Invincible Luftwaffe

Posted on Friday 12th July 2013

On the morning of 10 May 1940, the possibility of the Luftwaffe’s ever being defeated was unthinkable in all German – and no few Allied – minds. Flushed with the palpable successes in Poland, Denmark and Norway, the German air arm, from its supreme commander to its lowest mechanic, felt indomitable. It was the period later referred to in Luftwaffe circles as the ‘Happy Time’.
In such a frame of mind, utterly confident and eager to exploit continuing triumph, the Luftwaffe crews set out to crush the French air force and the Allied RAF formations based on French soil. As in all preceding campaigns, the initial plan was to attain immediate air supremacy by saturation destruction of the opposing air services, translated in action by first attempting to destroy all enemy aircraft on their own airfields. There-after the German crews would spearhead the army’s advance by close tactical support, blasting a path forward with pinpoint dive-bombing and strafing sorties. Speed was the essence of the Blitzkrieg style of war, backed by overwhelming weight in numbers. It had worked well against the weak neutral countries, and there seemed to be no reason for it to fail against France. The only query in any German mind was how the Luftwaffe might fare against the RAF, though few Germans doubted the eventual outcome.
For the opening assault on 10 May, Luftflotten 2 and 3 had a total firstline aircraft strength of 2,750 aircraft: 1,444 bombers, 1,264 fighters, and motley reconnaissance machines. In addition were a host of transport and general communications aircraft. Allowing for the employment of some Air Corps for the initial attacks against Belgium and Holland, which would later join the formations supporting the assault against France, the Luftwaffe could theoretically count on perhaps 3,500 aircraft for their overall campaigns against the Anglo-French and allied opponents – almost 75–80 per cent of the entire Luftwaffe then existing. Based in France on that date were seven RAF fighter squadrons (supplemented by a further three squadrons on 11 May); while RAF bomber and army co-operation squadrons amounted to at best 250 aircraft based on French airfields for immediate retaliation. Further RAF support could be expected from units based in south-east England, though this would be necessarily somewhat limited in sheer numbers. Of the French air services based within striking distance of the Maginot Line, it is doubtful if more than some 700 aircraft of all types could be immediately available for operations, none of which could hope to match any German counterpart. The RAF’s fighter force – eight Hurricane and two Gladiator squadrons by 11 May – was primarily a defensive force for escort and protection of the bombers and recce aircraft of BAFF. The bomber squadrons – a total of 135 Battles and Blenheims on 10 May – were, in the main, intended for retaliatory raids against German targets in the offensive role. The latter striking force was under the RAF direction of Air Marshal Barratt, but he in turn was directly under the command of the French Generalissimo Gamelin, and – according to the chain of Allied command extant – needed Gamelin’s permission to let loose the RAF bombers. As the first surprise attacks on more than twenty French airfields by Luftwaffe aircraft arrived in the early dawn of 10 May, Barratt waited for Gamelin’s formal permission to send off his Blenheims and Battles against the reported German army incursions – but waited in vain. Still reluctant to ‘provoke’ German bombing assaults on French towns, Gamelin remained silent. By noon Barratt could no longer curb his impatience and, on his own authority, ordered the RAF bombers into action. A first wave of Battles, drawn from various of the eight squadrons available, was despatched against German troop columns in the Luxembourg area, and lost three to fierce anti-aircraft fire. A second wave later repeated the low-level attack, and by the end of the day, of the thirty-two Battles used for these unescorted sorties, thirteen had been shot down and the rest damaged in varying degree. It was an omen of the imminent fate of virtually all the RAF’s Fairey Battle crews in France. The initial Luftwaffe attacks on French airfields, though accurate in location and carried out with almost a hundred per cent advantage of surprise, failed to destroy even a significant proportion of the Anglo-French air strength. The French air force suffered the loss of less than sixty aircraft actually destroyed, with roughly a similar total damaged; while the RAF squadrons bore little loss. On the morning of 11 May, however, Dorniers of KG2 caught 114 Squadron RAF napping at its Condre Vraux base, and virtually wiped out the unit’s entire strength of Blenheims. At dawn on 12 May, nine Blenheims of 139 Squadron set out to strafe a troop column near Maastricht and ran into a swarm of Messerschmitt fighters. Only two Blenheims returned. Thus, within twenty-four hours, the RAF’s Blenheim ‘retaliatory’ force was to all intents nullified, and the onus of remaining bombing operations fell upon the Battle squadrons.
