The Battle of Britain was the aerial conflict between British and German air forces in the skies over the United Kingdom in the summer and autumn of 1940. It was one of the most important moments in Britain's twentieth century history and a decisive turning point of the Second World War. Royal Air Force Fighter Command defeated the Luftwaffe's attempt to gain air control over southern England and saved Britain from German invasion and conquest.
The key to success for the Luftwaffe was the destruction of the RAF's fighter force. Conversely, for Fighter Command it was to hamper bombing and inflict losses, preferably before the target was reached. The campaign itself was marked by several distinct phases. As the battle developed, the Luftwaffe attacked targets moving further and further inland from coastal shipping to forward fighter airfields and radar stations, 11 Group sector airfields and finally London.
The crucial period of the battle was between 24 August and 15 September.
Fighter Command came closest to losing when its vital sector airfields around London were attacked. The decisive turning point came on 7 September when the Luftwaffe switched its attention to the capital. This tactical blunder allowed Fighter Command to recover its strength rapidly to inflict, on 15 September, losses significant enough to show the Germans the battle could not be won.
British Fighter Aircraft
The most potent element of the air defences during the Battle of Britain was provided by the excellent fighter aircraft which were the backbone of Fighter Command, the Hurricane and the Spitfire.
In 1940, the German Air Force or Luftwaffe was the largest and most formidable air force in Europe. The organisation of the Luftwaffe was very different from the Royal Air Force. Whereas the latter had branches based on function, such as Fighter...