Stuka is subject of ambitious return-to-flight project

The Hudson, Massachusetts-based American Heritage Museum has acquired the substantial remains of a former Luftwaffe Junkers Ju 87 D-5 Stuka – and wants to return it to the skies

The machine in question is Wk Nr 131587/Q9+CH, a machine assigned to the 1. Staffel, Schlachtgeschwader 5 (1./SG1) in 1944. At the time the unit, then assigned to Luftflotte 5, was engaged in close air support missions across the frozen north. On April 4, while being flown by Lt Uffz Walter Ernest and Uffz Ernest Zenker, the aircraft ran low on fuel and landed on a frozen freshwater lake near the town of Kemijärvi, Finland. With no way to recover the machine, the crew rendered it unusable by detonating a grenade in the cockpit.

The impressive remains of Ju-87D Q9+CH. Could we one day see this Stuka back in the air?
The impressive remains of Ju 87 D Q9+CH. Could we one day see this Stuka back in the air? Daniel Karlsson via The American Heritage Museum

Left to sink into the lake during the spring thaw, it remained undisturbed for more than 77 years until its discovery and subsequent recovery in 2021. In its announcement, the AHM said: “Once hauled to the surface, the white distemper paint could still be seen on her skin - evidence of desperate times and the difficulty of fighting a war at the top of the world. The extreme freezing temperatures preserved it in incredible condition.” With this hugely ambitious restoration to flight already under way, the work is currently “taking place at various facilities across Europe”.

At the time of writing, an inventory and 3D scans of the salvaged components had been undertaken, the original core from the aircraft’s original Jumo 211 engine (along with another) had been sent for zero-time overhauls, while contractors were working on CAD drawings to aid the fabrication of damaged components. AHM added: “The rarity, importance and uniqueness of this aircraft cannot be overstated.”

Another view of the Stuka restoration project
Another view of the Stuka restoration project Daniel Karlsson via The American Heritage Museum