BATTLE OF BRITAIN

July 11th : attack on a convoy intercepted by Hurricanes. Sptifires intercepted Bf 109's. Hurricanes attacked 12 Heinkel 111's over Isle of Wight. Portsmouth and north-west bombed.

July 12th : Convoys attacked off southern England. Bristol and South Wales bombed.

July 13th : Two convoys attacked off Harwich. Two raids on Dover driven off by RAF fighters.

July 14th : Cconvoy near Dover was damaged. Bombers over south, west and east England.

July 15th : Westland Aircraft factory at Yeovil bombed.

July 16th : Convoys attacked off south-east coast of England and north-east coast of Scotland. Westland attacked again.

July 17th : Attacks on shipping off east coast. Mines were dropped off the Welsh coast and in the Thames.

July 18th : Goodwin Lightship sunk. Coastguard station at St. Margaret's Bay bombed. Minor attacks on convoys. Bf 109's intercepted 15 Spitfires.

July 19th : 9 Defiants of N°141 Squadron attacked. 6 Defiants were shot down. Bomber raid on Dover intercepted by Spitfires and Hurricanes. Raids on Harwich, Plymouth and Thames Estuary.

July 20th : Ju 87's escorted by Bf 109's intercepted by Spitfires. Ginger Lacey, highest scoring RAF ace of the Battle, makes his first Battle of Britain kill. East coast mined.

July 21st : Convoys in Channel attacked.

July 22nd : Attacks on Channel shipping. East coast from Kent to north-east Scotland mined.

July 23rd : East coast shipping attacked.

July 24th : Convoy in Thames Estuary and near Dover attacked.

July 25th : Five ships sunk and five damaged. Five Spitfires and a squadron of Hurricanes intercepted the raid. Four German fighters shot down. Mines laid in Thames and Firth of Forth.

July 26th : Shipping off Isle of Wight attacked. Mines laid in the Severn and Thames.

July 27th : Dover harbour attacked twice. Belfast, Wick and Plymouth bombed. South-west England attacked.

July 28th : An attack on Dover driven off by two Hurricane and two Spitfire squadrons. South coast ports bombed. Attacks on Wales, Scotland, Midlands and north of England.

July 29th : An attack on a convoy by 30 Ju 87's and 50 Bf 109's was driven off. A Harwich attack was intercepted. Night: Light raids.

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July 30th : Convoys off Suffolk and Essex attacked. Midlands and South Wales bombed.

July 31st : Dover balloon barrage and south coast convoys attacked. Thames Estuary and South Wales bombed.

August 1st : Norwich bombed. Two raids were intercepted off south coast. Mines laid off north-east coast of Scotland.

August 2nd : Channel and east coast convoys attacked. Forth Bridge attacked. Airfields from Catterick in Yorkshire to Romford in Essex bombed.

August 3rd : Bradford, South Wales, Crewe, Liverpool, Firth of Forth and Orkneys bombed.

August 4th : Reconnaissance of Bristol Channel and south coast by the Germans. Night: No raids

August 5th : East coast mined.

August 6th : Reconnaissance of the Channel by Germans. East and south-east coasts mined.

August 7th : Convoy attacked off east coast. Areas of Scotland and England bombed.

August 8th : Ju 87's and Bf 109's intercepted by six squadrons of Hurricanes and Spitfires. Another raid of 60 Ju 87's met by four RAF squadrons. Third attack by 80 Ju 87's and Bf 109's Seven RAF squadrons intercepted.

August 9th : Shipyards at Sunderland bombed. East coast convoys attacked.

August 10th : Norwich bombed.

August 11th : No. 74 Squadron intercepted raid on Dover barrage balloon by Bf 110's and Bf 109's. Portland naval base attacked. Raids on Merseyside. Mines laid in Bristol Channel.

August 12th : Radar stations attacked. Airfields at Manston, Hawkinge, Lympne attacked. Portsmouth, Dover and Hastings bombed. Minelaying.

August 13th : 23 Bf 110's tried to decoy RAF fighters away from a Ju 87 raid. Five Bf 110's shot down. Oldham, Farnborough and Detling airfields attacked. Southampton docks damaged. Midlands, West Country and Scotland bombed.

