How RAF Turned The Tide Against German Luftwaffe

Current patterns of air warfare in the universe have developed drastically. It can non be denied the universe today is at the coming of an ‘arms race ‘ where some states develop and get latest combatant air assets either for the intent of territorial defense mechanism of to some extent, show of military might. In the aftermath of the new millenary, air power is obviously going the dominant factor in violative and defensive military actions across the Earth.

Historically, the battle for air high quality began in what seemed to be the first and major air run during World War II. It was launched by the German Luftwaffe towards Britain ‘s Royal Air Force ( RAF ) during the summer of 1940. This big graduated table air offense was called the ‘Battle of Britain ‘ . This celebrated air run has caught the attending and generated much involvements among military research workers the universe over merely because the ‘Battle of Britain ‘ is seen to be the turning point in military air power history.

The conflict officially began on the 10th of July 1940, shortly after the Germans successfully invaded France. It ended on 31 October, 1940. It is proclaimed as the first conflict to be decided strictly in the air and was the first existent trial of utilizing air power as a defensive and violative arm. The ‘Battle of Britain ‘ is an attempt by the Germans to occupy Britain through the usage of air high quality. The undertaking of the Luftwaffe was to weaken the Britain ‘s air defence before any successful amphibian assault or land invasion can take topographic point. However, the RAF successfully defended Britain against the German onslaught by the effectual and efficient usage of defensive and violative counter-attack through the projection of air power. Over the class of the conflict, the Germans were finally defeated.

Research PROBLEM

This research will concentrate on how RAF turned the tide of war against the superior German Luftwaffe.


To analyze the factors that led to the success of RAF against the German Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain.

Chapter 2


Battle Of Britain Overview

‘Never in the field of human struggle was so much owed by so many to so few. ”

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill paid testimonial to the British aviators of the Royal Air force ( RAF ) Fighter Command with these words in a address to the House of Commons. These brave aviators are by and large credited with salvaging Britain from a German invasion in the summer and autumn of 1940, and they no uncertainty played a polar function in the defence of Britain ( Colville, 1985 ) . The importance of their adept and finding public presentation in the celebrated Battle of Britain is universally recognized ( Buckley, 1999 ) .

However, another group of people was besides instrumental to the defence Britain. The discoverers and developers of some singular new technological progresss were every bit decisive in protecting Britain from German invasion ( M.D, 2000 ) . Radio Direction-finding And Ranging ( RADAR ) , Identify Friend or Foe ( IFF ) , and a singular Fighter Control System were indispensable component of the defence, as were developers of the Spitfire and Hurricane aircraft ( Bungay, 2000 ) .

The gravitation of the coming air conflict was clear to all concerned, on both sides of the English Channel. Bungay ( 2000 ) discovered that if the British were successful in driving Germany ‘s air onslaught, it would be about impossible for the Germans to establish an invasion effort. On the other manus, if the Luftwaffe defeated Britain combatants and gained air high quality, it would be every bit impossible for Britain to successfully support against onslaught. If the Luftwaffe successfully defeated RAF ‘s Fighter Command, German bombers could so destruct Britain ‘s land defenses, go forthing Britain at the clemency of the Wehrmacht ( Bellamy, 2009 ) . Clearly the Battle of Britain would be among the most decisive brushs of World War II.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, Commander-in-Chief of the RAF ‘s Fighter Command estimated that he would necessitate a lower limit of 50 two squadrons ‘ combatants to support Britain from invasion. By the terminal of the Dunkirk emptying, Fighter Command ‘s effectual combat strength had been reduced to twenty six squadrons, half of the force he though would be required to protect Britain ( Bellamy, 2009 ) .

Hitler had hope to avoid the necessity for an invasion of England and put out several peace antennas to London, which were clearly rejected by Winston Churchill. Following the rejection of Hitler ‘s ‘appeal to ground ‘ in July 1940, the German high bid felt there was no other resort than to allow guns talk. In July 1940, Hitler issued Directives No. 16, which stated:

“ Since England, inspite of her hopeless military, shows no marks of being ready to come to a via media, I have decided to fix a landing operation against England, and, if necessary, to transport it out.

