WWII Patch Air Force RAF The Battle of Britain Spitfire
The Battle of Britain (German: Luftschlacht um England, literally “The Air Battle for England”) was a military campaign of the Second World War, in which the Royal Air Force (RAF) defended the United Kingdom (UK) against large-scale attacks by the German Air Force (Luftwaffe).
It has been described as the first major military campaign fought entirely by RAF.
The British officially recognise the battle’s duration as being from 10 July until 31 October 1940, which overlaps the period of large-scale night attacks known as the Blitz, that lasted from 7 September 1940 to 11 May 1941. German historians do not accept this subdivision and regard the battle as a single campaign lasting from July 1940 to June 1941, including the Blitz.
The primary objective of the Nazi German forces was to compel Britain to agree to a negotiated peace settlement. In July 1940 the air and sea blockade began, with the Luftwaffe mainly targeting coastal-shipping convoys, ports and shipping centres, such as Portsmouth.
On 1 August, the Luftwaffe was directed to achieve air superiority over the RAF with the aim of incapacitating RAF Fighter Command; 12 days later, it shifted the attacks to RAF airfields and infrastructure. As the battle progressed, the Luftwaffe also targeted factories involved in aircraft production and strategic infrastructure. Eventually it employed terror bombing on areas of political significance and on civilians.
The Germans had swiftly overwhelmed continental countries, and Britain now appeared to face a threat of invasion by sea, but the German high command knew the difficulties of an unprecedented seaborne attack and its impracticality while the Royal Navy commanded the seas. In early July 1940 the German High Command began planning the invasion of the Soviet Union.
On 16 July Hitler ordered the preparation of Operation Sea Lion as a potential amphibious and airborne assault on Britain, to follow once the Luftwaffe had air superiority over the UK.
In September RAF Bomber Command night raids disrupted the German preparation of converted barges, and the Luftwaffe failure to overwhelm the RAF forced Hitler to postpone and eventually cancel Operation Sea Lion.