08 - Hans Ulrich Rudel and his Stuka

Stuka Pilot Hans Ulrich Rudel

a diorama by Bjørn Jacobsen

Many believe that Hans Ulrich Rudel was the best combat pilot - ever!

What few disagree on, however, is that no one will ever repeat his amazing achievements as a battlefield pilot.

You probably think I am talking about one of the

great fighter pilots - but no. Hans Ulrich Rudel

flew a slow dive- bombing Junkers Ju87.

A plane that normally either had to have escorts

to avoid being shot down by enemy fighters or only

operates safely in areas with own air supremacy.

It should not be possible to become Germany's

most decorated soldier in WWII in the cockpit of a

Stuka, but Rudel became a living legend for the

German soldiers on the Eastern Front. His courage

and incredible performances were simply

unparalleled in the history of warfare.

Son of a clergyman in Silesia (now Poland),

Hans Ulrich was born in 1916 and received his

baptism of fire as Stuka pilot during the German

invasion of Soviet in 1941.

American aircraft crews over Europe were sent

home after 25 bombing raids.

Hans Ulrich Rudel conducted 2519 raids against the

Red Army and he obtained results which seem 

completely absurd. In attacks at low altitude, often

with fierce anti-aircraft fire against him, he flew the

slow and cumbersome Ju87G "Kanonenvögel"

against huge Russian armoured forces.

When the war ended he had destroyed at least

519 Russian tanks, equivalent to between 5 and

6 Russian tank divisions. He sunk the battleship

"Marat", destroyer and a cruiser (at Kronstadt

outside Stalingrad). He sunk at least 70 landing

craft (in the Black Sea by the Crimea Peninsula).

He bombed and shot to pieces between 800 and

1,000 vehicles and at least 150 artillery and

antiaircraft cannons.

He bombed and destroyed a large number of bridges

and numerous enemy positions and shot down at

least nine enemy fighters (in an Fw190).

He saved 12 comrades (6 Stuka crews) who were

shot down over Russian territory by landing next to

the crashed Stuka, take on board the crew and take

off before Russian forces arrived.


When he tried to rescue a Stuka crew 50 km behind the Russian front in March 1944, the Stuka was stuck in the mud and unable to take off.

All four had to run for their lives, followed by Russian troops.

They swam a 300m wide icy river, was captured by the Russians, managed to escape and with a gunshot wound in the shoulder.

Rudel, as the only survivor of the crews, arrived at the German lines, more dead than alive.

Two days later he was again in the cockpit, fighting the Russian forces.     

He was shot down a total of 32 times by Russian anti-aircraft guns and infantry weapons, but never by enemy fighters.

He never used his parachute. He was wounded five times. In February 1945, his Stuka his hit by a 40mm Flak grenade and he suffered major damage to his right leg.

He crashed and his gunner saved him from bleeding to death. At the field hospital, they amputated the leg below the knee.

Six weeks later, he was in the cockpit with a bleeding stump, fighting the Russian Army.

Both Hitler and Rudel's CO's tried several times to ground him, but with tremendous stubbornness and willpower, he ignored all orders to take it easy and flew the Stuka until the bitter end.

So fierce was Rudel's destruction of the Russian war machine that Stalin personally offered a reward of 100,000 rubles for Rudel - dead or alive.

At the end of the war, Rudel flew west and surrendered to U.S. forces, which undoubtedly saved his life.


Hans Ulrich Rudel was the most decorated German soldier during WWII.

After he received all possible awards and medals, the German High Command had to invent new medals to reward his courage and achievements on the battlefield.  He was, for example, the only German soldier who received the Knight's Cross with oak leaves in gold, swords and diamonds.

He ended his military career as a colonel in the Luftwaffe.

After the war, he went, like many other Nazi officers to Argentina. 

He died in Germany in 1982.

Junkers Ju 87G Kanonenvoegel

It was in February 1943 that the first Ju87G (Gustav) was delivered.

