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Junkers Ju 87

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Junkers Ju 87
A Ju 87R
Type dive bomber
Manufacturer Junkers
Retired 1945
Primary users Luftwaffe
Regia Aeronautica
Number built 5,752

The Junkers Ju 87 or Stuka as it became universally known (from Sturzkampfflugzeug or Template:Lang-de) was a German combat aircraft operational from 1937 and throughout World War II, and easily recognisable by its inverted gull wings, fixed undercarriage and its infamous Jericho-Trompete (Jericho Trumpet) wailing siren — though the siren was only fitted to a few aircraft because of the extra drag induced on the rather slow aircraft.

General description

File:Junkers Ju87.jpg
A Rotte of Ju 87 circa 1939-40.
File:Luftsieg ueber Polen.jpg
Nazi propaganda image "Air victory over Poland" with an artistic vision of a Junkers Ju 87

The Stuka's design included some innovative features, including automatic pull-up dive brakes under both wings to ensure that the plane recovered from its attack dive even if the pilot blacked out from the high acceleration, and a wind-powered siren under its nose (later mounted to the front upper section of each fixed landing gear strut) that wailed during dives to frighten its victims. These were named Jericho-Trompeten, or "Trumpets of Jericho", by Junkers and were a form of psychological warfare. Its rugged fixed undercarriage allowed it to land and take-off from improvised airstrips close to the battlefront, giving close support to the advancing German forces. 5,752 Ju 87 of all versions were built between 1936 and August 1944.

Although sturdy, accurate, and very effective, the Stuka suffered from low speed and poor maneuverability, with little defensive armament, making it highly vulnerable to enemy fighters. The Germans learned during 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, most notably in the battles of Crete, Malta and Leros.

Stukas were 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 by the final stages of the war.

Hans-Ulrich Rudel was the most notable Stuka ace, and the most highly decorated German soldier of World War II. (Hermann Goering was awarded the Großkreuz des eisernen Kreuzes, but not for achievements in battle.)

Operational History

Condor Legion and the Spanish Civil War

Among the many German designs that participated in the Spanish Civil War, a single Ju 87 A-0 was allocated the serial number 29-1 and was assigned to the Vj/88, the experimental staffel of the Legion's fighter wing. The only known information pertaining to its combat career in Spain is that it was piloted by Unteroffizier Herman Beuer. It took part in the Nationalist offensive against Bilbao in February 1937. Presumably it was shipped back to the Reich in secrecy[1].

In January 1938 three Ju 87 A-1s arrived. The Ju 87s spatted undercarriage however sank into the soft surface, as a result these were removed. Another problem was that the Ju 87As 500 kg bomb-load could only be carried if the gunner vacated his seat. Therefore the bomb-load was restricted to 250 kg. The Stukas supported the Nationalist forces and carried out anti-shipping missions until they returned to Reich in October 1938.

The A-1s were replaced by five Ju 87 B-1s. With the war close to concluding they found little to do and found themselves supporting formations of Heinkel He 111s attacking enemy positions. As the Ju 87 A-0 had been, the B-1s were withdrawn discreetly back to the Reich.

The experience of the Spanish Civil War had been invaluable. Air and ground crews perfected skills, and the equipment could be evaluated in combat conditions. Although one serious experience had been lacking - numerical and well coordinated fighter opposition.


On 1 September 1939 the Wehrmacht invaded Poland triggering World War Two. At exactly 04.26 hours a Rotte of Ju 87s of 3./StG 1 led by Staffelkapitän Oberleutnant Bruno Dilly carried out the first bombing attack of the war. The aim was to destroy the charges wired to the bridges over the Vistula. The mission failed and the Poles destroyed the bridge before the Germans could reach it.

It was a Ju 87 that achieved the first air victory during World War II on 1 September 1939, when Rottenführer Leutnant Frank Neubert of I./StG 2 'Immelmann' shot down a Polish PZL P.11c fighter aircraft piloted by Captain Mieczysław Medwecki, who was killed in the engagement[2].

The Luftwaffe had few anti-shipping naval units like 4.(St)/TrGr 186. This unit performed effectively sinking the 1540-ton destroyer ORP Wicher and minelayer ORP Gryf of the small but modern Polish Navy.

