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Role of the RAF in second world war

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Introduction

"You ask, What is our policy? I will say; 'It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us: to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.' You ask, What is our aim? I can answer with one word: Victory - victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.1" The Allied air forces based in Great Britain had numerous tactical advantages over the Luftwaffe. These included the use of anti-aircraft guns, the "home field advantage," preference in mission profiles, slight technological superiority, and the use of land-based radar. Ground-based anti-aircraft fire from friendly allied units provided support for allied fighter and caused another threat for Luftwaffe bombers. A statement issued by the Air Ministry on September 15, 1940 stated that four enemy aircraft were shot down by anti-aircraft fire by 2000 hours.2 Friendly anti-aircraft units provided an extra threat for the Luftwaffe, gave direct assistance to the Royal Air Force and were a psychological disadvantage for the Luftwaffe. ...read more.

Middle

The Hawker Hurricane also had eight .303 machine guns that were beneficial for tearing up Luftwaffe bombers.5 However, because very few bombers can hold defend themselves against a fighter, they are usually escorted by fighter aircraft. In the case of the Battle of Britain, it was usually the dangerous Messerschmitt Me109 that performed the role of sortie escort. Unlike the Hawker Hurricane, the Me109E1 was a fighter aircraft, designed to kill other fighter aircraft. This meant that it had a faster maximum speed of 560 km/h, which was more than enough to engage the Hurricane.6 To counter this threat, the Royal Air Force deployed the Supermarine Spitfire. The early Supermarine Spitfire Mk1 was the Royal Air Force's answer to the Messerschmitt Me109. With a maximum airspeed of 594 km/h, the Spitfire Mk1 had a slight speed advantage of approximately 34 km/h.7 In terms of weaponry, the Spitfire Mk1 had eight .303 machine guns (which is equivalent to 7.6962mm) compared to the Me109E's two 7.92mm machine guns and two 20mm cannons; However, Me109 pilots did not have to worry about fire convergence for their 7.92mm guns as they were located in the upper fuselage8. The largest advantage the Spitfires and Hurricanes had was that they simply out-turned Luftwaffe fighters. ...read more.

Conclusion

These disadvantages included the Royal Air Force's training, the Royal Air Force's performance advantages, and having to fight away from home on another country's ground. All of these factors led to the Luftwaffe's defeat during the Battle of Britain, which ended officially on October 31, 1940.16 However, combat has its price. Mary Kay Ash was correct in saying, "People fail forward to success.17" Endnotes18man, 1 Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), 1940 during his first address as the Prime Minister of Britain. 2 Battle of Britain, www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WWbritainB.htm, May 29, 2004. 3 Truman, C., The Battle of Britain, www.historylearningsite.co.uk/battle_of_britain_statistics.htm, May 25, 2004. 4 Harrison, Nigel & Jackson, Andy, The Battle of Britain, www.battle-of-britain.com, May 25, 2004. 5 Chris Chant, Aircraft of WWII (Etobicoke, Ontario: Prospero Books, 1999), p. 110, 161, 197. 6 Ibid. p. 299 7 Ibid. p. 222 8 Ibid. 9 Battle of Britain, www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WWbritainB.htm, May 29, 2004. i After the war, the Royal Air Force released the Supermarine Spitfire MkIXB which was superior to the Focke-Wulf FW190. 10 Battle of Britain, www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WWbritainB.htm, May 29, 2004. 11 Bolotta ,Angelo et al., Canada: Face of a Nation (Toronto: Gage Educational Publishing Company, 2000) p. 167 12 Ibid. 13 Truman, C., Radar and the Battle of Britain, www.historylearningsite.co.uk/radar_and_the_battle_of_britain.htm. 14 Ibid. 15 Ibid. 16 DeltaWeb International, www.raf.mod.uk/bob1940/bobhome.html, April 16, 2004. 17 The Quotations Page, www.quotationspage.com, May 29, 2004. ...read more.

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