A story of human endeavour, the contest between British and German airforces in 1940 which became a defining point of the Second World War. This documentary was released to coincide with the 65th anniversary of one of the most important battles in history.
In the summer of 1940, 2936 pilots took part in an historic battle against the German Luftwaffe. The pilots became known as ‘The Few’: 544 of them lost their lives, many killed in action and others never heard of again, officially listed as missing in action.
The Battle of Britain was a prelude to a German invasion of Great Britain, which had to be abandoned because of the dedication, courage and tenacity shown by the pilots. Isolated after the defeat of France and the retreat from Dunkirk, Britain’s only line of defence against a planned German invasion were the Spitfires and Hurricanes of the RAF. From July to September 1940, the Luftwaffe attempted to shatter the RAF’s resolve, launching their last bid to defeat the British pilots on 15th September, when the Germans flew over 1000 sorties in a single day. Defeated in the heavy fighting on that day, the Germans switched their tactics to start the bombing raids against London, and cancelled their invasion plans.
This series provides an unbiased accounts of the events in the skies above Britain, and contains interviews with the surviving British and German pilots who took part in the conflict, unseen footage from the 1969 ‘Battle Of Britain’ feature film as well as CGI demonstrations and re-enactments. A chronological account of a country preparing to defend itself against a rising empire. The series also explores the myths that surrounded the campaign giving an objective account of a defining moment in history.
ASA Productions (UK) Ltd. for The History Channel
Part 1: The Few
By May 1940, the die was cast and the war started in earnest. This episode examines the build-up to the Battle of Britain, studying the technological advances that the RAF pioneered, to the start of the Battle itself. At the heart of the RAF production were two world-class fighters – the Hurricane & the Spitfire, able to compete against the best that the Luftwaffe had to offer.
Part 2: Darkest Hour
This episode focuses on events from July to early Sept. 1940, where both sides were finding their feet. The Germans tried initially to bomb British naval shipping with limited success. Three separate attacks in August, targeting RAF airfields were successful – Biggin Hill, North Weald & Kenley were all put out of action – albeit temporarily. Then the Germans made a mistake that ultimately lost them the war.
Part 3: The Blitz
During the first week of September, Hitler decided to move the bombing strategy away from the airfields, to civilian London. This episode examines the spirit of the Londoners who defied Hitler, and ultimately ended the war in the last weeks of September. The RAF with fewer resources, fewer men & machines had beaten the might of the Luftwaffe.