Aircraft of the Battle of Britain


Aircraft of the Battle of Britain

The Battle of Britain (German: [http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luftschlacht_um_England "Luftschlacht um England"] ) was an effort by the German "Luftwaffe" during during the summer and autumn, 1940 to gain air superiority over the United Kingdom in preparation for the planned amphibious and airborne forces landings of Operation Sealion. Neither Hitler nor the "Oberkommando der Wehrmacht" ("OKW") believed it possible to carry out a successful amphibious assault on Britain 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 Operation Barbarossa, the Campaign against the USSR.

The Battle of Britain was the first major campaign to be fought entirely by air forces; the British in the defensive were mainly using fighter aircraft, the Germans used a mixture of bombers with fighter protection. 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 its first major setback. [Bungay 2000, p. 388.]

Fighter aircraft

Main types: Hurricane, Spitfire and Bf 109

The most famous fighter aircraft used in the Battle of Britain were the British Hawker Hurricane, Supermarine Spitfire and the German Messerschmitt Bf 109E ("Emil"). Although the "glamourous" [ [http://www.channel4.com/history/microsites/H/history/n-s/spitfire.html "Glamour of the Spitfire] ] Spitfire is often thought of as the main British fighter, the Hurricanes were at first more numerous by a factor of about 5:3 and were responsible for most of the German losses, especially in the early part of the battle.

The Spitfire and Bf 109E were well-matched in speed and agility, and both were somewhat faster than the Hurricane. [ [http://www.wwiiaircraftperformance.org/hurricane/l2026.html A&AEE flight trials report on Hurricane I] Retrieved; 22 July 2008.] The slightly larger Hurricane was regarded as an easier aircraft to fly and was effective against "Luftwaffe" bombers. [Bungay 2000 p. 74.] The Royal Air Force's preferred tactic was to deploy the Hurricanes against formations of bombers and to use the Spitfires against the fighter escorts. The view from the "blown" clear cockpit hood of the Spitfire was considered fair, while upwards good; view to the rear was considered fair for a covered cockpit. The windscreen panels however gave great distortion, which made long-distance visual scanning difficult. Spitfire pilot Jeffrey Quill made recommendations for the installation of "optically true" glass into the side panels to solve the problem. [Delve 2007, p. 24.] The Hurricane had a higher seating position, which gave the pilot a better view over the nose than the Spitfire. The canopy of the Bf 109 E-3 was made of curved panels, while the E-4 was modified for better visibility with flat windscreen panels and the new design was often retrofitted to earlier 109s.

Handling and general overview

Each of the three main fighters had advantages and disadvantages in their control characteristics; much of the air combat during the battle occoured at about 20,000 feet or lower. Because of its sensitive elevators, if the stick was pulled back too far on the Spitfire in a tight turn:During tight turns the "twist" or washout designed into the wing by Reginald Mitchell meant that the wing root would stall before the wingtips, creating the shuddering and clattering referred to. This noise was a form of stall warning, reminding the pilot to ease up on the turn. [Bungay 2000 p. 78.] British testing in September 1940 [http://kurfurst.allaboutwarfare.com/Tactical_trials/109E_UKtrials/Morgan.html] revealed that Bf 109 pilots succeeded in keeping on the tail of the Spitfire in many cases, despite the latter aircraft's superior turning performance, because a number of the Spitfire pilots failed to tighten up the turn sufficiently. The gentle stall and good control under "g" of the Bf 109 were of some importance, as they enabled the "Luftwaffe"' pilot to get the most out of the aircraft in a circling dog-fight by flying very near the stall. The Bf 109 used leading edge slats which were deployed prior to stalling. [Messerschmitt Me. 109 Handling and Manoeuvrability Tests, 5.4. Discussion. By M. B. Morgan, M.A. and D. E. Morris, B.SC. September 1940.] Fact|date=July 2008The Merlin engine of the British fighters had the drawback of being equipped with a float-type carburettor which cut out under negative "g" forces. The fuel injected Daimler-Benz DB 601 engine gave the 109 an advantage over the -equipped engine; neither RAF fighter could simply "bunt" and dive away from an opponent as the 109 could. This ability to perform negative-g 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. [http://www.spitfireperformance.com/spit1vrs109e.html Spitfire Vs 109.] Retrieved: 10 April 2008.] Verify source|date=July 2008

