The Junkers Ju 87 or Stuka (from Sturzkampfflugzeug, “dive bomber”) was a German dive bomber and ground-attack aircraft.
The Ju 87 made its combat debut in 1937 with the Luftwaffe’s Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War and served the Axis forces in World War II.
The Stuka’s design included several innovations, 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 g-forces.
After the Battle of Britain the Stuka was used in the Balkans Campaign, the African and Mediterranean theatres and the early stages of the Eastern Front where it was used for general ground support, as an effective specialised anti-tank aircraft and in an anti-shipping role.
The Ju 87’s principal designer, Hermann Pohlmann, held the opinion that any dive-bomber design needed to be simple and robust. This led to many technical innovations, such as the retractable undercarriage being discarded in favour of one of the Stuka’s distinctive features, its fixed and “spatted” undercarriage.
The main, and what was to be the most distinctive, feature of the Ju 87 was its double-spar inverted gull wings. After Plauth’s death, Pohlmann continued the development of the Junkers dive bomber.
The Ju A 48 registration D-ITOR, was originally fitted with a BMW 132 engine, producing 450 kW (600 hp).
Udet began his dive at 1,000 m (3,300 ft) and released his 1 kg (2.2 lb) bombs at 100 m (330 ft), barely recovering and pulling out of the dive. The chief of the Luftwaffe Command Office Walther Wever, and the Secretary of State for Aviation Erhard Milch, feared that such high-level nerves and skill could not be expected of “average pilots” in the Luftwaffe. Nevertheless, development continued at Junkers. Udet’s “growing love affair” with the dive bomber pushed it to the forefront of German aviation development. Udet went so far as to advocate that all medium bombers should have dive-bombing capabilities, which initially doomed the only dedicated, strategic heavy bomber design to enter German front-line service during the war years — the 30-metre wingspan He 177A — into having an airframe design (due to Udet examining its design details in November 1937) that could perform “medium angle” dive-bombing missions, until Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring exempted the He 177A, Germany’s only operational heavy bomber, in September 1942 from being given the task of such a mismatched mission profile for its large airframe.
Ten engines were ordered by Junkers on 19 April 1934 for £20,514, two shillings and sixpence. The first Ju 87 prototype was built by AB Flygindustri [sv] in Sweden and secretly brought to Germany in late 1934.
The Ju 87 V1, powered by a Rolls-Royce Kestrel V12 cylinder liquid-cooled engine, and with a twin tail, crashed on 24 January 1936 at Kleutsch near Dresden, killing Junkers’ chief test pilot, Willy Neuenhofen, and his engineer, Heinrich Kreft. The square twin fins and rudders proved too weak; they collapsed and the aircraft crashed after it entered an inverted spin during the testing of the terminal dynamic pressure in a dive. The crash prompted a change to a single vertical stabiliser tail design.
Although the testing went well, and the pilot, Flight Captain Hesselbach, praised its performance, Wolfram von Richthofen told the Junkers representative and Construction Office chief engineer Ernst Zindel that the Ju 87 stood little chance of becoming the Luftwaffe’s main dive bomber, as it was underpowered in his opinion.
The Ju 87 could take off in 250 m (820 ft) and climb to 1,875 m (6,152 ft) in eight minutes with a 250 kg (550 lb) bomb load, and its cruising speed was 250 km/h (160 mph).
In accordance with the Aircraft Certification Centre for “Stress Group 5”, the Ju 87 had reached the acceptable structural strength requirements for a dive bomber.
Performance in the diving attack was enhanced by the introduction of dive brakes under each wing, which allowed the Ju 87 to maintain a constant speed and allow the pilot to steady his aim.
Ju 87 diving procedure
The Stuka dived at a 60-90° angle, holding a constant speed of 500–600 km/h (350-370 mph) due to dive-brake deployment, which increased the accuracy of the Ju 87’s aim.