On one occasion six Polish divisions trapped by encircling German forces were forced to surrender after a relentless four day assault by StG 51, 76 and 77. Employed in this assault were the 50 kg fragmentation bombs which caused appalling damage to enemy ground troops. Demoralized, the Poles surrendered. The Stukas also participated in the Battle of Bzura which resulted in the breaking of Polish ability to resist effectively. The Sturzkampfgeschwader alone dropped 388 tonnes of bombs during this battle[3].

Once again enemy air opposition was light, the Stukawaffe lost just 31 machines during the campaign[4].


Operation Weserübung began on 9 April 1940 with the invasions of Norway and Denmark, Denmark capitulated within the day whilst Norway continued to resist with British and French help.

The campaign was not the classic Blitzkrieg of fast moving armoured divisions supported by air-power as the mountainous terrain ruled out close Panzer/Stuka cooperation. Instead the Germans relied on Fallschirmjäger (paratroops), airborne troops transported by Junkers Ju 52s and specialised ski troops. The strategic nature of the operation made the Stuka essential. The Ju 87s were given the role of ground attack and anti-shipping missions. The Stuka was to prove the most effective weapon in the Luftwaffe's armoury carrying out the latter.

The Stukageschwaders were now equipped with the new Ju 87R, which differed from the Ju 87B by having increased internal fuel capacity and two 300l underwing drop tanks for more range.

The first Stukas took off at 10.59 hours from occupied airfields to destroy Oscarsborg Fortress, after the loss of the heavy cruiser Blücher which caused disruption of the amphibious landings in Oslo through Oslofjord.

The Stukas however had numerous successes against Allied Naval vessels. HMS Bittern was sunk on 30 April. The French super-destroyer Bison was sunk along with HMS Afridi by Sturzkampfgeschwader 1 on 3 May 1940.

France and the Low Countries

The Stukawaffe had learned some lessons from the Polish and Norwegian campaigns. The failures of Poland and the Stukas of I.StG 1 to silence the Oscarborg fort ensured even more attention was paid to pin-point bombing during the Phoney War period. This was to pay off in the Western campaign.

When Fall Gelb began on 10 May 1940 the Stuka helped swiftly neutralise the fortress of Eben Emael. The HQ of the Commander responsible for ordering the destruction of the bridges along the Albert Canal was stationed in the village of Lanaeken (14 km to the north). However the Stuka demonstrated its accuracy when the small building was destroyed after receiving four direct hits. As a result only one of the three bridges was destroyed allowing the German Army to rapidly advance.

The Sturzkampfgeschwader were also instrumental in achieving the breakthrough at Sedan. The Stukawaffe flew 300 sorties against French positions, with StG 77 alone flying 201 individual missions[5].

The Luftwaffe also benefited from excellent ground-to-air communications throughout the campaign. Radio equipped forward liaison officers could call upon the Stukas and direct them to attack enemy positions along the axis of advance. In some cases the Stukas responded to requests in 10-20 minutes. Oberstleutnant Hans Seidemann (Richthofen's Chief of Staff) said that "never again was such a smoothly functioning system for discussing and planning joint operations achieved"[6].

During the Battle of Dunkirk 89 merchantmen (of 126,518 grt) were lost, and the Royal Navy lost 29 of its 40 destroyers sunk or seriously damaged, mostly at the hands of the Ju 87s[7]. Enemy airpower was ineffective and disorganised, and as a result the Stuka losses were mainly due to ground fire. Some 120 machines, one-third of the Stuka force, were destroyed or damaged to all causes[8].

Battle of Britain

The Battle of Britain proved for the first time that the Junkers Ju 87 was vulnerable in hostile skies against well organised and determined fighter opposition.

Steady losses had occurred throughout their participation in the battle. On 18 August, a day known as the 'hardest day' as both sides suffered heavy losses, the Stuka was withdrawn after losing 16 of its number and numerous others damaged[9]. The myth of the Stuka was shattered.

North Africa and the Mediterranean

In response to the Italian defeats in Greece and North Africa the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht ordered the deployment of some German forces to these theatres. Amongst the Luftwaffe contingent deployed was the Geschwaderstab StG 3 which touched down in Sicily in December 1940. In the next few days two Gruppen - some 80 Stukas were deployed under X. Fliegerkorps. The first task of the Korps was to attack British shipping passing between Sicily and Africa. The Ju 87s first made their presence by subjecting the British aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious to heavy attack. The crews were confident that they could sink it given the flight deck spanned approximately 7,000 square metres.

