As warbirds go, the Stuka is one of the rarest. With two complete examples on display and none flying, it is one that many enthusiasts would love to see in the air. FHCAM unveiled their restoration on November 10th and Rob Edgcumbe went along to take a look for GAR.
The Junkers JU87 Stuka is a ubiquitous part of the development of the Luftwaffe in the run up and the prosecution of the Second World War. The Blitzkrieg tactics involved a combination of air and ground assault and the Stuka was integral to those assaults. It was first seriously tested in the Spanish Civil War and the wailing siren became so well known that the sound has been used for countless movies ever since regardless of whether a Stuka was involved or not.
Despite thousands of them having been built and used in multiple regions, the number in existence today is remarkably low. There are only two complete examples currently on display. One is in the RAF Museum and Hendon and the other is in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Neither will ever fly again.
The Flying Heritage and Combat Armor Museum (FHCAM), based at Paine Field in Everett, Washington, north of the city of Seattle is the creation of the late Paul Allen. Co-Founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen made use of his extensive resources to preserve artefacts in several subject areas. Aviation is one of them and his collection at FHCAM includes many types including a pair of FW-190s, a Bf-109E, a Mosquito, a Shturmovik and a MiG29UB! Everything is airworthy although not everything flies.
November 10th was the opening day of the third hangar at the Paine Field museum. To coincide with the opening, a new restoration was unveiled. The museum was baiting the enthusiasts in the days running up to the opening with what might be there, narrowing it down to the Me-262 or the Stuka in the final days. While the Schwalbe is making much progress, it was the Stuka that was put on display.
This example is a JU87 R-4. It crashed near Murmansk in 1942 where it lay for decades until the early 1990s when it was shipped to a collector in England. It then moved to Deutsches Technikmuseum in Berlin in 1997. FHCAM commenced their restoration of it in 2013. Now the restoration will continue, on display in the hangar. The timescales for restoration are always a flexible thing but it is suggested that it should fly in the next 18-24 months. The Jumo engine has been undergoing restoration at Vintage V12s.
The fuselage is largely complete as are the wings. They are currently separate on the hangar floor along with the wheel pants. Various parts of the damaged structure are also on display. You can see the Stuka if you visit the museum and that is highly recommended. The aviation collection is excellent and there is also an extensive collection of armoured vehicles. Paul Allen’s recent death was a big blow to the local community, but I imagine, having spent so much time creating this collection and focusing on its authenticity, he will have put in place mechanisms to preserve and continue its work. It is a fine tribute to his enthusiasm and commitment as well as to those that served.