C L I C K T O E N L A R G E
Bombing was haphazard until the German Stuka proved steep dives towards a target made for near pinpoint accuracy. Of course, screaming towards the ground built up enormous stress for aircraft and pilot alike. The Ju 87 was the first attempt to engineer solutions for problems generated by this tactic.
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Power: Junkers 1410 hp Jumo 12 cylinder piston engine
Max. Speed: 410 kph / 255 mph
Ceiling: 7290 m / 23,915 ft
Range: 1535 km / 954 miles
Climb: 5000 m / 16,405 ft in 20 minutes
Empty: 3900 kg / 8584 lb
Max. Take off: 6600 kg / 14,526 lb
Wingspan: 13.8 m / 45 ft 3.5 in
Wing Area: 31.9 sq m / 343.38 sq ft
Length: 11.5 m / 37 ft 8.75 in
Height: 3.9 m / 12 ft 9.5 in
2 x 7.92 mm / 0.3 in machine guns in wings
2 x 7.92 mm / 0.3 in machine guns in rear cockpit
1800 kg / 3962 lb bomb load
Lead Designer: Hermann Pohlmann
Lead Designer: Hermann Pohlmann
First the pilot needs to spot the target from two miles up so its going to be something significant or he's not going to see it. He routinely begins his dive at 10,000 feet or just over 3,000 meters and adjusts his dive angle manually using red indicator lines on his canopy that show 60, 75 and 80 degrees from horizontal. The dive lasts about 15 seconds. He lines up his aircraft with his target and when a signal light on his altimeter lights up he presses a button on top his control column to release the bombs. Once the fuselage cradle releases its bomb the aircraft begins to automatically pull out of its dive while the bomb continues in the plane's original trajectory towards its target.
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Armored warfare on the vast steppes of the Eastern Front required knocking out multiple targets per sortie. The Ju 87G was outfitted with two high velocity 37 mm anti-tank cannon mounted under its wings. These projectiles easily penetrated the thin topmost armor of any tank.
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The Ju 87 was proved effective when introduced in the late 1930s to aid the Fascist forces led by Franco during the Spanish Civil War. It provided tactical support for the German army during the 1939 invasion of Poland and again in the 1940 defeat of France. Propeller driven devices called Jericho Sirens were attached to its landing gear that produced a nerve shattering shriek when it dove into its bombing attack. Its legend was greatly magnified by this psychological component.
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The Stuka, short for Sturzkampfflugzeug meaning dive bomber, had fixed landing gear that gave it a dated appearance. In fact they acted as dive brakes, impeding too rapid an acceleration during its dive and giving it a more stable platform for accurate targeting of its bombs. Of course they added drag to the plane in normal flight. Its slow speed and ponderous climb rate made it vulnerable to modern fighters and it had to be withdrawn from the Battle of Britain because of heavy losses. Its early success was made possible by an airspace clear of nearly all enemy combatants.
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By 1944 the Luftwaffe could no longer provide the Stuka a reasonable chance of returning from its mission. On the Western Front a downed pilot could parachute into captivity as a POW. Most Stuka pilots however flew the battlefields of the Eastern Front where barbarity was the accepted norm and hatred left small chance for humanity.
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More than 5,700 Stukas were produced during the course of the war. It was a rugged aircraft that delivered a heavy punch in support of friendly ground forces. As Germany's fortunes waned and enemy capabilities steadily grew the survival of the Stuka crew depended increasingly on their own resourcefulness and skill because the technology of the Junkers Ju 87 remained suspended in a previous, slower, more primitive time.
Picture: 504 x 403 - Armchair General