Interesting Questions, Facts and Information
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Interesting Questions, Facts, and Information
Battle of Britain
|In the years before the war, pilots from Biggin Hill developed "jargon for the flyer", which to this day is still used within the RAF. What do these three jargon expressions actually mean: 1. Tally-ho, 2. Bogey, 3. Pancake?||The Battle of Britain
Target Sighted, Unidentified Target and Land Immediately. Other terms include "Scramble" - "take off immediately", "Vector" - "turn on a specific course", "Angels" - "height at which to fly in thousands of feet", "Orbit" - "circle over specific area", "Bandit" - "identified enemy aircraft" and "Shiners - "barrage balloons".
All statistics in this quiz have been taken from various sources found at the Imperial War Musuem in London.
|The Germans knew the RAF was in trouble but had no idea how bad the situation was. They took a calculated gamble, hit the airfields of Number 11 Group in the south east. This in turn would force the RAF to expose what aircraft it had left. Between August 24th and September 6th the Luftwaffe mounted 33 huge raids, causing very heavy losses for the RAF. What was the approximate percentage of RAF pilots were killed or injured in that period? ||The Battle of Britain
25%. 103 pilots were killed and 128 injured out of over 1,000 personnel. Fighter Command was in acute danger of losing the initiative, if not the whole battle. The new German approach seemed promising. Time was however not on their side. 'Sealion' had been postponed from September 15th to 21st. The Germans were, it seemed, ready for invasion as aerial pictures of ports across the Channel showed a concentration of barges and landing craft.
|August 18th saw the Luftwaffe take many heavy loses, 71 planes to 27 RAF. On the Germans' return to base it emerged that the Commander of the Luftwaffe had come to inspect the crew and the pilots, only to spend an hour or so insulting them. Doubts were expressed within the Luftwaffe about its strategy. The radar stations were becoming difficult to locate and with just one success at Ventnor it was time to think again. So what strategy change did the Luftwaffe make which would cost them many more planes?||The Battle of Britain
They started to bomb airfields and factories. This became an error that would end any hope of victory for the Luftwaffe. The radar stations were left alone and intact and carried on their defensive duties and allowed also the RAF to pick off enemy aircraft with suprise tactics. 363 German planes to 181 RAF planes had been lost during the first phase. Dowding had certainly won round one. The Spitfires had routed the Stukas and many Hurricanes and airfields were still operational. The Luftwaffe had caused damage but nowhere near enough to carry out phase two, that of the landings. The RAF however, had a severe shortage of pilots, with 154 lost only 63 to replace them. This is where the Germans could have turned the battle had they known, but RAF ingenuity stumped up more pilots. Nearly 150 Polish pilots were brought in with the loss of 30 pilots. (A war memorial is in place at RAF Northolt in West London that honours the Polish pilots). New Zealand provided 101 pilots and lost 14, the Candians sent 94 with a large loss ratio of 20 killed. The Czechs numbered 87 with 8 losses, Belgium provided 29 pilots losing 6, whilst both South Africa and Australia had identical stats at 22 pilots and 9 killed. There were also 7 volunteer pilots from the USA (one lost). There were also 28 further pilots from Ireland, Southern Rhodesia, Jamaica, Palestine, and the Free French saw no losses. These nations provided excellent pilots who would play an important part in the final victory.
|The first day of the Battle of Britain (July 10th) saw nearly 1,500 Luftwaffe sorties with the loss of 46 planes. However, a small statistic at the time gave an indication that the RAF would ultimately succeed. Only 13 RAF planes were lost, a trend that hardly changed throughout the whole conflict. German claims however, showed a different scenario. They claimed on day one that 30 airfields had been destroyed and that 300 RAF planes had been lost. August 14th saw 500 Luftwaffe sorties and August 15th saw seven huge massed attacks. First, 40 JU-87 Stukas hit Kent, 65 Heinkel He 111s, with 35 Messerschmitt BF-110 fighter bombers as escort struck the north of England followed by 50 Junker JU-88s. However, each day the loss count was getting higher in the Luftwaffe coloumn. Over the two day period of August 15th and 16th what was the loss ratio for the Luftwaffe and the RAF?||The Battle of Britain
120 Luftwaffe to 55 RAF. These losses started to cause concern for the Luftwaffe. It was above all the *ratio* of the losses to those of RAF. This was now beginning to have an adverse effect on the German pilots. Despite many sorties and tons of bombs being dropped, plus countless claims by Commanders of heavy RAF losses, the pilots were noticing raids were becoming failures and that RAF fighters kept carrying out counter attacks.
|The Luftwaffe were to begin the elimination of the RAF set for August 11th. After easily taking Poland and France, the German Commander-in-Chief promised Hitler of a swift and glorious success. It was said that within four days the south of England would be clear, and a four week timescale would be enough to defeat the whole force. Bombers would devastate ground installations, whilst the fighters would deal with the aerial threats. Which high-ranking Nazi made these claims?||The Battle of Britain
Hermann Goering . Reichsmarshall Hermann Goering was ambitious and vain, he had a high IQ, was very able and rose quickly through the Nazi hierarchy, although his addiction to morphine hindered his progress at least to some extent. He was Commander of the world's largest airforce and at the age of 24 had taken over Manfred von Richthofen's position after the latter's death in action. One of Hitler's earliest supporters, his word was respected. This was due largely to earlier Luftwaffe successes and this led him to make the promises he made. However, defeat at the Battle of Britain and then on the Russian front led Goering to virtual retirement and when power was lost he never recovered.
As for Operation 'Sealion' the August 11th date came and went, and the weather also played a large part. Poor visibilty and low cloud cover spoiled the Luftwaffe's attempts to carry out the planned aggression, so the next day was chosen to carry through the bombardment. August 12th was much the same, but the bombing of airfields in Kent was a success and the radar station at Ventnor on the Isle of Wight was taken out. On that day many skirmishes took place with the loss of 22 RAF planes and 31 Luftwaffe planes. August 13th became 'Eagle Day' and it was to be a better time for the Luftwaffe with many areas in Kent and the Thames Estuary destroyed and areas in Southampton demolished.
|Hitler planned 'Sealion' to commence on September 15th, so on August 1st he ordered the Luftwaffe "to overcome the British air force with all means at its disposal, and as soon as possible". In as early as June many English coastal areas and convoys had been attacked, whilst a more intense bombardment during July of shipping in the Channel and hugely destructive attempt on coastal ports took place. Portsmouth was bombed on July 11th and on August 8th over 250 enemy aircraft sunk seven ships bound for Weymouth. However, these raids cost not only British sites and planes, but also signalled heavy loses for the Luftwaffe. Between July 10th and August 10th how many planes were lost by both sides combined?||The Battle of Britain
313. The Luftwaffe lost 217 aircraft to the RAF's 96 losses. The RAF became very concerned at the heavy losses they had endured in the run up to the main conflict. In fact things were deemed so bad that Number 54 Squadron could only muster eight aircraft and thirteen pilots. With up to 600 sorties a day, a concerned Fighter Command was in danger of exhausting its surviving pilots and the ground crews before the real battle had even begun.
|Limping home from Dunkirk, troops poured into the ports of Southern England. In France hastily improvised defences were being built up on the Somme and Aisne rivers with hope that the Maginot Line on the eastern line would hold out from German advances. However, in mid June German forces had crossed the River Marne, and moved south outflanking the Maginot Line. This chain of events saw Paris fall with no resistance and the French formally surrender. On what date was the French surrender?||The Battle of Britain
June 22nd 1940. The surrender of France allowed Adolf Hitler to concentrate on an invasion of Britain, codenamed 'Sealion'. However, the narrow body of water separating France and the British mainland constituted a major problem. Like other would-be invaders over the centuries, Hitler discovered that, actively protected by Britain, the Channel was an obstacle that he could not overcome. Air power was of crucial importance to both sides. Hitler's plan to destroy the RAF (Royal Air Force) and allow German landing craft to cross the Channel safely. Note. All remaining RAF planes in France had been repatriated to Britain by 18 June 1940.
|After the Battle of Britain and the Blitz ended, the RAF (and later the USAAF) had unquestionable aerial superiority and the attacks on British cities stopped (with the exception of the retaliatory Baedeker Blitz of 1942 and Baby Blitz of 1943). Why then, over second-half of 1944, with the Allies on the offensive in France (and later in Belgium and the Netherlands) did 9,000 civilians die in London and other major British cities from aerial attacks? ||The Battle of Britain
V1 Flying Bomb "Doodlebug" and the V2 Rocket. The V-Weapons offensive was started by the Germans on the 12th of June, 1944. On that day, the Germans fired the first of 9,251 V-1 Flying bombs (the most fired at London). Only 2,515 V-1's actually reached London, though. The V-1 was nicknamed the Doodlebug due to its shape and the noise of its jet engine. The V-1 Flying Bomb was fired via vulnerable launching sites along the French coast. When the Allies captured the launch sites during the invasion of France, the V-1 attacks stopped.
The V-2 wasn't a flying bomb, but a rocket. It was the world's first ballistic missile (battlefield missiles excepted). The V-2 was first fired on 8th September, 1944. In total, 1,115 were fired at London. The V-2 had a much larger success rate than the V-1 and the launcher was portable. In other words, it could be transported on the back of a truck to a its firing place. The V-2 attacks ceased when the Allies captured the supply depots and over-ran supply lines.
11,855 civilians and servicemen were killed and 24,504 were wounded in the V-Weapons Offensive.
|"We did not recognise this means of rescuing enemy pilots so they could come and bomb our civil population again. . . All German air ambulances were forced down or shot down by our fighters on definite orders approved by the War Cabinet." - Winston Churchill. What was the name of the German Air Ambulances Churchill was referring to? ||The Battle of Britain
The Seenotdienst. The Seenotdienst was a squadron of German air ambulances who would brave the waters of the North Sea and the English Channel to rescue Germans air crew shot down over the sea. The plane they used was built to land on the sea. Churchill resented the fact that the planes were rescuing air crew "to bomb another day..."
Douglas Bader. In 1930, two years after joining the RAF, Douglas Bader lost both of his legs while attempting a dangerous and illegal "tarmac" landing. In 1940, Bader started flying again. He performed well in the Battle of Britain, continuously inspiring his squadron with his bravery and skill. In 1941, he was forced to bail out of his aircraft over Occupied France. He spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war. Bader was a very aggressive P.O.W. and often voiced his hatred of his German captors publicly.
|Which infamous Luftwaffe dive-bomber was stopped from taking further part in the Battle of Britain after a few months?||The Battle of Britain
Junkers Ju 87 "Stuka". The Stuka dive-bomber was very effective in the Polish and French campaigns. However, the reason for this was that the Luftwaffe had aerial supremacy. At the start of the Battle of Britain, the Stuka was still effective. But when the tables began to turn and the RAF had scraped air supremacy away from them, the Stuka was becoming more of a liability than an asset. It was incredibly vulnerable to RAF Spitfire and Hurricane fighters.
The Stuka contained two crew member - a pilot/bomb aimer and a tail gunner. Often it had a siren attached to the nose which created a shrill whistle when it dived. This noise caused much panic and chaos to the soldiers and civilians on the ground.
* Battles of WWII, p. 31.
Messerschmitt Bf 109. The workhorse of the Luftwaffe fighters was the Bf 109, designed by Willy Messerschmitt in the 1930s. In mid 1941, the Bf 109 was being replaced by the Focke-Wulf Fw 190.
The Bf 110 was a twin-engined fighter-bomber that was equipped to repel enemy fighters as well as drop bombs. It wasn't as effective as the Bf 109.
The Me 262 was the world's first jet fighter. It could fly faster than the other fighters but was not introduced till 1944, and so did not take part in the Battle of Britain.
The Focke-Wulf Fw 187 was a twin-engined fighter which was rejected for production by the Luftwaffe.
|Why did Luftwaffe bombing have a temporarily disastrous effect on the British Fighter Command's strength?||The Battle of Britain
The Luftwaffe targeted airfields, radar stations and industrial factories. From July 10 to August 11, the Battle of Britain took place over the English Channel. From August 12 to August 23, the Luftwaffe started an all-out assault on the coastal RAF airfields and radar stations (Eagle Attack). Despite the Luftwaffe's strength, the RAF shot down an enormous number of German bombers and fighters. From August 24 to September 6, the Luftwaffe targeted nearly all the RAF fighter airfields in Southern England, ports and the industrial areas of London, Birmingham, Coventry and other industrial cities. Despite the fact that the RAF was winning the Battle of Britain and inflicting terrible losses on their German counterpart, the RAF lost 200+ veteran pilots and 40% of their planes in that two-week period. The RAF were near total collapse with all available reserve pilots and fighter planes in the air. It was a critical time in the air war. Britain was alive by a thread. German historians state the Battle of Britain stretched from August, 1940 to May, 1941. Most British historians place the Battle from July 10, 1940 to October 31, 1940. There is no fully agreed date for the start and finish of the campaign.
* "World War II", by Ronald Heiferman, pp. 50-61.
|How many fighter aircraft did the Royal Air Force have at its disposal at the beginning of the Battle of Britain (July, 1940)? ||The Battle of Britain
754 single-seat fighters and 149 two-seat fighters. At 09.00 on 1st July, 1940, an RAF 'census' confirmed a total of 1,963 planes at their disposal. The German air force, the Luftwaffe, had a total 4,074 planes, 2,442 of which were could be used in an aggressive role (fighters and bombers).
