In early 1943, a new variant of the Stuka, the Ju.87D-5, was launched into full-scale production. The D-5 variant was originally conceived of as a ground-attack aircraft, as opposed to the previous D-3 version, for which ground attacks were thought to be only one of its possible combat uses.
From the start, no speed brakes were mounted under the D-5's wings, and as full-scale production continued, the fittings to fix the brakes to the drive gear were also eliminated. The aircraft's wings were redesigned, with the wingspan significantly increased. The enlarged area significantly reduced the load on the aircraft's wings and improved the Stuka's takeoff and landing characteristics.
The aircraft's armament was reinforced: the wing-mounted 7.92 mm Rheinmetall-Borsig MG 17 machine guns were swapped out for two 20 mm Mauser MG 151/20 cannons with 500 rounds each.
The 1000/500/IXb bomb rack was used to suspend aerial bombs weighing 1,000 kg or more under the fuselage, and the 500/IXc rack was used for bombs weighing 500 kg or less. Underwing ETC 50/VIIIdTp bomb racks allowed bombs and containers weighing up to 300 kg to be suspended from the middle pylon; bombs and other loads weighing up to 70 kg could be hung from the two side pylons.
When acting as a ground-attack aircraft, Stukas most often had wooden containers for ninety-two 2 kg fragmentation SC 2 aerial bombs; however, these had little effect against protected targets. Aerial bombs of a larger size, 250 and 500 kg, were used to attack such targets.
The engine's exhaust pipes were not covered with fairings, and die-stamped, corrugated steel strips for the crew were riveted to the centre wing section instead of rubber "tracks." The fork of the fuselage-mounted bomb rack was reinforced.
A system to jettison the main landing gear struts was introduced on the D-5 to enable an emergency landing on uneven terrain.
As the full-scale production of the D-5 variant continued, a number of changes were introduced to the structure to improve visibility from the cockpit, increase the crew's safety, and make the aircraft easier to pilot at low altitudes. The following were added to the covering of the cockpit canopy: an additional strut in the structure of the side glass panels, an additional direct-vision window in the sliding section of the canopy, and a convex blister over the armoured windscreen panel, for mounting the Revi C/12D gunsight.
The Ju.87D-5 was the last variant of the Stuka whose full-scale production was significant. This variant was manufactured until the Stuka's production was discontinued in the late summer of 1944. A total of 1,190 aircraft were produced. A simplified variant of the D-5, named the D-6, was developed but never entered full-scale production.