The weather proved an important part of the campaign, delaying Adlertag until August 13th. But on
the 12th the first attempt was made to blind the Dowding system. Aircraft from the specialist fighter-bomber unit Erprobungsgruppe
210 attacked four radar stations and of those three stations were briefly taken off the air but were back working within
six hours. These raids prooved that the British radars were difficult to knock out for any length of time. The Luftwaffe's
failure to have repeated attacks on the stations allowed the RAF to get the radar stations back on the air.
started with a series of attacks on coastal airfields, that would be used as forward landing grounds for the RAF fighters.
As the week went on, the airfield attacks moved inland and repeated raids were made on the radar chain. August 15th was "The Greatest Day" when the Luftwaffe mounted the largest number of flights by one plane of the campaign.
This day saw the one major advance by Luftflotte 5 in the battle with an attack on the north of England. Thinking the strength
of Fighter Command to be condensed away in the south, raiding forces from Denmark and Norway ran into strong defense. Poorly
escorted by long-ranged Me 110 Zerstörers, the bombers were shot down in large numbers. As a result of the casualties
Luftflotte 5 would not appear in strength again in the campaign.
August 18th, which saw
the greatest number of casualties to both sides, has been called "The Hardest Day". Following the intense battles of the 18th,
exhaustion and the weather reduced operations for most of a week, letting the Luftwaffe review their performance.
Luftwaffe targets RAF airfields
From August 24th onwards, the battle was mainly a grueling match between
Kesselring's Luftflotte 2 and Keith Park's 11 Group. The Luftwaffe used all their strength on knocking out Fighter Command
and making repeated attacks on the airfields. Of the 33 heavy attacks in the two weeks, 24 of them were against airfields.
The key sector stations were hit repeatedly: Biggin
Hill and Hornchurch four times each, Debden and North
Weald twice each. Croydon, Gravesend, Rochford, Hawkinge and Manston were also attacked in strength. Seven attempts were made against Eastchurch, which was not a Fighter Command airfield but was thought to be
by the intelligence-starved Germans. Certain times the raids knocked out the sector stations, endangering the coherence of
the Dowding system. Emergency measures were taken to keep the sectors operating.
Times were desperate for the RAF, which was also taking many hits in the air. Aircraft production could replace aircraft
but replacement pilots were hardly keeping place with losses, and novice flyers were being shot down in groups. Most replacements
had as little as nine hours flying time and no combat training. At this point the multinational nature of the RAF came to
The RAF they had home field advantage. Pilots who bailed out of their shot-down aircraft could be back at their airfields
within hours. For Luftwaffe aircrews, a bail out over England meant capture, while parachuting into the English Channel often
meant drowning or death from exposure. Morale began to suffer and Kanalkrankheit or 'Channel Sickness', a form of combat
fatigue, began to appear amongst the German pilots. The Germans replacement problem was even worse than the British. Though
the Luftwaffe always maintained its numerical superiority, the slow appearance of replacement aircraft and pilots put rising
presure on the resources of the remaining attackers.
The Luftwaffe was winning the battle, although they didn’t know it. They only saw their force dwindling away
in the confusion that the British were always sent where they were supposed to be. Something else had to be done to make thr
RAF give in to Germany. Hitler order the Luftwaffe to bomb London. The Germans thought that it would panic British population
or send the spitfires into t he sky to be wrecked. The attack was no longer a before step for Operation Sea Lion but it was
For information on the fouth phase, the London Blitz,
Maggie Smith (June 2006)