On 10 January 1941 the Stuka crews were told four direct hits with 500 kg bombs would be enough to sink the carrier. The Ju 87s delivered six and three damaging near-misses[10]. But the ships engines remained untouched and it made for the dubious sanctuary of Malta.

Many ex-Luftwaffe Ju 87s were handed over to their Italian ally, the Regia Aeronautica and re-named the Picchiatello. Some of the Picchiatelli saw action in the opening phase of the Italian invasion of Greece in October 1940. The number was ineffective and the Italian forces were quickly pushed back. By early 1941 the Greeks had pushed into Italian occupied Albania. Once again Hitler decided to send military aid to his allies.

In March the pro-German Yugoslav government was toppled. A furious Hitler ordered the attack to be expanded to include Yugoslavia. Operation Marita commenced on 7 April. The Stuka once again spearheaded the air assault with a frontline strength of 300 machines. Yugoslav resistance in the air was minimal. As a result the Stukas fearsome reputation returned. Operating unmolested the Stukas took a heavy toll of ground forces. The light losses incurred were a result of ground fire. The effectiveness of the dive-bombers helped bring about Yugoslav capitulation in just ten days.

The Stukas also took a peripheral part in Operation Punishment - Hitler's retribution bombing of Belgrade. The dive-bombers were to attack airfields and known anti-aircraft gun positions whilst the level bombers struck civilian targets. Belgrade was badly damaged, and a reported 15,000 people were killed or injured.

In Greece, despite British aid, little air opposition was encountered. The Stukas were able to roam the skies and attack targets unmolested. As the Allies withdrew and resistance collapsed the Allies began evacuating to Crete. The Stukas proved effective in inflicting severe casualties to Allied shipping. On 22 April the 1,389 ton destroyers Psara and Ydra were sunk. In the next two days the Greek Naval base at Piraeus suffered the loss of 23 vessels to Stuka attack[11].

As the Battle of Crete drew to a close the Allies began yet another withdrawal. The Stukas and their crews once again proved exceptional against enemy warships. On 21 May HMS Juno was sunk, on the 22 May the battleship HMS Warspite, and the cruiser HMS Gloucester were damaged . The Ju 87s also crippled HMS Fiji that morning, (she was later finished off by Bf 109 fighter bombers) whilst destroying HMS Greyhound with a single hit. On 23 May the Royal Navy also lost HMS Kashmir, HMS Kelly sunk followed by HMS Hereward on the 26 May. HMS Orion and HMS Dido were also severely damaged[12].

The Sturzkampfgeschwader faithfully supported Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel's Deutsches Afrika Korps in its two year campaign in North Africa, helping it achieve considerable success. However as the tide turned and Allied airpower grew in the Autumn of 1942, the Ju 87 became little more than cannon fodder. The old frailties emerged and losses were heavy. The entry of the Americans into North Africa during Operation Torch made the situation far worse. The Stuka became obsolete in what was now a fighter-bomber's war. The Bf 109 and Fw 190 could at least choose to fight on equal terms after dropping their ordnance whereas the Stuka enjoyed no such option. An example of the Junkers' vulnerability was demonstrated on 11 November 1942 when 15 Ju 87Ds were all shot down by USAF P-40Fs in minutes[13].

By 1943, the Allies enjoyed total air superiority in North Africa. The Ju 87s ventured out in Rotte strength only, often jettisoning their bombs at the first sight of enemy aircraft and making "a run for home".

The dive-bombers continued to support operations in Southern Europe; after the Italian surrender in September 1943, the Ju 87 helped Germany achieve the last campaign-sized victory over the Western Allies. The Greek Dodecanese Islands had been occupied by the British. The Luftwaffe reacted by committing 75 Stukas (of StG 3) to recover the Islands. With the RAF bases some 500 km away the Ju 87 helped the German landing forces achieve a rapid conquest of the Islands.

The remaining Stuka units continued to operate during the Italian campaign, but mainly at night to avoid Allied fighters.

Eastern front

On 22 June 1941 the Wehrmacht commenced Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. The Luftwaffe order of battle of 22 June 1941 contained four different Sturzkampfgeschwader. Fliegerkorps VIII under the command of General der Flieger Wolfram von Richthofen was equipped with units Stab, II., and III./StG 1. Also included were Stab, I., II., and III. of Sturzkampfgeschwader 2 Immelmann. Attached to Fliegerkorps II, under the Command of General der Flieger Bruno Loerzer, were Stab, I., II., and III. of StG 77. Luftflotte 5, under the command of Generaloberst Hans-Jürgen Stumpff, operating from Norway's Arctic circle, were alloted IV. Gruppe (St)/LG 1[14].

