|Junkers Ju 87 Stuka|
|Tuesday, 24 April 2012 00:00|
(by Peter C. Smith; ISBN 978-0-859-791564; Crécy Publishing Ltd, 1a Ringway Trading Estate, Shadowmoss Road, Manchester M22 5LH; 10in x 8in hardback; 424 pages, illustrated; £29.95)
Many books have been written about the Junkers Ju 87 “Stuka”, the name being associated with all dive-bombers, a shortening of Sturzkampfflugzeug. This one was first published by Crowood in 1998 in a larger format with 240 pages and without any colour artwork. This new edition is expanded and subtitled “A Complete History”.
Beginning with the origins and development of German dive-bombers, the author explains how vertical bombing was first tried by the British in 1917 but the idea was rejected. Early German experiments were conducted with the Junkers A 48, originally intended as a two-seat fighter, and while the concept was proved it was not universally accepted, although dive-bomber units were formed with Heinkel He 50 biplanes. The Swedish were also testing dive-bombers, and descriptions are given of their work, while Ernst Udet in Germany, keen on the dive-bomber, persuaded the Luftwaffe to buy two Curtiss Hawks following demonstrations in the USA (the fuselage of one is preserved in the Polish Air Force Museum, Krakow).
Junkers built a full-scale wooden mock-up of its Ju 87, and the prototype, originally with twin fins and rudders, flew in September 1935. First production deliveries began in 1938.
As well as many interesting illustrations, there are tables indicating, for instance, Italian Stuka losses with dates, locations, details, units and crews. Other Axis powers using the type included Hungary, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Slovakia (the latter with some subcontracted aircraft). A colour section includes 20 side elevations in various markings, plus some photographs.
A comparison of Stuka and Allied bomber one-day losses on page 161 does not take into account the number of aircraft operated against the number lost, so seems pointless. A minor irritation is a number of captions to illustrations showing aircraft with “civilian coding” while the text in each case refers correctly to “registrations”.