Therefore Operation Sea Lion, as Germany named its program for the invasion of England, was set into gesture. Expecting some three months of good conditions prior to the reaching of the fall storm season that would do the invasion impossible, the Luftwaffe began fixing to put to death the program. The tested and true expression of destroying of the enemy air force, followed by the rapid progress of land forces supported by aggressive air onslaughts had worked good from the Poland run onwards, this was planned method to be employed in the invasion of England ( Deighton, 1980 ) . The lone difference in the German estimation was that since the RAF was the largest air force yet encountered, its devastation would take longer that the usual 12 to 48 hours allotted to old air forces ( Battle of Britain Historical Society, 2007 ) .




From our observation, there are two factors that led to the success of RAF against the German Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain. The first factor is Integrated Air Defence System ( IADS ) and the 2nd factor is Aircraft Technology. This two factor will be discussed in the following chapter which contain all the component that contribute to successful of the RAF.

Chapter 3


Figure 1: IADS Organization Structure


Nowadays battleground, affaire d’honneur between the IADS and the suppression of enemy air defense mechanism is consider the most of import factor that determine the achievement of the conflict.

An integrated air defence system ( IADS ) is a system of bid, control, communicating and intelligence ( C3I ) that integrates all anti-aircraft detectors such as radio detection and ranging, ocular observation station, airborne early warning aircraft ( AEW ) every bit good as anti-aircraft arms for case of interceptors, air high quality combatants, anti-air-aircraft heavy weapon ( AAA ) and surface-to-air missiles ( SAM ) ( Buckley, 1999 ) . The control is more or less decentralized more frequently depending on the peculiar national philosophy. Malayan philosophy is concerned with de-escalation, nevertheless leting a combatant pilot to prosecute the concluding onslaught under their discretion. In the other manus, Soviet and Iraq philosophy were more centralised and making less flexibleness for the pilot.

Battle of Britain witnessed the first operational IADS of all time implemented without any computing machine aid other than in the guardians encephalons, although the term itself had non yet been invented during that epoch ( Bungay, 2000 ) . The biggest error that the Germans did is non seeing the British system as a system. They overlooked the most critical and vulnerable portion which is the bid and control centre that integrates the detectors and arms. Germans frequently consider landing fields, radio detection and rangings, and others as enemy critical point, even though some of the German radio detection and rangings of the clip were more advanced, but were non every bit good incorporate ( Cox, 1991 ) .

During conflict of Britain, Integrated Air Defence System has been established based on these 4 primary elements. This is consist of Radar ( Air Defence ) , Anti-aircraft-artillery, the Observer Corps and the balloon bid ( Deltaweb International Ltd 2004, 2005 ) . Furthermore, the anti-aircraft-artillery bid is capable of carry oning the searchlight operations which really utile during German dark foraies.


The chief factors that contribute the success of the air defense mechanisms during the Battle of Britain were the early warning system known as Radio Detection and Ranging ( RADAR ) .

Picture 1: Radar Operator

British realize that betterment in early warning techniques is every bit of import, consistent with the development of a new coevals of fast monoplane combatant aircraft to forestall an air onslaught ( M.D, 2000 ) . Since Britain was so close to the continent and combat air patrol ( CAP ) missions were excessively expensive to deploy invariably, some method was required to warn the defense mechanisms every bit rapidly as possible as the attack of any hostile air foray.

The first scientific discipline of the sensing and location of aircraft by wireless beams made such a fleet advancement from the first experiments in February 1935 that precisely five old ages subsequently a series of coastal radio detection and ranging Stationss layer the E and south sides of the state was operational ( Feltus, 2001 ) . At 10,000 pess, interlopers could be detected at scopes of 50-120 stat mis. As scopes for low-flying aircraft were much shorter, a twine of Chain Home Low Stationss to observe aircraft winging at 1,000 pess and below was built after the war began.

The Germans made a strenuous onslaught on radio detection and ranging Stationss in Kent, Sussex and the Isle of Wight on 12 August and a few uncoordinated foraies thenceforth. Apart from the imperviousness in destructing the unfastened, web constructions of the transmission and receiving masts, the Germans ne’er to the full understood the important function of radio detection and ranging to the British and, hence, did non put the highest of precedences on its destruction ( Bungay, 2000 ) .

Radar was the eyes of Fighter Command, even though it would hold been unable to see incoming foraies early plenty to direct supporting combatant to stop. But its efficiency was greatly enhanced by being merely one component of, and integrated into, a sophisticated bid and control web which received the natural information of radio detection and ranging secret plans and quickly applied it to direct the usage of cherished resources of pilots and aircraft to the best possible consequence.