The first Stuka loss on the Soviet-German front occurred early at 03.40-03.47 in the morning of the 22 June. While being escorted by Bf 109s from JG 51 to attack a fortress at Brest, Oberleutnant Karl Führing of StG 77 was shot down by a I-153[15]. The Sturzkampfgeschwader had suffered only two losses on the opening day of Barbarossa. As a result of the Luftwaffe's attention, the Soviet Air Force in the Western Soviet Union was nearly destroyed. The official report claimed 1,489 Soviet aircraft destroyed. Göring ordered this checked. After picking their way through the wreckages across the front, Luftwaffe officers found that the tally exceeded 2,000[16]. In the following two days the Soviets reported the loss of another 1,922 aircraft[17]. Soviet aerial resistance, whilst it continued, ceased to be effective, and the Luftwaffe maintained air-superiority until the end of the year.

The Ju 87 took a huge toll on Soviet ground forces, helping to break up counter-attacks of Soviet armour, eliminating strongpoints, and disrupting the enemy supply lines. An example of the Stuka's effectiveness occurred on 5 July when StG 77 knocked out 18 trains and 500 vehicles[18]. As Panzergruppe 1 and 2 forged 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 all the rail networks in the vicinity as well as inflicting heavy casualties on escaping Red Army columns - for the loss of a single Ju 87[19]. Days later, on 23 September, Hans-Ulrich Rudel (who to become the most decorated serviceman in the Wehrmacht) of StG 2, sank the Soviet battleship Marat, during an air attack on Kronstadt harbor in the Leningrad area, with a hit to the bow with a 1,000 kg bomb[20]. Also during this action Leutnant Egbert Jaekel 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[21].

Elsewhere on the Eastern front the Junkers assisted Army Group Centre in its drive toward Moscow. From 13-22 December 420 vehicles and 23 tanks were destroyed by StG 77, greatly improving the morale of the German infantry, who were by now on the defensive[22]. StG 77 finished the campaign as the most effective Sturzkampfgeschwader. It had destroyed 2,401 vehicles, 234 tanks, 92 artillery batteries and 21 trains for the loss of 25 Ju 87s to hostile action[23].

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[24].

In early 1942 the Ju 87s were to give the Germany Army (Heer) yet more valuable support. On 29 December 1941 the Soviet 44th Army landed on the Kerch Peninsula. The Luftwaffe was only able to dispatch meager reinforcements of four Kampfgruppen (note: not Kampfgeschwader) and two Sturzkampfgruppen, belonging to StG 77. With air-superiority the Ju 87s operated with impunity. In the first ten days half the landing force was destroyed, while sea supply lines were cut off by the Stukas inflicting heavy losses on Soviet shipping. The Ju 87s effectiveness against Soviet armour was not yet potent. The later models of the T-34 could withstand Stuka attack, in general, unless a direct hit was scored. However the Soviet 44th Army had only obsolecent types with thin armour; this resulted in a rapid loss of virtually the entire armoured force[25].

During the Battle of Sevastopol the Stukas mercilessly bombed the trapped Soviet forces. Some Ju 87 pilots flew up to 300 sorties against the Soviet defenders. Luftflotte 4's StG 77 flew 7,708 combat sorties dropping 3,537 tonnes of bombs on the city. Their efforts help secure the capitulation of Soviet forces on 4 July[26].

For the German summer offensive, Fall Blau, the Luftwaffe had concentrated 1,800 aircraft into Luftflotte 4 making it the largest and most powerful single air-command in the world[27]. The Stukawaffe strength stood at 151[28].

During the Battle of Stalingrad Stukas flew thousands of sorties against Soviet positions in the city. StG 1, 2 and 77 flew 320 individual sorties on 14 October 1942. As the German Sixth Army pushed the Soviets into a 1,000 yard enclave on the West bank of the Volga river, 1,208 Stuka sorties were flown against this small strip of land. However the intense air attack, though causing horrific losses on Soviet units, failed to eliminate them[29]. The Luftwaffe's Sturzkampfgeschwader made maximum effort during this phase of the war, and despite flying an average of 500 sorties per day and causing heavy losses among Soviet forces, losses averaged only a single Stuka per day[30].