August 14th : Airfields, radar stations, aircraft factories attacked. Dover and Folkestone balloon barrages attacked. Hawkinge, Sealand, and Lympne airfields attacked. Railway lines bombed at Southampton.

August 15th : Bristol, Birmingham, Southampton, Boston, Harwich, Swansea Crewe and Beverley bombed. The Luftwaffe's 'Black Thursday'. 60 Ju 87's and 40 Bf 109's attacked Lympne, Hawkinge and Manston. 63 He 111's and 21 Bf 110's of Luftflotte V tried to attack airfields in north of England. Intercepted by 72, 14, 65, 79 and 607 squadrons. 8 He 111's and 7 Bf 110's were downed. Second raid was met by 616 squadron and a flight of 73 squadron and six bombers were destroyed. Luftflotte V never attacked in daylight again. RAF flew total of 974 sorties. RAF losses were 30. German losses were 75.

August 16th : West Malling, Tangmere, Westhampnet, and Manston fighter airfields attacked. Aircrafts were destroyed on the ground. London docks heavily bombed. Bristol, Chester, Portland, Newport, Swansea, Worcester and Tavistock were bombed.

August 17th : Small raids on Wales, Midlands and NW England.

August 18th : West Malling, Biggin Hill, Kenley and Croydon attacked. Poling radar station attacked.

August 19th : German reconnaissance flights. Raids on Dover, Portsmouth, Southampton and Pembroke Dock. Raids on Sheffield, Wolverhampton, Nottingham, Hull, Leicester, Derby, Bristol and Southampton.

August 20th : Attack on Dover balloon barrage. Manston, West Mailing and Eastchurch airfields attacked. Convoys off Welsh and East Anglian coasts attacked.

August 21st : 50 barrage ballons shot down at Dover. Debden, Eastchurch and Detling airfields attacked. Grimbsy, Canterbury, Norwich, Bournemouth, Southampton, Newmarket, Firth of Forth, Hull and Harwich Bombed.

August 23rd : Tangmere, Biggin Hill and Abingdon airfields attacked. Portsmouth, Maidstone, St. Albans and Cromer bombed. Convoys off Norfolk and Essex coasts attacked.

August 24th : Manston airfield bombed. Hornchurch, North Weald, Ramsgate, Portsmouth and Dover attacked. London bombed.

August 25th : Warmell airfield damaged. West of England, the Scilly Isles and Pembroke Dock bombed. South Midlands, south Wales, south England and Montrose airfield in Scotland attacked.

August 26th : Portsmouth, Biggin Hill, Kenley, Debden and Warmell, Bournemouth, Coventry, St. Eval and Plymouth were bombed.

August 27th : Luftwaffe reconnaissance flights.

August 28th : Rochford, Eastchurch, Derby, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Coventry, Sheffield and London attacked.

August 29th : 130 bombers attack Liverpool.

August 30th : Diversionary attacks on shipping in Thames Estuary. Raids on Kenley, Biggin Hill and Shoreham airfields. Biggin Hill and North Weald airfields were attacked. London, Liverpool and south Wales bombed.

August 31st : Radar stations at Rye, Pevensey, Beachy Head, Foreness and Whitstable were damaged. Dover balloon barrage destroyed. North Weald, Hornchurch, Biggin Hill, Croydon and Detling airfields attacked. Liverpool, Bristol, Manchester, Portsmouth, Durham, Gloucester and Worcester bombed.

September 1st : Eastchurch, Detling, Biggin Hill, Lympne and Hawkinge attacked. Docks at Tilbury and Dover bombed. Sheffield, Liverpool, Hull, Grimsby and Burton attacked.

September 2nd : Airfields at Biggin Hill, Rochford, North Weald, Debden, Eastchurch, Hornchurch, Kenly, Digby and Detling attacked. Liverpool and Birmingham bombed. Mines laid off Welsh coast

September 3rd : Airfields at North Weald, Hornchurch and Debden attacked. Liverpool, south wales and south-east England bombed.

September 4th : Dover ballon barrage attacked. Lympe and Eastchurch airfields attacked. Brooklands and Rochester aircraft factories attacked. Liverpool, Bristol, Newcastle, Manchester, south Wales, Gravesend, Tilbury and Nottingham bombed.

