Battle of Britain

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Battle of Britain
Part of the Second World War
Battle of britain air observer.jpg
An Observer Corps spotter scans the skies of London.
Date 10 July – 31 October 1940
Location United Kingdom airspace
Result Decisive British victory
 United Kingdom
National Socialist Germany Germany
Italy Italy
Commanders and leaders
United Kingdom Hugh Dowding
United Kingdom Keith Park
United Kingdom Trafford Leigh-Mallory
United Kingdom CJ Quintin Brand
United Kingdom Richard Saul
National Socialist Germany Hermann Göring
National Socialist Germany Albert Kesselring
National Socialist Germany Hugo Sperrle
National Socialist Germany Hans-Jürgen Stumpff
Italy Rino Corso Fougier[1]
1,963 serviceable aircraft 2,250 serviceable aircraft
Casualties and losses
544 aircrew killed

1,547 aircraft destroyed

2,698 aircrew killed[2]
967 captured
638 missing bodies identified by British Authorities[3]
1,887 aircraft destroyed

The Battle of Britain (German: Luftschlacht um England) is the name given to the sustained strategic effort by the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) during the summer and autumn of 1940 to gain air superiority over the Royal Air Force (RAF), especially Fighter Command. The name derives from a speech made on June 18, 1940 in the House of Commons by Prime Minister Winston Churchill. He said: "The Battle of France is over. I expect the Battle of Britain is about to begin..."[4]

The Battle of Britain was the first major campaign to be fought entirely by air forces. It was the largest and most sustained bombing campaign attempted up until that date. The failure of Germany to reach its objectives - to destroy Britain's air defence or to force Britain out of the war by forcing an armistice or surrender - is considered both its first major defeat and a crucial turning point in the war.[5] Had it been successful, the planned amphibious and airborne forces landings in Britain of Operation Sealion may have followed. As the Battle progressed, operations were extended to the strategic level: systematic destruction of aircraft production centres and ground infrastructure. Eventually the Luftwaffe and the RAF resorted to attacking areas of political significance and terror bombing tactics.[6]

British historians date the battle from July 10 to October 31, 1940, which represented the most intense period of daylight bombing. German historians usually place the beginning of the battle in mid-August 1940 and end it in May 1941, on the withdrawal of the bomber units in preparation for Operation Barbarossa, the Campaign against the USSR on June 22, 1941.

Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.


  1. Haining 2005, p. 68.
  2. Bungay 2000, p. 373.
  3. Overy 2001, p. 113.
  4. Battle of Britain 1940
  5. Bungay 2000, p. 388.
  6. Bungay 2000, p. 305-306: The strategic bombing commenced after the Germans bombed London in error, followed by the RAF bombing Berlin, causing Hitler to withdraw his directive and order the attacks on British cities.
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