The Battle of Stalingrad marked the high point in the fortunes of the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka. As the numerical strength of the Soviet Air Forces grew, they gradually wrestled control of the skies from the Luftwaffe. From this point onward the frailties of the Stuka became apparent once more.

The Stuka was also heavily involved in Operation Citadel, the Battle of Kursk. The Luftwaffe committed I, II, III./St.G 1 and III./StG 3 under the command of Luftflotte 6. I., II, III. of StGs 2 and 3 were committed under the command of Hans Seidemanns Fliegerkorps VIII[31]. Hauptmann Rudel's cannon equipped Ju 87 Gs had a devastating effect on Soviet armour at Orel and Belgorod. The Ju 87s participated in a huge aerial counter-offensive lasting from 16 July - 31 July against a Soviet offensive at Khotynets and saved two German armies from encirclement, reducing the attacking Soviet 11th Guard Army to just 33 tanks by 20 July. The Soviet offensive had been completely halted from the air[32]. However losses were considerable. Fliegerkrops VIII lost eight Ju 87s on 8 July, six on 9 July, six on 10 July and another eight on 11 July. The Stuka arm also lost eight of their Knights Cross holders. 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 machines in the same period. In September 1943 three of the Stuka units were re-equipped with the Fw 190 Schlachtgeschwader[33]. In the face of overwhelming air-opposition the dive-bomber needed heavy protection from German fighters. Some units like StG 2 Immelmann continued to operate with great success throughout 1943-45 operating the Ju 87 G variants equipped with 37 mm cannons, which became effective tank-killers, although in increasingly small numbers. Toward the end of the war the Ju 87 would be replaced by ground-attack versions of the Fw 190. 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 the halting of the Soviet fourth strategic offensive.

Night Harrassment Wings

The Soviet practice of harrassing German ground forces using antiquated biplanes at night dropping flares and fragmentation bombs inspired the Luftwaffe to form its own Störkampfstaffeln (Harrassment squadrons) in October 1942. Eventually 12 Nachtschlachtgruppen wings would be formed, flying a multitude of different types, including the Ju 87, which proved itself ideally suited to the low-level slow flying needed.

Design History

In the early 1920's the Dessau-based Junkers Flugzeugwerke AG concentrated upon military rather than civil aircraft. One such product was the Junkers K 47. The K 47 first flew in 1929, and was found to be capable of carrying a 100 kg bomb-load. After the Nazis had come to power they were designated A 48s, although these machines had "uncranked" wings and twin tail-fin units. Despite initial competition from the Henschel Hs 123 the Reichsluftfahrtministerium turned to Herman Pohlmann of Junkers and co-designer of the K 47 (the other, Karl Plauth, had been killed in a flying accident).

Design of the Ju 87 had begun in 1933 as part of the Sturzbomber-programm. However the project began poorly, the Ju 87 V1, powered by a Rolls-Royce Kestrel engine V12 cylinder liquid cooled engine, and sporting a twin-tail crashed in 1935. Square twin fins and rudders proved too weak and during dive testing they collapsed and the aircraft crashed[34]. This prompted a change of tail design to single Vertical stabilizer.

Ju 87A

The second prototype had a redesigned single fin and rudder and a 610 PS (602 hp, 449 kW) Junkers Jumo 210A engine. After official evaluation in 1936 against three other competing aircraft, orders for 10 aircraft were placed for it, as well as for the Heinkel He 118. The initial production variant was the Ju 87 A-1, powered by a 640 PS (631 hp, 471 kW) Jumo 210C, which began to replace the Henschel Hs 123 biplanes. At least three of these aircraft were tested under operational conditions by the Condor Legion in the Spanish Civil War.

  • Ju 87 A-0 : Ten pre-production aircraft, powered by a 640 PS (631 hp, 471 kW) Jumo 210C piston engine..
  • Ju 87 A-1 : Initial production version.
  • Ju 87 A-2 : Production version fitted with an improved 680 PS (671 hp, 500 kW) Jumo 210E piston engine.

Ju 87B

The next major variant was the Ju 87 B-1 with a considerably larger engine, its Junkers Jumo 211D generating 1,200 PS (1,184 hp, 883 kW), and the fuselage and landing gear were completely redesigned. This new design was again tested in Spain, and after proving its abilities there, production was ramped up to 60 per month. 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 a number of variants that included ski-equipped versions, and at the other end, with a tropical operation kit called the Ju 87 B-2 trop. Italy's Regia Aeronautica received a number of the B-2s and named them the Picchiatello, while others went to the other members of the Axis, including Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania.