September 5th : Croydon, Lympne, North Weald, Biggin Hill and Eastchurch airfields attacked. Liverpool, London, Manchester bombed.

September 6th : Biggin Hill airfield bombed. Brooklands aircraft factory bombed.

September 7th : London heavily bombed. Many were killed.

September 8th : Hornchurch, Detling and West Malling airfields attacked. London attacked by 207 bombers. 412 killed, 747 injured.

September 9th : Purley, Norbiton, Surbiton, Canterbury and Kingston were bombed. West Malling and Tangmere airfields attacked. London bombed.

September 10th : London, Liverpool and south Wales bombed.

September 11th : London, Hornchurch, Kenley, Biggin Hill, Brooklands, Eastchurch, Detling and Colerne, Merseyside bombed.

September 12th : Fairlight radar station bombed. London, Midlands, north-east and south-east England bombed.

September 13th : London bombed.

September 14th : London, Ipswich, Cardiff and Maidstone bombed.

September 15th : London heavily attacked. This day was chosen as "Battle of Britain Day". 27 losses for RAF. 56 losses for Luftwaffe.

September 16th : London, Merseyside and Bristol bombed.

September 17th : London, Liverpool and Glasgow attacked.

September 18th : Thames Estuary bombed . London and Liverpool attacked.

September 19th : London and Merseyside attacked.

September 20th : London bombed.

September 21st : Kenley, Biggin Hill and Hornchurch airfields attacked. London bombed. Brooklands aircraft factory was bombed.

September 22nd : A few German intrusions into British airspace. Night: London was bombed.

September 24th : Southampton and Tilbury attacked. London bombed.

September 25th : Bristol aircraft factory bombed. London, north-west England and north Wales bombed.

September 26th : Aircraft factory at Southampton destroyed. London and Merseyside attacked.

September 27th : London, Liverpool and Midlands attacked.

September 28th : London attacked.

September 29th : South-East England bombed.

September 30th : London, Bristol and Liverpool bombed.

October 1st : Germans switched tactics. Bombers kept for night work. Daytime sweeps by groups of 100 plus fighters armed with 250kg bomb. London, Portsmouth, Southampton, Manchester and Liverpool bombed.

October 2nd : 100 bombers attack London.

October 3rd : De Havilland aircraft factory at Hatfield attacked. London bombed.

October 4th : London, Canterbury, Liverpool attacked.

October 5th : Folkstone, Southampton, London attacked.

October 6th : London, and SE England attacked. Biggin Hill airfield attacked.

October 7th : Aircraft factory at Yeovil bombed. London, Merseyside, Firth of Forth, Hatfield, Ford, Tangmere and Lee-on-Solent and Eastleigh airfields attacked.

October 8th : London bombed.

October 9th : London heavily bombed.

October 10th : London, Merseyside, Manchester attacked.

October 11th : Southend, Kenley and Biggin Hill airfields attacked. Folkestone, Weymouth, Canterbury, London, Teeside, Tyneside, Merseyside and Manchester bombed.

October 12th : London was bombed.

October 13th : London, Dundee, Bristol, Merseyside, bombed.

October 14th : London bombed.

October 15th : London and Birmingham bombed.

October 16th : Light attacks on London.

October 17th : Margate and Broadstairs bombed. London bombed.

October 19th : London, Merseyside and Bristol attacked. Attacks getting lighter.

October 20th : London, Kent, Coventry attacked.

October 21st : London, Wolverhampton, Coventry, Liverpool and Birmingham bombed.

October 22nd : More light attacks on Birmingham and London.

October 23rd : London, Harwich, Southampton, Cromer, Glasgow bombed.

October 24th : Light attacks again on Birmingham and London.

October 26th : Merseyside, Manchester and London bombed.

October 27th : London, Bristol and Liverpool bombed.

October 28th : Convoys in Thames attacked. London, Merseyside and Midlands attacked.

October 29th : Last major German effort. London and central England were heavily bombed.

October 30th : Bad weather hampered both defenders and attackers.

October 31st : light attack.

