The Junkers Ju 87 or Stuka was the most famous Sturzkampfflugzeug (German dive bomber) in World War II, instantly recognisable by its inverted gull-wings and fixed undercarriage.
The Stuka's design included 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 scare its victims. (A similar technique is shown in the movie Apocalypse Now.)
The Stuka was sturdy, accurate, and very effective, but also slow, unmaneuverable, underarmed, and vulnerable to enemy fighters. The Germans learned in 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 (notably in the attacks on Crete and Malta, and was 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.
Over 5700 Stukas were built.
(Models not listed include
the Ju.87C, intended for use on the aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin,
the Ju.87R long-range version of the Ju.87B,
the Ju.87C naval derivative of the Ju.87B,
the Ju.87H disarmed versions of the equivalent D-models for use as trainers,
and the Ju.87K export models.)
|Purpose:||prototype||ground attack||improved ground attack||anti-tank|
|Engine:||640hp Junkers Jumo 210D||1200hp Junkers Jumo 211A||1300hp Junkers Jumo 211J||1300hp Junkers Jumo 211J|
|Climb:||3000m in 8.8min||3000m in 14min||3000m in 13.6min|
|Forward Armament:||1×7.9mm MG17||2×7.9mm MG17||2×7.9mm MG17||2×37mm BK3,7|
|Rear Armament:||1×7.9mm MG15||1×7.9mm MG15||2×7.9mm MG81Z||2×7.9mm MG81Z|