The Battle of Britain was a series of conflicts between Germany and Britain in World War 2. Having defeated France, Germany wanted to invade Britain, but in order to do this, Germany had to destroy Britain’s RAF (Royal Air Force). They attempted to do this with bombing raids.
Here are some facts about the Battle of Britain:
- The name ‘Battle of Britain’ is taken from a Winston Churchill speech in which he said that “…the Battle of France is over. The Battle of Britain is about to begin.”
- The first German bombing raids took place on 10th July 1940. At first the Luftwaffe (the German Air Force) bombed ships in the English Channel and coastal defences. They then concentrated on destroying the RAF, before turning their attention to the destruction of London (click here to find out more about The Blitz).
- A key event in the Battle of Britain (known as Battle of Britain Day) took place on 15th September 1940. On this day, Germany launched a massive assault on London and filled the skies with a large number of bombers and fighter planes. The RAF responded, and British planes successfully scattered the bombers and defended London. Germany continued to bomb Britian after 15th September, but the RAF had clearly demonstrated that it wasn’t close to being defeated.
- The code name for the German invasion of Britain was Operation Sea Lion.
- The main RAF fighter planes were the Hawker Hurricane and the Supermarine Spitfire. The German Luftwaffe fighters were the Messerschmitt Bf110 and Messerschmitt Bf109. The Luftwaffe had more planes than the RAF and their pilots were more experienced. The RAF planes were high performance and they had the advantage of radar, used to detect enemy raids.
- Herman Goering was in command of the Luftwaffe. Sir Hugh Dowding was head of the RAF.
- Although exact figures are hard to come by, it is thought that about 1000 RAF planes were shot down in the Battle of Britain. The Luftwaffe lost many more planes than this, perhaps as many as 1800.