The Battle of Britain was the first campaign in history where two military forces were only facing each other by airplanes.
Dear audience, World War II is a topic that I am very passionate about. This is the most widespread and catastrophic war in human history. The 6-year war took the lives of at least 70 million people worldwide – along with that, a series of military inventions such as atomic weapons, jet aircraft, etc… were born. The outcome of World War 2 was determined by historic battles, along with the vast amount of weapons.
Many times I wonder, is you guys interested in this topic like me? History has its own beauty, I think, and I want to bring it to you. This video, is about a landslide battle of 4,500 aircraft – The Battle of Britain. If you love historical content like this, please comment below to let me know. Human history has been determined by such great battles.
In the summer of 1940, after France surrendered to the Germans, Britain was the only country in Western Europe that had not yet succumbed to fascist boss Hitler. In order to launch an attack on British territory, the Germans needed to control the English Strait, separating southern England and northern France, and the Operation Sea Lion was launched.
As planned, 100,000 German troops would land on Kent and Sussex beaches to open a campaign to invade Britain. To do this, the Nazis would have to control the sky.
The British air power was mainly based on the Spitfire and Hurricane while the Germans were the Messcherschmitt and the Junker bombers – one of the best aircraft in World War 2.
The Germany was preparing for the historic air battle with 2,550 aircraft, while the Britain was 1,963. British aircraft were produced with good quality but lacked of seasoned pilots. Many British pilots were killed in the French war. Those losses cannot be recovered.
As a defensive faction, the British Air Force had certain advantages over Germany. The British have modern radars, which provide early warning of the arrival of German aircraft. By the spring of 1940, Britain had built 51 radar stations on the south coast. The UK also maintains the Royal Observer Corps, using the most sophisticated to the most basic of surveillance equipment such as binoculars.
British planes had the advantage of time-to-air combat in Kent and Sussex, because they could land quickly to refuel – while German planes had to travel long distances. Having too many bombers while lack of fighters also made the German campaign difficult. If the German fighters ran out of ammunition, they would be completely useless and could not protect the bombers in the sky over England.
The British at that time assessed: The German planes were faster and more capable of flying, but the British aircraft were more maneuverable and better armed.
Hitler’s first strategic failure
The Battle of Britain was the first campaign in history where two military forces were only facing each other by airplanes. Before that, there had never been such bombardments and air clashes for such a long time and severity.
The German authorities hoped that the first strikes would attract a large number of British fighters. But after the first skirmishes, the British Air Force cleverly moved its aircraft deeper inland, rendering the German aircraft inaccessible.
Adolf Galland, who was promoted to general at the age of 29 commented: “The fighter pilots felt like chained dogs when they were required to fly the close-escort missions because they knew they were fighting at a disadvantage.”
Since the air combat was mainly over the British sky, if the British pilot was accidentally shot down and parachuted, the next day he could continue fighting, but if it was a German pilot, he would be taken prisoner.
By the end of July, the British Air Force lost 150 aircraft and the German was 268. Since August, Germany changed its airstrike tactics at airports, radar stations and command stations, in the hope that British aircraft could not take off. Without radar, the British Air Force could not promptly make a defense plan against the German attack directions.
August 13, 1940 was called “Eagle Day”. Under Hitler’s orders, the German Air Force had to work hard to defeat the British air force so that it could move on to the next phase of the campaign.
The German Air Force launched two attacks with a total of 1,485 flights to strike simultaneously at airports, radar stations and aircraft factories in the south of England.
In mid-August, German bombers and fighters launched a new mass attack. The British Air Force wisely responded and actively backed away from the range of the German aircraft, causing the German side to suffer heavy losses. August 18 followed the most intense battle with the greatest damage on both sides: the Germans lost 100 aircraft, while the British lost 135.
The final fierce battle
The mistake of Field Marshal Hermann Goering, the commander of the German air force, was the failure to decisively bombard the British radar station nor to accurately assess the exhaustion faced by the British in a prolonged air war. The change of targets to bombing cities also indirectly helped the British Air Force consolidate its forces, the pilots had more time to rest.
The final fierce battle took place on September 15 with 1,500 aircraft from both sides. In his memoir, British Prime Minister Churchill commented: “This is a decisive battle and like the Battle of Waterloo”. At that time, Mr. Churchill was smoking cigars while watching the battle in the command center of the 11th fighter squadron in Uxbridge. An officer asked the commander-in-chief to stop smoking: “Sir, smoking is prohibited here!”. Churchill turned off the smoking. The cigarette was then framed and hung at headquarters as an amulet for the pilots.
September 15 was the last time that Hilter was patient for an aerial confrontation with Britain. Only that day, Germany lost 60 aircraft, British losses were 28. On September 17, the Germany was said to have declared indefinitely the postponement of the campaign to invade Britain, although sporadic bombings continued after that.
By the last day, the British had lost nearly 80% of their fighters, or 1,744 aircraft. Nazi Germany lost nearly 75% of the total number of aircraft, equivalent to 1,977 units. In total, the two sides lost more than 3,700 aircraft. According to military experts, one reason for the grievous defeat of Nazi Germany: the German air force was perturbed by the characteristic foggy weather in Britain.
This was the first defeat of the German army and led to an important turning point in the history of World War 2. The British considered this a decisive victory, stopping the German advance on the western front. On the other hand, this victory also led to British participation in the Battle of the Atlantic and the Battle of Normandy in 1944.
The British victory is considered the exemplary air defense battle in the 20th century. September 15 every year is remembered by Britain and humanity as an historic air battle, an important milestone in the interception of the Nazi army in the campaign to annex all of Europe. This was the moment that the British people decide the historic destiny of all humanity.
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