Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain

“The Battle of Britain was virtually unwinable for the Luftwaffe.” – Recently is has become fashionable for revisionist historians to say that the RAF couldn’t have lost the Battle of Britain, or that the Luftwaffe had almost no chance of winning. They argue that, overall, the Luftwaffe had fewer fighters than the RAF in the Battle, and therefore the RAF wasn’t really outnumbered. Since Operation ‘Sealion’ (the German invasion of Britain) depended on the defeat of the RAF to succeed, they argue that the invasion threat was never serious. In fact, as RAF pilots were only too aware, the Luftwaffe could easily achieve local air superiority over their targets in southern England, and the RAF shortage was in pilots not aircraft. Had the Luftwaffe used better offensive tactics – as demanded by the aircrews themselves – such as allowing the escort fighters to roam more freely from the bombers, then German losses could have been lower and attacks more effective. Knocking out British RDF (radar) stations and systematically destroying RAF fighter bases would have severely limited RAF Fighter Command’s ability to effectively defend Southern and Eastern England. If the sudden change in Luftwaffe tactics to area bombing of cities hadn’t been made, (in reprisal for small scale RAF raids on Berlin), the RAF would have been forced to progressively retreat north and west, with an increasingly serious pilot shortage. In this case, peace talks with Germany would be highly likely, and Churchill wouldn’t have remained Prime Minister for very long.

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One thought on “Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain

  1. Your comments ignore the fact that most survivable losses of aircraft were over England, ensuring the RAF kept their downed pilots while the Luftwaffe lost theirs. This also applies to crash-landed aircraft as it has been recently observed by the curator of the RAF Museum that the RAF had an extensive repair network able to rebuild their fighters and return them to service. The Germans had neglected to create a similar network of Maintenance Units so even when their planes were recoverable on the continent their repair rates were very low. He posits that this had a profound and previously overlooked effect on the outcome of the Battle of Britain.

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