World War II air battle between German and British air forces over Britain from 10 July to 31 October 1940. The height of the battle occurred 30–31 August.
At the outset the Germans had the advantage because they had seized airfields in the Netherlands, Belgium, and France, which were basically safe from attack and from which southeast England was within easy range. On 1 August 1940 the Luftwaffe had about 2,800 aircraft in France, Belgium, Holland, and Norway, outnumbering the RAF by four to one. The Battle of Britain had been intended as a preliminary to the German invasion plan Seelöwe (Sea Lion), which Hitler indefinitely postponed on 17 September and abandoned on 10 October, choosing instead to invade the USSR.
The Battle of Britain can be roughly divided into five phases: 10 July–7 August, the preliminary phase; 8–23 August, attack on coastal targets; 24 August–6 September, attack on Fighter Command airfields; 7–30 September, daylight attack on London, chiefly by heavy bombers; and 1–31 October, daylight attack on London, chiefly by fighter-bombers. The main battle was between some 600 Hurricanes and Spitfires and the Luftwaffe's 800 Messerschmitt 109s and 1,000 bombers (Dornier 17s, Heinkel 111s, and Junkers 88s). Losses August–September were, for the RAF: 792 fighters totally destroyed; for the Luftwaffe: 668 fighters and some 700 bombers and other aircraft.
Churchill, Winston: War situation
Bader, Douglas: Pilot's combat report
Fighter Command – Battle of Britain
Avro Lancaster B2
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