“Since the Luftwaffe didn’t consider that a distinct ‘Battle of Britain’ took place, the battle had no effect on the overall course of the war – other than to give the Americans an unsinkable aircraft carrier.” – “If Britain had given up the struggle in…1940, at least half of the German [army] divisions in the west, plus the crack Afrika Korps, (10 per cent of German Panzer strength), plus nearly all of the aircraft based in western Europe and the Mediterranean would have been used against Russia [in the summer of 1941]. To these should be added the German airborne forces which would not have been decimated in Crete in May 1941. The result would have been a crushing German victory in 1941 or 1942 and a Nazi dominated Europe…” – Christopher Dorne, BBC History Magazine, July 2000.
“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.
“RAF Battle of Britain fighter pilots were mostly upper-class former public schoolboys.” – In fact, of the 2900 fighter pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain, (“The Few”), only 200 went to public (i.e. private) school. The bulk came from humble or grammar school backgrounds and 20 per cent were of foreign nationality – including Czechs, Poles, Americans and Canadians.
[The origins of this myth go back to the early days of the RAF. In the 1920s and 1930s it was widely believed that only public schoolboys provided the right material for military officers and the RAF recruited accordingly. When the Auxiliary Air Force was established in 1924 for reservist pilots, the only people who could afford to join where wealthy young men who didn’t need to spend six days every week at work. Thus the Aux AF became a social club for a certain class of people. With the rapid expansion of the RAF in the 1930s, the formation of the Volunteer Reserve introduced a new social class of pilots – the non-commissioned officer, (NCO). The VR strongly attracted young working men who wanted to learn how to fly – for free. With the coming of war, the initial strength of the RAF was built around a core of experienced regular officers, supplemented by the members of the Auxiliary Air Force and large numbers of Volunteer Reserve ‘Seargent Pilots’. The popular British wartime propaganda film ‘The First of the Few’, about the origins of the Spitfire and its role in the Battle of Britain, made with the help of Auxiliary and Regular Air Force pilots, was one of the first vehicles for the public schoolboy heroes myth.]