Air war in Flanders: Western Campaign

The Junkers (Ju) 87, known as the "Stuka," spearheaded the Blitzkrieg ("lightning war") attacks that were decisive in the western campaign in 1940. Stuka dive-bombers closely supported German forces on the ground. They destroyed enemy strong points, aircraft, and airfields, and spread panic in rear areas. Although slow and easily shot down by Allied fighters, the Stukas proved devastatingly effective in the German invasions of Poland and western Europe, where Germany enjoyed air superiority. Stuka dive-bombers caused terror among Allied ground forces, who came to recognize the telltale shriek of a bomber's dive. This German newsreel footage shows (from both the air and the ground) destruction caused by Stuka attacks during the western campaign in Flanders.


The decisive battle continues in the west. Ground and air forces work hand in hand to destroy the enemy. Our troops' attacks close the ring around the combined French, English, and Belgian armies in Flanders and northern France. Stukas take off on their mission. Wherever they strike, they spread fear and destruction. In the first large-scale operations, the German air force targeted the enemy's front line airfields. The runways were transformed into crater fields by our bombing patterns. The German armed forces announce daily that large numbers of enemy airplanes have been destroyed on the ground. Repeated attacks also systematically destroy enemy hangars and facilities. You can see here the massive destruction left in our bombardiers' wake. The enemy's transportation routes are another important target. Flying above enemy assembly routes, beneath us, an advancing column. The bombs hit right on target. In a low-altitude flight, we fly over the road network of the enemy, who is surprised by our strike. There is no attempt at resistance here any more. Enemy tanks lie destroyed along the road. A complete image of destruction. In these towns, the enemy's defense was most vigorous. Our air force had to intervene here as well, and it did its job well. Demolitions were supposed to stop our advance. A whole house could fit into this crater. The lightning attacks of the German armed forces spared German cities such devastation.


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