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Ju 87 Stuka
T6+MP and T6+CP

One of the first depictions of the "Snake" Stuka was published in 1982 by Rikyu Watanabe, who presented the plane as a B-2/Trop of II/St.G 2 and given the code T6+MP, but seemingly without any historical justification. The screenshot is based on his airbrush illustration, although in this rendering the upper surface is RLM 79 mottled with RLM 80 and the undercarriage in RLM 78. What is remarkable, of course, is the extraordinary image of the snake that runs the entire length of the plane on the port side. Watanabe had imagined it to be red and white and, while more reminiscent of Richthofen's Flying Circus than standard desert camouflage, certainly would have made identification more immediate. What he presented as teeth in the lower jaw would seem instead to be the shadow cast by the exhaust stubs.

This screenshot derives from illustrations in Weal, and Leonard and Jouineau, who identified the plane as an extended range R-2 of 6./St.G 2, with the identification code T6+CP. The upper surface was RLM 70/71 and the lower, RLM 78. But at the time, this too was suppositionespecially the lower jaw of the snake, which was not visible in the one photograph then available. Not until 2005, when more complete photographs were published by Urbanke, was it finally possible to correctly profile the plane.

The R-2 sub-variant had internal fuel tanks in the wings and two drop tanks in place of the bomb racks which, attacking Allied convoys passing through the Straits of Gibraltar on their way to Malta and Alexandria, doubled or even tripled the range of the plane but limited it to a single 250 kg bomb. Apart from the increased amount of fuel and the absence of sirens on the wheel struts, the R-2 shared the same airframe as the B-2.

References: Stuka Ju87 (1982) by Alex Vanags-Baginskis, illustrated by Rikyu Watanabe; Junkers Ju 87: Stukageschwader of North Africa and the Mediterranean (1998) by John Weal (Osprey Combat Aircraft, No. 6); Junkers Ju 87 from 1936 to 1945 (2003) by Herbert Leonard and André Jouineau (Planes and Pilots, No. 4).

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