Wasn't the STUKA the best dive bomber to see service in WWII

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Senior Airman
Mar 21, 2005
Know it was ptrobably the one that had the greatest impact on the war but was it the best? This question is for all theatres of conflict combined. The entire war. Which was the best?
Douglas SBD Dauntless
I agree with Dave, I'm going to pick the Douglas SBD Dauntless.

The JU 87 Stuka (from the German for diver bomber Sturzkampfflugzeug) was strong, accurate effective, but slow, did not maneuver well , was poorly armed, and vulnerable to fighters. In the Battle of Britain, the Stuka suffered heavy losses and it was eventually withdrawn from campaigns in Western Europe for the rest of the war. The Dauntless SBD although slower than its Japanese opposite number, the Aichi D3A2 "Val" was far more resistant to battle damage, and its flying qualities suited its role.
The SBD's replacment the SB2C Hell-diver failed to meet expectations. Commander Herbert D. Riley, who served with Naval Operations said about the Hell-diver "the SB2C was so tricky to fly, compared to the SBD, and so hard to maintain that the skippers of the new carriers preferred to have the old SBD's"
Captain Eric Brown, the test pilot who evaluated the Hell-diver for the Royal Navy, flew nearly every type of dive bomber, including a captured Ju-87 Stuka. After piloting the SBD-5 Dauntless, the Vultee Vengeance and the Hell-diver, Brown rated the Curtiss product a distant third. "One could only sympathize with the U.S. Navy pilots flying this unpleasant aircraft from carriers in the Pacific," he later wrote.
In my opinion the Blackburn Skua was never really successful in its diver bomber role and the Aichi D3A2's lack of robustness was not up to the job when put alongside the SBD.
I may be wrong CC but I thought the wing shape of the Stuka was not condusive to good handling due to very narrow wing proportions at the point of maximum lift
Aw, I dunno about that, worked real well on the Corsair....if the Stuka had a more powerful engine and retractable undercarriage, that may have improved it....
I'm a big fan of the Dauntless, I just love it's lines and it's excellent service, even though it wasn't that fast.......I'd say it probably sunk more shipping than the Stuka......

They tried a Stuka improvment, the Ju-187/287


By the time of the Battle of Britain, the venerable Junkers Ju 87 design was beginning to show some of its shortcomings. A new, faster, better armed and better armored replacement was needed, so work was begun on the Ju 187 design. It kept some of the features of the earlier Ju 87, such as the cranked (gull) wing and two man crew, but added retractable landing gear and a very novel reversible vertical tail. The Ju 187 was to be entirely of metal construction. The wing was tapered and featured both dihedral and anhedral. Slatted dive brakes were fitted near the trailing edge of the landing flaps. The main landing gear was housed in a bulge at the junction of the wing where the angle of the wing changed, and retracted to the rear (also rotating 90 degrees to lay flat under the wings). Power was to be supplied by a Jumo 213A 12-cylinder liquid-cooled engine, which was also used in the Fw 190D and Ju 88G-6), and developed 1750 horsepower at takeoff. One of the most unusual features was the movable vertical tail fin, which could be moved 180 degrees in flight, thus clearing the field of fire for the rear gunner. Two men sat back-to-back in a pressurized cockpit. Defensive armament was located in a remote-controlled rear turret, consisting of one 151/20 20 mm cannon and one MG 131 13mm machine gun. The bomb load was composed of one 500 kg (1102 lbs) bomb under the fuselage, and two 50 kg (110 lbs) bombs under each wing on either side of the landing gear bulges.
Although windtunnel models and even a full-sized mock-up was built, the project was canceled due to the fact that the projected performance was not that much of an improvement from the older Ju 87, and also that fighter-bombers such as the Fw 190F series could do the job as well as specialized dive bombers. In October 1943, the project designation 287 was officially given to the forward-swept wing jet bomber project that Junkers was designing.
Im going to agree with the general opinion in favour of the SBD. While the Stuka made a massive contribution to the Blitzkreig in the West, it was obsolete by 1941 at the latest. Only the poor shape of the VVS during the opening stages of Barabarossa allowed it to stay on as a useful weapon, and this seemed to decieve the LW into thinking they could carry on using Stukas.
It is possible to argue that the SBD was obsolete by the end of 1942, but by then the damage had been done and the Japanese Navy was no longer a threat. In fact, I really dont think thats it's going to far to say that the destruction cxaused by SBDs, TBDs and TBFs in the early stages of the Pacific War was a amjor factor in the US winning the war in that theatre. After all, the loss of most of the IJNs carriers and experienced aircrew by early 1943 represented a catastrophic blow to Japans ability to wage war in the theatre.
Will go with the Ju 87D variant on this. I'm pretty lame on my knowledge of US or RAF Pacific craft.....
The Skua was pitiful even by early war standards. Heres some data:

