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Battle of Britain

Updated on March 27, 2012

Their Finest Hour

"Finest Hour" Speech

The Battle of Britain

The Battle of Britain was a protracted air campaign that took place primarily during the Summer and Fall of 1940. With most continental powers having fallen, Britain had no potential allies, and at this point, was on the verge of defeat. It seemed so much so, that even Hitler began to plan the invasion of the Soviet Union, rather than give Britain the thought and follow-through that it deserved.

Still, the Germans launched a ferocious air campaign against the people of Britain, intent on winning air superiority over the island. Assumably, then German Bombers could bombard the populace and increase a growing political movement to capitulate. If that did not happen, then the Germans would begin an airborne and amphibious operation to capture Britain, in much the same way as they had captured Norway.

However, this was not what the British had in mind. Instead, the Royal Air Force, most notably the Hawker Hurricane, met the Luftwaffe in the air. Early on in the campaign, the Luftwaffe focused on coastal shipping, but soon began targetting anti-aircraft installations, fighter bases, and factories critical to continued resistance in the air.

This shows their changing focus from 'choking' off the Island, to ending attrition and improving combat in the air. Supposedly, supplies would be vastly reduced by their U-Boats, which could tighten a stranglehold on the Island. However, this did not happen, and American supplies to the British only increased with the Lend-Lease.

Eventually the Campaign was vastly reduced in support for preparations for Operation Barbarossa.

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