16 Oct 2013
In October, Honorary SMHS member Andy Saunders, joined us to speak about what he considers to be one of the iconic weapons of WW2, the Stuka. We were to benefit from the research behind his new book - Stuka Attack!
The Junkers 87 or Stuka had a range of 490 miles and a top speed of 238mph. Its payload was often a combination of one big bomb and smaller ones, all dropped at the same time. Its ability to dive at an angle of 80 degrees made for very precise bombing; used to target shipping, airfields and latterly radar stations.
Andy explained how the Stuka was highly successful when correctly deployed, but often weakness in German intelligence and poor target selection saw its strengths wasted. Many south coast airfields suffered devastating attacks such as Tangmere on the 16th August 1940 when 29 Stukas took turns in a continuous raid lasting half an hour. Pilots used bullets to fix their target and whilst pulling out of the dive the rear gunner could make use of his machine gun.
What people under attack found truly terrifying about a Stuka attack was the wailing siren as it made its dive. Andy advised that whilst in the early days (Battle of France) the planes were fitted with sirens these were actually promptly removed as it was impossible to disable them and the wailing gave away the Stuka's position.
By September 1940 the Stuka's usefulness against major cities (the Blitz) was limited so October/November saw a return to attacking shipping. In the spring of 1941 the Stukas were moved across to the Eastern Front and engaged in North Africa. The Stuka airfields in France were fitted with dummy versions so they appeared to still be operational!
Andy's book ‘Stuka Attack' is available from all good booksellers and doubtless a few members will be wishing for one in their Christmas stocking!
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