Stuka Scream

"Engines are out, steering jets are on the fritz, and someone's fitted us with a Stuka dive-bombing siren!"
Captain Proton and the Planet of Lesbians

In media, when something - usually a plane, but it can be something else - is diving, crashing or otherwise swooping, a gradually-rising mechanical scream that climaxes in a shrieking crescendo is often applied as a sound effect. This Stock Sound Effect originates from a siren (named Jericho-Trompete, or "Jericho Trumpet"), which was fitted to German Ju-87 "Stuka" dive-bombers in the Second World War as a psychological terror weapon designed to inflict panic on enemy ground forces.

At some point, somebody decided that this would make a great sound-effect.

A staple of Second World War films, it is by no means restricted to them and can be used in conjunction with anything from a crashing civilian airliner to a wheelchair rolling down a slope at high speed.

See also Bomb Whistle.


Examples

Film
  • The Guns of Navarone. While the protagonists are fleeing along a dry river bed they're attacked by Stuka dive bombers, with the standard sound effect.
  • In Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Movie, right after Dr Meachem's flight to meet Exeter takes off, Tom Servo verbally copies this sound effect to make it sound like the plane is stalling and crashing just off-screen.
  • In The Rocky Horror Picture Show, this shows up twice - once when Doctor Scott's wheelchair rolls down a slope in the lab, and once to the falling "Radio Tower" as it plummets to earth along with the corpses of Rocky and Frankenfurter.
  • Used in Dmitry Puchkov's Gag Dubs of The Lord of the Rings films, most often during the appearances of the Nazgūl on their flying beasts, replacing the ear-splitting screech. The dubbed dialogue specifically calls them "Messers" (i.e. Messerschmitt). Also appears in the scene with Gandalf and Balrog falling (the one where they first appear falling in a giant cavern with a lake).
  • Can be heard in the 1995 Richard Loncraine film Richard III just before King Richard's command train is attacked by Lord Stanley's air force. Given the Anachronism Stew of weapons and vehicles in this movie (set in a fascist 1930's Britain) it wouldn't be unusual if a Stuka was used, though it turns out to be a twin-engined bomber.
  • It can be heard in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only on both a helicopter and a seaplane.
  • Darth Vader's TIE fighter sometimes emits this wail in the first Star Wars film.
  • Played with in Jurassic World. Sirens give a Red Alert as pterosaurs swoop down on the packed resort area. They sound more like WW2 air raid sirens than a modern evacuation alarm.

Music
  • The opening track of Pink Floyd's The Wall, "In the Flesh", ends with a Stuka scream to symbolise the death of Pink's father in the war. The film of the album actually depicts the moment of his death as a Stuka dives on his position, complete with Bomb Whistle.

Videogames
  • PlanetSide 2 has Stuka horns available via Micro Transactions on all empire specific fighters. However, it functions as an airhorn rather than as a function of the vehicle's speed, allowing it to be used when hovering or smashing into the ground upside down. Each ESF also has a unique engine note when moving at high speed, with the New Conglomerate's Reaver producing a high-pitched wail that is not too dissimilar to the Stuka's.
  • War Thunder has this on the Stuka being historically accurate.

Truth In Television
  • As mentioned above, the Stuka's famous scream was due to a siren installed in the airplane (either in the leading edge of the wings or on the landing gear). This was phased out in later models because equipping a bomber with an air raid siren proved to be counterproductive once the enemy got over the initial shock. Moreover, the Jericho Trumpet added a fair amount of drag, reducing the Stuka's performance somewhat.
  • The American SBD "Dauntless" dive bomber managed to achieve a similar effect using its perforated dive brakes. The holes in the dive brakes, included for aerodynamic reasons, had the side effect of giving the plane a reportedly banshee-like wail sound in a dive, likely leading to its US Army designation: The A-24 "Banshee".
    • Compounding the fact is that Dauntlesses, especially during the Battle of Midway, were used in conjunction with Torpedo bombers. Not only was this a double-headed strike, but it also meant that the Japanese pilots and AA gunners were too occupied dealing with the slow, defenseless torpedo bombers to notice the Dauntlesses rolling into their dives overhead. In fact, no one even looked up until they heard the banshee wail of the airbrakes, and by that time, they realized it was too late...