The scientific tourist #310 — the Stuka

On display in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois — it’s one of only two surviving Stuka dive bombers:


The Stuka (officially, the Junkers Ju 87) started its development early in the 1930s, and in spite of a problem-plagued development first saw active service just a few years later in 1936.  Like many dive bombers, it was built for durability and so suffered from slow airspeed — it was lethal against ground targets, but only in areas in which the Nazis had air superiority.  Once the Luftwaffe lost air superiority throughout Europe, the Stukas (shortened from the German Sturzkampfflugzeug, “dive bomber”) were easy pickings for allied fighters.

This particular Stuka was captured while on the ground for servicing in Libya in 1941; it was a gift to the museum from the British government in 1946.  You’ll notice it lacks the usual “spats” on its landing gear — nothing at the museum indicates if it flew this way or if this configuration was an accident of its capture.  Meanwhile, a 3rd Stuka was found in the Baltic in the 1990s and recovered in 2012, it is undergoing extensive restoration work before it can go in display at a museum in Berlin.

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