The book starts at the point when its crushing defeat in the skies over Britain looked to have ended the career of the Stuka. In fact this was only a temporary setback, for the Ju 87 would remain a capable weapon whenever it didn't face strong fighter opposition. This first became apparent at the end of 1940, when two Stukagruppen were moved south from the English Channel to Sicily to help Mussolini.
The first chapter looks at the early German involvement in the attack on Malta in 1940 and early 1941, in the period between the Italian entry into the war and the growing involvement in Greece and the Balkans during 1941. Weal then looks at the small number of Italian operated Ju 87s (the 'Picciatelli'), concentrating on the short period between the Italian entry into the war and the German invasion of the Balkans, the only time when the 'Picciatelli' units operated independently. This period includes attacks on Malta and British ships at sea, and the early involvement in Greece, where the Italians suffered an embarrassing setback.This leads us into operations Marita and Merkuri, the German invasions of Yugoslavia and Greece, and then into North Africa, where the Germans were once again forced to support their Italian allies. Once again the Stuke was a potent weapon as long as it didn't face strong fighter opposition, and was very vulnerable when it did. As first the RAF and then the USAAF built up their fighter forces in North Africa, the Stukas were once again forced from the skies, while at the same time their victims discovered that the dive bomber was not so dangerous in the wide open spaces of the desert. Weal finishes by looking at the Stuka's last moment of success, during the unsuccessful British invasion of the Dodecanese, and its less well known period as a night nuisance bomber and anti-partisan weapon in the final year of the war.
Author: John Weal