• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Stuka WWII dive bomber to be hauled from seabed

The Local · 8 Jun 2012, 06:25

Published: 08 Jun 2012 06:25 GMT+02:00

For 67 years, a Junkers Ju 87 bomber has rested on the seabed, untouched but for a gradually accumulated crust of barnacles. Now historians want to bring the aircraft to the surface, and shed light on its secrets.

Work has already begun to recover the World War II relic. A team of divers from a German army marine batallion conducted an exploratory mission on Tuesday, and have already been able to lay to rest one of the wreck’s most enduring and macabre legends.

"There are no bodies inside," Sebastian Bangert, spokesman for the Dresden Museum of Military History, told The Local while on his way to Rügen. Previous divers claimed to have spotted a boot in the vicinity, but this now appears to be unrelated. The two-man crew, whoever they were, must have bailed out before impact.

The Ju 87 was a dive-bomber plane, what the Germans call a Sturzkampfflugzeug, hence the popular abbreviation Stuka, used by both sides. It was typically used to attack point targets, usually large buildings. The fearful accuracy of these missions and the distinctive howl of the plane’s shrieking siren – known as the Jericho trumpet – made the Ju 87 a symbol of terror for the Allies, and a powerful propaganda icon for the Axis powers.

Those were its strengths - the briny fate of the Rügen wreck testifies to its flaws. Although small at 11 metres from nose to tail, the Ju 87 was slow and cumbersome, with only light defensive weaponry. Unless heavily escorted, it was vulnerable to enemy fighters.

Even its own modus operandi was fraught with danger. The plane would dive at an angle approaching 90 degrees and attain speeds of up to 600 kph. At a mere 450 metres above the ground, a light on the altimeter would instruct the pilots to release their load. It was not unknown for them to black out under the gravitational stress, in which case the aircraft’s automatic pull-up brakes would take over. Most of the time.

"Nowadays, the Ju 87 is extremely rare," says Bangert. Its tragic flaws have turned it into a historical curiosity. Some 5,500 were produced, but just two well-preserved examples survive.

They are in London and Chicago; the few that reside in German museums are badly damaged. What the salvage team are hoping to recover is nothing less than Germany’s finest remaining example of an icon of its 20th century history.

"The plane is fundamentally in very good condition," explains Bangert. It was not badly damaged on impact, though any judgement on its state of repair should be kept in perspective. "After all, it has been under water for 67 years and clearly it will require a lot of work."

That work, methodical and painstaking, is underway. First the plane will be thoroughly cleaned under water, the molluscs prised away, before small or loose pieces are brought to the surface. Then the wings will be detached and recovered, the 100-kilo tail floated to the surface with air-bags, and, about a week after the operation began, a deck crane will raise the fuselage into the Baltic sunlight.

Story continues below…

Once on dry land, restorers will begin the task of readying the Ju 87 for a planned exhibition at Berlin-Gatow, the airfield branch of the Museum of Military History. That process is expected to take some months.

The plane’s engine code may still be recognisable, says Bangert, in which case "we hope to use it to draw conclusions about where the crew came from and what sort of mission they were on." Then, maybe, the Ju 87’s long journey from mystery to history will be complete.

The Local/jpg

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

07:59 June 8, 2012 by Daktari
Very interesting. I hope they can pull this off!

Too bad they couldn't find a squadron of them like they did with the Spitfires in Burma recently

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2129520/The-new-Battle-Burma-Find-20-buried-Spitfires-make-fly.html
15:37 June 8, 2012 by finanzdoktor
Wish they had included some photographs of the recovery thus far, and in the future.
Today's headlines
President who pioneered Moscow ties dies aged 97
Former Cold War President of West Germany Walter Scheel. Photo: DPA.

Former West German president Walter Scheel, who helped pave the way for his country's rapprochement with the communist East, has died aged 97, his party's spokesman said on Wednesday.

Former East to lag behind West for years to come: study
Poverty in eastern Germany. File photo: DPA

Eastern Germany remains economically anaemic with little prospect of catching up with the rest of the country by 2030, a study published on Wednesday said.

Turkey's spy network in Germany 'thicker than Stasi's'
Photo: DPA.

Turkey has around 6,000 informants working in Germany, which experts say means they're each monitoring more people than the Stasi did in West Germany during the Cold War.

Germany's first 'intelligent' bridge to open in Nuremberg
File photo: DPA

An €11 million bridge, which is nearing completion in northern Bavaria, is set to include technology never seen before on the German Autobahn.

Stockpile food in case of attack, Germany tells citizens
Photo: DPA

Germany on Wednesday urged its population to stockpile food and water in case of terrorist or cyber attacks, as it adopted its first civil defence strategy since the end of the Cold War.

Ten injured after freight train crashes into bus in Osnabrück
The crash site in Osnabrück. Photo: DPA

A freight train crashed into a bus in Osnabrück on Wednesday morning, leaving several people badly injured, local media report.

Man wins ten-year court battle over €2.50 surcharge
Photo: DPA

An Austrian man has won a ten year court battle over an extra €2.50 he was asked to pay to get into a swimming pool in Bavaria a decade ago.

In Pictures
Düsseldorf swoons as Prince William comes for royal visit
'Well hello Mr. Prince'. Photo: DPA.

Prince William paid a visit to the Rhineland city of Düsseldorf on Wednesday to celebrate the state of North Rhine-Westphalia's 70th birthday. Here's a look at his royal stay.

Brexit
Frankfurt attempts to charm banks away from London
Frankfurt am Main. Photo: DPA

Germany's finance capital has spotted an opportunity with the Brexit-wary banking beasts of the Square Mile.

How did this bike end up on top of Berlin’s Molecule Man?
A professional climber 'rescuing' the bike hanging from the Molecule Man. Photo: DPA.

Berliners are still scratching their heads over how a bicycle ended up dangling from the capital’s iconic statue.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
What's on in Germany: events for August 2016
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
8,566
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd