“Should, God forbid, France fall, we will need every available aircraft and every trained pilot to defend the shores of Britain from the invasion force, which most surely will come.”
These words, written by Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding to Prime Minister Winston Churchill in May 1940 could not have been more true.
There remained twenty miles or so of water between Hitler and Great Britain. Unless Hitler’s Air Force had control of the skies between France and England, any attempt to send an invasion force across that narrow strip of water would be disastrous.
The stage was therefore set for an epic battle to commence for the control of the skies over the English Channel and Southern England.
Although aircraft production had been increased to a sufficient level to meet the German threat, fighter pilots took up to eighteen months to train. It was here that the RAF were in desperate need.
Unless Britain’s pilots could shoot down Luftwaffe aircraft at a rate of nearly four to one, the RAF would be shot from the skies within weeks and Europe would become a secure fortress of the cost of mainland Europe for the Third Reich.
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