During the campaign of Sicily, mid-summer 1943, British forces of the 8th army fought along the East coast of Sicily against Axis forces. Mid-July, the 5th British division encountered an opposing tank force under commandant Schmalz: the "Schmalz Panzer group". The 5th division was moving from Syracusa, in the South, to the city of Augusta, in the North. It encountered Schmalz's group at Priolo, which operated a defensive action against British forces until they reached Augusta. The next day, he counterattacked them near Augusta, before falling back.

According to Peter Kemp, during those two days of fight, "Stukas" had supported the action of Schmalz. "Stukas" means "dive bomber" in German, but it was mainly used for the Junkers 87. What I am doubting of is that Junkers 87 were quite vulnerable in mid-1943, on the Eastern front and even more on the Western Front against a very important Allied air force. So was it really Junkers 87 "Stuka" which supported Schmalz group, and of which unit, or is "Stuka" in this context a generic term for Close Air Support aircrafts such as the Focke Wulf 190?

  • "[Ju 87] remained in service until the end of the war." (wiki)
    – Tomas By
    Mar 19, 2020 at 14:45
  • Yes, but employing them in Sicily in 1943 was a risk. And the wiki does not mention such use. However it does say that FW190 were not named Stuka, but attack wings Mar 19, 2020 at 15:15
  • Italian Ju-87s were there for certain. As for Germans I'm not really sure. You should check about Luftflotte 2 (ww2.dk/air/hq/lfl2.htm). So far I only found SG4 to be operating in Italy, but they had Fw-190 (F and G) .
    – rs.29
    Mar 20, 2020 at 7:29
  • There were few German planes in Sicily overall. Did they fight carrier based planes? Jul 7, 2022 at 20:03

1 Answer 1


While I cannot say what really happened, the term "StuKa" refers very narrowly to all variants of the Junkers Ju-87 plane. While it might be understood to refer to the role of dive bomber because that is literally what it means, it does in fact only refer to that specific plane and all it's variants. Germans had no other dive bombers anyway and no German would refer to another dive bomber as StuKa.

StuKas were vulnerable all through the war without air supremacy or at least superiority, but if it's all you have, then that's what you use. There is no alternative.

StuKas are also very distinctive in shape, especially the slight V in the wings and the fixed landing gear. It would be hard to confuse them with any other aircraft.

So if someone wrote something about "StuKas" then they meant the Ju-87. That does not rule out that they were mistaken and it was in fact different planes, but if the planes were referred to as "StuKa" then the person thought it were Ju-87 planes.

At least one squadron of the Regia Aeronautica (Italian Air Force) flew Ju-87 planes, too. So it may have been German planes or it may have been Italian planes, but it's likely that the acount is correct and it was StuKas.

To quote the wikipedia page about operation HUSKY:

Italian Stukas sank the destroyer USS Maddox and the Indian hospital ship Talamba, and in the following days Axis aircraft damaged or sank several more warships, transport vessels and landing craft starting with the Allied troopship USS Barnett hit and damaged by an Italian bomber formation on the morning of 11 July. Italian Stukas (named Picchiatello in Italian service) and Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 torpedo-bombers coordinated their attacks with German Stuka and Ju 88 bomber units.

  • Thanks, this answers my question about whether this could have been something else Mar 19, 2020 at 15:13

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