German military divers are working to refloat the remains of a Stuka bomber from the bottom of the Baltic Sea. It is a rare specimen of the airplane that caused havoc in Europe as part of the nazi war machine, since they only exist two Stukas today.
The wreck of the plane was first discovered in the 1990s, when a fisherman's nets got caught in the apparatus. The specific place is located about 10 km off the coast of the German island of Ruegen and about 18 meters deep.
The divers have been working all week to prepare the refloat of the bomber to the surface. By using hoses they want to carefully rid it of the sand. So far, they have managed to remove several smaller pieces, as well as the engine of the aircraft. Now they are trying to free the main piece of the fuselage, which measures about 30 feet. According to the spokesman for the German Museum of Military History in Dresden, Captain Sebastian Bangert, hope they can rescue her on Tuesday.
Bangert also comments that initial reports indicate that the fuselage is in good condition, despite having spent the last seven decades at the bottom of the sea, and hopes that the museum experts can restore it: “From my perspective there is a great deal of damage as it has been under water for 70 years. But our restoration team says that it is in very good condition to be restored, so that's our goal: a complete restoration.”.
Until now, little is known about this particular aircraft But once the plane is brought to the surface, investigators will use the serial number to track down as much information as possible.
The Junkers JU87 is known to most as "Stuka”, Which is short for the German word for“Sturzkampfflugzeug"That is, dive bomber. The first time he served in battle was in the Spanish Civil War between 1936 and 1939, when Hitler sent it to help Franco's troops.
The only two complete Stukas that remain are on display at the Royal Air Force Museum in London and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. But both are believed to be later models, called "JU87D”, And Bangert predicts that the one they just found is too.
After your service in Spain, the Stukas fired the first shots of WWII, throwing Nazi bombs in the Polish city of Wielun on September 1, 1939 and killing some 1,200 civilians in what is considered one of the first terror bombings in history.
The ace of German aviation Hans-Ulrich Rudel claimed to have destroyed more than 500 tanks, mostly on the Eastern Front, and several ships, including a Soviet warship, thanks to the Stuka. However, the success of the first campaigns of this aircraft model ended up being far surpassed by the fastest and most maneuverable aircraft of the allies during the war.
Director of Collections for the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, Kathleen McCarthy, comments that they are a great attraction for visitors and researchers: “The discovery and recovery of a third Stuka will be a breakthrough, both for scholars and the general public. All those interested in learning more about the history of military technology and about a critical period in our world history will be able to enjoy this new aircraft.”.
For its part, the German Museum of Military History plans show the Stuka in its "Air Force Museum”, Located in the old Gatow airport in Berlin.
Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was little he loved history and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.