Remains of dreaded WWII Stuka bomber found ‘buried in pits’ following local tip off
A legendary world-war-two-era Luftwaffe bomber has been found in a forest in northern Poland following a holiday tip-off.
A 16-strong team from the Silesian September 1939 Museum in Tychy and local history enthusiasts from Silesia uncovered over half a ton of wreckage from the Junkers Ju 87, more popularly known as a Stuka dive bomber, much of it in excellent condition despite being buried for over 75 years.
Much of the wreckage was found in specially dug pits. The engine was missing and despite finding an airman’s boot no bodies of the crew were found.
The team believes the plane crashed in 1944 after a training flight from a nearby airfield in what is now Gryźliny in the Warmia-Mazury province, but which was Grieslienen in East Prussia during the war.
The group normally focus their historical searches in Silesia. However, they travelled across the country because of a story a member heard from his uncle.
Krzysztof Płocieniak told a local news site: “In 2018, I was on holiday with my uncle in Warmia. It was he who told me a story heard from the locals that a German bomber had crashed in the area.”
He then got in touch with Arkadiusz Dominiec from the Silesian September 1939 Museum in Tychy, who has a lot of experience in finding downed aircraft from WWII.
It was his team that excavated the B-25 Mitchell bomber found with its crew in Bieruń near Oświęcim in January 2020, as well as parts of a Messerschmitt fighter in Babice, Małopolska, and the end of last year.
Dominiec told TFN: “It is a type D-3 Junkers Ju 87. It is quite a rare plane, so such a find is really exciting.”
Initially, the team thought the Junkers may have crashed on its way back to the airfield in Gryźliny from bombing Warsaw in September 1939.
During the attack on Poland, Gryźliny was home to two squadrons of Stuka dive bombers, which bombed Westerplatte, Hel and Warsaw.
Later in the war, the airfield was used by the Luftwaffe as a base to train Junkers pilots. They would practice their bombing dives on a small island on Lake Pluszne, which is still known locally as Bomb Island.
In the winter of 1940, a rudimentary plan of parts of London was drawn over the snow-covered lake and pilots would attack ‘special’ targets.
However, the parts of the plane that were found suggest that they come from a later model.
Dominec said: “The pilot might have lost control during training. During a dive, the enormous g-force could cause the crew to lose consciousness. Less experienced pilots may not have been able to cope.”
A total of around half a ton of fragments of the wreckage of the plane were found, which were grouped in a dozen or so pits.
According to Dominiec, probably immediately after the crash, the Germans secured the engine and armaments of the plane, while other fragments of the wreckage were collected and buried.
He added that it is likely that the crew’s colleagues from the nearby airfield took away any bodies, as well as the engine.
The Stuka is known for its characteristic scream that was triggered when it made a bombing dive run. They were called Sirens of Jericho in reference to the Old Testament trumpets that crushed the defensive walls of Jericho.
The sirens were intended to make horses bolt, cause panic and have a destructive effect on the morale of enemy soldiers and civilians.
Pilots would start a dive from around 4600 metres and reach a speed of 600 km/h. After dropping the bomb load, the pilot activated an automatic system to bring the machine out of the dive.
This was necessary as pilots could experience as much as 5G and lose consciousness for a few seconds.
At the moment, the wreckage is being stored locally, but Dominiec hopes that local heritage protection officers will allow it to go to the September 1939 museum in Tychy.
“If all goes well, we want to display it in our exhibition alongside other plane wreckage from the war.”