Amazing Facts About The Junkers Ju-87 Stuka

 
 
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Image Source: Bundesarchiv

In Norway the Stukas were given the role of ground attack and anti-shipping missions, proving to be the most effective weapon of the Luftwaffe for carrying out the latter task.

In the Battle of France, the Stuka proved its worth in pin-point accurate bombing, but it also showed for the first time that they were vulnerable. For example, on 12 May, near Sedan, six French Curtiss H-75s fighters attacked a formation of Ju 87s, shooting down 11 out of 12 unescorted Ju 87s without loss.

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Image Source: Bundesarchiv

In the Battle of Britain, the Stuka with a top speed of a mere 255MPH was no match for the fast and agile Spitfire or Hurricane and suffered so many losses that it was withdrawn, it never saw combat again in Western Europe.

The Stuka was relocated to the Mediterranean and severely damaged the British aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious. The Ju 87s delivered six and three damaging near-misses, but the ship’s engines were untouched, and she made for the besieged harbor of Malta.

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Image Source: Bundesarchiv

At the invasion of the USSR, the Stuka again showed its worth, it took a huge toll on Soviet ground forces, helping to break up counterattacks of Soviet armor, eliminating strong points and disrupting the enemy supply lines.

The Stuka was used in all battles of the Eastern Front, mostly in the anti-tank variant (Ju-87G), the final operational version of the Stuka. The reverse in German military fortunes after 1943 and the appearance of huge numbers of well-armored Soviet tanks caused Junkers to adapt the existing design to combat this new threat.

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Image Source: Bundesarchiv

The anti-tank Stuka carried two 37 mm cannons in underwing gun pods, each loaded with two six-round magazines of armor-piercing tungsten carbide-cored ammunition.

Stuka Ace Hans-Ulrich Rudel was the most highly decorated German serviceman of the war. Rudel flew 2,530 combat missions claiming a total of 2,000 targets destroyed; including 800 vehicles, 519 tanks, 150 artillery pieces, 70 landing craft, nine aircraft, four armored trains, several bridges, a destroyer, two cruisers, and the Soviet battleship Marat.

In May 1944 production was slowed and stopped altogether in December 1944

Only two Stukas remain intact, one at the Chicago Museum of Science and one at the Royal Air Force Museum in London.