The Junkers Ju 87 was a German dive bomber and ground-attack aircraft.
Designed by Hermann Pohlmann, and manufactured by Junkers, a major German aircraft manufacturer.
Stuka is another name which it went by. This came from the German word ‘Sturzkampfflugzeug’, meaning ‘dive bomber’.
It first flew in 1935. It made its combat debut in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. Then, it served the Axis forces in the Second World War.
The Stuka’s design included several innovations. This included 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.
The aircraft is easily recognisable by its inverted gull wings (wings with a bend) and fixed spatted undercarriage (the casing surrounding the wheel).
Mounted on the aircraft were Jericho trumpet wailing sirens. They were sirens driven by propellers and were used to enhance the intimidation of dive-bombing and thus weaken enemy morale.
The Ju 87 operated with great success in close air support and anti-shipping at the start of the Second World War.
It led air assaults in the invasion of Poland in September 1939. What’s more, Stukas were critical to the quick conquest of Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium and France in 1940.
The Stuka was sturdy, accurate, and very effective against ground targets. However, like many other dive bombers of the period, it was vulnerable to fighter aircraft. During the Battle of Britain, its lack of manoeuvrability, speed and armour meant that it required a heavy fighter escort to operate effectively.
The Ju 87 B series was to be the first mass-produced variant. The B-2s that followed had further improvements.