Junkers Ju 87B
|Junkers Ju 87 Stuka|
|Armament|| 2 x 7.9 mm Machine Guns,|
1 x 7.9 mm Machine Gun (tailgunner),
450 kg bomb payload
|Crew||2 (Pilot, Tail Gunner)|
Few aircraft in history can claim the mystique, and notoriety, that belongs to the Junkers Ju 87 Sturzkampfflugzeug or Stuka. Without a doubt one of the least attractive combat aircraft of any era, the Stuka's menacing appearance served its role as a terror weapon almost as well as its ability to deliver its bomb load with pin-point accuracy. Its bent wing and oddly spatted fixed landing gear were unlike any contemporary combat aircraft design and have cemented its image into legend. Fitted with a siren activated on its dive run, the Stuka became an instantly recognizable weapon as soon as it was deployed.
The Stuka design was championed by Ernst Udet, the Reichluftfahrtsministerium (RLM) director who was in the main responsible for equipping the newborn German Luftwaffe. Inspired by the Curtiss Helldiver dive-bomber, Udet as well as Hitler and Göring were amazed by the accuracy of the dive-bomber concept – and accuracy meant economy, which was always a primary consideration for the German war machine. This same economical thinking of effort versus results caused Hitler to demand that all future bomber designs were to be capable of dive-bombing – a fact that stunted German aircraft design and deployment doctrine more than it helped develop it.
Highly effective when enjoying air superiority, the Stuka proved increasingly vulnerable against modern high-powered enemy fighters. This was conclusively proven during the early stages of the Battle of Britain where whole units were wiped out in veritable 'turkey shoots'. With faster and and more heavily armed fighters opposing the Ju 87, this disparity increased yet further as the war progressed. Additionally, the volume and capacity of anti-aircraft guns increased exponentially over the course of the war, further diminishing the Stuka's ability to wreak havoc.
By the end of 1942 the Ju 87 was all but obsolescent. With the introduction of the Focke Wulf 190 former bomber and close air support units were re-equipped with ground attack versions of this highly versatile fighter.
While not especially gifted in any particular performance profile, the Ju 87s real talent lies in its dive stability and in its powerful punch. Though capable of aerobatics to a much higher degree than enemy fighters like to think, that is, once free of its ordnance, the Ju 87 is a slow aircraft by any measure, and slow speed in the climb and in level flight means increased vulnerability. For this reason it makes very good sense to employ the Stuka in its historically proven best scenario: with friendly air superiority and with full use of surprise and weight of numbers.
Assuming a best case scenario, the Stuka formation that dives from 3-4 km altitude against a known target such as a busy army base, can deliver an overwhelming weight of explosive and extricate itself without undue trouble as long as it sticks to this 'single run' philosophy. When this practice is compromised, such as in making multiple runs at subsequently lower altitudes, and braving both enemy fighters and dead-eye AA gunners, the Ju 87 begins to suffer.
The Stuka is ideally employed in relatively steep dives ranging from purely vertical to 60-degrees off the horizontal. When diving in from greater altitude than 2 km the dive brakes should be deployed (default key: S) so as to yield more sighting time In a purely vertical dive – see the dive angle instrument - the target should be all but centered in the sight. For dives at less than 90-degree angle the pilot must keep the target slightly low in the gunsight to compensate for the bomb trajectory. Veteran pilots uses the 50 kg bombs against soft targets and armoured cars while saving the main 250 kg bomb for tanks and bunkers.
For an in-depth guide to divebombing, have a look at the CAS section
|Air Units in Battleground Europe|
|Bf 109E-1 | Bf 109E-4 | Bf 109F-4 | Bf 109G-6/U4 | Bf 110C-4 | Bf 110C-4/B | Blenheim IF | Blenheim IV | C47 'Skytrain' | Dewoitine D.520 | Douglas DB-7 | Fw 190A-4 | Havoc Mk.I | Hawk 75 | Hawk 81 | Hawk 87 | Heinkel 111 | Hurricane Mk I | Hurricane Mk IIb | Hurricane Mk IIc | Junkers 52 | Junkers 87 'Stuka' | P-38 'Lightning' | P-39 | Spitfire Mk Ia | Spitfire Mk Ib | Spitfire Mk Vb | Spitfire Mk IXc|