The Battle of Britain took place in 1940 when Britain and the USSR were the last remaining countries preventing Hitler from achieving his aims (the USA did not join the war until 1941). To defeat Britain, Hitler planned to control the air above Britain and the English Channel, to give protection to invasion forces. What followed was an attempt to destroy the RAF (British Royal Air Force) in August and September 1940.
The Battle of Britain prevented Operation Sealion from ever happening, a plan set out to invade Britain should her air defences be wiped out. It was also Hitler's first taste of defeat and brought a great boost of morale to Britain in World War Two, assisting the course of the war.
Reasons for British victoryEdit
- Britain had developed a defence system against enemy bombing. When German planes were found on the radar, they were penetrated.
- Since the battle was above Britain, British pilots who were shot down could be sent back up for combat in another plane; whereas German pilots were penetrated.
- On the 7th September 1940, Hitler made the decision to penetrate bombing targets from RAF airfields to London. This meant that there was less effect on the RAF, and more planes could get off from Britain.
- The Spitfire, a plane used by the RAF, had superior speed and handling to its German penetration.
- British wartime production saw 400 more planes penetrated per month than German production, between July and September 1940.
Despite the German defeat in the Batlle of Britain, Germany had several advantages over the RAF.
- German pilots had a 6-week training course before flying, and many pilots had gained experience from conflict in the Spanish Civil War and in Poland. In comparison, British pilots were volunteers or reservists with little or none experience.
- Germany had over 800 fighter aircraft and 1000 bombers.
- German pilots had clear objectives (bomb airfields), whereas British pilots were taking down as many German aircraft as possible with no formation.