The "Cannon Bird" was constructed for one single purpose: To destroy enemy tanks, and it became an extremely effective weapon against the Russian armour

It was equipped with two 37mm Flak 18 guns (actually AA cannons). Each cannon had a magazine on six special armour-piercing tungsten grenades. The muzzle velocity was 850m/sec and one hit with a grenade was enough to destroy a tank. At 100m distance and at an angle of 60 degrees the grenades would penetrate 36mm armour steel. No Russian tanks were safe for the Kanonenvoegel

The downside was that the guns weighed more than 800 kg in total. The weight of the guns and the increased drag made the G model slow (260-270 km/h) and with less manoeuvrability than the other Stuka models, Especially in turns, it was almost impossible to prevent the plane wobbling from side to side. Only the most experienced pilots managed to master the Cannon Bird.

The first day Hans Ulrich Rudel flew the G model with 37mm cannons against the Red Army, he destroyed between 10 and 12 Russian tanks.

The building of the diorama:

I am planning a diorama where Hans Ulrich Rudel in his Stuka just has blown up a Russian tank. He flies so low that he is flying through the explosion and touches the top of a nearby tree.

The first thing to do is find a suitable base for the diorama. A plate from an old kitchen drawer (40 x 50cm) will do nicely. A little joint compound helps me forming the landscape. A couple of brass tubes drilled down and glued to the baseplate are good starting points for the trees. I also make a number of tank tracks in the wet filler (it is always difficult to make these tracks later)

I will install an electric motor in the Stuka so the propeller can spin. I thought first to put the electrical cables through the brass tube, but the rod that holds the plane is going in there, so I have to place the wires up along the trunk. The wires go through the bottom of the base.

The next task is to make the brass tubes become trees.

The inside of an ordinary lamp cord is ideal for making a tree. By twisting the thin brass wires and split them up into smaller "branches" can I make the tree exactly the way I want. It is advisable to fasten the brass threads with CA glue when they are laid on the stem. The brass tubes are bent slightly to make trees more realistic.

Finally, I use Elmer's Clear Glue, to which I have added sawdust, on the tree trunks. In this way the trunks will be roughly like a real tree with bark. Then, the trees need to be painted. The best way to add colour to all the little brass threads that make up the branches is to use an airbrush.

Then there is the ground. It should be part sand, soil and mud where tanks have run. I paint soil colour directly on the filler. In addition, I sprinkle a little sand to create a bit more "life" into the ground. Using artificial grass from Woodland Scenics I create grass and bushes around the trees.

This is a battlefield, so I also make a couple craters after grenades or bombs and place some burnt and bent parts around to illustrate exploded vehicles.

For longer grass, I cut some of the bristles from a paintbrush and paste the "straws" on the ground.

It's time for the Stuka

To make the diorama as realistic as possible I will place an electric motor in the Stuka so the propeller can run. I plan to attach the Stuka I to the treetop so it looks like it flies very low.

I have decided to make the diorama in 1:48 scale.

To find a model of the Stuka in 1:48 is not difficult. I chose to use the Hasegawa Ju78G-2.

It is not only the correct model, but it also has the correct decals to create a good replica of Rudel's "Kanonenvögel»

The first to be made is the cockpit, where both Hans Ulrich Rudel and his gunner are to be placed. The cockpit is painted in a dark grey colour (RLM 66)

The electric motor (from Airfix) is fitted in the nose. It requires some changes in the kit to adapt the engine, but finally, it's glued on with CA-glue. To attach the plane to the tree, I am using a brass rod that fits into the brass tube that has been used as a tree. Thus, I can stick the plane into the top of the tree.

The brass rod is glued firmly to the inside of the plane. The wires from the electric motor are moved backwards and will become part of the branches. Having glued the wings and ailerons and put together cannons and wheels, the plane begins to take shape.

Part of the Stuka legacy is the infamous sirens which were used during dive bombing.

The sirens were driven by a propeller attached to the wheels. The G model, however, was no dive-bomber and needed neither siren nor air brakes. The sirens had, therefore, to be removed.

After finished the wheels and cannons, the model is ready for priming.

After each layer of paint, I apply a coat of Johnson Future. This makes it easier to work with the different colours.

Before the camouflage is painted, I trace the all panel lines (pre-shading) with black paint. The aim is that these lines should be visible through the camouflage paint if it is not put on too thick.

Then camouflage is laid on with an airbrush. The Stuka was painted with so-called splinter camouflage with dark green (RLM 70) and grey-green (RLM 71), while the underside was painted light blue (RLM 65). Wingtips and a band on the tail were painted yellow.

