The Build up to the Battle of Britain
- The Fall of France and Churchill's refusal to accept any of Hitler's peace offerings (the guarantee of the British empire for Brtain's acceptance of the current European domination)
- As a result, Hitler ordered the preparation of the Operation Sea Lion in July 1940 and brought forward plans for a fleet of barrages to transport 260,000 German troops to the English South Coast between Brighton to Folkstone. However, the German navy was not expecting this so was unprepared. Therefore it fell onto the Luftwaffe to clear the Royal Navy from the English Channel and destroy the RAF so that the Operation Sea Lion could go on without a hitch.
- Despite the reputation from Guernica and Warsaw, the Luftwaffe was 'ground-support arm'
- However, the Luftwaffe officials were concerned with the massive tasks in which the Luftwaffe had to maintain. The Luftwaffe had to defend the coast, prevent air attacks and engage naval vessels. However Goering assured Hitler that he would have Britain 'down on its knees in the near future'.
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What was the German situation before the Battle of
- The Luftwaffe had it bases on the Belgium coast, northern France and Normandy. However these airfields didn't have the maintenance infrastructure to keep the planes airworthy.
- The Luftwaffe was able to fly between 50-100 miles before engaging the enemy. The Me-109 had an operational range of 125 miles.
- Germans had a larger force of pilots of 10,000 while Britain had 1450 adding 50 each week.
- Luftwaffe had 4550 planes to RAF 3,000.
- Germany didn't have a clear strategy, more improvisation.
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What was the British situation before the Battle o
- Britain was operating from home bases and defending its own territories which meant that when pilots had to bail out of their planes it was on friendly soil, but when Germans did it they became prisoners of war.
- Had an integrated control and warning system under the careful watch of Air Field Marshal Dowdings in Uxbridge.
- Had 50 radar stations between the Orkenys Island and Land End.
- In the summer of 1940, British produced 500 Spitfires and Hurricanes a month whilst Germans was producing 140 Me109 and 90 Me110.
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The Main Events of the Battle of Britain
- Battle of Britain occured between the 10th July and 30th October.
- There were bomber raids on Plymouth, Weymouth and other south coast towns, but the Royal Navy remained untouched. In this period of July 180 planes were shot down for 70 British fighters.
- In August, Goering change his tactic to 'overpowering the English air force'
- Operation Eagle and Eagle Day.Luftwaffe attack Chain home radars in Battle e.g. 12th August, the radar station at Ventnor on Isle of Wight was put out of action and the battle begins to swing in Goering favour as they begin to destory RAF air fields. However 15th August still a loss of 75 German planes compared to 34 British.
- By the 24th August the RAF began to fill the pressure as North Weald is badly destroyed, Manston ground staff are demoralised and took to air raid shelter and refused to emerge.
- 30th August-4th Sept- serious damage is inflicted on aircraft factories. Biggin Hills is attacked 6 times in 3 days.
- 24th August-6th Sept- RAF lost 290 aircraft to Luftwaffe 380-only half were fighters.
- 7th Sept-victory not fast enough for Hitler- so change in tactic due to drawing out reserves used for London or bring Churchill to conference table.
- 7th Sept-bombing raids against London leads to 'operation cromwell' in the South East. Churchbells rang for invasion.
- 15th September-200 bombers at London. Reserves from Midlands used to defend and 250 Spitfires and Hurricanes shot down 60 bombers.
- 17th September- Hitler abandons operation Sea Lion. Daylight air raids continues until October where it is switched to night time raids and the Blitz begins.
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What were the failures of the Luftwaffe
The RAF was on the verge of collapsing
- 6th Spet RAF lost 161 planes to the Germans 190.
- RAF Pilots from 24th September-6th September- 103 killed and 129 injured.
- Many British fighters were bombed on the ground and the aircraft factories couldn't keep up with the losses of planes.
- Six out of the seven of the airfields in South-East damaged.
However, Goering changed tactics to bombing London in an attempt to destory civilian morale and industrial production as revenge for Berlin. However, it resulted in....
- Germans bomber suffering from day-raids and eventually had to switch to nights.
- Morale of the civilans increased and were able to cope with the disruption.
- German failed to gain air superiority and on the 17th September, Hitler called off Operation Sea Lion.
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Why did Britain win the Battle of Britain?
- The chain of 51 radar gave the RAF the early warnings and the Germans failed to realise the importance of these systems in the battle.
- German bombers were poorly armed and the German Messerchmit had a limited tange, only had enough fuel for a 90 minute raid.
- The switch to London relieved pressure off of the British air fields and fighters so the aircraft production were able to keep up. At the start of the war, it was producing 250 a month, byt May 1940, it was 325 and in July, 496 and even during the Blitz, it was producing 467 a month.
- Also the skill and the spirits of the fighters and the strategy of the Air Field Marshal Dowdings and Park.
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What were the consequences of the Battle of Britai
- Legacy of defeat of Britain is long delayed
- Lead to the downfall of Hitler's Germany as it showed that Germany wasn't invincible and was the first major turning point of the war.
- It increased Britains prestige and allowed them to carry on the War.
- Drew in support from the US due to their perseverence and Britain became the stepping stone back into Europe.
- The Czechs and the Poles only made up 5% of the RAF, but accouted towards to 15% of the German losses.
- Hitler forced to fight a war on two fronts. With the defeat of Britain, Hitler would have been able to divert all his attention on invading Russia.
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How serious was Hitler about Operation Sea Lion
- used more as a psychological weapon yo break the British morale and make them more acceptable towards terms of peace.
- Peace with Britians would allow him to inavade Russia and not have to fight a war on two fronts.
- Britains defiance was more like an inconveince and wanted peace with his fellow Aryans.
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