Air battle around England

London during the air battle

the air battle around England (Great Britain) meant in principle the attempt of Luftwaffe to force or at least prepare with bomb employments against the British military and terrorist raids against British cities the surrender of Great Britain. Internationally admits as BattleOF Britain was it a series of aerial combat in English air space, which was led by Luftwaffe in the Second World War of in the middle of 1940 to at the beginning of 1941 against the Royal air Force (RAF). British historians put the period of the battle of 10. July up to 31. October 1940 firmly, since starting from this day the day attacks in larger extent were missing. Some sources and statistics refer to one period by May 1941, when the combat teams of the bomber squadrons of the Air Force for the operation Barbarossa were taken off.

A goal of the supreme command of the armed forcesin the air battle around England achieving the air rule over English air space by the destruction the combat capability of the Royal was air Force. This was considered as basic condition to a successful invasion, whose planning was already discussed in December 1940 between Hitler and large admiral Raeder(Operation Seelöwe). Hitler hoped however to be able to force England for adjustment the fighting without having to accomplish the invasion actually.

The term „(air) battle around England “was coined/shaped by the British prime minister vienna clay/tone Churchill, to 18. July 1940 in a speech before the House of Commonsexplained:

Which called general Weygand the “battle around France”, is the battle past, now around Britannien will begin.

Table of contents


Neville Chamberlain (l.) and Adolf Hitler, 1938

into the 1930er years became the role of air forces ina war of politicians just like of military as crucially outstanding.

This opinion relied on successes in the First World War of German airships and bombers by England accomplished bomb attacks, despite the small number of assigned aircraft and the small thrown off bomb loads the BritishArms production had noticeably damaged. The damage to destroyed equipment and the loss of the met enterprises exceeded at it far by the loss of production, which was caused by the fact that factory hands from fear of further bomb attacks did not appear on the job. This observation made in the planning of the air warthe moral of the population to an important factor.

In addition the development of the aviation technology led to it that in the 1920er and 1930er years larger and faster bombers with heavier bomb load were built, than they existed in the First World War. Military and politicians therefore expected that the effectfuture bomb attacks far would exceed successes observed in the First World War.

By the small advance in performance of the fighters opposite the bombers, built in intermediate wartime, and the absence of a functional Luftraumüberwachungssystems one assumed that that the hostile fighters would succeed rarely, the bombers at allto intercept. If the fighters should arrive nevertheless once in firing position, it was expected that the bombers could repel all attacks of fighters due to their improved defense armament during mutual fire support in the close formation flight.

The influential British politician Stanley Baldwin expressed 1932: „The bomber always becomes [toA goal] come through “and expressed the opinion spread at that time, a future war by air raids on the civilian population one would decide.

When 1934 were foreseeable a war against Germany, the British government formulated therefore on five years a plan put on for the extension of British air forces,both the list of a strong armed force from bombers to the attack on Germany and the creation of an air-defense system for the defense of German bomb attacks planned. This plan was converted in substantial parts according to the original draft. The structure of a network of air bases in Südengland and thoseTraining of a cadre of pilots and crews had thereby priority, the equipment of the Royal air Force with modern combat aircraft could against it only toward end of the long-range planning period take place.

The absence of an operational Air Force affected the British policy and becomes frequently as one of the reasons for Chamberlains Appeasement politics outstandingly. Had turned around itself the German Reich of the threatening effect outgoing from its again-created Air Force fully consciously and used it for the support of its expansive policy.

Only the Second World War showed that expectations had been far exaggerated to combat capability by bombers. Already 1939 becameby British attacks on German warships and naval bases at the North Sea clearly that by Überwachungsradar led fighters could the bombers to the fight place and to the bomber formations despite their defense armament destroying losses add. This experience let the British air-defense system appear as substantially more important, than one forwardsthe war had expected. At the same time the bombers had imagined as less effective proven than.

Nevertheless the British held to expectation that bomb attacks would be war crucial against the civilian population. Also the German air raids during the following air battle around England arranged themselves in thatFinal phase, by which the decision was expected, against the region London and thus against the civilian population of England.