The "Emil" was smaller than either RAF fighter, and it was more difficult to land and take off than the Spitfire and Hurricane. [Bungay 2000, p. 199.] At high speeds controls tightened considerably, and the Bf 109E needed more strength to throw around the air than either of its main opponents. Of all three fighters, the Bf 109E would possess the highest roll rate, with the aileron controls being brisk and responsive; the Spitfire had the highest aileron forces, but both the Spitfire and the Messerschmitt's rate of roll suffered at high speed.

Armament

Both RAF fighters were armed with eight .303 Browning machine guns in the wings, set by the squadrons to allow the bullets to converge at a distance. The Brownings had a high rate of fire and even a short burst from the eight machine guns sent out a large number of bullets. Although efficient against many aircraft, the small calibre bullets were often unable to penetrate the armour plating which was being increasingly used in "Luftwaffe" aircraft to protect crew and vital areas. An incendiary round, called the "De Wilde" was available, and this could do more damage than the standard "ball" rounds. [Bungay 2000, p. 176.]

During the battle at least one Hurricane was experimentally armed with a single Hispano 20 mm cannon in a pod under each wing although it proved to be too slow and sluggish on the controls to be effective. [Price 1980, pp. 22, 41, 156.] Several Spitfires, designated Spitfire Mk. IBs, were also modified to carry a Hispano cannon in each wing panel. 19 Squadron was equipped with this version in June 1940. On entering combat in August this first cannon armed Spitfire failed to create an impact, with the guns often jamming and unable to fire. When it did work, however, the Hispano was an effective weapon, with its shells easily able to penetrate the armour plating and self-sealing fuel tanks of "Luftwaffe" aircraft. [Price 1996, pp. 20-21, 53.]

The Emil's main armament depended on the subtype. The E-1 was armed with four MG 17 7.92mm machine guns; two cowl guns above the engine with 1,000 rounds per gun, and two in the wings with 500 rounds per gun. The E-3, E-4 and E-7s retained the fuselage armament of the E-1 but replaced the MG 17 wing guns with two MG FFs (E-3) or improved MG FF/M (E-4 and E-7) 20 mm cannons, one in each wing with 60 rpg. Although the explosive cannon shells had great destructive power, the MG FF's low muzzle velocity and the limited ammunition capacity meant the armament was not markedly superior to the RAF fighter's eight machine guns.

Three or four hits from the cannons were usually enough to bring down an enemy fighter and, even if the fighter was able to return to base, it would often be written off. [Price 1982, p. 76.] For example, on 18 August a brand new Spitfire of 602 Squadron was hit by 20mm shells which exploded in the structure of the rear fuselage. Although the crippled aircraft was successfully landed back at its airfield it was subsequently deemed to be unrepairable. [Price 1980, pp. 132-133, photo section between pp. 150-151.] John Greenwood, a Hurricane veteran of the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain who fought with 253 Sqn., recalled:

"I also saw that the German fighters were a lot better than we had been led to believe, and that to attack them head-on with their two cannon was suicide".
[ [http://www.airbattle.co.uk/b_research_1.html Research] ]

The MG FF/M was modified to fire the even more destructive, high-capacity "Minengeschoss" or Mine-shells at greater velocities than the MG FF. The early shells of this type had contact fusing, detonating on contact with the skin of the airframe rather than penetrating, then exploding. [Bungay 2000, p. 197.] The Bf 109 F-1, issued in small numbers starting in October, carried two cowl MG-17s and a single 20mm MG FF/M in the fuselage, firing through the propeller hub.