Helmut Mahlke later said that he and his unit disconnected the system because it allowed the enemy to predict the Ju 87’s recovery pattern and height, making it easier for ground defences to hit an aircraft.
The Ju 87 pilots experienced the visual impairments most during “pull-up” from a dive.
Eric “Winkle” Brown RN, a British test pilot and Commanding Officer of No. 1426 Flight RAF (the captured enemy aircraft Flight), tested the Ju 87 at RAE Farnborough.
In this position, Junkers concluded that ⅔ of pilots could withstand 8g and perhaps 9g for three to five seconds without vision defects which, under war conditions, was acceptable. During tests with the Ju 87 A-2, new technologies were tried out to reduce the effects of g.
When the United States Army occupied the Junkers factory at Dessau on 21 April 1945, they were both impressed at and interested in the medical flight tests with the Ju 87.
Later bomber models like the Junkers Ju 88 and the Dornier Do 217 were equipped for dive bombing.
The A-1 differed from the A-0 only slightly. As well as the installation of the Jumo 210D, the A-1 had two 220 l (58 US gal; 48 imp gal) fuel tanks built into the inner wing, but it was not armoured or protected. The A-1 was also intended to be fitted with four 7.92 mm (0.312 in) MG 17 machine guns in its wings, but two of these – one per side – were omitted due to weight concerns; the pair that remained were fed a total of 500 rounds of ammunition, stored in the design’s characteristic transverse strut-braced, large-planform undercarriage “trousers”, not used on the Ju 87B versions and onward.
The Ju 87 was capable of carrying a 500 kg (1,100 lb) bomb, but only if not carrying the rear gunner/radio operator as, even with the Jumo 210D, the Ju 87 was still underpowered for operations with more than a 250 kg (550 lb) bomb load.
The only further significant difference between the A-1 and A-2 was the H-PA-III controllable-pitch propeller. By mid-1938, 262 Ju 87 As had been produced, 192 from the Junkers factory in Dessau, and a further 70 from Weser Flugzeugbau (“Weserflug” – WFG) in Lemwerder near Bremen.
Ju 87 V2 : W.Nr 4922, registration D-IDQR.
Ju 87 A-0 : Ten pre-production aircraft, powered by a 640 PS (471 kW or 632 hp) Jumo 210C engine.
Ju 87 A-1 : Initial production version.
Ju 87 A-2 : Production version fitted with an improved 680 PS (500 kW or 670 hp) Jumo 210E engine.
Junkers Ju 87 B during the Battle of Stalingrad
The Ju 87 B series was to be the first mass-produced variant.
A total of six pre-production Ju 87 B-0 were produced, built from Ju 87 An airframes. The first production version was the Ju 87 B-1, with a considerably larger engine, its Junkers Jumo 211D generating 1,200 PS (883 kW or 1,184 hp), and completely redesigned fuselage and landing gear, replacing the twin radio masts of the “A” version with a single mast mounted further forward on the “greenhouse” canopy, and much simpler, lighter-weight wheel “spats” used from the -B version onwards, discarding the transverse strut bracing of the “A” version’s maingear design.
As a result, by the outbreak of World War II, the Luftwaffe had 336 Ju 87 B-1s on hand.
The Ju 87 B-2s that followed had some improvements and were built in several 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.
Production of the Ju 87 B started in 1937.
Production would be carried out by the Weserflug company after April 1938, but Junkers continued producing Ju 87 up until March 1940.
A long range version of the Ju 87B was also built, known as the Ju 87R, the letter being an abbreviation for Reichweite, “(operational) range”.
The Ju 87R had a B-series airframe with an additional oil tank and fuel lines to the outer wing stations to permit the use of two 300 litres (79 US gal) standardised capacity under-wing drop tanks, used by a wide variety of Luftwaffe aircraft through most of the war.
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.
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 700 kg (1,500 lb), the Ju 87 R-2 was 30 km/h (19 mph) slower than the Ju 87 B-1 and had a lower service ceiling.