Extra support from Bomber Command squadrons based in England was also forthcoming. By night Wellingtons and Blenheims carried out raids against the German-occupied Belgian and Dutch airfields, while by day Blenheims joined in attacks against advancing German troops. Most of the latter managed to return to their English bases but almost all had been scathed severely by high density ground-fire. The pace and severity of the air operations during May 1940 over eastern France can be measured in high degree by the saga of the eight RAF Fairey Battle squadrons which existed on 10 May. From the outset of the Blitzkrieg key objectives had been the many bridges crossing the Maas (Meuse) and the Albert Canal, and German capture of several of these was accomplished in the early hours of the offensive. French and British attempts to dislodge the – at first – thin German defences at these bridges failed against the violent reaction of both ground and air opposition. By 12 May the ground defences had been greatly increased, while strong Luftwaffe aerial defence was given to such priority keypoints. On that date five of six volunteer crews from 12 (Battle) Squadron set out to destroy the bridges at Vroenhoven and Veldwezelt across the Albert Canal, and Hurricanes from 1 Squadron were detailed to clear the way of any German fighter opposition. Before the Hurricanes even reached the target zone they were swamped by some fifty Messerschmitts and proceeded to fight for their lives. The five Battles – in two formations, one for each bridge – were met by a veritable wall of 88mm flak. Four of the Battles were shot down, and the fifth barely managed to crash-land in French territory. In the leading Battle of one sub-formation, Flying Officer Donald Garland and his observer, Sergeant Thomas Gray, perished, but were both later awarded posthumous Victoria Crosses.
Elsewhere that day Bomber Command Blenheims were valiantly attempting to break bridges over the Meuse. No significant damage was achieved and ten of the 24 raiding Blenheims failed to return to base. Meanwhile the Battle crews’ casualty rate was rising rapidly. On 11 May seven out of eight Battles sent to the Luxembourg area were shot down, and on the 12th fifteen Battles despatched to bomb targets near Bouillon lost six of their number to marauding Messerschmitts and anti-aircraft fire. The loss rate for 10-11-12 May was frightening: 40 per cent, 100 per cent, and 62 per cent of despatched formations respectively. Of almost 140 bombers serviceably available on the morning of 10 May, the AASF was reduced to seventy-two by dusk on 12 May. To conserve strength, only one Battle raid took place on 13 May, a road-blocking operation by aircraft of 226 Squadron near Breda, but 14 May brought disastrous results. Both French and British operations that day were focused on the ground battle for the Sedan bridgehead; the French air service tried first, only to be so severely mauled that it flew no further operations during the rest of the day. In the late afternoon came the RAF’s turn, and the entire AASF bomber strength was flung against the bridgehead – a total of seventy-one Blenheims and (mainly) Battles from Nos 12, 105, 139, 150 and 218 Squadrons. Intercepted by swarms of wheeling Messerschmitts the bombers were virtually massacred, losing forty bombers in all. Of the sixty-two Battles participating, thirty-five failed to return, including ten of the eleven Battles sent by 218 Squadron. It was the highest loss rate ever suffered by the RAF. The shattered Battle force – Nos 105 and 218 Squadrons now possessed merely two aircraft apiece and were thus ‘disbanded’ and absorbed into other units – undertook no daylight operations on 15 May, and next day was withdrawn to the Troyes area for regrouping and, it was hoped, replenishment of crews and machines.
For the next two weeks isolated night sorties and occasional day raids against the relentlessly advancing German armies were undertaken with relatively small losses, but on 3 June the six remaining squadrons were forced to retire further back to the Le Mans area. The swan song of the Battles came on 13 June. Ten well-patched aircraft first attacked German troops on the banks of the Seine, while later two formations totalling thirty-eight aircraft lost six crews to 88mm flak during raids against German positions by the Marne. Within forty-eight hours the utterly hopeless situation in France was so evident that an order was given to all surviving bombers to fly to England. A pitiful procession of scarred Battles with exhausted crews wended its way across the English Channel to the nearest available airfields. Between 10 May and 15 June the AASF had lost 115 aircraft and almost as many crews, virtually the equivalent strength available on the opening day of the Blitzkrieg. Evidence for the incredible valour of the bomber crews lay in a hundred charred and wrecked aircraft strewn among the forests and valleys of France, alongside smouldering pyres of the English-based bombers sent to bolster a campaign doomed from the outset.
What of the fighters? If the tragic bomber casualties caused dismay in London, the plight of the fighter squadrons swiftly became a nightmare for Fighter Command’s leader Hugh Dowding, who had emphasised constantly that the real battle for survival would be over England, not France. His visionary forecast, largely ignored by the Whitehall politicians, was to be starkly confirmed. The French-based RAF fighter squadrons were in constant action from the very beginning of the German onslaught, with individual pilots flying five, six or even seven sorties each day. Facing overwhelmingly superior numerical odds on virtually every sortie, the fighter pilots fought to the point of exhaustion, ever-determined to oppose any swastika-marked aircraft within their range. By 24 May No 1 Squadron alone had lost a total of thirty-eight Hurricanes, but the original pilots, who were withdrawn to England on that date and replaced by fresh men, had claimed nearly 100 victims in air combat. The other squadrons could claim an equally courageous record of fighting. No 87 Squadron, from 10-20 May, claimed at least eighty victories for the loss of ten pilots killed; 85 Squadron, from 10-22 May, claimed no fewer than ninety German aircraft destroyed, but mourned the loss of seventeen pilots killed, wounded or ‘missing’, and returned to England on 22 May with just three Hurricanes intact. The record showed equally determined tallies in the other fighter squadrons: claims of nine or ten Luftwaffe victims for every RAF pilot killed or incapacitated.
