The Battle of Britain was a WWII aerial battle in which the German Luftwaffe tried to destroy the core of the Royal Air Force fleet aircraft, with the objective to put the RAF out of action to gain air superiority for a future German invasion of England. It was fought in the skies over southern England, the English Channel, and northern France, from July 1940 to October 1940, after the German invasion of France and the Low Countries. As the war wore on, the Battle of Britain became a savage duel between the German and British pilots. Although the RAF came out undefeated, the top ace of this air duel was the German ace Adolf Galland, who was credited with 104 victories. The commander of the Luftwaffe was Hermann Göring; while the RAF was led by Hugh Dowding.
Organized into three Air Fleets (Luftflotten 2, 3, and 5), the Luftwaffe air campaign against England first consisted in attacking the RAF’s airfields to destroy as many enemy aircraft on the ground before they had the chance to take off. However, the British already had at their disposal a new invention, the radar, many of which were set up in a network system on the southern coasts. It was called the Chain Home, which detected the approach of the German aircraft, warning the British pilots of an impending attack and giving them enough time to take off and confront the Germans in dogfights in the skies above.
Nevertheless, in August 1940, the RAF High Command seemed on the verge of collapse by the intensity of the German air raids against the English air bases. As a result, Winston Churchill, in an attempt to divert the German attacks on the British fighters, ordered a night bombing of Berlin, which was carried out by Armstrong Whitworth Whitley bombers on August 25, 1940. This British attack on German territory sent Hitler into a rage. Then, he ordered the Göring to bomb London, concentrating the Luftwaffe resources in that mission. This gave the RAF’s fighter aircraft and pilots time to recover. As a result, London was subjected to constant night bombing from September 1940 to May 1941.
In early October 1940, as the Luftwaffe had not managed to establish air superiority, Adolf Hitler canceled Operation Sea Lion, which was the codename for the German invasion of the British Isles.
Battle of Britain Footage