How the Luftwaffe Lost the Battle of Britain

August 16, 2008 at 1:32 am

British courage and capability might not have been enough to win; German mistakes were also key.

On July 1940, the situation looked dire for Great Britain. It had taken Germany less than two months to invade and conquer most of Western Europe. The fast-moving German Army, supported by panzers and Stuka dive bombers, overwhelmed the Netherlands and Belgium in a matter of days. France, which had 114 divisions and outnumbered Germany in tanks and artillery, held out a little longer but surrendered on June 22. Britain was fortunate to have extracted its retreating expeditionary forces from the beaches at Dunkirk.

Britain itself was next. The first objective for the Germans was to establish air superiority as a precondition for invasion. The Luftwaffe estimated haughtily that it would be able to defeat the Royal Air Force’s Fighter Command in southern England in four days and destroy the rest of the RAF in four weeks.(…)

Joseph P. Kennedy, US ambassador to Britain, informed the State Department July 31 that the German Luftwaffe had the power to put the RAF “out of commission.” In a press statement, Sen. Key Pittman (D-Nev.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, declared, “It is no secret that Great Britain is totally unprepared for defense and that nothing the United States has to give can do more than delay the result.” Gen. Maxime Weygand, commander in chief of French military forces until France’s surrender, predicted, “In three weeks, England will have her neck wrung like a chicken.”

So how did the Royal Air Force manage to defeat the Luftwaffe and win the Battle of Britain? Read John T. Correll’s entire article at Air Force Magazine

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Entry filed under: Aviation History, European Military History, Modern Military History. Tags: , , , , , , .

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