aviation in World War 2

the Battle of Britain
RAF and Luftwaffe
WW2 air force commanders
the aircraft of the Battle
RAF Fighter Control
Chain Home radar
Battle of Britain tactics

RAF and Luftwaffe

At the time of the Battle of Britain, Fighter Command was split into four groups. 13 Group covered the North of England and Scotland, 12 Group the Midlands and Wales, 10 Group South West England and, most importantly 11 Group covered the South East and London. 11 Group was also nearest to the Germans in an area where the German invasion of Britain, Operation Sea-Lion, was most likely to take place. By clicking on the groups on the map below, a full list of their stations and equipment during the period of the Battle can be viewed.

The Royal Air Force Chief of Staff was Air Chief Marshal Sir Cyril Newall, and the Fighter Command Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief was Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding.

The Groups were commanded by:

  • Air Vice-Marshal Sir Quintin Brand, Air Officer Commanding 10 Group

  • Air Vice-Marshal Sir Keith Park, Air Officer Commanding 11 Group

  • Air Vice-Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, Air Officer Commanding 12 Group

  • Air Vice-Marshal Richard Saul, Air Officer Commanding 13 Group

13 group 12 group 10 group 11 group
click on the map for details of the groups

Luftwaffe Organisation

Britain was almost surrounded by German air power. Luftflotte (Air Fleet) No 5 was based in Norway, Headquartered at Stavanger, Luftflotte 2 was in Northern France, Belgium and Holland, Headquartered at Brussels, and Luftflotte 3 occupied bases in the rest of France with their Headquarters in Paris. A German Luftflotte controlled both fighters and bombers in combined operations, but the RAF had separate Commands for the two tasks. To learn more about the organisation of each Luftflotte click on the colour icons or the map areas to go to a page describing the units stationed within each.

Above the three Luftflotte organisations, there were a number of units controlled directly by the office of Reichsmarschal Goring in Berlin. These were largely weather and reconnaissance units and operational standards organisations. The two based in the Battle area were:

  • Westa 2 ObdL - He 111H - Based at Brest.

  • Westa 26 ObdL - Do 17, He 111, Me 110 - Based at Brussel