Explosive charges in the Stuka's landing gear

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Jenisch, Apr 23, 2013.

  1. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    Some years ago I read that the Stuka had explosive charges in the landing gear that the pilot could activate to clear the landing gear and perform a belly landing in inadequated terrain.

    True or not?
     
  2. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    I believe this started with a small batch of trials aircraft being prepared for use from the Aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin. The idea being to blow the landing gear off in preparation for ditching into water. The fixed gear would have dug in and flipped the plane on it's back.
    I don't know how many aircraft were fitted or if they applied to any but the batch of planes prepared for the carrier, perhaps others could help?
     
  3. Conslaw

    Conslaw Member

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    Hans Ulrich-Rudel describes an incident in his book Stuka Pilot where he had to eject his landing gear to run away from Russian fighters. He ended up making a belly landing as I recall. He was a very unusual fellow, extraordinarily successful as a pilot, he was nevertheless not a very admirable person. Even after the war, in his book he doesn't try hard to hide his Nazi sympathies.
     
  4. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    The only reference I can find to Ju 87 variants with jettisonable undercarriage is the Ju 87C, as Shorty said, which was modified for service aboard the Graf Zeppelin. A quote from German Aircraft of the Second World War by J.R. Smith and Anthony Kay;

    "The Ju 87C was a special conversion of the dive bomber intended for operation from the aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin, which was under construction at Kiel. A batch of Ju 87C-10 pre-production aircraft left the Weser factory during the summer of 1939. This variant was fitted with a jettsonable undercarriage, was stressed for catapulting and carried an arrestor hook forward of the tailwheel."

    "In December 1938 a Staffel was formed in readiness for operations from the carrier Graf Zeppelin. Designated 4.(Stuka)/186, the Staffel was initially equipped with the Ju 87A and based at Kiel-Holtenau. In May 1939, it was re-equipped with the Ju 87B-1 and eventually received a few Ju 87C-0s. It took part in the Polish campaign and was expanded to Gruppe strength on 16 September, 1939."
     
  5. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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  6. Snautzer01

    Snautzer01 Well-Known Member

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    The landing gear of the Ju87 had a design break point in order come off cleanly under high translational forces, such as getting caught in a ditch during an emergency landing. The idea was to avoid flipping over the entire aircraft, which usually had bad consequences for the crew. The Ju87C supposedly had explosive bolts to ensure the landing gear came off before ditching
     
  7. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #7 stona, Apr 26, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2013
    It didn't work very well then!

    I've seen plenty of Ju 87s as "fliegerdenkmal", undercarriage intact :)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The Stuka was a fairly heavy aircraft and the undercarriage substantial. I just wonder how practical such a system would have been. Beyond a certain point the gear will always be torn off.

    [​IMG]

    I'm not saying that it wasn't so, I don't know, but it does seem a difficult solution to not much of a problem.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  8. razor1uk

    razor1uk Well-Known Member

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    #8 razor1uk, Apr 26, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2013
    I think that since the undercarraige was 'fixed', that the explosive bolts were standard incase of flak damage knocking off one leg, at least that is the idea I gather from reading books info over the years; I think the trials for the explosive bolts that released the legs (possibly the leg fixing clamps) were developed during the C's testing. ...Continueing the memory recall/hypothersising, it made it into service following accidents and damage sustained during the Polish Campaign. Mind-due, Junkers was quite a forward thinking company, so it's just as likely they release system was envisaged and designed as part of the 87 from the start as a survival option for their customers users.
    As too how explosive bolts could survive nose overs and hardlandings, but yet severe/release the gear when needed, well thats quite easy to achieve engineering wise, depending upon the gears attatchment method and the surrounding wing/chassis structure relating to the U/C.

    The explosive bolts might not have to directly hold the gear or be within the gear legs, hence why i suggest them as to perhaps be clamp related, nor does each gear have to only one bolt or only a couple of them, perhaps a group of them to spread the load and mnimise localised explosive power.
    Looking at the twin pipe like things around the gear legs base (which would be inside the attatched wing) in the above picture. they could be armoured electircal/control conduits or part of the clampage assembally, the lower one seems to have a spigot off it with a wire/sensor/detonator plugged into it...

    Of-course anyone who has worked on a Stuka or has the actual info can offer the correct method and description.
     
  9. Denniss

    Denniss Active Member

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    Never heard of explosive bolts for the undercarriage except for the naval variants. Maybe Rudel was talking about the two draggy 3.7cm gun pods, AFAIR they had some kind of release mechanism but I may be in error here.
     
  10. razor1uk

    razor1uk Well-Known Member

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    #10 razor1uk, Apr 26, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2013
  11. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    This might have 'grown' out of the well-known photo of a Ju87, without undercarriage, being 'escorted' by another Ju87, both flying 'from left to right' in the photo.
    Most 'modern day' captions in books state that it has jettisoned it's undercart due to damage. But the original caption, I believe in 'Signal' magazine, when the photo was published, as propaganda during WW2, states something along the lines of "One of our brave pilots, after being damaged by enemy flak, is escorted home by a comrade".
    The photo was / is a fake, doctored by the simple use of darkroom masking or potassium fericyanide, to 'remove' the landing gear. The original WW2 photo shows two Ju87s, flying in formation, both complete, with no bits missing !
     
  12. razor1uk

    razor1uk Well-Known Member

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    #12 razor1uk, Apr 27, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2013
    Tis also true about that Signal image being mis-represented in more modern and less accurate times, and I am sure that I have read over the years, online and in books that the 87 in general, did have jettisonable U/C for safer landings should it become damaged.

    Hans Rudel Stuka Pilot pdf
    So far have yet have to find the reference attributed to him '..dropping (jettisioning) his wheels' in reading upto bottom of page 36. Anyone one wish to carry on...?
     
  13. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    As Airframes has pointed out some myths acquire a life of their own. I am also aware of the saga of the mis-captioned photograph he mentioned. As others (and myself) originally posted the only Ju 87 that certainly did at least experiment with a jettison system for the landing gear was the navalised version.

    If anyone has any evidence for the use of such a system on other versions (not including internet opinion) I'd be glad to see it.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  14. Denniss

    Denniss Active Member

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    I just checked some Ju 87 B and R manuals and neither mentions it nor warns mechanics about a possible explosive charge they should better not touch.
     
  15. MacArther

    MacArther Active Member

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    That might be the clincher....if the mechanics don't know about it and they are servicing the planes, then how do these things exist?
     
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