The powerplant; a Jumo 211D installed in a Ju 87 B — the “Jericho Trumpet” siren housing is faired over on the maingear leg
Prototype of the Ju 87B, powered by a 1,000 PS (735 kW or 986 hp) Jumo 211A.
The Ju 87 C was intended to be a dive and torpedo bomber for the Kriegsmarine.
The prototypes were Ju 87 B-0 airframes powered by Jumo 211 A engines. Owing to delays, the V10 was not completed until March 1938.
Tests showed the average braking distance was 20–35 metres (66–115 ft). The Ju 87 V11 was designated C-0 on 8 October 1938.
A quick fuel dump mechanism and two inflatable 750 L (200 US gal) bags in each wing and a further two 500 L (130 US gal) bags in the fuselage enabled the Ju 87 C to remain afloat for up to three days in calm seas. On 6 October 1939, with the war already underway, 120 of the planned Ju 87 Tr(C)s on order at that point were cancelled.
Despite the Stuka’s vulnerability to enemy fighters having been exposed during the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe had no choice but to continue its development, as there was no replacement aircraft in sight. The result was the D-series.
In June 1941, the RLM ordered five prototypes, the Ju 87 V21–25.
A Daimler-Benz DB 603 powerplant was to be installed in the Ju 87 D-1, but it did not have the power of the Jumo 211 and performed “poorly” during tests and was dropped. The Ju 87 D-series featured two coolant radiators underneath the inboard sections of the wings, while the oil cooler was relocated to the position formerly occupied by the single, undernose “chin” coolant radiator.
The internal fuel capacity of the Ju 87D was raised to 800 L (of which 780 L were usable) by adding wing tanks while retaining the option to carry two 300 L drop tanks. Tests at Rechlin-Lärz Airfield revealed it made possible a flight duration of 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Some Ju 87 D-3s were designated D-3N or D-3 trop and fitted with night or tropical equipment. The D-4 designation applied to a prototype torpedo-bomber version, which could carry a 750–905 kg (1,653–1,995 lb) aerial torpedo on a PVC 1006 B rack – this setup would have had the capacity to carry the Luftorpedo LT 850, the German version of the well-proven Japanese Type 91 aerial torpedo of 848 kg (1,870 lb).
The D-4 was to be converted from D-3 airframes and, in place of the carrier-specific Ju 87C series designs, operated from the aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin. Other modifications included a flame eliminator and, unlike earlier D variants, two 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon, while the radio operator/rear gunner’s ammunition supply was increased by 1,000 to 2,000 rounds.
The Ju 87 D-5 was based on the D-3 design and was unique in the Ju 87 series as it had wings 0.6 metres (2-feet) longer than previous variants.
Due to shortages in raw materials, it did not go into mass production. The D-7 was another ground attack aircraft based on D-1 airframes upgraded to D-5 standard (armour, wing cannons, extended wing panels), while the D-8 was similar to the D-7 but based on D-3 airframes. The D-7 and D-8 were both were fitted with flame dampers, and could conduct night operations.
From June to September 1941, 40 Ju 87 Ds were expected to be built, increasing to 90 thereafter. Various production problems were encountered.
Of the 25 the RLM hoped for in August 1941, none were delivered. In September did the first two of the planned 102 Ju 87s came off the production lines. The shortfalls continued to the end of 1941.
By the spring of 1942 to the end of production in 1944, 3,300 Ju 87s, mostly D-1s, D-2s and D-5s had been manufactured.
Wolfgang Vorwald noted the experiments were not successful, and suggested the cannon be installed on the Messerschmitt Me 410. Testing continued, and on 31 January 1943, Ju 87 D-1 W.Nr 2552 was tested by Hauptmann Hans-Karl Stepp near the Briansk training area.
Ju 87 V 21.
Ju 87 V 30, the only known prototype of the Ju 87 D-5.
