The First All Aircraft Battle: The Battle of Britain and Its Amazing Casualties.

by Daniel Russ on November 26, 2017

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Operation Sealion was a planned air borne and amphibious assault on the British Isles. Hitler was looking for a way to force the British into some concessions and possibly surrender.  It began with a plan to soften up the United Kingdom’s mighty Royal Air Force and so an all out air assault began on July 10th 1940. The battle of Britain looks to be one of the only all aircraft battle in history. While Hitler wanted an airborne and amphibious assault on the British Isles he was simultaneously he eyeing an invasion of Russia. That said, he worried whether the attrition of his air assets would obviate the advantage he needed for a successful Russian invasion.

 

Britain had 1963 aircraft. Most of the British aircraft were at home preparing to defend the island nation from unrelenting aerial attack. The actual British defensive pilot force included Canadians, Americans, Poles, New Zealanders, South Africans, Jamaicans, Rhodesians, and Jews from Palestine. That would be 2,936 pilots. The Royal Air Force lost 1250 aircraft, which included 1017 fighters. In all, 520 pilots and ground crew were lost.

 

Germany started with 2550 aircraft, from observation craft to bombers and fighters. German total air losses were 4245 people killed, wounded, captured or missing and 1977 aircraft destroyed.

The Battle of Britain ended in October 1940 with the Germans abandoning the notion of an invasion. It was their first major defeat in World War II.

 

The air war gave birth to a new German strategy and that was a massive sustained night bombing mission called the Blitz. This eight month murderous campaign did little to dampen the British war effort even though it resulted in 40,000 civilian casualties.  

 

The British Countryside was littered with the detritus of the Luftwaffe. Burning planes often fell into buildings and farmhouses killing people and livestock and destroying property. The Messerschmidt BF 109 and the Heinkel He 11 and the Stuka Dive Bomber played primary roles for Germany. The Hurricane and Spitfire shined for England.

 

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