Fuel tanks

A drawback of the Hurricane was the presence of a fuel tank just behind the engine firewall, which could catch fire and within a few seconds severely burn the pilot before he managed to bale out. This was later partly solved by fitting a layer of "Linatex" fire-resistant material to the tank, and an armoured panel forward of the instrument panel. Another hazard was presented by the main wing root mounted fuel tanks of the Hurricane, which were vulnerable to bullets fired from behind. [Bungay 2000] The main fuel tanks of the Spitfire, which were mounted in the fuselage forward of the cockpit, were better protected than that of the Hurricane; the lower tank was self-sealing and a panel of 3 mm thick aluminium, sufficient to deflect small calibre bullets, was wrapped externally over the top tanks. Internally they were coated with layers of "Linatex" and the cockpit bulkhead was fireproofed with a thick panel of asbestos . [Bungay 2000] Price 1996, pp. 18–21.] On all the German fighters and bombers, the fuel tanks were self-sealing, and although capable of sealing leaks from enemy rounds, this could not prevent possibly fatal damage being inflicted by the "De Wilde" incendiary round which was being used by the RAF.

Drop tanks

Drop tanks for single engine fighters were not available at the start of the Battle; this especially affected the "Luftwaffe", as the Bf 109E, like the Spitfire and Hurricane, was conceived as a short range interceptor and did not have sufficient range or endurance to escort bombers for deep penetrations. The Bf 109E-7, introduced towards the end of August, was capable of carrying a 300 liter light-alloy drop tank originally developed for the long-range Ju 87R, but it wasn't available in sufficient numbers during the Battle to make a difference. Existing Emils were being retrofitted with equipment towards the end of the Battle to carry drop tanks for extended range, but by that time it was too late.

Durability and armour

The Spitfire, from about mid 1940, had 73 pounds (33 kg) of armoured steel plating in the form of head (of 6.5 mm thickness) and back protection on the seat bulkhead (4.5 mm), and covering the forward face of the glycol header tank. [ [http://www.spitfireperformance.com/no609-armour.jpgReport on 609 Sqn Spitfire armour plating] Retrieved: 15 July 2008.] The Hurricane had a similar armour layout to the Spitfire, and was the toughest and most durable of the three. Serviceability rates of Hawker's fighter were always higher than the complex and advanced Spitfire.The Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-3 received extra armour in late 1939, and this was supplemented with a 10 mm thick armoured plate behind the pilot's head during and after the Battle of France. Behind the fuel tank, an 8 mm armoured plate was placed in the fuselage protecting the tank and the pilot from attacks from behind.

Propeller types

By July 1940, more efficient de Havilland and Rotol constant speed propellers had begun replacing two-pitch propellers on front line RAF fighters. The new units allowed the Merlin to perform more smoothly at all altitudes and reduced the takeoff and landing runs. The majority of the front line RAF fighters were equipped with these propellers by mid-August. The Bf 109 also used a constant speed VDM unit with automatic pitch control.

100 octane aviation fuel

Limited supplies of high octane fuels were available to both of the main air forces; 100 Octane for the RAF [Fuel Supplies to The British Empire And Its Commonwealth; Outlook, Ramifications and Projections For The Prosecution Of The War, February 1941, Australian War Memorial Archives.] Verify source|date=July 2008 [Society of Automotive Engineers 1997, p. 11.] , "C-2" (natural) and "C-3" (synthetic), also of 100 octane, for the "Luftwaffe" [ [http://kurfurst.allaboutwarfare.com/Engine/DB60x/DB601_datasheets_N.html DB 601N datasheet and history.] "] [Mankau and Petrick 2001, p. 24.]

With 100 octane fuel the supercharger of the Merlin III engine could be "boosted" to +12, producing 1,350 hp for short periods, a 30% increase on the nominal rating of 1,030hp, thus substantially improving the rate of climb, especially at low to medium altitudes. For the DB 601N engine the power was increased by 20% over that of the DB 601Aa.

