Junkers Ju 87G-2 Stuka

Model review

Hasegawa 1/48 JT 54

Box cover

The kit represents Junkers Ju 87s last version Ju 87G-2 which was a tank killer aircraft armed with two 37 mm anti-tank guns in underwing gondolas. It was used succesfully on the Eastern front against Russian tanks. The kit decals are for the plane of the most famous Stuka ace Colonel Hans Ulrich Rudel, the Commander of the SG2, on Hungarian front in 1944 (more about Hans Ulrich Rudel in the history region). The kit is moulded in medium grey and quite hard styrene. Detailing of the kit is very fine engraved panel lines. Fit of the parts is good except of a few exceptions. It is easy to build a good Stuka model even out of the box of this kit.

I built my model almost OFB with only few corrections, here's the most important. Actuating rods of the ailerons and landing flaps under the wings are moulded as enclosed triangels and they look quite clumsy. I removed them with a sharp knife and drilled holes for the actuating rods. After I had worked the holes oval I made new rods from brass wire. This is the most visible fault of the model and it's worth to fix.

The cocpit is quite good and don't need much improvement. The most visible shortcomings in the cocpit are lacking of armours from the pilot's seat and from overturn structure and lacking of padded headrest of the pilot. I made the missing parts of a thin styrene sheet according to photographs. I also added a few device boxes to the left sidewall of the cocpit. I also added Squadron's photoetched seatbelts and a few control levers to the cocpit. Worth of attention is the rear gunner twin machine gun, technically the sight of the gun. The twin machine gun was fixed but the sight of the gun was fastened to the rear canopy and slided rearwards with it !

Ju 87Gs had additional armour plates around the cocpit which are lacking from the kit. The lacking armour plates were made of paper and they were clued to the right places with CA clue. Wing root walking areas are not depicted right on the model, Ju 87Gs had three longitudinal metal cleats on wing roots to step on. I sanded off the original walking area and made new walking cleats of thin styrene strips. The hole on the left wing which represents landing light needs also little improvement. I made back and side walls of a thin stryrene sheet and then added the landing light reflector to its place. The footstep which helps one to get on the plane is depicted to be on the both sides of the plane, in the real life it was only on the left side of the fuselage.

The rear end of the oil cooler under the fuselage is an open hole which needs to be corrected, you can see through it to the empty engine bay. I made "ceiling" out of a thin styrene sheet to fix that problem. I used the kit guns and drilled out the barrels. To the gun pods I added tubings made of a thin brass wire according to photographs.

The kit is not best quality of the Hasegawa we have used to because there is plenty of puttying and filing on many different places. The most visible is the upper surface of the wing tips where there is a noticeable step. Joints could also have been better. Putty and filing is needed on joints of wings and fuselage, on joints of horizontal fin and fuselage and on joints of undercarriage and wings. Due to filing and sanding panel lines needs to be rescribed.

Ju 87 Stukas were painted in normal RLM 70/71/65 Luftwaffe bomber scheme which was used throughout the war. I used Xtracolor paints on my model. Eastern front markings are yellow RLM 04. To get the right scale effect I lightened the colors by adding 10 % white to them. Upper surfaces scheme was painted using paper masks. I zoomed the painting guide into proper scale and then cut masks out of it. Masks were fastened using small tape chips under them. Real planes were also painted using masks and the color lines were sharp. When painting the canopy frames it is important to notice that part of the frames are inside the canopy plexiglass. According to photographs it seems that the frames inside canopy were painted in RLM 02 Grey instead of RLM 66 Black grey.

I used the kit decals which are right for the Rudel's plane at the time. The decals are of good quality and settled down well with Micro Set. I couldn't fasten the white spiral to the spinner properly so I had to paint it with tape masks. With its small shortcomings I think that Hasegawa's Ju 87 G-2 Stuka is the best model of the type in this scale available. It builds up an impressive model !

History

It's not commonly known that Junkers Ju 87 wasn't the first divebomber in the world. Divebombing technic was used for the first time during the WW I when RFC's lieutenant Harry Brown sank an ammunition barge 1917. After the war RAF studied divebombing technics but it was considered too dangerous and it was abandoned. On the contrary to British the Americans developed the technique during the twenties. At the end of the decade US Navy adopted divebombing as a doctrine. Divebombing was considered to be the best method to bomb a relative small moving target such as an enemy ship.

Due to the Versailles treaty of peace Germany wasn't allowed to develop military aircrafts so the military leadership had to concentrate more into theoretical questions. Theorists developed the concept of a new style of mobile warfare, fought by Panzer divisions which combined tanks with motorized infantry and artillery and intensively supported by attack aircraft. A new aircraft type was needed to support this attack group. After Hitler came to power in 1933 work began to convert the theoretical concept into a real force.