On the German side many hitherto unpublicised Luftwaffe pilots rose rapidly to fame and glory during the brief French campaign. Wilhelm Balthasar of JG ‘Richthofen’ who claimed twenty-two victims from 10 May to 22 May, including the astonishing record (then) of nine in a single day’s combat; Werner Molders, already credited with fourteen victories with the Spanish ‘Condor Legion’, who claimed a further twenty-five victims over France; Adolf Galland, later to command all Luftwaffe fighters, whose tally for the French campaign totalled seventeen; Helmuth Wick, destined to claim fifty-six victories before his death in late 1940: all these and many other young eagles of the black cross founded deserved reputations during the early summer months in French skies. Their weapon of destruction was the Messerschmitt Bf 109E, a fighter with very few equals in 1940, and a vehicle well tailored for its deadly role. With rare exception, only the British Hawker Hurricane had given the Bf 109 pilots any real cause for concern in combat, an adversary which if admittedly slower in speed was still capable of handling and despatching any Bf 109 if piloted by a determined ‘driver’.
The main disadvantage for the RAF fighter pilots was primarily the huge disparity in pure numbers of aircraft available in any combat with the Luftwaffe, but also lay in the useless pre-1939 peacetime types of tactical formations initially employed by the Hurricane crews. Experience soon taught the vital need for much flexibility in air combat tactics, a lesson already assimilated by the Luftwaffe’s fighter arm during its invaluable testing time over Spain. The almost unbelievable speed and efficiency of the German advance into France left the French air force bewildered, and French air resistance varied sharply from near-fanatical opposition from certain individual pilots and crews, including veterans of the Polish air force and others who had fled to France to continue their particular vendettas against Germany, and near-apathy among no few other French escadrilles and groupes. Those who did not hesitate to challenge this latest invasion from Germany took a relatively heavy toll of German opponents before the chaos and lack of efficiency by ground support facilities forced their withdrawal; many such men eventually escaped to England where they joined the RAF to continue the fight against Nazism.
Meanwhile, on the ground, the triumphant German infantry in the wake of their forward Panzer units, and aided constantly by the notorious Ju 87 Stuka dive-bombers which petrified any stumbling blocks of Allied resistance en route, swept through northwards and westwards, and by 24 May Guderian’s tanks had invested Boulogne, some twenty miles from a little-known coastal town titled Dunkerque (Dunkirk). Four days later the Belgian Army formally surrendered, leaving nine divisions of the British BEF and ten divisions of the French 1st Army cramped into a corridor to the sea barely fifty miles long and fifteen miles wide. The scene was thus set for the final piece de resistance of German tactical planning; a crushing pincer movement by the German army groups south and north of the corridor which might engulf some half a million Allied men and cripple all further opposition.
At that exact high point of the German military achievement Hitler intervened personally by issuing a personal order for Guderian’s Panzers to halt their advance. This extraordinary decision – partly based on misgivings about the vastly stretched supply lines of the forward Panzer elements, but in no small part by Göring’s insistence that his Luftwaffe alone could now eliminate the remaining Allied forces heading towards Dunkirk – was to give a brief breathing space of three days to the besieged BEF and French armies during which the first shiploads of evacuated soldiers were taken off the Dunkirk beaches. Operation Dynamo, the Allied code-name for the evacuation of the trapped British and French divisions filtering to Dunkirk, commenced on 26 May, masterminded by the Royal Navy.
Aerial protection for this mass exodus – patently a priority target for the Luftwaffe – became the prime responsibility of RAF Fighter Command in south-east England, in particular No 11 Group, commanded by the brilliant New Zealander Keith Park. At that time Park had at his disposal, at most, 200 fighters spread thinly over sixteen squadrons, all based within fighting distance of the beleaguered port. His only possible reserves were the other fighter squadrons allotted to defence of the Midlands and northern Britain, squadrons which his superior, Dowding, was not prepared immediately to throw into an already wasteful campaign in France. The Admiralty, conscious of the extreme vulnerability of its ships and the army at Dunkirk to air attack, duly requested forcibly continuous air cover from Fighter Command, a demand simply beyond Park’s capability to provide in any such form. Instead Park chose to despatch single or pairs of squadrons on a type of patrol rotation above and inland from the Dunkirk area, primarily to prevent the Luftwaffe reaching the beachline in any concentrated strength. Clearly, the Luftwaffe’s numerical superiority and huge tactical advantages would mean that a percentage of German bombers would get to Dunkirk, but Park’s resources were too slender to prevent them achieving some success.