Anti Aircraft Command

It is formed on 1 April 1939 and its late entry on the scene was to disable it all over the Battle. At the terminal of July 1940, it had merely a half of the heavy and less than a 3rd of the light anti-aircraft guns considered indispensable even before the Germans occupied France and the Low Countries. It was used to protect aircraft mills, landing fields, ports, naval bases and industrial countries, but precedence had to be given to the first of these. From 7 September, when the Germans launched their assault on London, many guns had to be switched instantly to its defense mechanism.

The anti-aircraft forces were incorporated with Fighter Command and operational control was in the custodies of Air Chief Marshal Dowding who had an outstanding working relationship with the caput of Anti-Aircraft Command, Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Pile. The anti-aircraft guns shot down about 300 German aircraft during the conflict.

Searchlights. Operated with the gun defense mechanisms, were active against German foraies which flew over Britain on most darks from the beginning of June onwards. They were more plentiful than guns, about 4,000 being available towards the sanctioned sum of 4,128. In daytime they had the of import map of describing air activity to the gun operations suites.

Picture 2: Perceiver Corps

Observer Corps

A group of civilian voluntaries formed in 1925 which had a important function to play. The series of coastal radio detection and ranging Stationss was really effectual at plotting foraies of incoming hostile aircraft, but it was unsighted one time hostile plunderers crossed the seashore. Inland, the whole duty of the accurate trailing of German aircraft relied on the Observer Corps.

Enthusiastic, largely voluntary and required to be on responsibility out-of-doorss in all conditionss, members were besides mostly self-taught in the important accomplishments of aircraft acknowledgment and height appraisal. When the war broke out, there were 30,000 perceivers and 1,000 observation stations which were manned invariably ( Deltaweb International Ltd 2004, 2005 ) . Information went foremost to an Observer Corps Centre and so straight to Group and Sector Operations Rooms. The system is instead effectual when the conditions was all right, nevertheless it will degraded when rain and low cloud were present ( Bellamy, 2009 ) .

Ballon Command

This unit was formed in November 1938 to run bombardment balloons over the most open marks. The development was rapid that, by the terminal of July 1940, 1,466 balloons were in service, 450 of which were required to support London itself ( Bellamy, 2009 ) . The chief aim of the balloons was to force German aircraft to wing higher in order to cut down bombing truth and therefore conveying them within scope of heavy anti-aircraft guns. Balloons were chiefly effectual against dive bombers.

The RAF Fighter Command And Control System

Command and Control is defined as an application of power and counsel by an appointed commanding officer over a military force in order to accomplish fulfillment of a mandated mission. Often called as C2, it involves the effectual and efficient employment of forces, equipment, communications, installations, and processs employed by a commanding officer through as series of activities that involve planning, directing, organizing, and commanding forces and operations directed towards mission achievement. In its employment in military operations, C2 has been considered as a force enabler ( Deighton, 1980 ) .

Command and control encompasses three classs, viz. forces, technological component and procedures. The class on forces screens all facets of the human resource demand, while, the engineering component includes the equipment communications, and installations that are indispensable in the behavior of the mission. It is imperative that the commanding officer must be able to organize and incorporate all these elements to do them ready, competent and available at all times when the mission or the state of affairs warrants.

The Fighter Command of Great Britain ‘s Royal Air Force was established in July 1936 under the bid of Sir Hugh Dowding. This was portion of RAF ‘s reorganisation attempts in reaction to the turning tenseness brought about by Germany ‘s enlargement in Europe. With the Fighter Command central office stationed at the Bentley Priory in Stanmore, Middlesex, this unit was established along with the other RAF constituents viz. : the Bomber Command and Coastal Command. At the bosom of the British air defense mechanism is a complex combatant control system known as the ‘Dowding System ‘ , the inspiration of RAF Fighter Command ‘s leader ( Colville, 1985 ) .

In the Dowding System, Fighter Command was divided into four groups, each of which taking duty in guarding a specific geographical country of Britain. Number 10 Group is responsible for Wales and the south-west of England ; Number 11 Group controlled London and the south-east ; Number 12 Group covered the Midlands, East Anglia and northern England up to Yorkshire and Lancashire ; and Number 13 Group covered parts of northern England and southern Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Each Group is farther subdivided into several sectors. Each sector consists of at least one landing field each and a Sector Control Station. These Sector Control Stations reported to its several Group Headquarters which the Group, in bend, studies to the Headquarters of Fighter Command. This Headquarters is located belowground and it serves as a filter and communications centre. It collects, collates and synthesizes the studies from each radio detection and ranging station and through a big map tabular array ; they plotted the class of each foray every bit good as the class of each RAF interceptor flight. Therefore, giving commanding officers a existent clip image of what was happen all over the state which assistance in determination devising.