The head of the aircraft development programme of the Reichsluftwaffe, general Ernst Udet, flew Curtiss Hawk divebomber in the USA in 1933. He was very impressed with the demonstrations he saw in the USA. He bought two planes to Germany to demonstrate divebombing to the highest military leaders.

In Germany the development of divebombers was already in progress in October 1933 as a part of the secret rearmament programme, which in its origins dated back to 1921 long before Hitler came to a power! The first dive bombing unit was equipped with the Heinkel He 50. Later the Henschel Hs 123, also a biplane, replaced the He 50. During 1936 it was time to choose a new divebomber type for the Luftwaffe to replace the Henschel Hs 123. There was four competitors, the Arado Ar 81, the Blohm & Voss Ha 137, the Heinkel He 118 and the Junkers Ju 87. Luftwaffe chose the Junkers Ju 87 primarily of its ability to dive at 90 degrees and to resist a force of 6G.

There were three major versions of the Junkers Ju 87: The A-series, the B-series (including the R and C) and the D-series (including the G and H). Every step in this series involved an engine change, a redesign of the engine installation, a refinement of the cockpit canopy, and a modification of the undercarriage. They can be easily recognised.

Ju 87A

The Ju 87A-0 pre-production model entered service in the spring of 1937. Ju 87 A-1 had Jumo 210 D engine with 640 hp which gave maximum speed of 320 km/h. Maximum diving speed was 550 km/h. Production of the A-series ended after 262 aircraft, at the end of 1938. The Junkers Ju 87A had two fixed, forward-firing MG 17 guns and a flexible MG 15 in the rear cockpit. The Ju 87A could carry a 250kg bomb, or a 500kg bomb if the rear gunner was left home. The bomb was carried on a swing-down rack, a tubular structure of which the front end was attached under the engine and the bomb was attached at the rear end of it. On release on dive the bomb was swung forward and downward, so that it was free of the propeller disc and could fall without damaging the propeller. The Ju 87A did not see combat with the exception of three aircraft which were sent to Spain during the civil war, but it was important in the development of the automatic bombing system of the Ju 87.

One of the most important element of the success of Ju 87 was the automatic bombing system. This consisted of an Askania autopilot, which was used together with a Revi gunsight. The bomb release gear, elevator controls, and dive brakes were linked to this system. Before attacking the pilot would set the bomb release height. The deployment of the dive brakes automatically adjusted the elevator trim tab, and put the aircraft into a dive. When the plane was in dive the pilot could make only small corrections with the control surfaces to aim the bomb. When the bomb release height was reached and the bombs were dropped the autopilot adjusted the elevator trim tab again, so that the aircraft became tail heavy and pulled itself out of the dive. The use of the elevator was forbidden, except in case of emergency. Normal procedures called for a bomb release at an altitude of about 900m, which brought the Stuka down to about 400m before it started to regain altitude. Autopilots pull-out put a an acceleration of 6G on aircraft and pilot.

Ju 87B

The Ju 87B was the standard model during the early years of World War II. It was powered by the Jumo 211A engine with fuel injection and 1200 hp. Maximum level flight speed was 350 km/h and maximum diving speed was 600 km/h. Maximum bomb load of the Ju 87B was 1000 kg. The most significant differences when compared the Ju 87B to its predecessor was new engine cowling with a new air intake on top of the cowling and a deep half-circular radiator under it. The undercarriage of the A-model was redesigned and considerably strengthened, it was also made more aerodynamic. If the Ju 87 had to operate from poor airfields, such as found at the Eastern front, the wheel spats were often removed because they tended to get clogged with mud. The greenhouse canopy of the Ju 87B was also different of that of the Ju 87A, with sliding sections for the pilot and the gunner, which replaced the earlier hinged entry panels. The twin radio masts of the JU 87A were replaced by a single, tall, vertical mast. A new psychologic weapon was introduced in Ju 87B. On the undercarriage legs a fitting was installed for a siren, a so called `Jericho Trumpet', to enhance the effect on morale of the Ju 87's attacks. During the Battle of Britain the sirens were often removed because they increased drag.

Ju 87C

The Ju 87C was a shipboard development of the Ju 87B. It was intended for use on Germany's -- never completed -- aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin. The wings of the Ju 87C had a smaller span and folded outboard of the undercarriage attachment points. The wings folded backwards with the leading edges turning down, so that they could be stored flat against the sides of the fuselage. The Ju 87C had attachment points for catapult launch and a tailhook for arrested landings. The landing gear was made jettisonnable for a ditching, and flotation bags were fitted. The Ju 87C also had the capability to carry underwing fuel tanks, extending its range from 800km to 1600km. Because the Graf Zeppelin was never completed, the Ju 87C only operated from land bases.

Ju 87R

The Ju 87R was a long-range version of the Ju 87B, with design features of the Ju 87C. An additional fuel transfer system was fitted and new fuel tanks were installed in the wing. The outer wing attachment points were modified so that 300l fuel tanks could be carried instead of bombs. They were intended for anti-ship attacks, and proved very effective during the fights in Scandinavia. The out-of-sequence R-designation stood for `Reichweite', range.

