Stuka squadron question

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by wheatPasta, Jul 26, 2009.

  1. wheatPasta

    wheatPasta New Member

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    couple of basic stuka questions:

    During the early tank battles of the war (WWII) in Belgium and France, how many Stukas made up a squadron?
    I seem to count 9 in photos frequently - but I usually can't tell what year it is or what model stuka.

    I have read that when one squadron was bombing others would be circling waiting to bomb. My question is would the whole squadron dive and bomb at once or would they bomb in pairs, one at a time or what?

    Also, would the Stukas strafe after they released their bombs, before they began climbing again? Just from looking at lots of photos it seems they could strafe from the front and back. From the back utilizing the rear gunner.

    thanks in advance for any help in the matter.

    -WP
     
  2. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    #2 Colin1, Jul 26, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2009
    The basic formation was the Staffel, normally comprising 9 aircraft operating in 3 flights (ketten) of 3.
    Commander would be either a Hauptmann or Oberleutnant and was largely self-contained insofar as it had its own motor transport and mobile field workshop.

    The number of flying personnel in a Stukastaffel was usually 24 (12 pilots + 12 observers) and about 150 ground personnel.

    3 Staffeln usually comprised a Gruppe, totalling 27 aircraft. This would be increased to 30 aircraft by the presence of a Stab (HQ) flight, operating 3 more. The Gruppe commander would normally be a Hauptmann or Major and carried the title of Kommandeur. He would have 72 aircrew and 450 groundcrew under his command.

    3 Gruppen made up a Geschwader, with 90 aircraft plus its own Stab flight adding 4 more. The Geschwader commander would be known as the Kommodore and could be a Major, Oberleutnant or Oberst.

    During their campaign in the west, Ju87s would typically fly in Kette formation at about 15,000ft (4600m) and around 150mph (240kph). Large formations comprised several Ketten in line astern up to a maximum of 30 aircraft (Gruppe strength). When attacking small targets the aircraft would move into echelon during the approach and then peel off and attack in line astern.
    When attacking large targets such as harbours, the Ju87s would bunt over and attack by Ketten. The dive itself was carried out at about 80 degrees, the bombs released at an altitude of 3000ft (920m). The dive would take about 30 seconds during which the pilot controlled his aircraft to hold the target in the centre of his reflector sight. When he reached the pull-out altitude, he pressed a knob on the control column which initiated the auto pull-out system. The bomb was then released automatically after which the pilot regained control, retracted the dive brakes, opened the throttle, trimmed for level flight and left the area.

    I can't find any references to the actions of the observer/rear gunner during the bombing phase but it's entirely feasible that he laid down covering fire on the aircraft's pull-up and exit.
     
  3. wheatPasta

    wheatPasta New Member

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    thanks Colin1, sorry just so I'm clear - attacking small targets they would peel off one-by-one, following each other. Attacking large targets harbour, village or such they would bunt over and attack in threes - what does bunt over mean?
     
  4. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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  5. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    Yes, that's how I understand it

    The bunt was a standard get-out-of-jail manoeuvre for Luftwaffe pilots in the early stages of the war and involved pushing the nose down straight into the dive. This was significant in WWII (more so for the Bf109) as most aircraft of the time would have to wing over into the dive to avoid negative g-fuel starvation; the Ju87 driver could see the target in the glass floor panel and just push the nose down straight over it.

    In the case of the Bf109, he could push his nose down, roll 180 and shoot away under the pursuing Spitfire who couldn't follow his manoeuvre for the negative g-cut out problem outlined above.
     
  6. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    After diving and releasing their bombs the Squadron (staffel) would reassemble slowly and at low altitude.RAF pilots quickly realised that they were extremely vulnerable during this phase and would choose this time to attack. Not quite like in the movies as by this times the bombs had been dropped!
    Steve
     
  7. Butters

    Butters Member

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    The bunt is not generally a popular manouver because most pilots find negative G's rather unsettling. And it's unlikely that most Stuka rear-gunners would be doing much shooting during the actual pull-out. I'm not sure how many G's the Ju 87 typically pulled during the pull-out, but I suspect that it was 5 or more. It would be difficult for the gunner to operate his weapon with any degree of accuracy when under that kind of load.

    The extreme vulnerability of dive-bombers during their descent and pull-out accounts for the demise of the specialized dive-bomber type after the war.

    JL
     
  8. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    Not as unsettling as an ass-full of the enemy's ordnance

    That would account for the lack of data I could find on it
     
  9. Butters

    Butters Member

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    I'm not saying that it isn't a useful tactical manouver in certain circumstances. I'm just saying that an abrupt bunt leaves the pilot hanging in his straps, which feels rather uncomfortable. That's just one of the reasons that most tactical pilots prefer the wing-over when manouvering into a steep descent from level flight.

    JL
     
  10. wheatPasta

    wheatPasta New Member

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    great answers everyone - thanks again.

    -WP
     
  11. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Just for reference......