A lingering accusation against the RAF by many soldiers who survived the hell of Dunkirk has been a bitterly scathing complaint of the ‘lack of air cover’ above the beaches. It is a calumny undeserved by the fighter pilots who flew daily to their limits, seeking out the German bombers beyond Dunkirk and exacting a heavy toll of these potential raiders. On 27 May, for merely one example, twenty-three German aircraft were lost along with sixty-four German air crew killed, and, as Major Werner Kreipe of III/KG2 reported: ‘The enemy fighters pounced on our tightly knit formations with the fury of maniacs.’ It was during the days immediately prior to the official evacuation commencing that the Luftwaffe first encountered the RAF’s Spitfires in strength, and indeed provided the opportunity for many Spitfire pilots to experience their first taste of combat with large formations of German aircraft. Men who were soon to become internationally recognised fighting leaders, such as the legless Douglas Bader, ‘Sailor’ Malan and Robert Tuck, all claimed the first of their eventual large tallies of combat victims in the skies above or near Dunkirk in May and early June 1940. A measure of the achievement of the RAF fighters over Dunkirk is the simple fact that from 26 May to 4 June when Dynamo officially ceased, the Luftwaffe was only able seriously to intervene in the BEF evacuation on two and a half of the nine days; while a third of a million Allied troops were retrieved from the beaches and taken to England. Some 40,000 troops, mainly French, remained to be taken prisoner, and it was their continuing resistance to the encircling German army which may be regarded as the prime factor in the bulk of Allied troops’ escape to Britain from the scarred beaches of Dunkirk.
When Operation Dynamo was completed on 4 June, Hugh Dowding took stock of his command’s immediate strength. From 10 May until 4 June a total of 432 Hurricanes (mainly), Spitfires and other fighters had been lost in action – a rough equivalent of twenty firstline squadrons – apart from the almost irreplaceable pilots in so many of these. By 18 June, when the last remnants of the RAF units in France finally returned to England, the whole Blitzkrieg had cost the RAF the frightening total loss of 959 aircraft. Of this tally 477 were fighters of all types. Added to the thirty-two fighters lost in the ill-fated Norwegian campaign, the RAF had sacrificed the near-equivalent of forty complete operational squadrons.
The Blitzkrieg had also cost the Luftwaffe dear. At least 1,300 aircraft were lost in combat, mainly to the RAF opposition, while an equivalent total was considered to be either in need of extensive repair or replacement if they were to be brought back to operational fitness. Such losses were considered tragic but bearable in view of the amazing successes of the whole campaign. In England, however, Hugh Dowding, now faced with the situation he had foretold – a triumphant Luftwaffe now based less than 100 miles from London – apart from German air bases in Norway et al, could only count a total of 446 fighters in his command, of which only 331 were Hurricanes or Spitfires. With this puny force, had Göring immediately extended his Luftwaffe’s assaults against British mainland targets, Dowding was expected to defend the United Kingdom. Once the Dunkirk operation was completed, more thoughtful Luftwaffe senior officers realised that here had been the German air force’s first real setback. Despite Göring’s vainglorious boasts that his Luftwaffe alone would destroy the BEF in Dunkirk, his bombers had failed to accomplish anything like a crushing defeat. Indeed, the bulk of Allied troops had been retrieved to fight again in the future, and under the very noses of the Luftwaffe.
The continuing invasion of France was a foregone conclusion, with the Luftwaffe mainly engaged in destroying the disorganised remaining French air service. One such air operation, Operation Paula, used some 300 Stukas and other bombers, well escorted by fighters, to attack airfields and aircraft factories around Paris, and lost about thirty aircraft to groundfire. It was the only true strategic air operation mounted by the Luftwaffe throughout the Blitzkrieg campaign, taking place on 3 and 4 June, and accounted for more than 100 French aircraft destroyed in the air and many more on the ground. Less than three weeks later the formal surrender of France was ratified by signature in the Forest of Compiegne: the Blitzkrieg was over. With the signing of the truce, Hitler’s ambitions reached a personal peak, while the German armed forces had achieved their greatest level of triumph, a pinnacle they were destined never to reach again throughout the succeeding war years. In the context of the Luftwaffe’s contribution there was cause for celebration and misgiving. No one could deny the vital ingredient for success supplied by the air arm in every facet of the 1940 campaigns in every country defeated by Germany. Its swift establishment of overt aerial supremacy from the outset of each onslaught had paved the pathways to ultimate victory in each case, and the propaganda-originated legend of Luftwaffe ‘invincibility’ fostered in pre-1939 days had apparently been totally justified. Actual air losses in men and machines had been admittedly alarmingly high in toto, but the end had justified the means, and such casualties were accepted as inevitable, if regrettable.
