Prologue Part 1 – RAF The Battle of Britain – “Live” solitaire campaign. On this day, 10th July the Battle of Britain officially commenced

Posted: July 8, 2013 in Battle of Britain, RAF, wargames, West End Games
Tags: , , , , , , ,

40 days to go

A full month before the start of West End Games RAF Solitaire wargame, the actual Battle of Britain had already commenced. This was Phase 1 (of 4) which covered the period 10th Jul – 10th Aug and was primarily concerned with Luftwaffe’s probing attacks on Channel Convoys in an attempt to test and weaken the British defences. Attacks had even commenced on British territory prior to this date notably when Portland was attacked on the 4th July and a posthumous Victoria Cross was awarded to an anti-aircraft gunner on HMS Foylebank for extreme gallantry.

IMG_1809  Interestingly an earlier account even before the French surrender was already using the term “The Battle of Britain” in their narrative. Reproduced here on the left purporting to be the first engagement of the battle on 18th June where German raids took place over a number of counties. The British propaganda machine in full swing claiming 7 aircraft shot down.  British media unsurprisingly took a belligerent attitude toward events, championing the indomitable Bulldog spirit and even attempting to turn disastrous events in France and the evacuation at Dunkirk into “minor” victories. Views almost certainly not held by ACM Dowding and his subordinates at Fighter Command.

For week ending 6th July the RAF had 644 serviceable single engine fighters  with another 554 in storage in varying degrees of availability. This force seemed adequate until compared to the Luftwaffe strength numbering 980 single and twin engine fighters, 280 dive-bombers & 1200 bombers. Odds of 2:1 in their favour including aircraft in storage & nearly 4:1 excluding them.  Worse still was the experience of the British pilots many of whom had only just completed a few hours in Spits or Hurricanes compared to veteran Luftwaffe crews of the Spanish, Polish, French & Low Country  campaigns.

IMG_1778

Contemporary British articles from the week made it quite clear what was on everyone’s mind. German troop carrying aircraft recognition charts and “Broomstick Army” Local Defence Volunteers (LDV) recruits going through training could mean only one thing……..imminent INVASION.

So lets now go back 73 years to the day in preparation for the forthcoming battle. RAF Fighter Commands Order of Battle for 10, 11 & 12 Group (West End Games counter manifest plus my own variant unit version, NOT the true historical figure) stands at 35 Sqns consisting of:-

16 Hawker Hurricane Sqns

11 Supermarine Spitfire Sqns

5 Bristol Blenheim Sqns

2 Boulton Paul Defiant Sqns

1 Gloster Gladiator Sqn

The Chain Home RDF & Chain Home Low stations are all operational.  Groups and Sector stations are all in a state of high alert.

Facing this from the Luftwaffes Order of Battle for LF2, 3, (& 5), are 81 Gruppen:-

24 Me109 Gruppen

10 Me110 Gruppen

14 He111 Gruppen

11 Ju88 Gruppen

9 Do17 Gruppen

9 Ju87 Gruppen

1 Fw200 Gruppe

1 He59 Gruppe

1 Hs123 Gruppe

1 Hs126 Gruppe

All that can be done now is to wait for the enemy to show.

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