Engine: Bristol Perseus XII nine cylinder, sleeve valve, air cooled radial engine rated at 815 hp (could give a higher power rating of over 900 hp for 5 mins on emergency boost).

Max Speed: 225 mph at 6,700 ft, 204 mph at sea level.

Service ceiling 20,500 ft (reached in 43 mins), the Skua had a very poor rate of climb.

Total fuel: 163 imperial gallons, giving a maximum range of some 760 miles (an endurance of over 4 hours).

Armament: Four Browning .303 machine guns in wings with 300 rounds per gun. One Lewis gun in rear cockpit. One 500 lb semi-armour-piercing bomb(SAP) or one 250 lb general purpose (GP) bomb recessed under fuselage and held in a bomb crutch to swing it clear of the propeller in dive bombing attacks. A "light series carrier" bomb rack could be fitted under each wing. Each carrier could hold 4 x 20 lb Cooper bombs or incendiaries or 2 x 40 lb bombs or incendiaries. Some reference books mistakenly give the impression the light series bomb racks were only ever used for "practice" bombs. The same carriers were used on Lysanders, Battles and Blenheims and were very much a weapon of war. The 500lb SAP bomb was only used against armoured warships, for attacks on merchant ships and ground targets the normal bombload was a 250 lb bomb in the fuselage recess and either 20lb or 40lb bombs on the light series carriers. The 250 lb bomb had only a little less explosive content than the 500lb SAP bomb (the extra weight of the latter was down to the casing, needed to punch through armour). If used against ground targets the SAP bomb would often bury itself deep before exploding, reducing its blast effect. The small and largely ineffective 100 lb anti-submarine (AS) bomb could also be carried in the fuselage recess.

The first prototype Skua had problems with stability and it and the second prototype (both known as Skua MK Is) had to be modified with a longer nose and upturned wingtips, features carried over to the production aircraft (known as Skua Mk IIs). The Skua prototypes used the well tried Bristol Mercury engine but use of these engines in the huge Blenheim bomber progamme meant that production Skuas had to use the new Bristol sleeve valve Perseus engine. There is no evidence that the Perseus engine as used on the Skua was particularly unreliable in itself, (later Bristol sleeve valve engines went through a stage of very bad reliability when first mass-produced by unskilled labour, faults cured in the supremely reliable later model Hercules and Centaurus) but the new sleeve valve technology must have made maintenance more difficult and the Perseus's small production run must have made spares hard to find as the war years rolled by. The spin characteristics of the Skua were bad enough to prompt the fitting of an anti-spin parachute in the tail to aid recovery.

Sourced from http://freespace.virgin.net/john.dell/blackburn_skua.htm

The poor performance of the Skua, along with poor handling, a complicated engine and its awful armament (it was supposed to be a secondary fleet defense fighter as well!) all contribute to it's place as probably the worst dive bomber of the war.
475ft/min, not good at all.Once the failings of the Roc became all too apparent, the Skua was also tasked as a fleet defence fighter. The Germans cant have known this, they'd have gone after the North Sea carriers they hadnt already sunk...
The Flyer would probably outurn a Skua too, and the bloke maight well do more damage than a 250lb GP... but I digress :lol:

I think the Skua's out of the running on this thread, and Im still sticking with the SBD :)

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