Battle of Britain is the name given to the sustained strategic effort by the Luftwaffe during the Summer and Autumn of 1940 to gain air superiority over the RAF's Fighter Command. The name derives from an 18 June 1940 speech in the House of Commons by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, "The Battle of France is over. I expect the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Had it been successful, the planned amphibious and airborne landings in Britain of Operation Sealion would have followed. The Battle of Britain was the first major campaign to be fought entirely by air forces. It was the largest and most sustained bombing campaign attempted up until that date. The failure of Nazi Germany to destroy Britain's air defence or to break British morale is considered their first major defeat. Neither Hitler nor the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) believed it possible to carry out a successful amphibious assault on the British Isles until the RAF had been neutralised. Secondary objectives were to destroy aircraft production and ground infrastructure, to attack areas of political significance, and to terrorise the British people into seeking an armistice or surrender. British historians date the battle from 10 July to 31 October 1940, which represented the most intense period of daylight bombing. German historians usually place the beginning of the battle in mid-August 1940 and end it in May 1941, on the withdrawal of the bomber units in preparation for the attack on the USSR.

Luftwaffe attacks on Britain began with raids on naval targets, with bombers being shot down over the Firth of Forth on 16 October 1939 and over Scapa Flow on the following day, but there were no major attacks during this period, a lull in fighting that Hitler ended on 10 May 1940 with his invasion of the Low Countries. Following the evacuation of the British from Dunkirk (Operation DYNAMO), and the French surrender on 22 June 1940, Hitler believed the war was practically over and the British, defeated on the continent and without European allies, would quickly come to terms with Germany. Although there was an element of British public and political sentiment favouring negotiated peace with a clearly ascendant Germany, among them the Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax, the recently-installed Churchill nonetheless refused to consider an armistice with Hitler's Germany. Churchill's skilful use of rhetoric hardened public opinion against a resolution and prepared the British for a long war. On 16 July Hitler ordered the rapid preparation of a plan to invade Britain. Hitler hoped to frighten Britain into peace using the preparations as a means to apply pressure. Prior to this, on 11 July, Admiral Raeder had told Hitler invasion could only be contemplated as a last resort, and only then with full air superiority. The Kriegsmarine had been nearly crippled during the Norwegian Campaign, with many of its ships having been sunk or damaged, while the Royal Navy had over 50 destroyers, 21 cruisers and eight battleships in the British Home Fleet. There was little the weakened Kriegsmarine could do to stop the RN intervening against the invasion. The only alternative was to use the Luftwaffe's dive bombers, which required air superiority in order to operate effectively. Although Hitler agreed with Raeder he nevertheless ordered all services to make preparations for an amphibious assault once air superiority had been achieved. The plan was prepared by OKW. The operation, code-named Seelöwe ("Sealion"), was scheduled for mid-September 1940 and called for landings on the south coast of Great Britain, backed by an airborne assault. All preparations were to be made by mid August.