Comparison trials in Britain and Germany

On 22 November 1939, a Bf 109 E-3 (Wk-Nr 1304 of "JG 76") landed intact in France. Evaluated at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough, the Bf 109 was used in mock combats with Spitfire Mk Is. The RAF test pilots found:

Speed trials carried out by the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) at Farnborough said:

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 its opponent. At high speeds, the Bf 109's flight controls became too heavy for the pilot to use and he could not respond to any evasive manoeuvres. [Holmes 2007, p. 56.] Verify source|date=July 2008

The example tested was an older Bf 109 airframe which had suffered from considerable damage, as had its engine. During some of the tests, the Bf 109 lacked some components of its oxygen gear, meaning that these comparisons were performed at a maximum altitude of 15,000 ft (4,572 m), not its optimum combat altitude. It is doubtful that the airframe tested could have performed as well as a newer, undamaged and well maintained airframe. [ [http://www.virtualpilots.fi/feature/articles/109myths/#109hard Bf 109 Myths; hard to fly?] Retrieved: 24 April 2008.] Verify source|date=July 2008

"Luftwaffe" pilots who flew captured Spitfires reached completely different conclusions; the German testing centre, "E-Stelle Rechlin", reported:

"The Bf 109 E type clearly outperforms all foreign planes. Speed: the Spitfire is at 0 m by ca. 20 km/h, at 4 km by ca. 10 km/h, Hurricane and Curtiss at 0 and 4 km altitude by ca. 60 km/h. A similar superiority of the Bf 109 E exists in the climb performance as well... In summary, it can be said that all three enemy planes types are inferior to the German planes regarding the flying qualities. Especially the Spitfire has bad rudder and elevator stability on the target approach. In addition the wing-mounted weapons have the known shooting-technique disadvantages".

Werner Mölders, the leading German ace at the time, who flew a captured Hurricane and a Spitfire Mk I in June 1940 (one of three examples obtained in flyable condition by the "Luftwaffe"), added:

The RAF fighters tested had the two-speed propeller units. This was representative to their condition at the start of the Battle, however by mid-August large numbers of them received constant-speed units. The pilot's notes stated that although the aircraft was stable, care was needed in the use of the elevators which were "light and sensitive". [Note: Pilots were also cautioned that the metal covered ailerons were much lighter than the original fabric covered versions and care was needed not to overstress the wings. A.P.1565B. Pilot's notes Spitfire II A and IIB aeroplanes, Merlin engine. July 1940.]

When reading such flight test reports on captured aircraft it should be noted that:

Messerschmitt Bf 110

At the start of the battle, the twin-engine Messerschmitt Bf 110 long range "Zerstörer" (German: "destroyer") was expected to engage in air-to-air combat while escorting the "Luftwaffe" bomber fleet. Although the aircraft was well designed and the best of its class, being reasonably fast (Bf 110C-3 about 340 mph [547 km/h] )and possessing a respectable combat radius, the concept that the Bf 110 could defend bombers against a concerted attack by a force of fast single-seat, single-engined fighters was flawed. When pitted against the Hurricane and Spitfire the Bf 110s began to experience heavy losses through being only slightly more manoeuvrable than the bombers they were meant to escort and suffering from poor acceleration. [Bungay 2000, pp. 52-53.]

A variant of the 110 was the Bf 110D-1/R1, nicknamed "Dackelbäuche" (Dachshund-belly) because of the fixed, wooden, 264 gallon (1,200 l) fuel tank fitted under the fuselage. [Note: It was intended that this tank could be jettisoned when empty or when threatened with fighter attack. In practice the mechanism usually failed to work.] I./ZG 76, based in Norway, was equipped with this version in order to provide air cover for convoys sailing along the coast. On 15 August, in the belief that all of the RAF fighter units were concentrated far to the south, "Luftflotte 5" launched its first and only bomber attack against North Eastern England. Seven out of the 21 I.ZG 76 aircraft being used as bomber escorts were destroyed, including that of the"Gruppenkommandeur". [Weal 1999, p. 48.]

