The aircraft of Ju 87 Stuka Ace
Ju 87 Stuka Ace is focused around one single aircraft, the Junkers Ju 87. The aircraft’s nickname, the Stuka, comes from its German name, Sturzkampfflugzeug, which means ‘dive bomber’. Several versions of this aircraft were developed between 1935 and 1944, each one improving on the previous design or introducing new deployment options. The game includes all of the main variants of the Stuka, to make it possible to have a complete experience of combat with the Ju 87 starting with its first appearance in the Spanish Civil War up to the end of WWII in 1945.
Although it is possible to play a single mission, the game is designed to simulate the entire career of a Stuka pilot, starting with operations in Poland in 1939 until the last actions in Soviet territory in 1944/45. During these years the Ju 87 was the subject of continuous development in order to improve performance and to allow its use in different theaters: as a result of this work the different versions of the Ju 87 were born, from the “Anton” (Ju 87 A-1) to the “Gustav” (Ju 87 G-1 and G-2).
For players the availability of a new model of Stuka will allow them to improve the attack and maneuvering capabilities. Flying with the same aircraft from 1939 to 1945 would have been neither realistic nor fun, so the introduction of different models in the game was a necessity both from the historical point of view and from the game experience. For this same reason, each different type of attack (e.g. dive, tank-buster) has a specific procedure and is not simply represented with a modifier to the same dice roll; the pilot’ actions in Ju 87 Stuka Ace really make a difference.
The evolution of the Ju 87 in the game will follow the historical improvement of the plane and its deployment on the different theatres: the advancements in the engine, aerodynamics and weapons will make possible for the players to evaluate different tactics and better face the challenges on the battlefield.
The following Ju 87 versions are included in the game:
The first production Ju 87 arrived on a battlefield. Armed with only one MG in the starboard wing, the A-1 could carry a maximum load of 500kg, but when the larger bombs were utilized, the radio operator/gunner was not carried. The ‘Anton’ had a long service life as a dive-bomber trainer.
With the Ju 87 B-1 was introduced the new Jumo 211A engine, allowing a load of 500Kg of bombs with the full two-man crew. The fixed armament was improved to two MG 17 machineguns, one on each wing.
The Ju 87 B-2 differed from its predecessor mainly in the use of the Jumo 211D engine. This increased the maximum load to 1000kg of bombs. No changes on the fixed and defensive armament, still based on MG 17.
A Ju 87B-2 modified with tropical equipment for operations in dry areas: this included the sand filters, especially for the supercharger air intake that was bigger and squarer than the half-round intake in the normal version
Derived from Ju 87B-1 the Ju 87R-1 was equipped with drop tanks under the wings to increase the range, one of the main limits of the Ju 87. The presence of drop tanks reduced the maximum load of the aircraft to 250kg.
The D-3 introduced improved armor plating for engine and cockpit, and better aerodynamics. The new Jumo 211J engine enabled to raise the workload to 1800kg of bombs. The defensive weapon was now provided by the twin MG 81Z machineguns.
The D-5 was the first version to have the new lengthened wings; the increasing ground attack priority was behind this increased wingspan and the introduction of the MG151/20 (20mm cannon) as fixed armament.
Night attach version of the Ju 87D-5, with flame dampeners mounted on the side of the engine. The MG151/20 cannon received flash eliminators, and a night reflector sight was installed.
Nicknamed Kanonenvogel (cannon-bird), the Ju 87G-1 entered service in 1943, derived from a Ju 87D-3 frame armed with a pair of under-wing mounted 37mm Flak 18 cannons. As a ‘tank buster’, the Ju 87 G demonstrated to be a very effective weapon, with hundreds of confirmed tank kills since is appearance in the Soviet battlefields in 1943.