The Luftwaffe was facing a more capable opponent than it had met before: a sizeable, highly-coordinated, well-supplied air force, fielding aircraft able to match the German Messerschmitt Bf 109E and Bf 110C. The majority of the RAF's fighting would rest upon the workhorse Hurricane Mk I. The performance of the Spitfire Mk I, over Dunkirk came as a surprise to the Jagdwaffe, although there was a strong belief that in the 109 they had a superior fighter. The Bf 109E was superior to the Hurricane; it had a better climb rate and was faster by up to 30 to 40 mph. The Hurricane could, however, turn more tightly than both the 109 and the Spitfire. The Bf 109E and the Spitfire, in certain key areas, had advantage over each other. At some altitudes the 109 could out-climb the British fighter. The Spitfire was slightly faster at medium heights, was more manoeuvrable, and possessed a stronger airframe as well as having heavier armour and twice the fire-power of the Bf 109E-1. However, the fuel injected Daimler-Benz DB 601 engine advantaged the 109 over the carburettor equipped Merlin engine; neither RAF fighter could simply "bunt" and dive away from an opponent, as the 109 could. This ability to perform negative-gee manoeuvres without the engine cutting out gave a 109 pilot the option to disengage at will. The direct fuel injection also meant that the DB 601 engine was more fuel efficient than the Merlin. The Spitfire, initially, had a better protected cockpit with bulletproof windscreen and armoured plates behind the pilot's seat and head. The Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-3 received extra armour behind the pilots head, and seat armour. The revised armament of the E-3 and E-4 included two 20 mm MG FF (E-3) or MG FF/M cannon. This gave it a greater punch than the eight .303 (7.7 mm) machineguns of the British fighters, but the low muzzle velocity of the cannon, where the shells dropped quite quickly after firing, meant the Messerschmitt pilots had to open fire from close range. There were also problems with the fusing of the shells, which often detonated on contact with the skin of the airframe rather than penetrating then exploding. The canopy of the E-4 was modified for better visibility and the new design was often retrofitted to earlier 109s. The Bf 109 was also equipped with Self-sealing fuel tanks, although this could not prevent possibly fatal damage being inflicted by the "de Wilde" tracer round which was being used by the RAF. A standard evasive manoeuvre adopted by RAF fighters was a steep, climbing spiral at about at 120 mph (193 km/h). The 109 trying to follow this often stalled then had to dive to regain control. Should a Spitfire perform a half-roll, then dive the superiority of the Spitfire's rate of roll would ensure the German fighter would gain too much speed, often overshooting the Spitfire. At high speeds the 109 flight controls became too heavy for the pilot to use and he could not respond to any evasive manoeuvres. On 22 November 1939 a Bf 109E-3 (Wk-Nr 1304 of JG 76) landed intact in France. Evaluated at RAE Farnborough, the Bf 109 was used in mock combats with Spitfire Mk Is. The RAF test pilots found: The Bf 109 is inferior as a fighter to the Hurricane or Spitfire. Its manoeuvrability at high speeds is seriously curtailed by the heaviness of the controls, while its high wing loading causes it to stall readily under high normal accelerations and results in a poor turning circle. Speed trials carried out by the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) at Farnborough said: The Spitfire proved to be considerably the faster of the two, both in acceleration and straight and level flight, without having to make use of the emergency +12 boost. It should be pointed out that the 109 was an older airframe which had suffered from considerable damage, as had the engine. It is doubtful that it could have performed as well as a newer, undamaged airframe. Also during some of the tests the 109 lacked some components of its oxygen gear, meaning that these comparisons were performed at a maximum altitude of 15,000 feet (4,572 m) so again the 109 was unable to use its full performance potential. The Luftwaffe pilots who flew captured Spitfires reached completely different conclusions. The Spitfire is one class better than the Hurricane, being very nice to the touch, light, excellent in the turn and almost equal to the Bf 109E in performance, but it is a rotten dogfighter, as any sudden dive and the engine cuts out for seconds at a time, and because the propeller's only two pitch (takeoff and cruise), it means that in any vertical dogfight at constantly changing heights, it's either continually over-revving or never develops full power at all. By July 1940 the more efficient de Havilland and Rotol constant-speed propellers had replaced the two-pitch propellers on the majority of frontline RAF fighters. The new units allowed the Merlin to perform more smoothly at all altitudes and reduced the takeoff and landing runs. It should also be noted that German aviation fuels had a lower octane rating than the American supplied 100 octane fuel then in regular use by RAF fighters. The power of the Merlin engine was able to be "boosted" to 1,350 hp for short periods, substantially improving the rate of climb, especially at low to medium altitudes. The Bf 109 was also used as a fighter-bomber. Bf 109 E-7s had the ability to carry a 250kg bomb underneath the fuselage. The E-7/U2 model had extra armour installed to protect the Jabos. The Bf 109, unlike the Stuka could then, after releasing its ordnance, fight on equal terms with RAF fighters. X4382, a late production Mk I of 602 Squadron flown by P/O Osgood Hanbury, Westhampnett, September 1940.The Junkers Ju 87 Stuka was slow and possessed inadequate defences. Furthermore, it could not be effectively protected by fighters, because of its low speed and the very low altitudes at which it ended its dive bomb attacks. The Stuka depended on air superiority, the very thing being contested over Britain. It was therefore withdrawn from attacks on Britain in August, after prohibitive losses, leaving the Luftwaffe short of precision ground attack aircraft. At the start of the Battle the twin engined Messerschmitt Bf 110 long range "Destroyer" (Zerstörer) was also expected to engage in air to air combat while escorting the Luftwaffe bomber fleet. It was soon realised that the Bf 110 stood little chance against determined pilots flying the Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire. Although reasonably fast (Bf 110C about 340 mph [547 km/h]) and possessing a respectable combat radius as well as carrying a heavy armament of two 20 mm MG FF/M cannon and four 7.92 mm MG 17s concentrated in the forward fuselage, along with a single 7.92 mm MG 15 mounted for rear defence in the rear cockpit, the 110 was only slightly more manoeuvrable than the bombers they were meant to escort. They also suffered from poor acceleration. The casualty rates of the Bf 110 fighter units were extremely high throughout the Battle and they achieved none of the high aspirations of Hermann Goering, who had referred to them as his Eisenseiten or "Ironsides". The most successful role of the 110 during the Battle was as a schnellbomber (fast-bomber). One unit Erprobungsgruppe 210 proved it could carry a greater bomb load over a greater range than a Ju 87 and deliver it with similar accuracy, while its much higher maximum speed, especially at lower altitudes, meant it was far more capable of escaping RAF fighters. For the British, the most disappointing fighter was the Boulton-Paul Defiant. This aircraft was intended to be used as a "bomber destroyer" because it was thought, The speed of modern bombers is so great that it is only worthwhile to attack them under conditions which allow no relative motion between the fighter and its target. By 1940 it was clear to both the RAF and the Luftwaffe the deadliest opponents of bombers were single-engine, single-seat fighters with fixed, forward firing armament. Apart from the extra weight and drag imposed by the four gun turret and second crew member, the Defiant lacked any forward-firing armament. Should the gunner have had to escape from the turret in an emergency, the only way he could do this was to traverse the turret to one side and bale out through the escape hatch; should the aircraft's electric system, which operated the turret, be disabled, there was no other escape. After the strong intervention of Dowding, who realised the Defiant was designed to an unworkable concept, there were only two units equipped with this aircraft, 141 and 264 squadrons. There has been some criticism of the decision to keep these aircraft (along with the Fairey Battle in Bomber Command) operational instead of retiring and scrapping them, allowing their Merlin engines to be turned over to fighters and their pilots (about three thousand in all) to be retrained on Hurricanes, thereby freeing large numbers of high-time, combat-experienced Hurricane pilots for Spitfires.