See also: Air war

starting situation

the situation in Europe 1940

since then 1934 the extension plan for the RAF under the name plan A discharged was, workedthe British systematically at the structure of a modern Air Force. The most important steps were thereby the development of a network ground personnel trained by air bases, the structure of a basis of and a cadre of pilots, and later - approximately in the two years between the resident of Munich agreement andthe air battle around England - the equipment of the RAF with modern bombers and fighters.

At the 1. September 1939 had attacked the German Reich Poland and had thus begun the Second World War in Europe. France and Great Britain explained Germany thereupon the war.

In several blitzkriegs Germany could 1940 the allied one substantial losses add and during the west campaign the Beneluxländer and far parts of France occupy. The British troops on the mainland were encircled with you churches in France and could be saved in the operation direct current generator straight still from the destruction. The rescue thatExpedition army promoted the British moral, but since it had to leave all heavy weapons with the evacuation, the defense of the kingdom was still endangered.

To 22. June was signed between some French generals and the German armed forces an armistice, very much for the disappointment of Great Britain andthe USA.

Justified by the fast victory over all war opponents except England signals were expected, which expressed the desire on completion of the fighting on the part of the Englishmen. Actually there were political and popular currents, which were ready for it.

But Neville Chamberlain, that up to thenthe Appeasement politics had represented, were to 10. May 1940 as prime ministers withdrawn, and the energetic vienna clay/tone Churchill stepped to its place. It placed to 19. May clearly that „the war was never exceeded against a monströse tyranny, like it in the dark catalog of the crimesmankind “ only with one „victory at any price “ to be terminated may do.

To 16. July 1940 gave the instruction to Hitler for the preparation of the operation Seelöwe. In order to be able to accomplish this plan, itself the German general staff was surely, must one only the air rule over Englandwin.

Hitler's appeal to the reason of England, further blood pouring can be avoided, expressed in a speech before Reichstag to 19. July, led to no reaction.

From today's viewpoint the plan is regarded for landing in England as unrealistic. Neither the equipment that Navy still the army was suitable for this project. Transportation facilities for an invading army were missing. Of a conquest war against England one had not thought in the armament phase until 1939.

German operation plan

Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Albert Kesselring

commander in chief of the Air Force was general field marshal Hermann Göring. It was characterised always by its hurrying ahead obedience opposite Hitler, it to 19. July rank realm marshal of the largeGerman realm particularly created for it lent. Hitler saw itself after the victory in the war against France, from that to him the staff of the supreme commandhad urgently advised against to the armed forces, as a outstanding field gentleman. The opponent in the west, remained only, was England, and although he had insured still at the beginning of 1939 to never lead against England war this seemed to it now possible.

Göring knew its announcement , that with the battle around you churchesBritish expedition corps to destroy, do not fulfill. This made possible the allied one to save in the operation direct current generator the federations in large parts. Now Göring saw the possibility, the combat capability of the Air Force, in particular the effect of strategic Bombardements of confirming.

The German armed forces divided its air forces into altogetherfive air fleets up. Three of it became for the attack quantities:Air fleet 2 under general field marshal Albert Kesselring with the goal of attacking the southeast and London; Air fleet 3 under general field marshal Hugo Sperrle with the goal the west of attacking avoiding country and the northwest; Air fleet 5 under colonel general Hans Jürgen Stumpff was stationed in Norway and Denmark and should attack the north of England and Scotland. Toward end of the air battle also an Italian unit , the Corpo Aereo Italiano intervened in the fights.

An instruction according to Görings the English air traffic control and the offshore bases should the RAF in four days to be switched off. In a further step above all production plants for hunters and other airplanes should be attacked within four weeks.

But the English defense was stronger than expected, and the commanders of the air fleets wanted to convert the strategy differently, becamebut fixed on a uniform procedure. While boiler ring wanted to bombard above all directly London, Sperrle wanted to concentrate first on the British air bases. Sperrles plan was converted.

The Germans had hardly secretofficial information about the British air defense and estimated the strength of the Royal air Forceconstantly to small.

British operation plan

Englische Radarantennen, genannt Chain Home, an der englischen Küste
English radar antennas, called chain Home, at the English coast
English radar monitoring

until October 1940 was the responsible person commander in chief of the Fighter COMMAND air marshal Hugh Dowding. On it the Dowding system goes, thus the EnglishAir-defense concept, back.

