AUGUST 18th, 1940 - THE HARDEST DAY: On this day, the Luftwaffe tried its utmost to destroy RAF airfields flying 850 sorties involving 2200 aircrew. The RAF resisted with equal vigour flying 927 sorties involving 600 aircrew.
Between lunchtime and teatime, three big Luftwaffe raids were attempted, the first and third by mixed groups of Dornier Do 17, Junkers Ju 88 and Heinkel He 111 bombers, escorted by Messerschmitt Bf 109 and B 110 fighters, and a second by Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive-bombers, also escorted by Bf 109s. The targets were the airfields at Kenley, Biggin Hill, Gosport, Ford, Thorney Island, Hornchurch and North Weald, and the radar station at Poling. Although the last wave failed to reach its targets, which were obscured by cloud, the fighting was no less fierce along the route.
The RAF and Fleet Air Arm lost altogether 68 aircraft, 31 in air combat. 69 German aircraft were destroyed or damaged beyond repair (rafmuseum)
Official photo caption: Soldiers collecting for the Spitfire Fund use the fuselage of a Heinkel He 111 as a focus of interest for locals in a street 'somewhere in south east England', 10 October 1940 (iwm)
This post is part of a Battle of Britain timeline series!
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