How the Luftwaffe Lost 13 Bombers in Less Than a Minute
YouTube / Paper Skies
The Junkers Ju-87 was Germany’s most famous bomber. But do you know that on August 15th, 1939, two weeks before WWII broke out, an event happened that cast serious doubts on the plane’s feasibility in a major combat role?
Known as the “Neuhammer Stuka Disaster,” this is how the Luftwaffe lost 13 bombers in less than a minute:
Controversial and Famous At the Same Time
The Junkers Ju-87 was an aircraft that was so controversial yet famous at the same time. The terrifying effectiveness of this bomber during the German offensive in Poland, France, and Russia quickly turned this plane into one of the most recognizable symbols of the German Blitzkrieg.
However, this aircraft was also a constant subject of debate and controversy.
Two weeks before the outbreak of the war, a tragic accident happened that created plenty of doubt on the dive bomber. Germany decided to hold demo exercises for the Luftwaffe – the conclusion of which would be a spectacular attack performed by the dive bombers.
The Ju-87s from the Dive-bomber Wing 7 were to hit the training targets at the Neuhammer training area in front of the commanding officers.
Normally, the maximum safe altitude for the Ju-87 to pull out of the dive was around 500 meters, so commanders thought that having cloudiness over the field was even better.
However, according to one of the pilots, Walter Siegel, instead of the whiteness in front of him dissipating, it all of a sudden began to darken. Siegel managed to pull his plane out of the dive right over the ground flying it barely 1 or 2 meters high. While he managed to warn other pilots, some following him didn’t have enough time to react to his command.
Both Siegel’s wingmen crashed into the ground almost vertically, followed by all nine Ju-87s from the 2nd squadron. The pilots of the 3rd squadron were more fortunate with only two planes crashing into forest trees. The rest of the squadrons managed to pull their planes out of the dive.
Unfortunately for other European countries, this incident didn’t crack the Luftwaffe’s confidence on the Ju-87, and it wasn’t long before the bomber would make its bloody contribution to the horrors of WWII.