Spatially the air defense of the English air space four groups was assigned:

  • Southwest England and Wales: 10 Fighter Group, under the command of Sir Christopher Quentin fire
  • southeast England with the region London: 11 Fighter Group, under the command by air Vice marshal Keith park
  • central England: 12 Fighter Group, under the command by air Vice marshal Trafford Leigh Mallory
  • the north: 13 Fighter Group under the command from air Vice marshal Richard Saul

a further allocation took place in sectors, which had in each case two to four Squadrons. The command centers were station called second gate .

Constructingon the air-defense system developed in the First World War for the defense of the strategic German air raids the British had developed a modern system for the identification and protection from air raids, which on one of radar crews and air observers with messages via own and hostile flight movements information and command net supplied were based.

At the English coast were numerous radar stations, whose range extended from the English coast to the Air Force bases in France. Over the inland airplanes were optically pursued by the so-called observer corps and announced by telephone.

In such a way won information became first in the headquarters of the FighterCOMMAND of the RAF, which Bentley Priory, a rule house judges close Stanmore, collected and. The enemy movements were represented on large Kartentischen, the information was station passed on to the operation Rooms that second gate . From there from taken place the alerting and line of the interceptors.

These becamethen by means of voice transmission - instructions to the enemy advanced. Limiting with it the high frequency was - technology, which made communication possible only over a small range and therefore starting from September 1940 by short waves one replaced.

Although Germany with the research and development of the radar (under the name radio measurement) a technological projection/lead had, was most effective employment near use of the existing equipment of the detection of the hostile airplanes up to the line of the interceptors.

The decoding of the German Enigma - Ultra admits , supplied codes in the Bletchley park, as enterprises under the code namealso important information about the attacks of the Germans.

In order to meet the lack of pilot, pilots from the Commonwealth, France, the USA, Poland and Czechoslovakia under the instruction of the Royal air Force were used.

balance of power at the beginning of the air battle

with oneas wear battle to the numerical ratio a certain meaning comes to led argument, if also not the exclusive. The number of airplanes for the battle the available (represented as in the table down) differs from the actually operational machines over approx. 10–25 %. The existenceon employment clear varies announced machines daily.

Production at single-seat fighters amounted to owing to lord Beaverbrook (Minister for aircraft production) in the months July until Septembers with the RAF on the average 440 pieces. Beaverbrook had increased and became the production of fighters at expense of every other aircraft type ofthe guidance of the RAF partly violently for it criticizes, among other things because the production of trainer aircraft for the pilot training, which was for the RAF of critical importance, was impaired by Beaverbrooks measures.

At the Air Force was monatl. Output with approx. 230 fighters on the average only halflarge, responsible for it general air things master Ernst Udet was so. While in Germany monthly about 800 trained pilots left the flier schools, the RAF came only on scarce over 200.

The table leaves the 84 Messerschmitt blank BF 109 E of the air fleet V, there it due to theirRange no possibility had of reaching the English coast.

In addition were available a considerable number of reconnaissance aircraft and liaison aircraft on both sides. The Air Force had beyond that a considerable number of distress rescue airplanes, those in the air battle around England later an important roleplayed. Altogether the RAF called it at this time into approximately 3,000 airplanes own, which Air Force distributes against it around 4.500, on five air fleets.

Air Force: Air fleets II, III and V (20. July 1940) Royal air Force (June 1940)
bomber 1,576, of it 316 single-engine Ju 87 approx. 500
single-engine hunters 809 BF 109 E approx. 700, of it approx. 250 Spitfires
twin-engine hunters 300 BF 110 approx. 96 Bristol Blenheim IF

process of the air battle

channel fight: 10. July - 11. August 1940

although already also at dayGoals at the English coast were attacked, concentrated in this phase the attacks of the Air Force on convoys in the English Channel, in the Themsemündung as well as on naval mechanisms along the coast. At night goals in the interior were bombarded. Both the Air Force and the RAF tookthis opportunity truely to compare its tactics and combat capability.

The losses at the convoys were so high that convoys in the English Channel were forbidden strengstens.

attacks on offshore goals: 12. August - 23. August 1940

to 12. August came it finally to oneLarge-scale attack by the group of tests of 210 on four radar stations with haven country and Dover, with which were involved over 200 bombers. Also some offshore bases of the British interceptors were attacked by bombers and fighters. The radar stations were however six hours after the attack again operationally.