A long range version of the Ju 87B was also built, known as the Ju 87R. They were primarily intended for anti-shipping missions. Internal fuel capacity was increased by adding some inner-wing tanks and by using two 300-liter under-wing drop tanks. Bomb carrying ability was reduced to a single 250 kg bomb if the aircraft was fully loaded with fuel. The naval variant of the Ju 87B was known as the Ju 87C, and these were built to operate from the aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin. In any case the carrier was never completed, and all of these were converted back to the Ju 87B standard.

  • Ju 87 V7 : Prototype of the Ju 87B, powered by a 1,000 PS (986 hp, 735 kW) Jumo 211A piston engine.

Ju 87D

File:Ju 87D Stukas over Russia.jpg
Junkers Ju 87D Stuka dive-bombers on a mission over the Russian countryside. The Ju 87G variant was used to devastating effect as a "tankbuster" with twin 37 mm cannons fitted under the wings.

Despite having its vulnerability to enemy fighters exposed during the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe had no choice but to continue the Stuka's development as there was no replacement aircraft in sight.[35] The result was the D-series. The Ju 87 D-series received better streamlined oil and water coolers, and an aerodynamically refined cockpit with better visibility and space. In addition, armor protection was increased and a new dual-barrel 7.92 mm MG 81Z machine gun with an extremely high rate of fire was installed in the rear defensive position. The engine power was increased again, the Jumo 211 J-1 now delivering 1,420 PS (1,401 hp, 1,044 kW).

Production of the D-1 variant started in 1941 with 476 deliveries, rising to 917 D-1 and D-3 in 1942. The D-series saw extensive use in the Eastern Front and the Middle East. Bomb carrying ability was massively increased from 500 kg in the B-version to 1,800 kg in the D-version (max load for short ranges, overload condition), a typical bomb load ranged from 500 to 1,200 kg.

The D-2 was a variant used as a glider tug by converting older D-series airframes. The D-3 was an improved D-1 with more armor for its ground-attack role. The D-4 designation applied to a prototype torpedo-bomber version. The Ju 87 D-5 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 D-6 was not built, for unknown reasons. The D-7 was another ground attack aircraft based on D-1 airframes upgraded to D-5 standard (armor, wing cannons, extended wing panels), while the D-8 was similar to the D-7 but based on D-3 airframes. It's a common myth that the D-7 and D-8 were specifically designed and built for night fighting as they were solely based on converted airframes and used for multiple mission types.

The Ju 87E and F proposals were never built, and Junkers went straight onto the next variant. Another variant derived from the Ju 87D airframe was called the Ju 87H, and saw service as a dual-control trainer.

Ju 87G

File:Ju87g 37mm.jpg
Ju 87 G-2 "Kanonenvogel" with its 37 mm guns.

With the G variant the aging airframe of the Ju 87 found new life as an anti-tank aircraft. This was the final operational version of the Stuka and was deployed on the Eastern Front starting in the early months of 1943. The Ju 87G was armed with two 37 mm cannons mounted in under-wing gondolas, each loaded with a 6-round magazine of armour piercing tungsten ammunition. With these weapons the Kanonenvogel ("cannon-bird"), as it was nicknamed, proved spectacularly successful at the hands of the Luftwaffe ace Hans-Ulrich Rudel. The G-1 was converted from older D-series airframes retaining the smaller wing but without the dive brakes. The G-2 was similar to the G-1 except using the extended wing of the D-5 with 208 G-2 new built and at least 22 more converted from D-3 airframes [36].

While still slow, its stable attitude, large wings and low stall speed were valuable in the acquisition of slow moving targets, such as assault boats and ground vehicles. The G-1 even influenced the design of the A-10 Thunderbolt II, with Hans Rudel's book, Stuka Pilot, being required reading for all members of the A-X project.[37]

Numbers built

Ju 87 aircraft constructed until 30 November 1944:

Version Junkers WFG TOTAL PERIOD
A 192 70 262 July 1937 – September 1938
B-1 311 386 697 September 1938 – May 1940
B-2 56 169 225 February 1940 – October 1940
R-1   105 105 January 1940 – May 1940
R-2   616 616 June 1940 – July 1941
R-4   few May 1941 – October 1941
D-1   592 592 August 1941 – July 1942
D-3   1,559 1,559 May 1942 – November 1943
D-5   1,488 1,488 May 1943 – September 1944
G-2   208 208 December 1943 – July 1944
Total 559 5,193 5,752