With the G variant, the ageing airframe of the Ju 87 found new life as an anti-tank aircraft.
The Henschel Hs 129B had proved a potent ground attack weapon, but its large fuel tanks made it vulnerable to enemy fire, prompting the RLM to say “that in the shortest possible time a replacement of the Hs 129 type must take place.” With Soviet tanks the priority targets, the development of a further variant as a successor to the Ju 87D began in November 1942.
Furthermore, the armoured protection of the Ilyushin Il-2 Sturmovik – a feature pioneered by the 1916-17 origin Junkers J.I all-metal sesquiplane of World War I Imperial Germany’s Luftstreitkräfte – was copied to protect the crew from ground fire now that the Ju 87 would be required to conduct low level attacks.
These gun pods were fitted to a Ju 87 D-1, W.Nr 2552.
The first flight of the machine took place on 31 January 1943, piloted by Hauptmann Hans-Karl Stepp. The continuing problems with about two dozen of the Ju 88P-1, and slow development of the Henschel Hs 129B-3, each of them equipped with a large, PaK 40-based, autoloading Bordkanone 7,5 7.5 cm (2.95 in) cannon in a conformal gun pod beneath the fuselage, meant the Ju 87G was put into production.
In April 1943, the first production Ju 87 G-1s were delivered to front line units. The two 37 mm (1.46 in) Bordkanone BK 3,7 cannons were mounted in under-wing gun pods, each loaded with two six-round magazines of armour-piercing tungsten carbide-cored ammunition.
On the opening day of the offensive, Hans-Ulrich Rudel flew the only “official” Ju 87 G, although a significant number of Ju 87D variants were fitted with the 37 mm (1.46 in) cannon, and operated as unofficial Ju 87 Gs before the battle.
In June 1943, the RLM ordered 20 Ju 87Gs as production variants. The G-1 later influenced the design of the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, with Hans Rudel’s book, Stuka Pilot being required reading for all members of the A-X project.
On 10 November 1943, the RLM GL/C-E2 Division finally authorised the design in directive No. 1117. This new equipment made the Ju 87 more difficult to detect from the ground in darkness.
In the first half of 1943, 12 Nachtschlachtgruppen (“night battle groups”) had been formed, flying a multitude of different types of aircraft, including the Ju 87, which proved itself ideally suited to the low-level slow flying needed.
Despite teething problems with the Ju 87, the RLM ordered 216 Ju 87 A-1s into production and wanted to receive delivery of all machines between January 1936 and 1938.
By 30 September 1939, Junkers had received 2,365,196 Reichsmark (RM) for Ju 87 construction orders.
A Ju 87D during wing installation
The expansion of the Junkers Ju 88 production lines to compensate for the withdrawal of Dornier Do 17 production delayed production of the Ju 87 D.
Not until June–December 1942 did production capacity increase, and 80 Ju 87s were produced per month.
Production now reached 150 Ju 87 D airframes per month, but spare parts were failing to reach the same production levels.
Milch ordered production to 350 Ju 87s per month in September 1942.
After evaluating Ju 87 operations on the Eastern Front, Hermann Göring ordered production limited to 200 per month in total.
Two Junkers Ju 87 Ds near completion
Milch finally agreed and ordered the minimal continuance of Ju 87 D-3 and D-5 production for a smooth transition period. In May 1944, production wound down.
In the next six months, 438 Ju 87 Ds and Gs were added to the Ju 87 force as new or repaired aircraft.
Production of the Ju 87 R and D variants was transferred to the Weserflug company, which produced 5,930 of the 6,500 Ju 87s produced in total. During the course of the war, little damage was done to the WFG plant at Lemwerder.
Attacks throughout 1940-45 caused little lasting damage and succeeded only in damaging some Ju 87 airframes, in contrast to the Focke-Wulf plant in Bremen. At Berlin-Tempelhof, little delay or damage was caused to Ju 87 production, despite the heavy bombings and large-scale destruction inflicted on other targets.
