The Stuka was developed within the mid-Thirties, as Germany, at first secretly, then brazenly raced to rebuild its army may. The aircraft’s most well-known supporter was German WWI flying ace Ernst Udet. Reportedly, he turned fascinated by the potential of dive bombing after a go to to the 1935 Cleveland Air Races in america, the place he noticed an illustration of the U.S. Navy Curtiss F11C-2 Goshawk biplane dive bombers. By that time, a prototype of the Stuka was already properly on the way in which, and first flew later that very same yr, powered, paradoxically, with a British Rolls-Royce Kestrel engine.
In further irony, some within the German excessive command thought of the Stuka outmoded lengthy earlier than the combating began. Udet won’t have give you the concept of a precision dive bomber, however he ought to get credit score for saving the Stuka from untimely cancelation after officers, together with Wolfram von Richthofen, cousin of the well-known “Purple Baron,” determined that it will be too susceptible to be of sensible use in fight.
In the long run, whereas its gradual velocity and lesser armaments did make the Stuka susceptible, it will show to be one among Nazi Germany’s most potent weapons, particularly within the early years of the struggle. The Stuka noticed some restricted fight use earlier than WWII, when small numbers had been deployed to assist Franco’s Nationalist forces within the Spanish Civil Conflict, but it surely was within the succeeding world battle that the aircraft made its mark on historical past. Stukas dropped the primary bombs on Poland within the opening salvos of WWII. In late 1939, they flew their last missions within the protection of Berlin in opposition to Soviet forces.