On the darker face of the overall victory, however, were several omens of future problems for any continuance of the air war against the sole remaining Allied nation yet to be overcome: Britain. The much-vaunted two-seat, twin-engined Messerschmitt Bf 110 Zerstörer – intended as a long-range escort fighter for the Luftwaffe’s bombers – had already been shown to be ineffective against determined fighter opposition. Even the much-feared Junkers Ju 87 Stuka was patently incapable of carrying out its specific role without ample fighter escort, or at least complete Luftwaffe aerial supremacy in the areas intended for Stuka operations. And as some Luftwaffe generals turned their thoughts to the possibilities of attacks against England in the near future, the air force’s complete lack of a truly long-range heavy bomber obviously placed cramping restrictions on the scope of any such air assault.
Any such doubts about the future were, nevertheless, swept aside for the moment as Hitler and his hierarchy revelled in the heady atmosphere of the complete victory over France. A flood of celebratory promotions and glittering awards and honours was liberally showered upon the armed services; no less than twelve generals receiving promotion to field marshal, with accompanying waves of elevations in rank in descending order throughout each service department. For Hermann Göring, now being loudly proclaimed as the ‘creator of the Luftwaffe’, came especial honours. For his Luftwaffe supremo, Hitler created an entirely new rank, that of Reichsmarschall des Grossdeutschen Reiches – Marshal of the Greater German Reich – and also awarded him the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross, the sole example of this medal to be awarded throughout the whole war. On the firstline fighter and bomber Geschwader too a liberal sprinkling of medals and promotions descended as the crews began to settle into their latest bases along the northern French coastal areas and the Baltic coast. Recuperation, refurbishment and replacements of war-scathed equipment were the order of the day, and operations were reduced accordingly as an air of relaxation pervaded the armed services generally.
Such relaxation did not mean any cessation entirely of the German war machinery. The priority objective now had to be the subjugation of Britain if Germany was to feel in total command of western Europe, and Hitler, after a few weeks of hesitation hoping faintly for Britain to sue for peaceful termination to the conflict, issued his approval on 2 July for the start of preparations for a possible ‘landing operation against England’. Two weeks later, on 16 July, in the continued absence of any peace overtures from the British government now headed by Winston Churchill, Hitler confirmed his intention to invade England and issued Operational Directive No 16... to eliminate the English homeland as a base for the carrying on of the war against Germany, and, if it should become necessary, to occupy it completely’.
Such preparations were more easily propounded than actually made at the time. The Luftwaffe had yet to recover fully from the rigours of an exhausting, continuing campaign lasting for two months without let-up, and necessary resettlement in fresh bases, establishment of new supply and communication arteries, replacement aircraft, spares and crews, were far from ready for any renewed aerial conflict. Whatever the state of the army or navy, the Luftwaffe was necessarily the spearhead for any such invasion attempt across the Channel. Without firm air supremacy over southern England, no German landing force could hope to succeed, while no naval operation across the Channel could be guaranteed to be safe. The onus for attaining the vital pre-requisite of air control was firmly on the preening Göring’s flabby shoulders. In typical Göring-fashion, the bulky Reichsmarschall boasted to a gathering of his Luftwaffe commanders that the RAF’s fighter forces would be destroyed on the ground and in the air ‘...within two or three days’.
It was from the start a forlorn prophecy. Apart from its baseless underestimation of the RAF’s potential fighting strength and ability, Göring’s statement failed utterly to recognise the limitations in strike power inherent in his Luftwaffe. By its nature and establishment the German air arm was never equipped for any form of long-range strategic air war. It possessed only twin-engined, medium range bombers – a result of the pre-war cancellation of any four-engined bomber development programme – and was entirely shaped for short-range tactical use against neighbouring countries in Europe. To expect such a force to undertake a form of strategic operation for which it had neither training nor equipment was pure folly. The available strength on 20 July of the three Luftflotten detailed to overwhelm the RAF, was 1,610 bombers and 1,155 fighters, though of these totals only 944 bombers and 824 fighters were actually fit for immediate operations on that date. Against such an array the RAF, on the same day, could muster little more than 600 fighters, some of which, like the Boulton Paul Defiant and ‘converted’ Blenheims, were obviously outmatched by Göring’s Messerschmitts. If grave doubts about the capability of the Luftwaffe to fulfil Göring’s boasts lingered among some Luftwaffe generals, the mood of the operational crews was buoyant and confident. Though sporadic sorties were undertaken throughout June and July across the Kanal (Channel), the pace of operational activity during those high summer weeks, in contrast to the previous weeks, was hardly taxing. Indeed, many fighter pilots expressed mildly irritated frustration at not receiving any orders to carry the war into English skies.
Across that same strip of water, the RAF’s fighter pilots too were impatient to get to grips with the Luftwaffe, fully confident in their ability to defend their homeland. The scene was set for an aerial battle which would prove a significant turning point in the conduct of the, whole war – pure air power was to be entrusted with a responsibility never before granted to its advocates.