The casualty rates of all of the Bf 110 fighter units were extremely high throughout the battle and they fulfilled none of the high aspirations of Hermann Göring, who had referred to them as his "Eisenseiten" or "Ironsides."Weal 1999, pp. 42–51.]

The most successful role of the Bf 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 evading RAF fighters.Bungay 2000, pp. 257–258.]

The Bf 110 possessed 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.

Boulton Paul Defiant

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:

By 1940, it was clear to both the RAF and the "Luftwaffe" that 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 directly forward-firing armament. Should the gunner need to escape from the turret in an emergency, the only way he could do this was to traverse the turret to one side and bail out through the escape hatch; should the aircraft's electric system, which operated the turret, be disabled, there was no 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. On 19 July, after encountering Bf 109s of III./JG 51, 141 Sqn had four Defiants shot down, one written off and one damaged, with 10 crew members killed or missing. [Ramsay 1989, pp. 326–327.] Just over a month later, on 24 August, 264 Sqn suffered the loss of four Defiants shot down and three badly damaged with seven crew members killed. [Ramsay 1989, pp. 376–377.] Both units were withdrawn from 11 Group, reequpped, and took no further part in daytime operations. [Bungay 2000, pp. 84, 178, 269–273.] Ansell 2005, pp. 712–714.] During the winter "Blitz" on London of 1940–41, the Defiant equipped four squadrons as "cat's eye" night fighters , shooting down more enemy aircraft than any other type. [ Taylor 1969, p. 326.]

Other fighter aircraft

The Fiat CR.42 was an obsolete biplane fighter used by the Italian "Corpo Aereo Italiano". They only made one mission during the battle itself when on 29 October they provided a bomber escort on a raid on Ramsgate. Following the end of the battle proper, the Italian force continued to carry out limited raids on England, and on 11 November 1940, four CR.42s acting as escorts were destroyed by RAF Hurricanes with no loss to the RAF. German "Luftwaffe" aircraft had difficulty flying in formation with the slow biplanes, which also proved to be poor match for more modern British fighters, and the CR.42s were transferred back to the Mediterranean theatre.

The only other biplane fighter in operational service was the Gloster Gladiator which equipped No. 247 Squadron RAF, stationed in RAF Robourgh, Devon. Although no combat sorties took place at the height of the aerial battles, No. 247 Gladiators intercepted a He 111 in late October 1940, without result. No. 239 Squadron RAF using Gladiators in an army cooperation role and No. 804 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm outfitted with Sea Gladiators were also operational during the Battle of Britain. [Rimell 1990, p. 27.]

Flown in significantly larger numbers, the Bristol Blenheim was used by both Bomber and Fighter Commands. Some 200 Mk. I bombers were modified into Mk. IF long-range fighters with 600 (Auxiliary Air Force) Squadron based at Hendon, the first squadron to take delivery of these variants in September 1938. By 1939, at least seven squadrons were operating these twin engined fighters and within a few months some 60 squadrons had transitioned to the type. The Mk. IF proved to be slower and less nimble than expected and by June 1940, daylight Blenheim losses were to cause concern for Fighter Command. It was then decided that the IF would be relegated mainly to night fighter duties where No. 23 Squadron RAF who had already operated the type under night time conditions had better success.

In the German night bombing raid on London, 18 June 1940, Blenheim night fighters accounted for five German bombers thus proving they were better suited in the nocturnal role. In July, No. 600 Squadron, by then based at RAF Manston, had some of its IFs equipped with Airborne Interception (AI) Mk. III radar. With this radar equipment, a Blenheim from FIU at RAF Ford achieved the first success on the night of 2/3 July 1940, accounting for a Dornier Do 17 bomber. More successes came and, before long, the Blenheim was to prove invaluable in the night fighter role. Gradually, with the introduction of the Bristol Beaufighter in 1940–41, its role was supplanted by its faster, better armed progeny. [Rimell 1990, p. 23.]

