Junkers Ju 87 D/G vol. I


The radio operator manned the aircraft’s defensive armament – twin 7.92 mm Mauser MG 81 Z (Zwilling)2 flexible machine guns with a supply of 1,000 rounds of ammunition per barrel. The MG 81 Z gun weighed 12.9 kg, had a theoretical rate of fire of 3,200 rounds per minute and muzzle velocity of 705 to 875 m/sec. The gun was mounted on a GSL-k 81 Z gun mount in the rear cockpit.
On the fuselage centerline there was a universal Schloß 1000/500 XI B bomb rack which could accept either a 500/XII C bomb ejector for 250 or 500 kg bombs, or a 2000 XIII type ejector for 1,000 or 1,800 kg weapons. A special crutch was used to swing the bomb clear of the propeller disc during bomb release in a dive. Two additional weapons stations were located under each wing. Those could be used to attach a Schloß 1000/500/IX B bomb rack with a 500/XII C ejector for a 250 kg bomb, or two ETC 50/VIIIe ejectors for 50 kg bombs. A total of 592 Ju 87 D-1 examples were built with serial numbers from W.Nr. 2000 to 2600.
Ju 87 D-2 was not a production model. Initially it was to be a dedicated tropical variant of Ju 87 D-1 equipped with Ju 87 B-2 landing gear and fuel installation compatible with two 300 l underwing auxiliary tanks. Because the basic Ju 87 D-1 could be quickly modified to a tropical standard, a decision was made to change the Ju 87 D-2’s application. It was now to be converted to a ground attack aircraft with additional armor protection for the crew. Flight testing of the proposed additional armor on a Ju 87 D-1 test bed showed that the aircraft’s level flight speed performance and operational ceiling were greatly affected, which prompted the Luftwaffe High Command to cancel the development of that Ju 87 derivative. That did not mean, however, that plans for beefed-up armor protection were abandoned all together. After some modifications to the original design, the extra armor protection was installed on all new Ju 87 D-1 production aircraft from February 1942 on; earlier production examples were also retrofitted with the same modification.
The next production version was Ju 87 D-3, which was in effect a ground attack derivative of Ju 87 D-1 equipped with even stronger protective armor. Apart from the cockpit armor modifications introduced in the Ju 87 D-1 model, the aircraft featured armored lower fuselage and cooling system lines. As a weight-saving measure, the RLM made a decision in May 1943 to discontinue siren installations in lieu of additional armor plates on both sides of the cockpit to better protect the crew from ground fire and flak. The new configuration was successfully tested at Rechlin and went into full-scale production.

 

Junkers Ju 87D-8 (D-5N) E8+HH belonged to I./NSG 9, northern Italy, summer 1944. [Visualisation 3d Marek Ryś]

Many other modifications were introduced during Ju 87 D-3 production run. Some of them focused on the fuel and lubrication systems (different diameter of fuel and oil lines), some other were introduced into the cooling system design. Early production aircraft had partially covered exhaust stacks, which were changed to fully exposed stacks in later examples. Wing-walk non-skid rubber matting was replaced with metal strips. In February 1942 engine cowling was strengthened. A special device limiting downward movement of MG 81 Z barrels was installed in March 1942 to avoid accidental damage to the horizontal stabilizers while firing the weapon. In May 1942 four coolant radiators support beams were added, which connected the wing spar to the armor plated bottom part of the radiators. A month later an extra piece of reinforced glass was added to the windscreen and the engine installation received an acetylene gas relief tube. August 1942 saw further modifications: fuselage frames 7 through 12 were reinforced, pitot tube assembly was modified and there were changes in the fuel injection system. An additional access panel in the engine cowling was added in September 1942 to allow the connection of a hot air duct. The main landing gear received a new wheel fork in March 1943, which was recessed by 90 mm. The use of a new fork also lengthened the main landing gear struts by 12 mm. In mid 1942 a Ju 87 D-3 was tested at Forschungsanstalt Graf Zeppelin in Stuttgart with experimental overwing personnel pods. The pods were mainly designed to insert covert agents behind enemy lines. Each pod could accommodate two people and was equipped with a parachute landing system. The pods were never used operationally.
In total by the fall of 1943 1,559 Ju 87 D-3s were produced in serial number blocks from W.Nr. 2600 to 3000, W.Nr. 1000 to 1500 and W.Nr. 4200 and above. In the fall of 1942 serial number blocks from W.Nr. 31100 to 31600 were introduced. The serial number system was changed in the spring of 1943 with the introduction of six-digit serials. Ju 87 D-3 were assigned serial number blocks from W.Nr. 100001 and from W.Nr. 110300 up. Out of 1,559 Ju 87 D-3s bulit, 599 examples were assembled at Weser’s Bremen plant and 960 rolled out the assembly lines at Berlin-Tempelhof.
Ju 87 D-4, based on the Ju 87 D-1 airframe, was a maritime variant. It was designed for shipping interdiction using not just bombs, but also torpedoes. Ju 87 V25/torp (torpedo) prototype was delivered to Travemünde test facility on December 16, 1941. It was a standard production Ju 87 D-1 airframe, W.Nr. 0530 (BK+EF), equipped with an underwing PVC 1006 B rack for a LT F-5w airborne torpedo. The prototype’s first flight had to be postponed until the end of December 1941 due to unfavorable weather conditions. After a series of tests at Travemünde, the aircraft was ferried to Grosseto, Italy for further trials. Flight test program went smoothly and the Luftwaffe began to show increased interest in the torpedo derivative of Ju 87 D. [...]

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