Blenheims and Battles flew against the reported German army incursions into French and Belgian territory.


'The loss rate for 10-11-12 May was frightening: 40 per cent, 100 per cent, and 63 per cent of despatched formations respectively. Of almost 140 bombers serviceably available on the morning of 10 May, the AASF was reduced to 72 by dusk on 12 May.'

Flak guns protected the river crossings.

Evidence for the incredible valour of the bomber crews lay in a hundred charred and wrecked aircraft strewn among the forests and valleys of France. A German sentry stands guard over a crash-landed Battle of 150 Squadron.

'The main disadvantage for the RAF fighter pilots was primarily the huge disparity in pure numbers of aircraft available in any combat with the Luftwaffe, but also lay in the useless pre-1939 peacetime types of tactical formations initially employed by Hurricane crews.'

A Morane-Saulnier MS 406 caught on the ground by ground strafing German fighters. French air resistance varied from near-fanatical opposition to near-apathy.

'The enemy fighters pounced on our tightly knit formations with the fury of maniacs.'
Major Werner Kreipe of III/KG2

During the fighting for France the much-vaunted two-seat, twin-engined Messerschmitt Bf 110 Zerstörer, intended as a long-range escort fighter for the Luftwaffe’s bombers, was found to be ineffective against determined fighter opposition.

'The RAF's fighter forces will be destroyed on the ground and in the air within two or three days.'
Reichsmarschall Herman Goring

Hitler congratulates Göring in July 1940 after the conclusion of the campaign in France. England stands alone against Nazi Germany.

Further Reading

Air War Over Europe 1939 - 1945
(Paperback - 240 pages)
ISBN: 9780850529371

by Chaz Bowyer
Only £12.95

Chaz Bowyer, arguably the most authoritative air historian of his generation, tackles the broad sweep of air operations in the European theatre in this book. Initially, the Luftwaffe attempted to dominate the skies, and very nearly succeeded. The valiant defence of the UK by the RAF in the Battle of Britain ranks among the greatest feats of arms in our countryÕs history. The development of aircraft types and the descriptions of the actions that they and their pilots and crew fought make for great reading.
Read more at Pen & Sword Books...

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