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Posted on Jul 8, 2005 in Front Page Features, Stuff We Like

Hendon RAF Museum

Armchair General

OK, I can’t hold off any longer – the my main reason for visiting Hendon on my birthday was for this plane. It’s a Junkers JU87 G-2 dive-bomber – aka "Stuka".

"Stuka" is short for Sturzkampfflugzeug and literally means dive-bomber in German. Although there were different types of German dive-bomber, this model, the JU87 has become synonymous with the word itself.

I am personally of the view that the JU87 is the most gorgeous looking plane in history. But that’s just me, feel free to disagree. If it’s not a contradiction in terms (which, it is), it has a certain ungainly finesse to it that gives it a mean appearance befitting a weapon of war.

It wasn’t the best plane in the war, it wasn’t the fastest or the one containing the latest technology, indeed it was technically obsolete by the beginning of WWII, but even so, I just like it.

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I love the angle of the wings, the functionality of this plane – it’s as if no concession has been made to aesthetics at all, the Stuka has been built for one reason only – to kill, and in a way, that’s what makes it such a wonder to behold.

Of course, I had to have my picture taken with this plane – here’s me with my latest issue of ACG.

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Unfortunately, the top galleries around the BoB hall were closed, however, I was able to get hold of a member of staff and so I asked, very politely, if they wouldn’t allow me up top so I could take some pictures of the Stuka from above. Again, I apologise for the darkness of the picture.

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I spent a long time with this plane – and fully intend to rent a room so we can live together at the weekends without telling my Wife. Here are some more pictures. How can you not love this machine? The Website for Hendon describes this as the only JU87 in the UK – however signs near the pane indicate it’s the only one in Europe!

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Here’s a mock up of the pilot and a shot showing the intake duct below the engine cowl.

Stukas during the Battle of Britain were hopelessly outclassed by marauding British fighter planes and were swiftly withdrawn to safer theatres of combat. Many Spitfire pilots describe the ease of attacking Stukas engaged in bombing runs – to the pilot of a fast-moving fighter plane, a Stuka on a bomb-run would almost appear to be hanging motionless in mid-air, a sitting target for cannon and machine guns.

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