Luftwaffe changed its tactics vastly to try to find a way to break the RAF defenses. It launched many easy-moving fighter
sweeps, known as Freie Jagd or "Free Hunts" to try to round up RAF fighters. The RAF fighter controllers were often
able to detect the free hunts and move squadrons around them.
Luftwaffe also used small formations of bombers as the bait, with cover from a large number of escorts. This tactic was more
successful, but escort duty tied the fighters to the bombers' slow speed and made easier targets. Casualties were greatest
amongst the escort units.
tactics for raids soon became an combination of techniques. A free hunt would come before a raid to try to move any defenders
out of the raid's path. The bombers would attack at altitudes between 10,000 and 16,000 feet, sometimes closely escorted by
fighters. A 'detached' escort, or 'top cover' would fly above the bombers and maintain a distant watch.
tactics were aflicted by their fighters, which were divided into single-engined Me 109 and twin-engined Me 110 types. The Me 110 Zerstörer (Destroyer fighters) proved to be too defenseless
to the nimble single-engined RAF fighters so they had to be given escorts of their own and were eventually restricted in their
employment. This causes the main chunk of fighter duties to be on the shoulders of the Me 109. Fighter tactics were then made
more difficult by the Luftwaffe bomber crews who enoforced closer protection against the RAF. This attached many Me 109s to
the bombers and, although they were more successful at protecting the bombing forces, casualties amongst the fighters mounted.
Royal Air Force (RAF) Tactics
weight of the battle fell upon the RAF's 11 Group. Keith Park's tactics were to terminate individual squadrons to stop raids.
The British would attack continualy in rather small numbers of aircraft and try to break up the tight formations of bombers.
When formations had fallen apart loose bombers could be taken down one by one. When multiple squadrons reached a raid the
task was for the slower Hurricanes to tackle the bombers while the more easy-moving Spitfires stopped or slowed down the fighter
escort. This plan was not always completed as planned. But sometimes the Spitfires and Hurricanes switched roles.
the early stages of the battle the RAF was damaged by its dependence on its ancient fighting drills. These limited their squadrons
to tight 12 aircraft formations composed of three-aircraft "sections" in tight "V's" [nicknamed 'vics']. Because of the tight
formation only the leader could look out for the enemy, while the others paid attention to him and each other. RAF fighter
training also stresse “by-the-book attacks” which had sections break away in sequence. The German pilots tricked
the RAF formations because they left squadrons vulnerable to attack. Germans used the looser, more flexible four-ship 'Schwarme'
developed in the Spanish Civil War, using two pairs each consisting of leader and wingman. The frontline RAF pilots were aware
of the basic defects of their own tactics. Nonetheless, they could not essentially change these tactics as arriving replacement
pilots could not be readily retrained in the midst of battle. A compromise was adopted in which the squadron formations used
a looser formation with one or two aircrafts flying solo above and behind to give added dedection and rear protection. After
the battle RAF pilots adopted a modified attack based onGerman formations with some success .
the battle, some commanders, disctincitively Trafford Leigh-Mallory of 12 Group, thought that squadrons should be formed into
Wings, consisting of at least three squadrons, to attack the enemy “en masse”.
Followers of this tactic claimed that interceptions in large numbers caused greater enemy losses while reducing their own
casualties. Opponents showed that the big wings would take too long to form up, and that the strategy caused a greater risk
of fighters being caught on the ground refueling. The big wing idea also caused pilots to overclaim their kills, because of the confusion of a more intense battle-zone. This cuased the media to show that the
big wings were more effective than they actually were.