The Junkers Ju 87 or Stuka (from Sturzkampfflugzeug, "dive bomber") was a German dive bomber and ground-attack aircraft.
The aircraft was easily recognisable by its inverted gull wings and fixed spatted undercarriage. Upon the leading edges of its faired main gear legs were mounted the Jericho-Trompete (Jericho trumpet) wailing sirens, becoming the propaganda symbol of German air power and the so-called blitzkrieg victories of 1939–1942.
But, the Stuka was, like many other dive bombers of the period, vulnerable to fighter aircraft. During the Battle of Britain its lack of manoeuvrability, speed and defensive armament meant that it required a heavy fighter escort to operate effectively.
After the Battle of Britain the Stuka was used in the Balkans Campaign, the African and Mediterranean theatres and the early stages of the Eastern Front where it was used for general ground support, as an effective specialised anti-tank aircraft and in an anti-shipping role.
Oberst Hans-Ulrich Rudel was the most successful Stuka ace and the most highly decorated German serviceman of the Second World War.