Junkers Ju-87G Stuka
Equipped with a 37mm canon under each wing, the aging airframe of the Ju 87 Stuka found new life as an anti-tank aircraft on the Eastern Front in 1943
The change in German military fortunes after 1943 and the appearance of huge numbers of well armored Soviet tanks caused Junkers to adapt the existing Stuka design to combat this new threat.
The Henchel Hs 129B “Panzerknacker” (see Model of the Hs129 on another page) had proved a very potent ground attack weapon against the Soviet tanks, but the Wehrmacht needed more, and led by some legendary Stuka pilots, first of all, Hans Ulrich Rudel (see Diorama: Hans Ulrich Rudel
and his Stuka) who, after achieving success against Soviet tanks with the Stuka’s 20 mm MG 151/20 cannons suggested using two 37mm Flak 18 (anti-aircraft) guns on the Stuka – and the results was the new Ju87G
The downside with the new design was that the guns weighed more than 800 kg in total and the weight of the guns, the extra armour and the increased drag made the G model slow (260-270 km/h) and with less manoeuvrability than the other Stuka models – which already was slow and ungainly.
Especially in turns, it was almost impossible to prevent the Ju87G from wobbling from side to side. Furthermore, the Kanonenvoegel had to attack the tanks from a very low level, exposing it selves to heavy ground fire. The armoured protection of the Soviet Ilyushin Il-2 Sturmovik was therefore copied.
The first flight of the Ju87G took place on 31 January 1943 and the first production Ju 87G-1s were delivered to front-line units in April 1943.
As mentioned, the Ju87G was a difficult plane to handle and only the most experienced pilots managed to master the Kanonenvoegel. But in the right hands, the Ju87G was a deadly weapon to even the heaviest armoured Soviet tanks.
The two 37 mm cannons were mounted in under-wing gun pods and had a 6-round magazine of Armor piercing Tungsten carbide ammunition. With these weapons, the Kanonenvogel proved spectacularly successful at the hands of Luftwaffe Stuka Aces such as Hans Ulrich Rudel.
At the end of the war, Rudel had logged 2,530 combat missions.
Flying the Ju87, his confirmed victories – those witnessed by two or more pilots – include 519 tanks, 800-1000 trucks and other vehicles, 150 flak and artillery positions. He also sank the battleship Marat, a destroyer, a cruiser and 70 landing crafts. During these operations, he was shot down 32 times by ground fire, but against all odds, he survived the war and died in 1982 at age 66.
- Crew: 2
- Length: 11.00 m (36 ft 1.07 in)
- Wingspan: 13.8 m (45 ft 3.30 in)
- Height: 4.23 m (13 ft 10.53 in)
- Wing area: 31.90 m² (343.37 ft²)
- Empty weight: 3,205 kg (7,086 lb)
- Loaded weight: 4,320 kg (9,524 lb)
- Max. takeoff weight: 5,000 kg (11,023 lb)
- Powerplant: 1 × Junkers Jumo 211D liquid-cooled inverted V12 engine, 1200 PS (1,184 hp (883 kW))
- Propellers: Three-blade Junkers VS 5 propeller, 1 per engine
- Propeller diameter: 3.4 m (11 ft 1.85 in)
- Never exceed speed: 600 km/h (373 mph)
- Maximum speed: 390 km/h @ 4,400 m (242 mph @ 13,410 ft)
- Cruise speed: 319 km/h (198 mph)
- Range: 500 km (311 mi) with 500 kg (1,100 lb) bomb load
- Service ceiling: 8,200 m (26,903 ft) with 500 kg (1,100 lb) bomb load
- Rate of climb: 2.3 m/s ()