Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Luftwaffe learns dive-bombing in Cleveland

CSU’s archivist, Bill Becker, made the interesting discovery of this Press Collections photo of Ernst Udet at Cleveland’s 1931 National Air Races and the following quote, pointing out the importance of Udet’s visit to the future of German military aviation:

“In 1936 I visited Berlin during the Olympic Games and made my first acquaintance with the new Luftwaffe in the person of Colonel Ernst Udet, enthusiastic proponent of dive-bombing then head of the technical department of the German Air Ministry. In the early 1930s he had witnessed a demonstration by the U.S. Navy Curtiss Helldivers at Cleveland, Ohio, and was so impressed that he influenced the placing of a contract for the design of such aircraft on 27 September 1933. The Junkers Ju 87 was the result; the prototype made its first flight in late Spring 1935 with a proud Udet as witness.”

(Captain Eric M. Brown, Duels in the Sky, Annapolis, MD, U.S. Naval Institute, 1988, quoted in Len Deighton’s Blood, Tears and Folly: An Objective Look at World War II, Castle Books, 1999, p. 349.)

From this visit to Cleveland came the Junkers Ju 87, better known as the Stuka dive bomber, a major weapon of the Luftwaffe in World War II. Udet had been Germany’s second leading ace in WWI, behind only Manfred “Red Baron” von Richthofen.

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