Diving procedure

Flying at 4,600 meters (15,000 ft), the pilot located his target through a bombsight window in the cockpit floor. After opening the dive brakes and retarding his throttle, he then rolled the aircraft 180°, automatically nosing the aircraft into a dive. Red tabs protruded from the upper surfaces of the wing as a visual indicator to the pilot that in case of a g induced black-out, the automatic dive recovery system would be activated. The Stuka dived at a 60 - 90 degree angle, accelerating to 600 km/h (350 mph).

When the aircraft was reasonably close to the target, a light on the contact altimeter came on to indicate the bomb-release point, usually at a minimum height of 450 m (1,500 ft). The pilot released the bomb by depressing a knob on the control column to release weapons and to initiate the automatic pull-out mechanism. An elongated U-shaped crutch located under the fuselage would swing the bomb out of the way of the propeller, and the aircraft would automatically begin a 6 g pullout.

Once the nose was above the horizon, dive brakes were retracted, the throttle was opened, and the propeller was set to climb. The pilot regained control and resumed normal flight.

In his book Wings of the Luftwaffe, Royal Navy test pilot Eric "Winkle" Brown reported that a captured Ju 87 D-3 he test-flew after the war felt "absolutely right" diving at a 90° straight down angle, and stated that he had no doubt of the Stuka's ability in its assigned role.

Other designs

The concept of dive bombing became so popular among the leadership of the Luftwaffe, that it became almost obligatory in new aircraft designs. Later bomber models like the Junkers Ju 88 and the Dornier Do 217 were fitted for dive bombing. Even the giant Heinkel He 177 bomber was initially supposed to have dive bombing capabilities — a requirement that contributed much to the failure of the design.

Once the Stuka became too vulnerable to growing fighter opposition on all fronts, work was done to develop a replacement. All dedicated close support designs on the drawing board did not progress much further due to the war situation and technological obstacles. In response the Luftwaffe decided to settle on the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighter aircraft with the Fw 190F becoming the dedicated ground attack version. The Fw 190F started to replace the Ju 87 as close support aircraft for day missions in 1943 but the Ju 87 stayed active as night nuisance raider until the very end in 1945.


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Operated a few captured aircraft[38]
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Operated a few captured aircraft[39]


Two intact Ju 87s survived and a few more wrecks are on display today.


Ju 87A Ju 87B Ju 87D Ju 87G-1
Production 1936-1938 1938-1941 1941-1944 refitted Ju 87D
Role ground attack ground attack ground attack anti-tank
Length 10.8 m 11.1 m 11.1 m 11.1 m
Wingspan 13.8 m 13.8 m 13.8 m 13.8 m
Height 3.9 m 3.9 m 3.9 m 3.9 m
Wing area 31.90 m² 31.90 m² 31.90 m² 31.90 m²
Empty weight 2273 kg 2760 kg 2810 kg 3600 kg
Maximum weight 3324 kg 4400 kg 5720 kg 5100 kg
Engine Junkers Jumo 210E Junkers Jumo 211Da Junkers Jumo 211J Junkers Jumo 211J
Maximum Power 680 PS 1200 PS 1420 PS 1420 PS
Maximum Power 500 kW 883 kW 1044 kW 1044 kW
Maximum speed 310 km/h 383 km/h 408 km/h 375 km/h
Dive speed 550 km/h 600 km/h 600 km/h
Range with bombs 800 km 600 km 1165 km 1000 km
Ceiling 9430 m 8100 m 9000 m 7500 m
Climb 3000 m in 8.8 min 3000 m in 14 min 3000 m in 13.6 min
Forward guns 1×7.92 mm MG 17 2×7.92 mm MG 17 2×7.92 mm MG 17 2×7.92 mm MG 17
2×37 mm BK 37 (12 rounds per gun)
Rear guns 1×7.92 mm MG 15 1×7.92 mm MG 15 1×7.92 mm MG 81Z
(twin MG 81)
1×7.92 mm MG 81Z
(twin MG 81)
Maximum bombs 250 kg 500 kg 1800 kg none
Typical bombs 1×250 kg 1×250 kg
+ 4×50 kg
1×500/1000 kg
+ 4×50 kg

See also

Related development

Comparable aircraft

Designation sequence
Ar 81 - Ju 85 - Ju 86 - Ju 87 - Ju 88 - Ju 89 - Ju 90 Related lists


Please note: Some titles appear next to citations. This is because some authors have more than one source cited and published in the same year.


