An aircraft type consistently to be found at the top of most enthusiasts’ dream wish-list of airworthy restorations was unveiled at the Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum (FHCAM) at Everett Field, Washington on 10 November, in the shape of a part-rebuilt Junkers Ju 87R-4 Stuka.
Brought out of Murmansk, Russia in 1992 by Sussexbased recovery supremo Jim Pearce, the dive-bomber, Werknummer 6234, had dropped off the radar for the past few years. After being acquired by the Alpine Fighter Collection in Wanaka, New Zealand in 1993, it went to the Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin, where it was stored from 1996-98. From 2003-07 it was registered to RLM Aviation at Fairoaks as G-STUK, before being cancelled in 2007. The R variant was a longrange version of the Stuka, development of which started in early 1940 when it became apparent that the type lacked sufficient range to attack enemy shipping or land-based targets outside of the immediate battlefield. The principal modification was an increase in total fuel capacity from the 480 litres of the early-war B model to 1,370 litres, with 600 litres being carried in drop tanks. The airframes were strengthened, and the R-4 was fitted with a 1,400hp Jumo 211J engine, the most powerful unit to see use in the R series.
Production of the R-4 ran from May to October 1941, but it is not known when the FHCAM example was built. It is thought that the machine was originally intended for the Mediterranean theatre in late 1941, the upper wing surfaces having a pinkish hue similar to the RLM 79 colours used there. Research indicates that the Stuka was deployed to the Eastern Front before the end of January 1942, being assigned to 1./StG 5 (Sturzkampfgeschwader — dive-bomber wing) based at Rovaniemi in Finland, and wearing the codes L1+FW. The Stukas of StG 5 were tasked with attacking the docks, installations and railways around the port of Murmansk, where the Allied convoys to Russia docked. During the February-April period many attacks were made from different airfields, including a raid on 3 April 1942 following the arrival of convoy PQ13 during which three ships — SS New Westminster City, SS Tobruk and SS Empire Starlight — were sunk. On 15 April, 32 Ju 87s, escorted by Messerschmitt Bf 110s and Bf 109s from JG 5, attacked Murmansk, sinking SS Lancaster Castle from PQ12. At 06.50hrs on 23 April the Stukas achieved total surprise, destroying dock number nine, sinking a floating crane and hitting the main police station in the city centre.
”Research indicates that the Stuka was deployed to the Eastern Front, assigned to 1./StG 5 at Rovaniemi in Finland “
The following morning, L1+FW, flown by Leutnant Rudolf Neumann with Unteroffizier Kurt Graef as radio operator/gunner, was one of seven Stukas inbound to Murmansk when they were intercepted about seven miles north-west of the city by Soviet Hawker Hurricanes and Curtiss P-40s. Neumann’s aircraft was hit and he bailed out, managing to evade capture and reach the safety of the German lines. Graef was recorded as missing in action.
Neumann went on to fly some 550 sorties as a Ju 87 and Fw 190 pilot, being awarded an Iron Cross in April 1945. His aircraft was to lay on the tundra for half a century, being removed in February 1992 and loaded onto a ship heading for the port of Hull.
It has now been revealed that the Stuka was acquired by the late Paul Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection (the original name for what became FHCAM) during 2011, with the restoration getting under way two years later. The unveiling took place in FHCAM’s new building, which has increased exhibition space at the museum by 60 per cent.
Work on the Stuka will continue at Everett Field, where the unique machine will eventually join the world’s only genuine, airworthy Fw 190 and a Messerschmitt Bf 109E on the FHCAM fleet.
”The aircraft lay on the tundra for half a century, being removed in February 1992 and loaded on a ship bound for the port of Hull “
OTHER STUKA SURVIVORS
Ju 87G-2 Werknummer 494083 RAF Museum London, Hendon
Ju 87R-2/Trop Werknummer 5954 Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
Ju 87R-4 Werknummer 5856 Substantial wreck, recovered from Russia; displayed unrestored at Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin
Ju 87B-2 Werknummer 1301643 Front fuselage and wings, recovered from the sea off St Tropez; displayed on its undercarriage at Technikmuseum, Sinsheim
Ju 87D-3/Trop Werknummer 100375 Substantial wreck; displayed at Hellenic Air Force Museum, Dekelia, Athens