The first Beaufighters entered service in early September 1940, at first delivered in standard day fighter camouflage schemes although the type was intended for a night fighting role. The first night operations took place in September and October 1940 and on the night of 19/20 November 1940, a Beaufighter IF, equipped with AI radar downed a Ju 88. The aircraft from No. 604 Squadron RAF was flown by Flt Lt. John Cunningham, scoring the first of his 20 victories. [Rimell 1990, p. 17.]

Bomber aircraft

"Luftwaffe"

The "Luftwaffe" primarily relied on three twin-engined medium bombers bombers the Dornier Do 17, the Heinkel He 111 and the Junkers Ju 88 in 1940. Despite the "Luftwaffe" being in the possession of advanced gyroscopic bomb sights, the "Lotfe" for daylight bombing and electronic navigational aids like the Knickebein, X-Gerät and Y-Gerät for noctural bombing, there were some very fundamental limitations to the accuracy of bombing from level flight, and there was no guarantee that such attacks could achieve success on small or difficult targets such as radar stations.Bungay 2000, pp.251-257"] For precision attack emphasis was placed on the development of aircraft which could utilise the technique of dive bombing for which the Junkers Ju 87 "Stuka" was specifically designed. The Junkers Ju 88 was fitted with external dive brakes and a control system, similar to those of the Ju 87 and could carry out a dive bombing role, although it was primarily used as a level bomber. The light bomb loads carried by the Ju 87 had been used to great effect during the Battle of France. However, the Ju 87 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.

Another constraint was imposed by the light armament carried by the "Luftwaffe" bombers. At the start of the battle they were still armed with an average of three hand held MG 15 light machine guns, which were supplied by 75 round "saddle" magazines. When faced with concentrated attacks by modern fighters such as the Hurricane and Spitfire this proved totally inadequate. Although many of the "Luftwaffe" gunners were well trained and capable of hitting a fast moving fighter the damage done was seldom enough to stop the attack in time to prevent heavy damage being done to the bomber. The high rate of fire of the MG 15 meant that the small magazines emptied quickly; the time taken to reload often gave a fighter the time it needed to make a successful attack. Efforts had been made to increase the number of defensive weapons, but this also meant that because the weapons were hand-held either more crew members were needed in each aircraft, or the existing crew members could be overworked. It was a problem which was never to be fully resolved and the "Luftwaffe" bombers had to rely on the ability of their fighters to protect their formations.

The bombers did enjoy some advantages. As more armour plate was added in vital areas, crew members became less vulnerable. Their fuel tanks were also well protected by layers of self-sealing rubber, although the tracer ammunition which was carried by RAF fighters could sometimes ignite fuel vapour in empty tanks.

The He 111 was nearly 100 mph slower than the Spitfire and didn't present much of a challenge to catch, although the heavy armour for the crew stations, self-sealing fuel tanks and progressively uprated defensive armament meant that it was still a challenge to shoot down. It was the most numerous German bomber type during the Battle, and was capable of delivering 2000 kg of bombs to the target, carried in an internal bomb bay - usually eight 250 kg bombs, stored vertically. Subsequent variants allowed further increase in the bomb load and the maximum size of bombs carried, with external bomb racks. The state-of-the art Lotfe gyroscoping bomb sight fitted to the Heinkel allowed for reasonable accuracy, for a level bomber. The main versions of the He-111 in use were the Jumo engined H-1, H-2 and H-3 and the DB 601 powered P-2 and P-4. Small numbers of the aircraft, called H-1x and H-3x, were equipped with "Knickebein" and "X-Gerät" and were used by Kampfgruppe 100 (KGr. 100) at night during the closing stages of the battle. "Y-Gerät" equipped H-5y of III. Gruppe Kampfgeshwader 26 began to take part in the Blitz of the winter of 1940-1941. [Ramsay 1988, pp.25-27.]

