Spitfire Summer: The Battle of Britain | Realm & Empire

Spitfire Summer: The Battle of Britain

Posted on July 10, 2015 by Realm & Empire

Spitfire Summer - Battle of Britain | Realm & Empire

"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few"
Winston Churchill, 20th August 1940.

 

Aircraft, including Hurricanes and Spitfires, are due to fly over Buckingham Palace to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. The aircraft belong to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight which is based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire A specially painted Eurofighter Typhoon is also taking part in the flypast, due over London at 11:45. The jet has been painted in the colours used at the time of the battle, which lasted from July to September 1940.

The Battle of Britain was the decisive air campaign fought over southern England in the summer of 1940. The RAF scrambled ‘the few’ to win a famous victory over the German Air Force (Luftwaffe), which made an invasion of Britain all but impossible and boosted the morale of the British people immensely.

After the defeat of France in June 1940, Britain became a potential target for invasion. The head of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Goering, assumed that a sustained air assault would quickly destroy the RAF, winning the air superiority that would be essential for invasion force.

Major daylight attacks began in August, but met stiff resistance. The British had an air defence system in place that gave them a crucial advantage. Radar stations along the coast provided advanced warning of enemy formations, and a network of operations rooms then 'scrambled' fighter squadrons into the air and directed the interceptions. 

Faulty intelligence and Goering’s unawareness of the fundamental importance of the British radar stations, meant that German target planning was haphazard, with low-value objectives attacked to little purpose. Some RAF airfields suffered extensive raids, but invariably continued to operate. The vital radar stations were largely ignored and functioned throughout the battle and gave Fighter Command invaluable information regarding incoming German targets.

The battle reached a climax with mass attacks on London in September, but by then RAF exacted a heavy and decisive toll. The Luftwaffe could not continue in the face of such losses, and in the autumn switched to 'nuisance' raids and night operations. The failure to defeat the RAF convinced Germany to postpone invasion plans indefinitely – a stupendous feat and a pivotal moment in the history of the Second World War!

Six surviving pilots from the Battle of Britain will join the Queen at Buckingham Palace to mark the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the World War Two air campaign.

This season, to commemorate this momentous occasion, we've got some brilliant photograph print t-shirts, straight from the IWM archive! 

VE Day Tee

On Tuesday 8 May 1945, Victory in Europe Day (or VE Day) officially announced the end of the Second World War. Winston Churchill was informed of the event at 7am, and the Home Office quickly issued a circular instructing the nation on how they could celebrate. This striking image, taken by a member of the Royal Air Force Photographers, shows a ground crew on a RAF Bomber Command station in Britain celebrating VE day by returning the V-sign to a neighbouring searchlight crew. Silhouetted is the nose of a Lancaster.

Battle of Britain Tee

Forming part of the Air Ministry’s Second World War collection, this atmospheric photograph shows Squadron Leader James Lacey DFM standing by the propeller of a Hawker Hurricane at Milfield, near Berwick.

>> Shop the latest collection here!

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