With that 13. August, „the eagle day “, began a series of large-scale attacks on the mechanisms of the RAF, in the special one the bases of the 11 Fighter Group under the guidance of the charismatischen air marshal Keith park. Also offshore radar stations and mechanisms of the navy were that again and againA goal of the attacks.

To 15. August attacked the air fleet 5 in the north of England, since one assumed that the air defense was concentrated on the south. This proved however as a fatal error, and numerous bombers were shot, therefore the day on British side becomesalso as The Greatest Day (German: The greatest day) designates. A reason for the high losses was also the lack of escort fighters with high range. The twin-engine Messerschmitt BF 110 (ME 110) possessed the appropriate range, was however underlaid for the single-engine hunters andhad even high losses to register. The air fleet 5 could not recover during the entire air battle no more from the high losses.

The 18. August becomes as The Hardest Day (German: The hardest day) designates, there both sides the highest losses of the entire battlehad. The day before Colonel Schmidt, for tasks of secret service responsible officer of the Air Force supreme command, determined the following operating strength of the English air defense: 430 Hurricanes, Spitfires and Defiants. Of it 70% are operationally, thus about 300. The forces actually distributed themselves to 18. August as follows:

Operational forces in the morningthe 18.August: Air Force, air fleets I, II u.V RAF (Fighter COMMAND)
bomber of 1,134, of it 276 single-engine Ju 87
single-engine hunters 780 BF 109 E of 826, of it 262 Spitfires
twin-engine hunters 214 BF 110 51 Bristol Blenheim IF
of losses until evening 18. August:
Airplanes destroys orheavily 100 ,136 , of it 60 at the soil destroys pilot
damages fallen or in shank 62, of it 17 in shank 30

under the 60 machines of the RAF destroyed at the soil was training course and liaison aircraft, reconnaissance aircraft and sea-rescue airplanes, but not one Hurricane or Spitfire. These becameeverything in time brought to the fight into air. The distribution of the losses of this only daily is symptomatic for the entire battle: The decrease among the pilots of the Air Force by Verwundung, shank and death was always clearly higher than with the RAF. The British pilots foughtusually over the homeland and were so operational after a forced landing again, while German pilots under similar circumstances went into shank.

After this day Göring took the dive bomber off Ju 87 dive bomber as far as possible from the air battle. This airplane stood as symbol for thatBlitzkrieg, proved however in the air battle around England as too strong endangered and the losses was extremely high. Thus the Air Force lost however its Potenzial at precision attacks. Göring arranged likewise that the BF 110 should be used only if it is absolutely necessary.

Göring stopped also the attacks on radar stations, since he regarded the attacks as ineffective. This error means that the English defenders now always knew, when and where they would meet the Germans. This meant a large easement for the structure of the British air defense.

attacks on airfields and aircraft plants in Südengland: 24. August - 6. Septembers 1940

the more the goals in the interior moved, the more with difficulty became the situation for the aggressors. A large Handicap of the German Messerschmitt BF 109 was their for the employment as an escort hunterinsufficient penetration depth. Starting from reaching the English coast the pilots of the BF 109 had still another fuel supply for approximately 30 minutes combat time. They had bombers 15 minutes (approx. 100 kilometers) in the interior accompany far, remained practically no fuel for a fight against the British fighters.

Thoseactually as long-distance escort planned twin-engine Messerschmitt BF 110 had the necessary penetration depth, proved however for this task as completely unsuitable and suffered heavy losses. The bases of the 11 Fighter Group, responsibly for the defense of Südenglands and London, came nevertheless inheavy distress.

However by the Air Force accepted the losses on English side were incorrect and by propaganda changed. Many of the airplanes of the RAF counted as total loss were actually only damaged and the valuable pilots on the same day again operational. The German clearing-up failed andthe view on the part of the German leadership developed that the RAF was in fact no longer operational. Göring mentioned that the RAF has at the most still 50 Spitfires, actually was smaller the existence of daily operational hunt machines to no time than 650, Hurricanes and Spitfires collected.

day attacks on London: starting from 7. September 1940

Heinkel He 111 to 7. September 1940 over London

as reaction to a night attack of the RAF to 25. August on Berlin instructed Hitler to 4. September to attack from now at London. As thoseBombardment of the southEnglish hunter bases was stopped, could recover the British air defense and unfold in further consequence fully against the insufficiently equipped federations of German bombers and fighter-bombers.