The RAF Fighter Control System or “ Dowding System ” provides for a large image of the existent clip state of affairs over British district peculiarly in times of German air foraies. All the radio detection and ranging Stationss, the perceiver corps stations and Observer Corps Centre, the balloon bombardment Stationss, combatant landing fields, way happening Stationss, way happening triangulation Stationss, anti-aircraft guns, Sector Control Stations, Group Headquarters, and the Fighter Command Headquarters Filter and Operations Room were linked into an incorporate system that brings away all available arms into the bid and control of military commanding officers and it enabled Britain to expeditiously pull off its limited figure of combatant planes and pilots. The system was able to use radio detection and ranging information and situational consciousness to the full good in order to accurately direct combatants towards the right topographic point at the proper clip to negate German combatants and assail the bombers.

Figure 2: RAF Fighter Control System ( Dowding System )

This system besides provided for integrity in attempt as upon warning from the Sector Controllers, balloons are hoisted into topographic point and these balloon bombardments forced German bombers to wing higher therefore giving bombing truth. Sector Controllers besides alarms the anti-aircraft guns along the likely path of the bombers to be ready when the enemy aircraft came within scope. And on a more of import degree, the Sector Controller gives the signal for the scramble combatants from his sector landing fields and directs them to the existent location of the entrance foray. This provided for efficiency and effectivity for the RAF forces as this paved the manner for the preservation of aircraft and pilots every bit much as possible. This system besides enabled the Fighter Command to salvage on fuel and clip alternatively of fall backing to the dearly-won and uneffective aerial seashore patrols.


It is summer fall 1917 when southwest England was attack by German Gotha ‘s bombers. At that clip British Army ‘s Royal Flying Corps is hopeless and unable to counter the onslaughts. This lay waste toing onslaught have resulted the constitution of Royal Air Force ( RAF ) . After this onslaught, with the support from the populace, Britain practising independent construct of air power, revolutionise the air force and ready for engaging war against her enemy. General Sir Hug Trenchard took the bid on April 1, 1918 after the RAF established as an independent service.

During World War One ( WWI ) , many military strategians strongly recognized the bomber as the taking arm of modern warfare. Italy ‘s General Giulio Douhet said:

“ A state which has bid of the air, can bomb the inside of an enemy ‘s state so devastatingly that the physical and moral opposition of the people would besides fall in. An aerial fleet capable of dumping 100s of dozenss of bombs can easy be organized ; hence, the dramatic force and magnitude of an aerial offense, considered from the point of view of either equipage or moral significance, are far more effectual than those of any other violative yet known ” .

Brigadier William ‘Billy ‘ Mitchell of the United States said of the singular potency of tactical blitzing:

“ Air power holds out the hope of the states that in the hereafter air conflicts taking topographic point stat mis off from the frontiers will be so decisive and of such so far-reaching consequence that the state losing them will be willing to capitulate without fall backing to farther competition on land or H2O. Aircraft operating in the bosom of the enemy ‘s state will carry through their object in an improbably short infinite of clip once the control of the air has been established, and the month or even old ages of competition of land ground forcess with a loss of 1000000s of lives will be eliminated in the hereafter ” .

Talking in the House of Commons in 1932, Stanley Baldwin, the former and future British Prime Minister, said:

“ I think it is good for the adult male in the street to recognize that there is no power on Earth that can protect him from being bombed. Whatever people may state him, the bomber will ever acquire through. The lone defense mechanism is offense, which means that you have to kill more adult females and kids more rapidly than the enemy if you what to salvage yourselves. I merely reference that, so that the people may recognize what is waiting for them when the following war comes ” .

Up to this phase, British outlook was, there is no solution in execution of any sort of defense mechanisms against the bomber onslaught. The lone oneself defense mechanism was strategic turning away towards German ‘s bomber fleet which dominated Britain ‘s air sovereignty between these two major wars.