    "Hitler's Stuka Squadrons" by John Ward pg 40 -42

    "Before entering a dive, the Stuka pilot went through the following check-list: landing flaps at cruise position, elevator trim at cruise position, ruddertrim at cruise position, propellor pitch set at cruise , contact altimeter ON, contact altimeter set to release altitude, supercharger set at automatic, throttle fully closed, cooler flaps closed, dive brakes open.

    The action of opening the dive brakes made the Stuka nose over under the influence of the pull-out mechanism, which was itself activated by opening the dive brakes. To enable the pilot to judge the dive angle accurately - not an easy thing to do without some form of artificial aid - a series of graduations was etched on the front starboard side of the cockpit canopy. Speed in the dive built up rapidly to 540/kmh (335mph) after descending 1370m (4500ft), increasing relatively slowly to a maximum permissable speed of 600kmh (373mph).

    As the Stuka dived, the pilot kept an eye on a warning light on the contact altimeter; when this illuminated, he pressed a knob on the control column, activating the automatic pull-out. The aircraft required 450m (1475ft) to recover to level flight, being subjected to 6 g in the process. The pilot could override the automatic pull-out and complete the operation manually, although this required considerable strength and careful use of the elevator trimmer. As the nose came up through the horizon, the dive brakes were retracted, the propellor pitch set to take-off/climb and the throttle and radiator flaps opened."

    As an side, I have read that one of the defensive manuevors for Stukas was to hit the dive brakes when attacked, let the attacker overshoot and et in a burst as they flew past. That and bunching up with defensive fire like B-17 boxes latter in the war helped survivability.
     
  12. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Even during the BOB they tried to reassemble into a defensive formation. It was whilst flying "low and slow" trying to accomplish this that the British fighters would press home their attacks.The fuel tanks were vulnerable and caused the Stuka to catch fire,a sure sign it wasn't going back accross the channel - very useful when the attacking fighter would have had very limited ammunition.
    I understand that the automated pull up system utilised only the elevator trim tabs and not the entire elevator. Someone may know better.
    Steve
     
  13. wheatPasta

    wheatPasta New Member

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    Again during the early tank battles of the war (WWII) in Belgium and France, if I were say French AA on the ground and a village that the Germans wanted to bomb was directly behind me, do you guys know about how much time between spotting the incoming stukas and being dive-bombed?
     
  14. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    That's a tough one...

    It would depend on thier speed, altitude along with environmentals, like clouds, haze or sunlight (diving out of the sun), etc...

    What's the angle of attack the Stukas are using (22, 45, 90)?

    You could have the benefit of a few minutes or they could be right on top of you...it would pretty much depend on the above-mentioned.

    The one thing you could be sure of, is when the dive flaps deploy, the Jerico Trumpet starts wailing... at that point, you'll know where they are...
     
  15. wheatPasta

    wheatPasta New Member

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    oh, I was under the influence that they always dove at 90ยบ (or thereabouts). But of the options you listed, would they use one over the other for villages/towns or was it strictly a situational decision?

    Good answer though, so either way you didn't have much time it seems.

    But lets say it was a clear day, how small are the squadrons in the sky if they fly in at, I think someone said 15000ft, and do they drop altitude them dive or do they dive from that approaching altitude?

    thanks.

    -WP
     
  16. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    #16 BombTaxi, Jul 29, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2009
    The Stukas would dive from 15000ft, or whatever altitude they were cruising at. You need a lot of air to carry out a dive-bombing attack.

    There would likely be very little warning of an attack, and very little AAA could do about it anyway - once the Stukas were diving, they were almost impossible to hit using weapons with no electical or mechanical tracking devices or height/range finders. The best defence against Stuka attack was fighters - it's no coincidence that the type acheived virtually all of it's success during the 1940 Blitzkrieg, where the LW enjoyed almost toal air superiority throughout.
     
  17. wheatPasta

    wheatPasta New Member

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    indeed, that's interesting about the air superiority/success link. We all know how the French/Allies struggled to put planes in the air then and what usually happened when they did.

    I read somewhere that they were using the 75 field cannons to fire timed charges into the air at the incoming stukas - so that means on some occasions they had to have seem them coming. That being said many things could have distorted my understanding of this, bad french/english translation, my own misunderstanding, etc. Has anyone else heard this?

    I also wonder if they were firing their heavy mgs (Mle 1914 Hotchkiss) at the stukas in desperation, I always see photos of those old things on AA mounts, but I have not read anything confirming this. But it seems that course of action may have provided more luck - I may be way off base though. Any thoughts?
     
  18. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    That 15,000 foot altitude was usually against larger or obvious targets. Smaller tactical targets required a much lower altitude unless the target was easily identified or marked.
     
  19. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Bomb taxi is absolutely correct. Without air superiority,meaning no enemy fighters, the Stuka was simply to vulnerable to operate effectively.I remember an old RAF hand quoted as saying "put simply the Stuka was my favourite target". As they were quickly withdrawn from the BOB I expect this chap had to confront some tougher adversaries!
    Steve
     
  20. Condora

    Condora Member

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    Until "Miss Shilling's orifice" partially solved the problem... :lol:
     
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