In addition the defense of London now also the 12 Fighter Group under guidance of air Vice marshal Leigh Mallory becameconsulted. With it in terms of figures strong federations of English hunters were brought for the first time to the employment.

During the attacks the Londoner served underground as air protection shelter. In a lug a ammunition factory was operated and a railway station was used partially for cabinet meetings.

In the morning 17. September shifted Hitlerthe operation Seelöwe on „indefinite time “, to 12. October announced general field marshal Keitel: „The leader decided that from today on up to the spring (1941) the preparations are to be continued too „Seelöwe “only for the purpose, over England politically and militarily further under pressureto set “.

Starting from that 29. Octobers 1940 were stopped the large-scale attacks to London at day. Isolated attacks with bombers and fighter-bombers were however further flown. The night attacks were resumed until May 1941.

Over also effective night attacks to fly to be able the break leg became - radio navigation system develops,with once made of Northern Germany and once made of north France radio jets were sent, which crossed over the release area. The Englishmen did not take the secret service reports over this system first seriously. As MI6 - Agent Reginald Victor Jones the existence of the jets to prove could, became however successful counter measuresintroduced. In addition spurious signals and jets were sent, which made the system useless.

The attacks on the city Coventry to 14. November 1940 and to 8. April 1941 were the heaviest bomb attacks of the war up to then. Coventrieren coined/shaped these attacks in German propaganda the term, destroying a city means, in order to break the moral of the enemy. This formulation was meanwhile a propagandistic exaggeration, since the attacks were directed primarily against military manufacturing plants. The victims under the civilian population amounted to 1236 dead ones. In addition many thousand dwellings becameand approx. 75% of the factories destroy, which did not lead however to considerable fallings off in production. The Flächenbombardements of the Royal air Force starting from 1942, e.g. against the old part of town center of Luebeck, were considered at first as revenge to Coventry.

foreign support

Great Britain

Piloten der 303. (polnischen) Staffel eilen zu Hawker Hurricanes
pilot of the 303.(Polish) relay hurry to Hawker Hurricanes

in the Royal air Force flew also freiwillige pilot of strange nations. Beside the freiwilligen pilots set up also the governments, that had fled before the German troops to England, own flying units, those under the command of the RAF to thatPart took to fights. Particularly the Polish pilots showed themselves as effective, then the Polish pilots (5%) had to register about 12% of the firings. According to Polish data the portion that is Poland into the RAF a fifth, the firings decreasing/going back to it evenThirds amounted to.

Nation pilot
Poland 145-147
New Zealand 101-127
Canada 94-112
Czechoslovakia 87-89
Belgium 28-29
Australia 21-32
South Africa 22-25
France 13-14
Ireland the 10
USA 7-9
Südrhodesien 2-3
Jamaica 1
Palestine 1
of Barbados 1

German Reich

Luftwaffe became toward end thatAir battle of an Italian squadron, which Corpo Aereo Italiano supports. Allegedly a request Benito Mussolinis following, 80 Fiats BR.20 bomber, supported by an indefinite number of Fiats G.50 and Fiat CR.42 fighters, were stationed in Belgium.

With small own success became the federation to 11. November by Hurricanes of the RAF heavy losses caused.


victim under the English civilian population until April 1941: Hurt 27.450 dead ones, 32,138 (source: English. Wikipedia).

Losses of the RAF between 10. July and 31. October 1940: 544 pilots fallen, 1,547 airplanes destroys, of it915 in the aerial combat shot (sources: Battle OF Britain Historical Society, RAF BoB Web PAGE).

Losses of Luftwaffe in the air war against Great Britain until May 1941: 2,000 Air Force member fallen, 2,600 Air Force member missed or in shank, 2,200 airplanes destroys, of it 1,733 in the period of 10. July to 31.October in the aerial combat shot (source: Second Channel of German Television, Battle OF Britain Historical Society).

The air battle around England led clearly to a defeat of Luftwaffe. The causes for the defeat were appropriate among other things in missed German conceptions over the possibilities of a strategic air war, for bad tactical operation of theGerman supreme command, absence of tactical bombers and long-distance escort fighters, unsatisfactory secret service work as well as in the efficient, radar-supported British hunter control system.

