Junkers Ju 87 Stuka By: Jay Ashurst Signed by: Dietrich Peltz Generalmajor Dietrich Peltz (born 9 June 1914 in Gera – died 10 August 2001 in Munich) was a German World War II Luftwaffe bomber pilot. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves and Swords was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Peltz joined the army in 1934, switched over to the airforce and underwent pilot training in 1935. After training, he flew in the Polish and French campaigns with Sturzkampfgeschwader 76 (StG 76—76th ground assault wing), flying 102 missions on the Junkers Ju-87 Stuka before converting to the Junkers Ju-88 with II./Kampfgeschwader 77 (KG 77—77th bomber wing) in the summer of 1940. He was awarded the Knight's Cross in October 1940. In March 1941, Hauptmann Peltz was elevated to Gruppenkommandeur of II Gruppe. In the late summer of 1941, the unit was transferred to East Prussia, to fly missions against targets in the Northern sector, including the Leningrad-Moscow railway line, canals and lock gates. Here, Peltz was instrumental in developing accurate bombing techniques, allowing his group to achieve success against precision targets which previously could be achieved only with much larger bomber forces. Peltz was awarded the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross in December 1941. In late 1941, Major Peltz was made Commanding Officer of the Bomber Unit Commanders School at Foggia, where all operational bomber commanders were trained in the latest operational techniques. Peltz was then tasked to raise I./Kampfgeschwader 66 (KG 66), a unit to develop the use of pioneering types of precision guided munitions then under development in Germany, such as the Fritz X and Henschel Hs 293, against Allied shipping. Operational by October 1942, this unit was sent to Norway against the Allied Murmansk convoys, but only three weeks later was switched to bases in Sardinia to counter the Allied 'Torch' invasion. Oberst Peltz then became the first Commander, Bomber Force and Inspector of Combat Flight. Peltz received the Swords to the Knight's Cross on 23 July 1943 and he was commander of the IX. Fliegerkorps in August 1943. In January 1944, Dietrich Peltz, 29 years old, was elevated to Major General, became Angriffsführer (attack leader) of England, and took command of Luftwaffe bomber forces in Operation Steinbock, the retaliatory bombing of England, referred to as the "Baby Blitz", which ended in heavy losses for German bombers. In December and early January, Peltz carefully husbanded together some 500 aircraft including Ju 88s, Ju 188s, Do 217s, Me 410s and the troublesome He 177A onto French airfields to form IX Fliegerkorps. The attacks dwindled to a halt in late May after heavy losses to the Germans, with little to show for the effort. In the autumn of 1944, the bomber crews of IX Fliegerkorps were remustered as infantry or as fighter pilots. Peltz, (somewhat controversially, as he was a bomber expert) became the commander of the II. Jagdkorps which saw action during the Ardennes offensive. To counter the overwhelming Allied bomber offensive against Germany, Peltz, together with Oberst Hajo Herrmann, advocated the idea of ramming the American four-engined bombers. The concept called for having young and regime loyal, but relatively poorly trained fighter pilots volunteer for these suicide missions. The Junkers Ju 87 or Stuka (from Sturzkampfflugzeug, "dive bomber") was a two-man (pilot and rear gunner) German dive bomber and ground-attack aircraft. Designed by Hermann Pohlmann, the Stuka first flew in 1935 and made its combat debut in 1936 as part of the Luftwaffe's Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War. The aircraft was easily recognisable by its inverted gull wings and fixed spatted undercarriage, upon the leading edges of its faired maingear legs were mounted the Jericho-Trompete ("Jericho Trumpet") wailing sirens, becoming the propaganda symbol of German air power and the blitzkrieg victories of 1939–1942. The Stuka's design included several innovative features, including automatic pull-up dive brakes under both wings to ensure that the aircraft recovered from its attack dive even if the pilot blacked out from the high acceleration.
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