Ju 87 G2 "Stuka" (494083) [@ RAF Hendon]
The Junkers 87 was one of the most feared aircraft during the Second World War. Its fixed undercarriage and inverted-gull wing gave the Ju 87 an evil appearance and the scream of its 'Trumpets of Jericho' sirens as it dived helped to spread terror amongst both soldiers and civilians. Although the word Stuka, an abbreviation of Sturzkampfflugzeug, which literally translates as 'diving combat aircraft', was applied to all German bomber aircraft with a dive-bombing capability during World War 2, it will forever be associated with the Junkers Ju 87. After the fall of France it was at used to attack shipping in the Channel. The Ju 87 went on to sink more ships than any other aircraft in history. 'Stuka' units then turned their attention to coastal airfields and radar stations, but by August 1940 heavy losses from defending fighters resulted in their withdrawal from operations. This poorly armed, slow and highly vulnerable aircraft found it impossible to operate without air superiority over the battlefield. However, when under an umbrella of fighter superiority the Stuka was a very effective weapon.
The first prototype Ju 87 V1 was flown for the first time in the late spring 1935 powered by a 640 hp Rolls Royce Kestrel engine [photograph - right]. This aircraft had twin fins and rudders, replaced by a single fin and rudder in the Ju 87 V2. Production began with the pre-series Ju 87 A0, powered by the Jumo 210Da engine, and continued with the Ju 87 A1, first deliveries of which were made to I/St.G 162 Immelmann, the unit tasked with developing operational tactics, in 1937. In December 1937 three Ju 87 A-1s were sent to Spain for operational trials with the Condor Legion, the German units flying in support of the Spanish Nationalists. The Ju 87 A2 sub-series, the next to appear, differed only in the type of propeller used. The A model (262 built) was succeeded on the production line in September 1938 by an extensively modified version, the Ju 87 B "Berta" which used the more powerful 1100 hp Jumo 211D. The aircraft had a redesigned cockpit and a 'spatted' undercarriage. This new design was again tested in the Spanish Civil War and proved successful. At the outbreak of WW2 the Luftwaffe had 336 B1s available, each capable of carrying a 500 Kg bomb load. The B2 that followed on had some improvements and were built in a number of variants that included ski-equipped versions and a tropical variant called the Ju 87 B2/trop. Italy's Regia Aeronautica received a number of the B2s and named them the Picchiatello, while others went to the other members of the Axis, including Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania. A long range anti-shipping version of the Ju 87 B2 was known as the Ju 87 R.
One of the more interesting and little known versions of the Stuka was the Ju 87 C, a shipboard dive-bomber intended for service on Germany's planned aircraft carrier, the Graf Zeppelin. It had hydraulically operated folding wings, deck arrester gear and a jettisonable undercarriage. The Ju 87 C0 was a conversion of the Ju 87 B1 without wing folding mechanism. A small production batch of Ju 87 C1 aircraft was built and a unit, 4(Stuka) 186 formed, but the Graf Zeppelin was abandoned when it was virtually complete and the aircraft were converted to Ju 87 B standard. 4/Stuka186 took part in the Polish campaign. Graf Zeppelin's air group was to have comprised 29 Stukas and 12 Bf 109 fighters.
The next production model was the Ju 87 D series, which was fitted with a 1400 hp Jump 211 J-1 engine with induction cooling. The D series received streamlined oil and water coolers and an aerodynamically refined cockpit with better visibility and space. In addition, the armour protection was increased and a new dual-barrel 7.92 mm MG 81Z machine gun which an extremely high rate of fire was installed against rear attacks. Several sub-series of the Ju 87 D were produced in some quantity, incorporating modifications to suit the type for a variety of tasks. The D1 variant entered service in 1941 and saw extensive use on the Eastern Front and in the Middle East. Its bomb carrying capacity was increased to 1,800 kg. The D2 variant, converted from D1 series airframes, was used as a glider tug while the D3 was an improved D1. It had more armour for its ground-attack role. The D4 designation applied to a prototype torpedo-bomber variant while D5 was another ground-attack variant that appeared in mid 1943. It had the outer wing panels extended, the dive brakes were removed and the wing-mounted 7.92 mm MG 17 machine guns were replaced by 20 mm MG 151 cannons. The D6 was not built while the D7 was another ground attack aircraft based on D1 airframes but upgraded to D5 standard. Similarly the D8 was similar to the D7 but based on D3 airframes.
The Ju 87 E and F were proposals only, and the last Stuka variant was the Ju 87 G, a standard Ju 87 D5 converted to carry two BK 37 cannon (37 mm (1.46 in) Flak 18 guns) under the wing. With no dive brakes fitted, the Ju 87 G proved very adept at destroying Russian armour on the Eastern Front from 1943. Its chief exponent was Colonel Hans-Ulrich Rudel, who knocked out 500 tanks on the Eastern Front. Although slow, its stable attitude, large wings and low stall speed made it a very stable ground attack platform. Apparently, the G series influenced the design of the A10 Thunderbolt 2. The Ju 87 H was the designation given to all dual control versions of the Ju 87 D1, D3, D5, D7 and D8. The total Ju 87 production was 5,700 aircraft and two of them survive intact!.
Werknummer 494083 (registered as RI+JK) was delivered in 1943/34 as a Ju87 D5 ground attack variant but later modified to G2 standard. Captured in Northern Germany by British Forces in May 1945 at Eggebek and is one of only two intact survivors. Arrived in the UK in January 1946 by surface transport and immediately placed into storage at 47 MU Sealand. After further storage at a number of locations 494083 subsequently arrived at 4 SoTT RAF St Athan in August 1960. Moved to RAF Henlow in March 1967 and modified to mimic a 1940 Ju87 for possible use in the “Battle of Britain” film. It is possible that the engine was run on at least one occasion and that 494083 probably taxied. The RAF gave permission to fly 494083 for the Battle of Britain film, however, inspection of the airframe revealed that it would take a lot of time and money to make 494083 fly again and so the plans were dropped (the scene of Ventnor Radar Station being dive bombed by Ju 87s was filmed instead with radio controlled models). Returned to St Athan in September 1969 and placed into storage although 494083 was displayed a number of times in the following years. As a G2 variant 494083 was a so called “Panzerknacker” (tank buster) and was originally fitted with two 37 mm cannon under each wing. A symbolized tank can be seen on the cowling, maybe to signify a kill? Clearly the anti-tank guns have been removed and “bomb equipment” installed. The aircraft was moved to Hendon in 1978 and in the photos 494083 is displayed as 10 (PZ) Staffel II/Schlachtgeschwader 3.