The Junkers factory at Dessau was heavily attacked, but not until Ju 87 production had ceased.
The Ju 87 repair facility at the Wels aircraft works was destroyed on 30 May 1944, and the site abandoned Ju 87 links.
Among the many German aircraft designs that participated in the Condor Legion, and as part of other German involvement in the Spanish Civil War, a single Ju 87 A-0 (the V4 prototype) was allocated serial number 29-1 and was assigned to the VJ/88, the experimental Staffel of the Legion’s fighter wing.
On the morning of 21 January 1939, 34 Heinkel He 111, along with some escorts and three Ju 87B, attacked the Port of Barcelona, five days before the city was captured by the Fascists. 29 Republican fighters were defending the city.
There were more than 100 aircraft operating over the city and, while a Ju 87 was dive-bombing a ship, a Republican Polikarpov I-15 pilot, Francisco Alférez Jiménez, claimed it destroyed near el Vendrell, in Coma-ruga, but the Stuka was capable of landing on the beach without crashing.
As with the Ju 87 A-0, the B-1s were returned discreetly to the Reich. The experience of the Spanish Civil War proved invaluable – air and ground crews perfected their skills, and equipment was evaluated under combat conditions.
The Ju 87 had however not been tested against numerous and well-coordinated fighter opposition; this lesson was learned later at great cost to the Stuka crews.
On the morning of 15 August 1939, during a mass-formation dive-bombing demonstration for high-ranking commanders of the Luftwaffe at Neuhammer training grounds near Sagan, 13 Ju 87s and 26 crew members were lost when they crashed into the ground almost simultaneously.
Generalquartiermeister der Luftwaffe records indicate a total force of 366 Ju 87 A and Bs were available for operations on 31 August 1939. The first Ju 87 operation was to destroy Polish demolition charges fixed to the rail bridges over the Vistula, that linked Eastern Germany to the Danzig corridor and East Prussia as well as Polish Pomerania.
To do this, Ju 87s were ordered to perform a low-level attack on the Polish Army Garrison headquarters.
At exactly 04:26 CET, a Kette (“chain” or flight of three) of Ju 87s of 3./StG 1 led by Staffelkapitän Oberleutnant Bruno Dilly carried out the first bombing attack of the war.
A Ju 87 achieved the first air victory during World War II on the morning of 1 September 1939, when Rottenführer Leutnant Frank Neubert of I./StG 2 “Immelmann” shot down a Polish PZL P.11c fighter while it was taking off from Balice airfield; its pilot, Captain Mieczysław Medwecki, was killed.
In air-to-air combat, Ju 87 formations were well protected by German fighter aircraft and losses were light against the tenacious, but short lived opposition.
The Ju 87s reverted to ground attack missions for the campaign after the opening air attacks.
The lack of anti-aircraft artillery in the Polish Army magnified the impact of the Ju 87.
The dive bomber wings (Sturzkampfgeschwader) alone dropped 388 tonnes (428 tons) of bombs during this battle. During the Siege of Warsaw and the Battle of Modlin, the Ju 87 wings contributed to the defeat of well-entrenched and resolute Polish forces.
The Polish naval units trapped in the Baltic were destroyed by Ju 87 operations.
The Ju 87s were given the role of ground attack and anti-shipping missions; they proved to be the most effective weapon in the Luftwaffe’s armoury carrying out the latter task.
Æger was run aground and scuttled. The Stuka wings were now equipped with the new Ju 87 R, which differed from the Ju 87 B by having increased internal fuel capacity and two 300l underwing drop tanks for more range.
The light cruiser squadron consisting of the sister ships Curacoa and Curlew were subjected to lengthy attacks which badly damaged the former for one Ju 87 lost.
Nevertheless, Wells ordered that no ship was to operate within range of the Ju 87s’ Norwegian airfields.
