|Ju 87 Stuka.|
The Stuka was a reliable workhorse, much like the Bf 110. It was not fancy, though it had unique stylistic attributes which enhanced its reputation as a deadly weapon, such as gull wings which made it resemble a bird of prey as it dove upon its victims, and screeching air horns.
Designed by Hermann Pohlmann, the Stuka first flew in 1935 and at that time had very few peers as a dive bomber.
|German crew working on a Ju 87 Stuka aircraft, arming it, in the field. Russia, during the Winter of 1943-1944. It shows signs of heavy use. (Doege, Federal Archive)|
|A Stuka formation.|
|Stuka releasing bombs.|
|Tiger Tank Commander watches Stuka attack in distance. The Stuka was best when used in this sort of mobile-artillery role.|
The Stuka was intended to help the troops advance by serving as highly mobile supporting artillery, and it did this effectively. Other roles were assigned to it as time went on, but infantry support was its primary role. During the days of the so-called 'Blitzkrieg,' this worked wonderfully.
|Stukas in full dive mode, sirens screeching.|
|Stukas in anti-tank configuration and in classic markings on the Russian Front.|
|Stuka destroyed at El Alamein November 1942.|
|Flyover near Trouville, France.|
|Der Adler (Eagle) was the Luftwaffe magazine that was published from 1939 to September 1944, in multiple editions available across the breadth of Europe.|
|Maintenance of a Junkers Ju - 87. Beautiful shot of the Jumo 211 engine.|
However, while outmoded, the Stuka still performed well under proper circumstances, particularly in an anti-tank role. While the bulky airframe placed definitive limits on flight performance, as a bomb deliverer and cannon platform it was second to none. Stukas also filled a need because other, better aircraft such as the Focke Wulf 190 were needed in other roles, and could be used to provide fighter cover for the much slower Stukas. Thus, the Stuka remained in use until the very last day of the war, and was raining death on the advancing British and Russians alike in the closing days of the war.
|August 17, 1940, Stuka crashing over London.|
|A nice crash landing, with no flip-over|
Stukas served on all fronts in all climes. They were hardy planes, reliable and tough.
|Stuka with arms and personnel.|
|A rare view of a fully armed Stuka upside down.|
|Stukas flying over the frozen lakes of Finland.|
Below, Flak-Kanoniere of the 2. SS-Panzer-Division 'Das Reich' wave a flag to alert the Stuka pilots above them of their position at the frontline in the region of Belgorod, Russia. To the left, an Sd.Kfz. 10/5 carried the 2 cm FlaK 30. This was on 3 August 1943. German aircraft were still pre-eminent at this point, just after the Kursk operation, but not for much longer. Control of the skies in the East is generally assumed to have occurred during the battle of Kursk in July 1943, but it was more of a gradual process.
Below, Stuka dive bombers, part of the famed Condor Legion, in flight above Spain on May 30, 1939, during the Spanish Civil War. The black-and-white "X" on the tail and wings is Saint Andrew's Cross, the insignia of Franco's Nationalist Air Force. The Condor Legion was composed of volunteers from the German Army and Air Force. At this point, the Stuka was state-of-the-art.
Below, HMS Gloucester under attack by Ju-87 Stukas. May 1941. It is very tough to hit a moving ship with a bomb even with a dive bomber, something learned by all air forces of World War II. However, the Americans at Midway a year later certainly managed it.
|HMS Gloucester heeling hard over to avoid Stuka bombs.|
A natural long-range bomber, the He177 was wrongly designated a dive bomber to perform a milder version of the Stuka role. The standing rule was that all German bombers had to be capable of tactical Army support in this fashion, which was ridiculous for a heavy bomber design. In common with most German bombers except the Stuka, the He 177 was grounded from the summer of 1944 on as Allied bombing crippled German fuel production and aircraft plants. German pilots were not displeased by the grounding.
|The Stuka could have been highly effective at sea.|
|Stukas armed with 37mm cannon, the tank-destroyer version Rudel flew|
|Hans-Ulrich Rudel, commemorating a milestone.|
The legend, though, had one more chapter. Rudel received surreptitious full (and controversial) military honors at his funeral. It was just a "coincidence" that several modern Luftwaffe fighter jets overflew the service at just the right moment. At least, that is what the pilots claimed.
Below is the tank-buster version of the Stuka, the Ju-87G, which was quite effective. This was the type of equipment that Rudel used late in the war. The Ju 87 G-1 "Kanonenvogel" has twin Bordkanone BK 3,7, 37 mm underwing gun pods. It was the final variant of the aircraft and served on the Eastern Front with great effect.
|A tank-destroyer version of the Stuka.|
The Ju 87 earned its fierce reputation and was one of the most effective aircraft of World War II.