|Battle of Britain Movie Poster Source|
I'm straying into Sarge's territory here, WWII aviation history in Europe, but here goes. I'm not sure how I missed this, but just over a month ago was the 76th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain. However, a year before that, a great event was held commemorating the 75th. A little more than a year ago to be exact- August 18th, a day known as “The Hardest Day” That's the name given to a WWII air battle fought during the Battle of Britain in 1940 between the Nazi German Luftwaffe and British Royal Air Force (RAF).
While this event was probably documented in some sort of print media or online in the UK, I only heard about it the other day via an email from a friend of mine. He’s not a reader of The Chant, but he is a great American and aviation fan himself, being an employee of Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) until it merged with US Air in 1987. 4F during Viet Nam due to medical issues, he’s served vicariously through his two sons- one in the Marine Corps, and one in the Army. A history buff himself, I get things like this from him fairly often. Maybe I should share more. I’ll start with this one for now.
|Aircraft partcipating in the flyover parked on Biggin Hill Airfield south of London Source|
|Actual photo from WWII |
|More Spitfires over southern England Source|
|Goering in 1936 Source|
So during the summer of 1940, the skies over the south of England became a battle ground as the Luftwaffe, led by Goering, launched a war of attrition with the RAF. The Luftwaffe started by attacking coastal shipping and dive-bombing ports, but by August, they had switched their tactics to directly targeting the RAF.
|According to the caption on Pinterest, this is an actual photo of a Bf-109 as it flew over the English Channel during the Battle of Britain.|
Everyone loves the Spitfire, but apparently it was the Hurricane that was the more influential fighter during the battle. It was cheaper to build and an easier fighter to fly, but wasn't as aerobatic as it's more popular hangar-mate.
On The Hardest Day, the Luftwaffe had assembled 2,200 aircrew and launched 850 missions against targets in the south of England, launching three major strikes, looking to destroy the airfields at Kenley, Biggen Hill, Gosport, Ford, Thorney Island, Hornchurch and North Weald. The RAF launched 900 missions involving 600 aircrew to stop them. Earlier in the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe launched attacks from Norway targeting northeast England, trying to divide the RAF's resources.
There's a very good summary of the battle here if you're interested.
They then returned to Biggin Hill for several fly pasts, before a lone Spitfire performed a victory roll over the crowd and runway.
Veterans gather by a Spitfire at the commemoration day of the Battle of Britain, at Biggin Hill airport in Kent. It was the airborne fight that saved Britain from falling to the Nazis.
I'm not sure to what extent this Mustang participated in the commemoration, but it was apparently a popular display.
1030hp Rolls-Royce Merlin engine
1,030hp Rolls-Royce Merlin engine
Eight - .303 Browning machine guns
Eight - .303 Browing machine guns
Most of the info came from my friend's email which appears to be from a post in The Daily Mail Online, I only added some writing to help the transitions and a few pictures as sourced, via Fair Use.