The Luftwaffe had more planes, more pilots (and more experienced pilots), greater industrial potential and had momentum from the Battle of France. However, they could not break the British spirit despite their continuously heavy raids.
* Stephen Bungay, "The Most Dangerous Enemy", Aurum Press, 2000, p. 107.
* Battles of WWII, pp. 27-28.
The Hawker Hurricane. Despite the hype about the Spitfire, it was the Hurricane that scored the most kills in the Battle of Britain. (One reason was that there were more Hurricanes than Spitfires).
Because the German Bf 109 was faster than the Hurricane but equal to the Spitfires, the Spitfires tended to attack the 109s if possible. The Hurricanes, not equal to 109s, were encouraged to attack the bombers and as a result they scored more kills as the bombers were an easier target.
Although the Spitfire did well, it was in short supply. The Avro Lancaster was an RAF bomber and as stated above, the Bf 109 was a German fighter.
* Battles of WWII, pp. 28-31.
Winston Churchill. It was British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill who gave the Battle of Britain his name. On 18th June, 1940, after being run-out of France by the Germans, Churchill gave an inspiring speech in the House of Commons. Towards the end he said "What General Weygand called 'The Battle of France' is over. I expect the Battle of Britain is about to begin ..." And so the name stuck.
|Finally, it would have been difficult to have won the Battle of Britain without the British people. These people contributed to the victory either as pilots or in the early warning system, where they watched for German planes and reported back to Fighter Command. Which organization were those involved in the early warning system most likely a part of?||Britain in WWII: Battle of Britain
Observer corps. There were 30,000 observers in this organisation and 1,000 posts. They were equipped with a grid map, height estimator and telephone. They were extremely useful in clear weather, but were defeated by cloud.
The work of the Observer Corps, along with radar stations and the WAAF (Women's Auxiliary Air Force), meant that when enemy aircraft were spotted, RAF fighters were in the air within minutes.
|Another reason for Britain's victory in the Battle of Britain was the tactics in the air. An example of this was instructing Spitfire planes to target German fighters (due to its manoeuvrability) and for the Hurricane to target German bombers (due to its ability to take more damage). Who suggested this tactic?||Britain in WWII: Battle of Britain
Keith Park. Another successful tactic suggested by Park was the idea placing the minimum number of planes in the air when responding to German attacks. This reduced RAF losses and contributed to the turning of the tide of the Battle in Britain.
|The fighters being produced in Britain were the Spitfire and the Hurricane. Against which plane would they most likely to have been fighting? ||Britain in WWII: Battle of Britain
Me-109. 'Me' stands for Messerschmitt and this was the main fighter plane used by the Germans. This plane named after its designer Willy Messerschmitt.
|Daylight raids of London became less and less frequent, suggesting the RAF had gained air superiority. Another reason for Britain starting to get on top of Germany in the sky was the fact that Britain was producing twice as many fighter planes as Germany during this period. Appointed in May 1940 as Minister of Air production, who is largely responsible for this rapid rate of production? ||Britain in WWII: Battle of Britain
Lord Beaverbrook. Beaverbrook bullied aircraft manufacturers into producing far more planes in the war years and during the Battle of Britain he also took the risky step of drastically reducing the number of spare parts held in stock. During 1940, Britain wanted to produce 3,600 aircraft; however, under the influence of Lord Beaverbrook, Britain produced over 4,200.
|Britain was able to gather enough fighters to launch effective attacks on the Luftwaffe. One such example was on 15th September where over 200 German planes were intercepted by the RAF, which shot down 60, significantly changing the course of this battle. Who was the Commander-in-Chief of Fighter Command at the time?||Britain in WWII: Battle of Britain
Hugh Dowding. This was seen as a major turning point in the battle. After this counter-attack the daytime raids on Britain had become less frequent. However, nightime raids continued and measures such as "blackouts" were adopted to lessen the effectiveness of these attacks.