The Do 17Z was an older type of German bomber that was no longer in production by the start of the Battle. Still, many "Kampfgeschwadern" still operated the Dornier, known as "the flying pencil" due to its sleek fuselage. Its air-cooled radial BMW engines meant that many of these aircraft were able to survive fighter attack because there was no vulnerable cooling system to disable. [Price 1980, pp. 7–8.] The Dornier was also manoeuvrable, and as a result was popular in the "Luftwaffe". The main problem with the Dornier was its limited 200 mile combat range, when fully loaded with bombs. Its bomb carrying capacity was also limited to 2,205 lbs. [Goss 2005, p. 12.] Older versions of the Do 17, mainly the E-1, were still used for weather reconnaissance duties.

Of the four types of bomber used by the "Luftwaffe" the Ju 88 was considered to be the most difficult to shoot down. As a bomber it was relatively manoeuvrable and, especially at low altitudes with no bomb load, it was fast enough to ensure that a Spitfire engaged in a tail-chase would be hard pressed to catch up. It could carry up to 3,000 kg of bombs. However, only small sized 50 and 70 kg bombs, up to a total weight of 1,400 kg, could be carried internally, while larger bombs had to be carried on external racks, causing considerable drag. The Ju 88 was also extremely versatile, being fitted with both the Lotfe gyroscoping bomb sight and Stuvi dive sight as well as retractable dive brakes. The front machine gun could be locked fixed to fire forwards, and could be used for strafing runs. Thus the Ju 88, dubbed as the 'Big Stuka', was equally at home when it came to level or dive bombing or low-level attacks. The versions of the Ju 88 used during the battle were the A-1 and the A-5; the latter incorporated several improvements, including an increased wingspan and uprated armament. [Filley 1988, pp.10-19] The Ju 88 C-1 heavy fighter version was also used in small numbers.

In reality, the Ju 88, although operating in smaller numbers than the Do 17 and He 111, suffered the highest losses of the three German bomber types. Losses of Do 17 and He 111s amounted to 132 and 252 machines destroyed respectively, while 313 Ju 88s were lost. [ [http://members.tripod.com/Rush_9/OoBob1.htm Aircraft Strength and Losses] .] Verify source|date=July 2008

I.KG/40 was equipped with a small number of the four-engined Focke Wulf Fw 200s, which were used to attack shipping and to provide long-range reconnaissance around the British Isles and out into the Atlantic Ocean. [Ramsay 1989, pp. 605, 655, 680, 693.]

"Corpo Aereo Italiano" (Italy)

The Italian bomber effort was extremely limited and occurred entirely towards the end of the battle, with Fiat BR.20 bombers based in Belgium operating against targets in Britain. The first mission on 25 October Wood & Dempster 1969, p. 299] , a night attack of 16 aircraft on Harwich, led to three bombers being lost, with one crashing on takeoff and two becoming lost on their return. On 11 November, a formation of 10 BR.20s, escorted by Fiat CR.42 biplane fighters on a daylight raid on Harwich, was intercepted by RAF Hurricanes. Three bombers were downed, and three CR.42s destroyed and four damaged, with no loss to the Hurricanes.Green and Swanborough 1982, p. 308.]

Full list of aircraft

United Kingdom

Only the squadrons listed as Battle of Britain RAF squadrons were counted as being part of the Battle of Britain for the award of a campaign medal

* Bristol Blenheim Mk. IF - Fighter Command
* Bristol Beaufighter Mk. I - Fighter Command
* Boulton Paul Defiant Mk. I - Fighter Command
* Gloster Gladiator - Fighter Command (limited numbers)
* Supermarine Spitfire Mk. I and Mk. II - Fighter Command

Germany

* Breguet 521 Bizerte
* Dornier Do 17
**Do 17M and P
**Do 17 Z-2
**Do 17 Z-3
* Dornier Do 18 D-1
* Focke-Wulf Fw 200 C-3
* Heinkel He 59 C-2
* Heinkel He 111
**He 111 H-2
**He 111 H-3
**He 111 H-4
**He 111 P-1
* Junkers Ju 87 B-1 and B-2
* Junkers Ju 88 A-1 and A-5
* Messerschmitt Bf 109
**Bf 109 E-1, E-1/B
**Bf 109 E-3
**Bf 109 E-4, E-4/B, E-4/N
**Bf 109 E-7, E-7/N
**Bf 109 F-1
* Messerschmitt Bf 110
**Bf 110 C-4, C-4/B
**Bf 110 C-5

Italy

* Fiat BR.20M Cicogna
* Fiat CR.42S Falco [Green and Swanborough 1982, pp. 311–312.]