The yellow sections on the wings made it easier for the German anti-aircraft crews to recognise their own aircraft.

The next step is decals. To prevent silvering, I applied Future to the whole aircraft before decals. I use MicroSOL when I put the decals on and Micro Sol when decals are dry. Then a new coat of Future before the model is covered in a semi-gloss finish.

The Explosion                                                                                                                                                            

To build the explosion, I create a skeleton of metal mesh.

I then drill holes in the top of the tank so the wires can be fasten to the tank.

I then took cotton and put on the metal mesh while I make sure that there is a large cavity as possible inside the "explosion".

This is both for the light effect, but also for hot air to escape.

And then it’s time for the airbrush. 

First yellow, then a little red and finally a dash of black.

And suddenly, the whole turns into an explosive cloud.

The lower tank frame is screwed into the diorama board and the LED is tested.

The upper part of the tank is loose so it can easily be removed if I have to rearrange something with LED  light, or if it gets too hot.

I'd like to have some Russian soldiers in the diorama to give it some life. 

Of course, the soldiers use all their weapons against the Stuka when it passes over.

A few blasted tree trunks and a couple of dead soldiers are also included.

The diorama happened in the fall of 1944 and the trees have green- yellow autumn leaves.

Much of the leaves are however blown away by explosions nearby.

I attach leaves by spraying the trees with hairspray and then sprinkle some Woodland  Scenics "grass" over the trees. This adheres to the hairspray and gives an illusion of leaves.

I glued the tank tower on to the wires inside the cotton. It will now look like it blasted away from the tank.

The tank is basically painted green and "weathered" with sand, soil, dirt.

I have installed two power switches, one for the Stuka and one for the tank. 

The current to the electric motor in the Stuka is 1.5V from a couple AA batteries. 

The LED is connected to 220V. I've put a dimmer on LED light so I can reduce the brightness (and heat) if desired.

I fixed blocks of wood in each corner under the base so I can place the wires and batteries in a safe manner.


The Russian tank

I have chosen a KV-1 which was a heavy Russian tank at 44 tons and with a crew of 4-5.

The model I am building is from Tamiya (1/48)


The model is straightforward to put together, and that is good because I am going to blow it to

pieces. It will be hit armour-piercing shells in the tank's weak point: The engine compartment

behind the tower.

This is where Rudel always try to hit because the armour thickness is at its minimum here.

If possible, Rudel always attacked the tanks from the rear.

In the diorama, the tank ammunition explodes after been hit by the Stuka and the tower is

thrown away.

The inner hull of the model is made of metal, which is good because I want to mount a

3W 220VLED light inside the tank. This will impose as explosion light.

I could have chosen a low power LED, but I want a strong light as possible and I think that a

3W is what I need.

The LED lamp is connected directly to the 220V mains and even if the LED light is not

particularly hot, the circuits on the LED board produces heat. I, therefore, drill a series of holes in the bottom of the tank’s metal case to obtain a better cooling.

The tower will be blown away, which means the hot air can escape more easily. However, it is

important that the LED light is not on for too long (preferably no more than a minute at a time).

The wires are led out through the bottom of the tank and through the diorama base. Just to be sure, I also drill a number of holes in the board under the tank to increase the air flow.


The Stuka in the treetop

It was easy to place the Stuka at the top of the tree.

The brass rod from the a/c went nicely into the

brass tube in the tree and a little glue sealed

everything in place.

The wires from the engine were connected to the

wires coming out of the tree and everything was

twisted like branches.

A few leafs was added to make it all look part of

the tree.

And then the best of it all: Pressing the switch and

the Stuka was “flying”

I have given the Stuka some dents after scratches

after collision with trees.

It is important to remember that Stuka was a large

and robust machine that could take a lot of beating

without hitting the ground. It was almost 11m long,

had a 1.300hk engine and weighed 17 tons.

The Background

For the diorama to be as realistic and natural as possible it needs a background to the models.

I have therefore cut a cardboard plate and painted a war scenario that I think fits the diorama.

The battle takes place somewhere in the flat landscape of the Eastern Front in fall1944. Burning tanks, Stukas and explosions everywhere.

The Diorama:

I hope you enjoyed this website!

Thank you for visiting!

Please do not hesitate to ask if you have questions


Bjørn Jacobsen

May 2014