The Battle of Britain

A squadron of Spitfire fighters prepares for battle.

Nicknamed "the greatest air battle of World War II," the Battle of Britain took place from July to September 1940 when Adolf Hitler carried out his plans to invade Britain. Hitler had been fighting with France and through a series of tremendous losses, France surrendered. Once France was out of the way, Germany turned it's attention to Britain. Hitler's plan had 4 phases, but he was only able to carry out the first two, Kanalkampf and Aldertag. Hitler planned on attacking commercial shipping in the English Channel and from July 10 to early August sent out squadrons of planes to do so. The only flaw was that Great Britain had recently developed new fighter plane technology. Fuel injection, high octane fuel, and vertical stabilizers allowed for greater speed and maneuverability which led to more and more victories for the Royal Air Force (RAF).
Aldertag was Hitler's reaction to the losses sustained by underestimating the RAF. On August 1, Hitler issued a directive, named Fuhrer Directive No. 17, was issued to all German aviation stations. It read:

"I intend to intensify air and sea warfare against the English homeland...The Luftwaffe is to overpower the Royal Air the shortest possible time...The intensification of the air war may begin on or after 5 August. The exact time is to be decided by the Air Force after the completion of preparations and in light of the weather".
The main battle plan was to strike all British radar stations, even though most German commanders did think much of the British Radar Defense System (RDS). Due to bad weather, the attack was not launched until August 10 and was successful. Even though more German aircraft were lost than RAF fighters, the Germans had succeeded in disabling most of the RDS. Even though the Luftwaffe (the German air force) announced that the mission was successful, it really wasn't. The British were able to get all but one RDS up and running in time to see many squadrons of German fighters and bombers and managed to down 46 planes. The following two days were similar, Germany losing 75 aircraft to the RAF's 13.
These losses caused the Luftwaffe to re think their plans. A new directive was sent out to all eastern aircraft bases by aviation commander Hermann Göring. First, he ruled against any further strikes on the RDS deeming them ineffective. Second, it was decided that Stukas would be phased out of the battle, as it had become obvious they were entirely too vulnerable to attack. Third, Bf 110s were moved from there fighter role to a strictly dive bomber role. Additionally, it was decided that they would now have Bf 109 fighter escorts (fighters escorting fighters, an odd use of resources that functionally made the 110s range equal to that of the 109). Lastly, a top priority of destroying RAF fighters was adopted.

The End of The Battle

On August 25, one stray He 111 bomber strayed off course and would mistakenly bomb Central London, which was against Hitler's orders. Outraged by the bombing of an innocent city, Winston Churchill ordered a retaliatory strike on Berlin that night. Citizens of Berlin were shocked when 81 Dornier Bombers appeared over Berlin that night. This bombing, in terms of military value, was useless, but this out raged Hitler who said, "If the British bomb our cities, we will bury theirs." He then proceeded to institute a campaign to bomb London without mercy. This took the focus off of the airplane factories and air bases, which allowed the RAF to build up their forces and eventually all daylight bombings were cancelled and then forced the Germans to postpone Operation Sea Lion indefinitely. While nighttime bombings would continue, called "The Blitz", the Battle of Britain was won.

Planes of the Battle of Britain:
German Fighters:
- Messerschmitt 109E
- Messerschmitt 110
British Fighters:
- Spitfire 1
- Hurricane 1
- Defiant
- Blenheim 4
- Junkers 87B
- Junkers 88
- Dornier 17
- Dornier 215
- Heinkel 111

Words from a RAF pilot:

Works Cited:

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Adapted from:
"BBC - History - The Battle of Britain (pictures, Video, Facts & News)." BBC - Homepage. BBC, 2011. ...........Web. 14 Dec. 2011.<>.

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Adapted from:
Wyatt, Rob. "Great Air Battles: The Battle of Britain." InfoPoland - the Polish Academic Information ...........Center. Polish Academic Information Center, 2000. Web. 14 Dec. 2011.

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Adapted from:
Hough, Richard, and Denis Richards. The Battle of Britain: The Greatest Air Battle of World War II. New ...........York: W. W. Norton & Company, London. Print.