Sunday, July 10, 2016

WW2 | July 10–Battle of Britain Begins

RAF pilots scrambling. My uncle Willem was an
RAF pilot. He was shot down over Laval, France
 on June 10, 1944 and is buried there.
This day in 1940, the Germans began bombing Britain, the beginning of the "Battle of Britain" that lasted three and a half months–a significant turning point of World War II, as at the end of the bombing, Germany’s Luftwaffe failed to gain air superiority over the Royal Air Force.

As Prime Minister Winston Churchill said: "Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few."

Britain’s decisive victory saved the country from a ground invasion and possible occupation by German forces and showed that air power alone could be used to win a major battle.

On the first day, 120 German bombers and fighters struck a British shipping convoy in the Channel, while 70 more attacked dockyards in South Wales. Britain had only 600 fighters while the Germans had 1,300. But:
  • Britain had an an effective radar system.
  • Spitfires could make tighter turns Germany’s ME109s, enabling it to elude pursuers and come up behind them. 
  • The British Hurricanes could carry 40mm cannon. These planes shot down, with American Browning machine guns, more than 1,500 Luftwaffe planes. 
  • The German single-engine fighters had limited flight radius and their bombers lacked bomb-load capacity to cause permanent damage. 
  • Britain had the advantage of a unified command, while German infighting was weakened by poor timing and intelligence. 
  • The British people were undaunted. When the government asked for all available aluminum to the brought to he Ministry of Aircraft Production to turn into airplanes, the public responded.

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