The Ju 87s then took to bombing the town and the airstrip to support the German forces under the command of Eduard Dietl.
The town fell in the first week of May. In the remaining four weeks of the campaign in Norway, the Ju 87s supported German forces in containing the Allied land forces in Narvik until they withdrew in early June.
As a result, only one of the three bridges was destroyed, allowing the German Army to rapidly advance in the opening days of the Battle of Belgium. The Ju 87 proved to be a useful asset to Army Group B in the Low Countries.
The Ju 87s also assisted German forces in the Battle of the Netherlands.
The Ju 87 units were also instrumental in the Battle of France.
For example, on 12 May, near Sedan, six French Curtiss H-75s from Groupe de Chasse I/5 (Group Interception) attacked a formation of Ju 87s, claiming 11 out of 12 unescorted Ju 87s without loss (the Germans recorded six losses over Sedan entire). For the most part, Allied opposition was disorganised.
During the battles of Montcornet, Arras, Bolougne and Calais the Ju 87 operations broke-up counterattacks and offered pin-point aerial artillery support for German infantry.
During the Battle of Dunkirk, many Allied ships were lost to Ju 87 attacks as the British Operation Dynamo sought to evacuate British and French armies from the pocket.
The Ju 87s operated to maximum effectiveness when the weather allowed.
On 29 May the Royal Navy destroyer H.M.S.Grenade was severely damaged by a Ju 87 attack within Dunkirk’s harbour, and subsequently sank.
The rail ships Lorina and Normannia (1,564 and 1,567 tons) were sunk also. By 29 May, the Allies had lost 31 vessels sunk and 11 damaged. On 1 June the Ju 87s sank the Skipjack (815 tons) while the destroyer Keith was sunk and Basilisk was crippled before being scuttled by Whitehall.
For the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe’s Order of battle included bomber wings equipped with the Ju 87.
That afternoon, 33 Ju 87s delivered the single most deadly air assault on British territory in history, when 33 Ju 87s of III./StG 51, avoiding Royal Air Force (RAF) interception, sank the 5,500 ton anti-aircraft ship HMS Foylebank in Portland Harbour, killing 176 of its 298 crew.
Over 20% of the total Stuka strength had been lost between 8 and 18 August; and the myth of the Stuka shattered. The Ju 87s did succeed in sinking six warships, 14 merchant ships, badly damaging seven airfields and three Chain Home radar stations, and destroying 49 British aircraft, mainly on the ground.
Fliegerkorps moved up from their bases around Cherbourg-Octeville and concentrated in the Pas de Calais under Luftflotte 2, closer to the area of the proposed invasion of Britain. On 13 September, the Luftwaffe targeted airfields again, with a small number of Ju 87s crossing the coast at Selsey and heading for Tangmere. After a lull, anti-shipping operations attacks were resumed by some Ju 87 units from 1 November 1940, as part of the new winter tactic of enforcing a blockade.
Over the next 10 days, seven merchant ships were sunk or damaged, mainly in the Thames Estuary, for the loss of four Ju 87s.
Bad weather resulted in a decline of anti-shipping operations, and before long the Ju 87 groups began re-deploying to Poland, as part of the concealed build-up for Operation Barbarossa.
By spring 1941, only St.G 1 with 30 Ju 87s remained facing the United Kingdom.
A Ju 87 B of 5/StG 2 is examined by British troops after making an emergency landing in the North African desert, December 1941.
The Ju 87s first made their presence felt by subjecting the British aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious to heavy attack.
The Italian Regia Aeronautica was equipped for a while with the Stukas. In 1939, the Italian government asked the RLM to supply 100 Ju 87s.
In the spring of 1940, between 72 and 108 Ju 87 B-1s, some of them ex-Luftwaffe aircraft, were delivered to 96° Gruppo Bombardamento a Tuffo.
