installed so that 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. Like the R-3, it was produced only in limited numbers.

The Weserflug works at Bremen built 471 Ju 87 R-2s and 145 Ju 87 R-4s. 143 of the 145 built Ju 87 R-4s were delivered as two were destroyed on test flights. 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.


The Ju-87 Stats

Specifications (Ju 87 B-2)

-General characteristics-

Crew: 2
Length: 11.00 m (36 ft 1.07 in)
Wingspan: 13.8 m (45 ft 3.30 in)
Height: 4.23 m (13 ft 10.53 in)
Wing area: 31.90 m² (343.37 ft²)
Empty weight: 3,205 kg (7,086 lb)
Loaded weight: 4,320 kg (9,524 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 5,000 kg (11,023 lb)
Powerplant: 1× Junkers Jumo 211D liquid-cooled inverted-vee V12 engine, 1200 PS (1184 hp, 883 kW)
Propellers: Three-blade Junkers VS 5 propeller, 1 per engine
Propeller diameter: 3.4 m (11 ft 1.85 in)


Never exceed speed: 600 km/h (373 mph)
Maximum speed: 390 km/h @ 4,400 m (242 mph @ 13,410 ft)
Range: 500 km (311 mi) with 500 kg (1,102 lb) bomb load
Service ceiling: 8,200 m (26,903 ft) with 500 kg (1,102 lb) bomb load


2× 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17 machine gun forward, 1× 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 15 machine gun to rear

Normal load = 1× 250 kg (551 lb) bomb beneath the fuselage and 2× 50 kg (110 lb) bombs underneath each wing.