During this epoch, the civilian interior decorators have the chance on accomplishing and contriving the engineering progresss, new stuffs, new engine and fabrication methods in aeronautical industries while RAF were excessively focused on bomber job and as a resulted, they were left behind in these radical alteration and promotion in aircraft design and production ( Bungay, 2000 ) . Due to this affair, RAF was stick to their old large plane, powered by air-cooled radial engine which capable of merely 174 miles per hour as Britain ‘s first line combatant until 1936 ( Deltaweb International Ltd 2004, 2005 ) .

In 1933 Sir Edward Ellington become the Chief of Air Staff, followed by Sir Hugh Dowding at 1936 who appointed as Commander-in-Chief of the Fighter Command. These two RAF ‘s general believed that it is important to get the better of bomber onslaughts as they lead RAF and Britain to fix for the incoming conflict. By overhauling RAF ‘s combatant fleet, at the terminal of 1937, the Fighter Command squadron was equipped with the new plus, Hawker Hurricane. The aircraft was combined with the advanced characteristics such as retractable landing cogwheel and enclosed cockpit. The Hurricane besides able to be easy and quickly produced in bing installations due to its cannular metal construction and fabric tegument.

The innovation of Hurricane was the prima factor of the following coevals RAF, from the biplanes of the yesteryear ( WWI Era ) towards the sophisticated Spitfires of the fortiess. Although the German ‘s combatant, Messerschmitt Bf109 was wholly outclassed the Hurricane, this Britain ‘s animal achieved singular success in the Battle of Britain. Almost 1,715 Hurricanes joined this conflict and it was claimed eight per cent of German ‘s aircraft shot down by Fighter Command. Yet the Hurricane has its restriction in footings of velocity and rate of ascent other than being powerful and capable of prolonging extended combat harm. Due to these restrictions, Hurricane was assigned to assail the German ‘s bombers while Spitfires assigned to assail their combatant bodyguards.

The Supermarines Spitfire was a true beauty of the RAF. This sexy piece of machine was designed by Reginald Mitchell, civilian aircraft interior decorator, which the most singular and celebrated aircraft during World War II. It was revolutionized in several ways which featured new and complex fabrication techniques. It was designed with the province of the art aerodynamic construction in order to execute outstanding manoeuvrability against the German ‘s aircraft.

With its tight turning radius, wash-out consequence for the wing, astonishing flight control response and new Roll Royce engine that can transcend 400mph, it ‘s a entire beauty to wing but a animal to the enemy. With these factors, it ‘s proven the Spitfire outclassed the Bf109. The innovation of Hawker Hurricane and Supermarines Spitfire was a great investing for Britain in order to keep the sovereignty of the air space and to avoid German accomplishing air high quality as what they did on Poland and France in 1939.


By uniting radio detection and ranging, an bing engineering that others had been unable to efficaciously use, with their clever Fighter Control System and a fleet of capable combatant aircraft, the British created a comprehensive defense mechanism which finally defeated Germany ‘s onslaught. The application of engineering and invention clearly saved Britain from licking by a military superior force.

The historical significance of successfully implementing strategic engineering is as of import today as it was during the Battle of Britain and it parallels the demands of a twenty-first century armed forces. However, merely as the British triumph in the Battle of Britain really started with innovations and inventions developed in the mid 1930 ‘s, the position of the RMAF ‘s hereafter as a defensive power may really good depend on technological development determinations made today.

Battle of Britain has indicated a major milepost in the development of IADS operation at the same time with sweetening of aircraft engineerings based on treatment from the old chapter. The history itself shows how important the IADS operations and the crucial of holding proper integrating of all those air defense mechanism elements in order to achieve and accomplish any triumph of air run.


The RMAF faces an wholly different and potentially more hard state of affairs in the twenty-first century than the RAF faced in 1940. While the RAF had a clearly identified menace and even knew fundamentally when and how the German Luftwaffe would assail, the RMAF in today ‘s universe is faced with a much more equivocal state of affairs. Although defensive in policy and nature, RMAF must invariably retain the ability to militarily protect the state ‘s involvement chiefly through air high quality and with the support of land and maritime forces. In kernel, the RMAF must keep its degree of preparedness to transport out current functions and face any contingencies, from peacetime battle to peacekeeping to little graduated table and regional struggles.

Despite the ambiguity explained earlier, the RMAF must fix for the hereafter with the lucidity and integrity of intent that Britain ‘s RAF was prepared to support its fatherland from the German Luftwaffe. Focused invention and engineering will enable the RMAF to win and decide period of tensenesss and struggles in the hereafter merely as they enabled Britain ‘s RAF to predominate in 1940.

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August 2010