Battle Of Britain Battle of Britain Dunkirk-May 1940 In May of 1940 German forces invaded France. By the end of May Allied troops were cornered, on the coast, in the town of Dunkirk. They had been overpowered by the German blitzkrieg(Battle of Britain).
Though German bombers had destroyed over 200 of the rescue armadas ships, the British still were able to evacuate 224,000 of their troops along with 123,00 French(Mosley 20). Though they had been forced to abandon most of their equipment and supplies on the beach, the British avoided the trap set by the Germans. This event was the precursor to the Battle of Britain. At this point, Germany felt that Allied forces were weak and if they were to invade Great Britain, the time was then.Prefight Odds After Dunkirk the Royal Air Force had low morale and its numbers were severely depleted. In the attempt to protect the rescue armada from the Luftwaffe the RAF(Royal Air Force) lost 106 fighters and 75 pilots, which was one fourth of their air power. By July 1940 the stage was set for the Battle of Britain, which was to be the first major battle to be fought entirely in the air.
In the months after Dunkirk several factors had come into play that would both hurt and help the Allies and the Germans. The Luftwaffe was estimated to have 4,500 first-line aircraft and the RAF 2,900(Mosley 52).And now that the English Channel was the only thing separating the Allies from the Germans, Britain needed to catch up.
The British needed to replenish their supplies and they needed to drastically increase the number of planes being produced as soon as possible. Two things helped bring the British more planes for the Battle of Britain. The first was Churchill not allowing any more planes to be flown to France as aide, after all, France had already been defeated and occupied by German forces. The second action was the increased factory production of planes.In the months that followed the evacuation at Dunkirk, British workers built 446 new fighters for the RAF, which was 100 more than the Germans were producing.
In order to build this many new planes the factories were working seven days a week and by Lord Beavbrooks work without stopping policy. In an attempt to help the effort, women all over Britain put their household items containing aluminum out for collection, so that the necessary materials for fighter production was available(Mosley 52). Another plus for Britain was their bombers. The bombers would be used to attack targets in Germanys industrial heartland and also in German-controlled Channel ports, where German ships were assembling for Operation Sea Lion ,the projected seaborne invasion of Britain.They also had good RAF fighters, which would be needed to protect the British Isles during the battle(Mosley 54).
One other significant home advantage for Britain was that they were able to recover any pilots who had bailed out of their planes relatively quickly because they had the Royal Navy ready and if they landed in GB they wouldnt have to worry about being put in a POW camp. There were three other defensive advantages the British had: Command headquarters(defensive air operations), radar, and a German code breaking machine. Britain located their base of operations at Bently Priory, an 18th century mansion. It was their top-secret hub of air operations, with a plotting room(worked by the Womens Auxiliary Air Force), where Chief Marshal Dowding and his air-controllers would watch the great chart and plan the battle depositions to be made to the RAF(Mosley 56).
Radar(RAdio Detection And Ranging) was an important aspect of Britains ground defenses. Britain used it to detect distant objects, their location, and their speed, by analyzing the ultra-high-frequency radio waves reflected from their surfaces.Dowding created a communications network with radar reports, which would get fed back to Bently Priorys central plotting room, where Dowding and his staff would be able to deploy fighters where and when they were needed. Radar was the first form of a modern air defense network system(Battle of Britain and Mosley 54). The code breaking machine was also a valuable resource and also a very top-secret one too. The machine was kept so secret that even Dowdings subordinate commanders didnt know about it. The machine enabled the British to intercept and break complex German codes, allowing them to estimate the Luftwaffes intended targets and the numbers of aircraft to be employed even before the planes left the ground(Mosley 56). On the other hand, it looked as if all the odds were against Britain and for Germany after Dunkirk, but Germany made a series of miscalculations that ended up costing them dearly.
One of the first mistakes made by Germany was their unchanged pace of plane production after Dunkirk.Hitler believed that if they increased airplane production it would alarm the population of Germany and also that the raw materials used to build the planes should be directed towards the production of guns. Also if the Luftwaffe wanted to bomb London or any other large industrial city they would need more long-range heavy bombers but because of the stalled production they werent built.
The only bombers Germany had available at the beginning of the battle were Dornier-17 and the Heinkel-111. Both planes had short ranges and were vulnerable to fighters coming in at them from certain angles. Part of Germanys strategy going into the Battle of Britain was that the ground troops would be the most important aspect once they landed and that their fighters and bombers would be mainly used as offensive support(Mosley 47). That was one of their first miscalculations. One of Germanys worst failures in the skies was with their Junkers-87 dive bomber.
It was a highly effective bomber but it was very vulnerable to RAF fighters. The other highly effective German fighter plane was the Me-109(Messerschmitt-109) but there was also a flaw to it. The Me-109 had a terrible range and was barely adequate for the operations required of it. It could only fly for 80 minutes, therefore, with the amount of time it took to fly back and forth it only had a maximum of twenty combat minutes available causing many planes to run out of fuel and crash before they could get back to France and land(Mosley 49). Another miscalculation of the German strategy was the importance and use of radar in air operations.They put most radar use in the hands of their navy because they thought it would be more useful in ocean reconnaissance(Mosley 54). If Germany had put more time into developing the Luftwaffe for the Battle of Britain and utilized all possible air resources their miscalculation might not have turned out so costly.
Operation Sea Lion Operation Sea Lion(Seelove) was Hitlers plan to invade the British Isles by the combined forces of the Reich(Mosley 56)(see figure). Phase One of the operation was the neutralization of the English Channel. Luftwaffe strategists believed the closing of the 21-mile wide Straights of Dover would be the easiest part, blocking passage to the Port of London.The second part of Phase One was the complete obliteration of the RAF.
This would be done by destroying all RAF air fields, defenses and aircraft factories in a huge combined bomber and fighter blitz(Mosley 56). Phase Two of operation Sea Lion would be the actual on land invasion of the British Isles. The initiation of Phase One was the beginning of the Battle of Britain. Battle of Britain July 10, 1940.
Hellfire Corner(a stretch of water near Dover). The first confrontation of the Battle of Britain. There were few loses for both sides but both sides also left with a sense of self-satisfaction, more confident i …