References

Notes

*Werner Mölders flew one of the first operational Bf 109F-1s over England from early October 1940; he may well have been credited with shooting down eight Hurricanes and four Spitfires while flying "Werke Nummer" 5628, "Stammkennzeichen" "SG+GW" between 11 October and 29 October 1940. Photographs of "SG+GW" appear in Prien & Rodeike, 1995, pp. 8-9. [ [http://www.luftwaffe.cz/molders.html "Mölders victory list."] Retrieved: 20 April 2008.] Verify source|date=July 2008

Citations

Bibliography

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* Bungay, Stephen. "The Most Dangerous Enemy: A History of the Battle of Britain". London: Aurum Press 2000. ISBN 1-85410-721-6(hardcover), ISBN 1-85410-801-8(paperback 2002).
* Cooper, Matthew. "The German Air Force 1933-1945: An Anatomy of Failure". New York: Jane's Publishing Incorporated, 1981. ISBN 0-531-03733-9.
* Craig, Phil and Tim Clayton. "Finest Hour: The Battle of Britain". New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000 (hardcover, ISBN 0-684-86930-6); 2006 (paperback, ISBN 0-684-86931-4).
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External links

* [http://www.raf.mod.uk/bob1940/bobhome.html Royal Air Force history]
* [http://www.battleofbritain.net/ Battle Of Britain Historical Society]
* [http://www.spitfiresite.com/history/articles/2007/11/battle-of-britain-by-hugh-dowding-01.htm Battle of Britain in the Words of Air Chief Marshall Hugh Dowding (despatch to the Secretary of State, August 1941)]
* [http://www.cilip.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/C3B54A7D-BB2C-4EEF-BCF9-8469A5CA504F/0/ADLGVisitsRAFUxbridgeBattleofBritainOperationsRoom.doc ADLG Visits RAF Uxbridge Battle of Britain Operations Room]
* [http://www.pillboxesuk.co.uk British Invasion Defences]
* [http://www.javaskill.co.uk/ukairfields.html Map of UK Airfields and squadrons.]
* [http://www.raf.mod.uk/bob1940/roll.html RAF Battle of Britain Roll of Honour]
* [http://www.battle-of-britain.com/ Battle-Of-Britain Website.]
* [http://www.battleofbritain.be/ Battle-Of-Britain Website in Dutch.]
* [http://www.remuseum.org.uk/corpshistory/rem_corps_part16.htm Royal Engineers Museum Royal Engineers and Second World War (airfield repair)]
* [http://www.battleofbritainmemorial.org Battle of Britain Memorial]
* [http://www.shoreham-aircraft-museum.co.uk Shoreham Aircraft Museum]
* [http://www.tangmere-museum.org.uk/ Tangmere Military Aviation Museum]
* [http://www.kbobm.org/index.htm Kent Battle of Britain Museum]
* [http://www.radionz.co.nz/podcasts/soundshistorical.rss Sir Keith Park describing Battle of Britain (Radio New Zealand audio & podcast download)] Note: Scroll down to April 25 ANZAC day, 10:50 am "Sir Keith Park".
* [http://www.maxwell.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/ww2/batlbrit.pdf Battle of Britain from the German perspective (Lt Col Earle Lund, USAF): Pdf file]
* [http://ftp1.us.proftpd.org/hyperwar//ETO/BOB/BoB-German/index.html Battle of Britain from the German perspective (Lt Col Earle Lund, USAF)]
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=QhEaoGYT4FIC&printsec=frontcover&dq=aviation+fuel+britain+1940&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0#PPA11,M1 American supplies of 100 Octane fuel]


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