The Ju 87s also crippled the cruiser HMS Fiji that morning, (she was later finished off by Bf 109 fighter bombers) while sinking the destroyer HMS Greyhound with one hit. As the Battle of Crete drew to a close, the Allies began yet another withdrawal.
The dive bomber wing supported Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps in its two-year campaign in North Africa; its other main task was attacking Allied shipping. In 1941, Ju 87 operations in North Africa were dominated by the Siege of Tobruk, which lasted for over seven months. It served during the Battle of Gazala and the First Battle of El Alamein, as well as the decisive Second Battle of El Alamein, which drove Rommel back to Tunisia.
As the tide turned and Allied air power grew in the autumn of 1942, the Ju 87 became very vulnerable and losses were heavy.
The Ju 87’s vulnerability was demonstrated on 11 November 1942, when 15 Ju 87 Ds were shot down by United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) Curtiss P-40Fs in minutes.
The Ju 87s ventured out in Rotte strength only, often jettisoning their bombs at the first sight of enemy aircraft. Adding to this trouble, the German fighters had only enough fuel to cover the Ju 87s on take off, their most vulnerable point.
The dive bombers continued operations in southern Europe; after the Italian surrender in September 1943, the Ju 87 participated in the last campaign-sized victory over the Western Allies, the Dodecanese Campaign.
With the RAF bases 500 kilometres (310 mi) away, the Ju 87 helped the German landing forces rapidly conquer the islands. On 5 October the minelayer Lagnano was sunk along with a patrol vessel, a steam ship and a light tank carrier Porto Di Roma.
The light cruisers Penelope and Carlisle were badly damaged by StG 3 and the destroyer Panther was also sunk by Ju 87s before the capitulation of the Allied force.
The Ju 87 took a huge toll on Soviet ground forces, helping to break up counterattacks of Soviet armour, eliminating strongpoints and disrupting the enemy supply lines.
A demonstration of the Stuka’s effectiveness occurred on 5 July, when StG 77 knocked out 18 trains and 500 vehicles. As the 1st and 2nd Panzer Groups forced bridgeheads across the Dnieper river and closed in on Kiev, the Ju 87s again rendered invaluable support.
On 13 September, Stukas from StG 1 destroyed the rail network in the vicinity as well as inflicting heavy casualties on escaping Red Army columns, for the loss of one Ju 87. On 23 September, Hans-Ulrich Rudel (who was to become the most decorated serviceman in the Wehrmacht) of StG 2, sank the Soviet battleship Marat, during an air attack on Kronstadt harbour near Leningrad, with a hit to the bow with a single 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) bomb. During this action, Leutnant Egbert Jaeckel sank the destroyer Minsk, while the destroyer Steregushchiy and submarine M-74 were also sunk.
The Stukas also crippled the battleship Oktyabrskaya Revolutsiya and the destroyers Silnyy and Grozyashchiy in exchange for two Ju 87s shot down.
It had destroyed 2,401 vehicles, 234 tanks, 92 artillery batteries and 21 trains for the loss of 25 Ju 87s to hostile action. At the end of Barbarossa, StG 1 had lost 60 Stukas in aerial combat and one on the ground.
StG 2 lost 39 Ju 87s in the air and two on the ground, StG 77 lost 29 of their dive-bombers in the air and three on the ground (25 to enemy action).
IV.(St)/LG1, operating from Norway, lost 24 Ju 87s, all in aerial combat.
Ju 87B over Stalingrad.
With air superiority, the Ju 87s operated with impunity.
Some Ju 87 pilots flew up to 300 sorties against the Soviet defenders.
For the German summer offensive, Fall Blau, the Luftwaffe had concentrated 1,800 aircraft into Luftflotte 4 making it the largest and most powerful air command in the world. The Stukawaffe strength stood at 151. During the Battle of Stalingrad, Stukas flew thousands of sorties against Soviet positions in the city.
The intense air attack, though causing horrific losses on Soviet units, failed to destroy them. The Luftwaffe’s Stuka force made a maximum effort during this phase of the war.