The Battle of Britain was marred (unbeknown to the public) by an onging blazing row between Keith Park (and Hugh Dowding) on the one hand and Trafford Leigh-Mallory on the other. Leigh-Mallory is widely believed to have played a key role in engineering Dowding's dismissal as C-in-C of Fighter Command in November 1940.
|In early September 1940 Britain was thought to be close to defeat. However, what German action on 7th September 1940 relieved the pressure on the RAF, allowing them to recuperate?||Britain in WWII: Battle of Britain
The deliberate bombing of civilian areas of London. The Germans did this as they believed Britain only had a few fighter planes left, and that bombing London would draw them out, allowing for the defeat of the RAF. The bombing of London could also be seen as an attempt to get revenge on Britain due to previous RAF bombings of Berlin.
|Following Britain's refusal of the German peace offer, Germany began its attack on Britain. However, the Germans' first target made little impact on the British armed forces. It was instead another attempt to force Britain to accept peace. What was the Germans' first target?||Britain in WWII: Battle of Britain
Merchant ships. The air superiority which was to be gained by Britain in this air battle was to be vital in controlling the English Channel in the war, later allowing huge numbers of soldiers to be transported to France in what was to be known as D-Day.
|It has been suggested that invading Britain had an ambiguous priority for the Nazi leadership, which saw Britain mainly as an obstacle to plans for a land campaign in Eastern Europe. This was reflected by the fact that Hitler actually proposed a peace to Britain. In what month was this offer made?||Britain in WWII: Battle of Britain
July 1940. The plan was issued quickly after the fall of France (June 1940). The mood in Britain was one of defiance, and Churchill was quoted as saying the British "would fight forever and ever and ever". This came as quite a shock to Hitler, who was bewildered and openly disappointed when Britain refused this offer of peace.
|After the Battle of France came the Battle of Britain. This was a battle in the skies between the RAF and the Luftwaffe for air superiority. What was the plan issued by Hitler which spoke of the German plan to invade Britain? ||Britain in WWII: Battle of Britain
Operation Sealion. Operation Sealion was intended to be a threat to Britain, and was only to be carried out if other German pressures failed. Hitler expected Britain to agree to a peace. He believed that Britain had no reason to continue the war, and this was reflected by the words of Goebbels on 23 June 1940 that "Churchill is doomed".
|This was the Luftwaffe's most famous bomber, which remained in service until the end of the war. It had a fully glazed nose and was twin engined. What was its name?||Aircraft of the Battle of Britain
Heinkel He-111. The Heinkel He-111 was Germany's workhorse. These were the most used bombers of the Luftwaffe during the entire war. It suffered severe losses due to its light protective armament.
|The most famous of the RAF fighters, this was Britain's fastest and most manoeuverable fighter in the Battle of Britain. What was its name?||Aircraft of the Battle of Britain
Supermarine Spitfire. The Spitfire was the icon of the battle of Britain. It was extremely fast and very manoeuvrable.
|This was the most recognisable and feared Luftwaffe light bomber. It was single engined, its wings were gull wing shaped, and when it dived, a Banshee screech came out of a siren which brought fear to the troops below who were under attack. What was this aircraft?||Aircraft of the Battle of Britain
Junkers Ju-87 Stuka. The Ju-87, first used in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939, was the most accurate bomber of the time. However due to its full metal construction, the bomber was slow, and an easy target for RAF fighters. They were moved to the Mediterranean, Balkan and Russian fronts.
|This aircraft was the fastest Luftwaffe fighter, matched in speed only by the Supermarine Spitfire. What is the name of the aircraft?||Aircraft of the Battle of Britain
Messerschmitt Me-109. The Messerschmitt Me-109 was the most advanced fighter design at the time. Although it was 20kmph faster then the Supermarine Spitfire and better armed, it only had a combat time of 10 minutes over England before running out of fuel and being forced to return to base.
|This aircraft was Britain's first nightfighter, it was a single engined two seat design with a large four gun turret mounted behind the pilot. What was the name of this aircraft?||Aircraft of the Battle of Britain
Boulton Paul Defiant. The Boulton Paul Defiant was unlike any other fighter. This aircraft had a turret mounted behind the pilot with four .303 calibre machineguns, which would fire at an unsuspecting bomber over London, late in the battle of Britain. Although it saw service as a day fighter, it had limited forward firing armament, so it was transfered to night fighter service over London until 1941 when the Bristol Beaufighter took over.
|This aircraft which was given the nickname "Flying Pencil" was used for bombing and reconnaissance missions during the Battle of Britain by the Luftwaffe. What was the name of the aircraft?||Aircraft of the Battle of Britain
Dornier Do-17. The Dornier Do-17 was a twin engined bomber used extensively in the Battle of Britain. It was given the nickname "Flying Pencil" due to its construction (the boom/tail was very thin). They suffered heavy losses and were taken out of service after 1941.