Prior to the war, the RAF's processes for selecting potential candidates were more concerned with social standing than actual aptitude. By Summer 1940 there, were about 9,000 pilots in the RAF for approximately 5,000 aircraft, the majority of which were bombers. However, the problem of pilot shortage was self-inflicted, being due to inefficiencies in training and assignment. With aircraft production running at 300 each week, only 200 pilots were being trained in the same period. In addition, more pilots were allocated to squadrons than were aircraft. Another problem was that only about 30% of the 9,000 pilots were assigned to operational squadrons; 20% of the pilots were involved in conducting pilot training, and a further 20% were undergoing further instruction, like those offered in Canada to the Commonwealth trainees, although already qualified. The rest were assigned to staff positions since, RAF policy dictated that only pilots could make many staff and operational command decisions, even in engineering matters. At the height of fighting, and despite Churchill's insistence, only 30 pilots were released to the front line from administrative duties. For these reasons the RAF had fewer experienced pilots at the start of the battle, and it was the lack of trained pilots in the fighting squadrons, rather than the lack of machines, that became the greatest concern for Dowding. Drawing from regular RAF forces as well as the Auxiliary Air Force and the Volunteer Reserve, the British could muster a total of some 1,103 fighter pilots on 1 July. Replacement pilots, with little actual flight training and often no gunnery training whatsoever, suffered high casualty rates. RAF forces were bolstered by foreign nationals, including: The Luftwaffe could muster more fighter pilots, 1,450. Drawing from a cadre of Spanish Civil War veterans, they had comprehensive courses in aerial gunnery, as well as instructions in tactics suited for fighter versus fighter combat. Luftwaffe training manuals also discouraged heroism, stressing the utmost importance of attacking only when the odds were in the pilot's favour.

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