The Battle of Stalingrad marked the high point in the fortunes of the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka.
The Ju 87s participated in a huge aerial counter-offensive lasting from 16–31 July against a Soviet offensive at Khotynets and saved two German armies from encirclement, reducing the attacking Soviet 11th Guards Army to 33 tanks by 20 July.
StG 77 lost 24 Ju 87s in the period 5–31 July (StG had lost 23 in July–December 1942), while StG 2 lost another 30 aircraft in the same period.
In September 1943, three of the Stuka units were re-equipped with the Fw 190F and G (ground attack versions) and began to be renamed Schlachtgeschwader (attack wings). In the face of overwhelming air opposition, the dive-bomber required heavy protection from German fighters to counter Soviet fighters.
Some units like SG 2 Immelmann continued to operate with great success throughout 1943-45, operating the Ju 87 G variants equipped with 37 mm cannons, which became tank killers, although in increasingly small numbers.
Ju 87 D’s over the Eastern Front, December 22, 1943
SG 77 lost 30 Ju 87s in August 1943 as did SG 2 Immelmann, which also reported the loss of 30 aircraft in combat operations. Despite these losses, Ju 87s helped the XXIX Army Corps break out of an encirclement near the Sea of Azov. The Battle of Kiev also included substantial use of the Ju 87 units, although again, unsuccessful in stemming the advances.
A few Ju 87s were also retained for anti-shipping operations in the Black Sea, a role it had proved successful in when operating in the Mediterranean.
Towards the end of the war, as the Allies gained air supremacy, the Stuka was being replaced by ground-attack versions of the Fw 190. By early 1944, the number of Ju 87 units and operational aircraft terminally declined.
For the Soviet summer offensive, Operation Bagration, 12 Ju 87 groups and five mixed groups (including Fw 190s) were on the Luftwaffe’s order of battle on 26 June 1944. Gefechtsverband Kuhlmey, a mixed aircraft unit, which included large numbers of Stuka dive bombers, was rushed to the Finnish front in the summer of 1944 and was instrumental in halting the Soviet fourth strategic offensive.
The unit claimed 200 Soviet tanks and 150 Soviet aircraft destroyed for 41 losses. By 31 January 1945, only 104 Ju 87s remained operational with their units.
Junkers Ju 87B-2 Stuka
Ju 87 G-2, Werk Nr. 494083
In 1967, permission was given to use the aircraft in the film Battle of Britain and it was repainted and modified to resemble a 1940 variant of the Ju 87.
One Ju87 is under restoration:
Parts from a second airframe, a Ju 87 R-2 Werknummer 857509 which served bearing the Stammkennzeichen of code LI+KU from 1./St.G.5, and was recovered to the United Kingdom in 1998, have also been incorporated.
In October 2006, a Ju 87 D-3/Trop.
Junkers Ju 87 B-2, Code 98+01, Werk Nr. 870406, is on display at the Yugoslav Aeronautical Museum, Belgrade.
Junkers Ju 87 B-3 Werk Nr. 110757 found in the village Krościenko Wyżne in Poland in October 2015.
The Ju 87 at the Hellenic Air Force Museum, Greece
Specifications (Ju 87 B-2)
Data from Ju 87 B-2 Betriebsanleitung, Juni 1940 (D.(Luft) T.2335/1)
Junkers Ju 187
Regia Aeronautica received a delivery of 46 Ju 87 D-2 and D-3 dive bombers and some Ju 87 R-2s. Bulgaria received 12 Ju 87 R-2 and R-4s and 40 Ju 87 D-5s. Japan received the Ju 87 A-1 (called a Ju 87 K-1).
After the war it is claimed five Ju 87 D-5s, registrations OK-XAA – OK-XAE, were operated by the Czechs after the war as “B-37” registration OK-KAC.
Source: Junkers Ju 87