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Why did the Ju-87 Stuka have a siren? Was this for purely psychological reasons or did it help the pilot in some way?

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    $\begingroup$ This might also go well in http://history.stackexchange.com/ $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 16:14
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    $\begingroup$ Funny sidenote: That siren sound was so popular with movie makers that, to this day, many people think that any diving (or crashing) plane makes that particular noise... $\endgroup$
    – DevSolar
    Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 8:34
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    $\begingroup$ @DevSolar yeah, I noticed that. Especially in video games. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 13:09
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    $\begingroup$ the siren caused fear into the enemies, which is why it is the most famous ww2 aircraft. $\endgroup$
    – user20142
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 10:02

3 Answers 3

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Wikipedia:

The B-1 [variant] was also fitted with "Jericho trumpets", essentially propeller-driven sirens with a diameter of 0.7 m (2.3 ft) mounted on the wing's leading edge directly forward of the landing gear, or on the front edge of the fixed main gear fairing. This was used to weaken enemy morale and enhance the intimidation of dive-bombing. After the enemy became used to it, however, they were withdrawn. The devices caused a loss of some 20–25 km/h (10-20 mph) through drag. Instead, some bombs were fitted with whistles on the fin to produce the noise after release.

So, yes, it was purely psychological and actually hindered the pilot by reducing air speed in ordinary flight and they were removed when they stopped having the psychological effect.

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    $\begingroup$ Reducing airspeed is actually kind of helpful in a dive - when you're heading for the ground, even a few km/h can be the difference between pulling up and wiping out. Note that some aircraft of the time had dive brakes to slow them down when dive-bombing. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 16:43
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    $\begingroup$ @anaximander: The Ju-87 have massive air brakes that control airspeed during dives. Compared to the airbrakes the effect of the siren was insignificant. But the siren did have noticeable effect on level flight. $\endgroup$
    – slebetman
    Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 16:50
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    $\begingroup$ Given the way the StuKa was employed, close to the front lines from forward bases, the impact on level flight wasn't really relevant. Adding 1-2 minutes to the time to get to target isn't bad. And they weren't going to have to dogfight, they were never designed for that. Saving resources for use elsewhere was probably a bigger factor in not fitting them on later models. $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 18:18
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    $\begingroup$ @jwenting: While they were not designed to dogfight, they still had to evade enemy fighters and being slower makes them more vulneareable. And they were slow and thus vulnereable even without the sirens. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 19:24
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    $\begingroup$ @DevSolar as the Germans at the time the sirens were removed were operating under air superiority, I seriously doubt a negative effect on their ability to evade enemy fighters was much of a factor. Neither the Poles, the Dutch, the Belgians, or the French or Danes had air forces that could threaten the Germans over the battlefield. $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 9:06
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The psychology behind it helped the pilot ... panicking enemies doesn't make for very good shots, they're more likely to miss you. They're also more likely to just drop flat on the ground rather than dive into cover or try to shoot back at you.

And that was pretty much the idea. Get the enemies to become disoriented, panicky, so they're less efficient fighters and easier to defeat by both you and the ground forces you're supporting.

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    $\begingroup$ Funny enough, I remember a quote from a British artillery soldier serving in North Africa, on whom the Ju-87 had the opposite effect. "You just ran a couple of meters away from your gun emplacement, and you were safe. They never missed." ;-) $\endgroup$
    – DevSolar
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 14:33
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Another reason for the siren is that during the first years of WWII most army's ground transportation was horse drawn. You freak the horses and the unit does not move. The French, Polish, and Russian armies used primarily horse drawn transport. The British and American armies used trucks. A truck can't freak out like a horse.

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    $\begingroup$ Excellent point, I hadn't even thought of that. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 14:29
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    $\begingroup$ Actually Germany (2.75 mil) and the Soviet Union (3.5 Mil) used more horses. France was the only other army that had a sizable amount (500K) and only used them until about 1939. The siren was never meant to "freak out" any horses. It was simply a attempt at intimidation. And was removed after a short time. $\endgroup$
    – user14709
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 10:28
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    $\begingroup$ Horses were actually used in greater amount by the German themselves. Confirmed here. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 11:05

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