  1. Weal 1997, p. 15 - Junkers Ju 87 Stukageschwader 1937-41
  2. Weal 1997, p. 22 - Junkers Ju 87 Stukageschwader 1937-41
  3. E.R Hooton 2007, p. 91
  4. Weal 1997, p. 34 - Junkers Ju 87 Stukageschwader 1937-41
  5. Weal 1997, p. 46 - Junkers Ju 87 Stukageschwader 1937-4
  6. E.R Hooton 2007, p. 67
  7. E.R Hooton, p74
  8. E.R Hooton 2007, p. 55
  9. Weal 1997, p. 83 - Junkers Ju 87 Stukageschwader 1937-41
  10. Weal 1998, p. 9 - Junkers Ju 87 Stukageschwader of North Africa and the Mediterranean
  11. Weal 1998, p. 32 - Junkers Ju 87 Stukageschwader of North Africa and the Mediterranean
  12. Weal 1998, p. 38-39 - Junkers Ju 87 Stukageschwader of North Africa and the Mediterranean
  13. Weal 1998, p. 65 - Junkers Ju 87 Stukageschwader of North Africa and the Mediterranean
  14. Bergström 2007 (Barbarossa title), p. 131
  15. Bergström 2007 (Barbarossa title), p. 18
  16. Bergström 2007 (Barbarossa title), p. 20
  17. Bergström 2007 (Barbarossa title), p. 23
  18. Bergström 2007 (Barbarossa title), p. 89
  19. Bergström 2007 (Barbarossa title), p. 69
  20. Just 1986, p. 19
  21. Bergström 2007 (Barbarossa title), p. 85
  22. Bergström 2007 (Barbarossa title), p. 112-113
  23. Bergström 2007 (Barbarossa title), p. 115
  24. Bergström 2007 (Barbarossa title), p. 119
  25. Bergström 2007 (Stalingrad title), p. 30
  26. Bergström 2007 (Stalingrad title), p. 46
  27. Bergström 2007 (Stalingrad title), p. 122
  28. Bergström 2007 (Stalingrad title), p. 49
  29. Bergström 2007 (Stalingrad title), p. 84
  30. J. Hayward 2001, p. 211.
  31. Bergström 2007, p. 123-24 (kursk title
  32. Bergström 2007, p. 109. (Kursk title)
  33. Bergström 2007, p. 118. (Kursk title)
  34. Mondey 1996, p. 111-118
  35. Mondey 1996, p. 114
  36. Luftwaffe aircraft production March 1944
  37. Coram 2004, p. 235
  40. Hellenic Aviation News


  • Bergström, Christer (2007). Barbarossa - The Air Battle: July-December 1941. London: Chervron/Ian Allen. ISBN 978-1-85780-270-2.
  • Bergström, Christer (2007). Stalingrad - The Air Battle: November 1942 - February 1943. London: Chervron/Ian Allen. ISBN 978-1-85780-276-4 .
  • Bergström, Christer (2007). Kursk - The Air Battle: July 1943. London: Chervron/Ian Allen. ISBN 978-1-903223-88-8.
  • Coram, Robert (2004) Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War, Back Bay Books. ISBN 0316796883
  • Hayward, Joel S. (2001). Stopped at Stalingrad: The Luftwaffe and Hitler's Defeat in the East 1942-1943. University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-1146-0
  • Hooton, E.R. (2007) Luftwaffe at War; Blitzkrieg in the West, London: Chervron/Ian Allen, . ISBN 978-1-85780-272-6.
  • Just,Gunther (1986) Stuka Pilot Hans Ulrich Rudel, Schiffer Military History, 1986, ISBN 0-88740-252-6
  • Mondey, David. (1996) Axis Aircraft of World War II. London: Chancellor Press. ISBN 1-85152-996-7
  • Weal, John, (1997). Junkers Ju 87 Stukageschwader 1937-41. Oxford: Osprey. ISBN 1-85532-636-1
  • Weal, John (1998). Junkers Ju 87 Stukageschwader of North Africa and the Mediterranean. Oxford: Osprey, ISBN 1-85532-722-8

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