Ju 87D

The Ju 87D was a new type wich had a completely redesigned engine installation. The engine was still a derivative of the Jumo 211, but the more powerful J or P model was used. The main coolant radiator was removed from under the engine cowling, and two radiators were installed under the wing centre section instead. A shallow oil cooler was retained under the engine cowling. A new VS11 propeller with paddle blades was used. There were also other aerodynamic refinements. The greenhouse canopy now tapered aft, instead of having a nearly constant cross-section as had that of the B-model. The aft gunners exchanged the single drum-fed MG15 gun for twin belt-fed MG81 guns. The bomb release gear was better faired in, and the maximal bomb load was increased to 1800kg. This could include a 1400kg armour-piercing bomb on the centreline rack.

The landing gear was again strengthened, but nevertheless the Ju 87D retained a reputation for landing gear collapses on rough runways. The wheel covers were again changed, and the fitting for sirens were eliminated. The D-3 introduced additional armour, because the Ju 87 now more often had to dodge the fire of the troops it attacked. From the D-4 model onwards the 7.9mm win guns were replaced by the 20mm MG151/20 cannon. The D-5 model had a longer wing span (15 m), with pointed wing tip extensions. An interesting development was the D-7, which had night flight equipment and radar.

Ju 87E

The Ju 87E was the navalised version of the Ju 87D, but it was never built.

Ju 87G

The Ju 87G was the final version of the Stuka. Dive-brakes were removed and an armament of two 37mm Rheinmetall-Borsig BK3,7 (Flak 18) anti-tank cannons were installed under the wings. These weapons fired special armour-piercing ammunition, with tungsten cores, at a muzzle velocity of 850m/sec. The guns were installed in gun pods fitted outboard of the landing gear legs. The ammunition was in six-round clips. The normal 7.9 mm or 20 mm wing guns were deleted. There were two versions, the Ju 87G-1 based on the short wing span D-3 and the Ju 87G-2 based on the long wing span D-5 model. Production of the Ju 87 was halted definitively on October 1944. A good proof of the power of the guns and the amazing shooting skills of Hans-Ulrich Rudel was one of his air victories. Rudel shot down a heavily armoured Il-2 Sturmovik while flying with "Kanonenvogel" at maximum range with only two rounds of his 37 mm guns.

First trials on the battlefield with gunplanes were made in March 1943. The Ju 87G proved to be very effective in its task. Although the 37 mm gun was ineffective on ground it still was effective gun in the air. Attacks were normally made from rear and above against the thin deck armours of the Russian tanks which were easily penetrated.

Because attacks were always made in very low flying altitude where anti-aircraft defence was very hard it became necessary to improve armouring. Because of increased armour and weight of the guns, 420 kg / gun, flying characteristics of Ju 87G were tricky. The success of the Ju 87G pilots simply based to their great experience. And the most famous of them was Hans-Ulrich Rudel.

Hans-Ulrich Rudel is the most successful pilot through the airwar history. He flew over 2500 missions and destroyed at least 519 tanks, sank one battleship, one cruiser, one destroyer and 70 landing crafts. Different type of land vehicles he destroyed over 800 and over 150 artillery sites, four armoured trains, many bridges etc. Rudel achieved also nine kills. He was shot down 32 times, he wounded five times and rescued six crews from enemy territory. Also the enemy appreciated his achievements, Stalin had promised 100 000 rubles reward of his head! Hans-Ulrich Rudel flew till the end of the war although he had his leg amputated.

Ju 87H

The Ju 87H was disarmed version equipped with dual controls for use as trainers. The rear cockpit design was again modified with bulging windows to give the instructor a better view forward.

Ju 87K

The Ju 87K designation was used for export models. The K-1 was equivalent to the A-1 and intended for export to Japan. The K-2 and K-4, equivalent to the B-1 and A-1, were exported to Hungary.

Photos from different stages
Hold the mouse cursor over thumbnail for a while before clicking !

Technical Data of Junkers Ju 87G-2 Stuka

Engine 1400 hp Junkers Jumo 211J-1
Dimensions Span 15,00 m; lenght 11,10 m
Weights Empty weight 4400 kg; max. take of weight 6600 kg
Performance Max. speed 344 km/h (Ju 87G-1)
Armament 2 x 37 mm BK 3,7 gun (Flak 18) 6 round / gun; defending armament 1 x 7,92 mm MG 81Z twin-mg
Production 174 (Ju 87G2); 5700 (all models)

Sources

  • Junkers Ju 87 Stuka, Emmanuel Gustin
  • Ju 87 Stuka in Action by Brian Filley, Squadron /signal publications
  • Stukalentäjä, Hans-Ulrich Rudel
  • Warplanes of the Luftwaffe, David Donald
  • Internet

  • Main page