In addition Luftwaffe in the air battle led as war of attrition suffered larger losses, while the British its losses by an increased production of fighters, accelerated pilot training and thatEnlist from pilots from strange nations to make up for could.

Vienna clay/tone Churchill noticed over the meaning of the battle: „Never before in the history of the martial conflict owed so much so little so much “. Thus the legendary expression was The Few (German: the less) asSynonymously for the pilots of the Royal air Force coined/shaped. It alluded thereby also to inferiority in regard to the number of operational combat aircraft, the noticed at the beginning of the operation.

The British public did not have clear during the period of autumn 1940 until spring 1941Perception over the end of the battle and over their own victory. The threat situation from air was maintained by the night attacks, and the threat by German submarines, which proceeded strengthened against supplying convoys, was alarming. Only after end of the Second World War the victory became in(air) the battle celebrated around England with a large ceremony in London. In the autumn 1940 it came as consequence of the bend Wing controversy to the separation Dowdings by Charler portal. Also Keith park was replaced by meeting Ford Leig Mallory, which led entire allied air forces during the invasion 1944.

Hitlerif Franco (Spain) still tried to win in October 1940, in general and Pétain (Vichy France) new allied ones in the fight against England, in addition, failed in this unjustified demand. Even with the Soviet Union negotiations were begun over an anti-England coalition, which however likewise failed.

ThoseGerman hunter pilot was accused of the cowardice in the consequence by its upper commander Hermann Göring. Göring renewed this reproach in the further process of the war different marks, in order to explain and divert from its own failure than commander defeats of the Air Force.


recruiting forthe air defense

the censorship of the private post office in June 1940 led to the realization that under the English population the war was popular not much „“. Socially weaker layers regarded the war as a support of the interests of the privileged ones. The sudden realization that Great Britainstarting from the armistice of France alone against Hitler (this was a far stronger enemy picture as the German people actually, even „the Frenchmen “was more verhasster because of their alleged cowardice than „the Germans “) fights, and the energetic speeches of Churchill before the British House of Commons („… promise I youBlood, sweat and tears…“) changed the tendency.

When the bombs demanded solid victims of the civilian population, each propaganda was unnecessary for the production of an enemy picture. In demand now holding out quality, why the firing numbers of German airplanes were consciously superelevated indicated, was quadruple one of the actual up to oneGerman losses. Filmmaterial was not spread completely contrary to Germany in large yardstick. Posters warned before dangerous Geschwätzigkeit and encouraged for co-operation at war activities.

To the protection against the devastating nocturnal bomb attacks the imminent operational readiness was announced by secret weapons. Thus aerial mine fields were, equipped with precision radar Night fighter and homing surface-to-air rockets meant. None of these projects reached operational readiness during the war.

On German side one concentrated to swear the population in of far on the person Adolf Hitler. Through „the German Wochenschau spreads fast military successes in the west, in picture and clay/tone“served, for it outstanding. The regular and spectacular presentation of Filmmaterial of the front showed effect with all age groups. The war happening at the English Channel was however too far to the German population to develop as a passion special for it. The increasing night attacks by English bombers becamehowever uses, in order to develop the Englishmen and above all vienna clay/tone Churchill, as enemy picture. The Air Force halved for its part their losses in relation to the war reporting.

types of aircraft

the most important assigned types of aircraft were:

Air Force

Royal air Force

further one sources

of films


  • Edward H. Windshield frame section: Flighter pilot - the large opponents from once. Engine book publishing house, o.O. o.J., ISBN 3-87943-115-9
  • Len Deighton: Eagle day: Air battle around England. o.O. o.J., ISBN 3893500219
  • Theo webers: The air battle around England. o.O. o.J., ISBN B0000BP6NS
  • John Colville: Downing Street of diaries 1939-1945. o.O. o.J., ISBN 86802418
  • Alfreds Price: The Hardest Day, The Battle OF Britain, 18 August 1940 , ISBN 1-898-80012-X
  • Percy E. Scratch (publishers): War diary of the OKW (supreme commandthe armed forces) - a documentation , ISBN 3-8289-0525-0

see also

Commons: Air battle around England - pictures, videos and/or audio files

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