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The squadrons that took part in the Battle of Britain

The Battle of Britain is remembered as an extremely important air campaign fought over southern England in the summer and autumn of 1940. It was initiated by Adolf Hitler as part of his plans to gain air supremacy and invade Great Britain.

Spitfires of 74 Squadron JHF JHC JHH JHG taking off from RAF HornchurchSpitfires of 74 Squadron | Image courtesy of The 74(F) Tiger Squadron Association

Over 3,000 fighters took part in the Battle of Britain, including pilots from Czechoslovakia, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Canada, Belgium, France and Poland.

To form an effective defence against Nazi Germany during the Battle of Britain, Fighter Command was divided into four different groups across specific airfields to form a defence that would eventually see the Allies triumph in this iconic battle. A total of 71 squadrons took part in the Battle of Britain.

Here's a closer look at the different squadrons based at locations throughout the UK during the Battle of Britain.

The squadrons

74 squadron Battle of Britain

74 squadron Battle of Britain was established during the Second World War as a specialist home-based spitfire squadron. Playing a vital role in the Battle of Britain, the squadron then spent two years fighting in the Middle East before returning home to take part in the Normandy Invasions.

Battle of Britain 303 squadron

303 Squadron303 Squadron | Image courtesy of Polish Squadrons Remembered

No. 303 Squadron RAF was one of two Polish squadrons to fight during the Battle of Britain. Responsible for flying the iconic Hawker Hurricanes, this squadron claimed the largest number of aircrafts shot down by the 66 Allied fighter squadrons that bravely fought in the Battle of Britain.

242 squadron Battle of Britain

Taking on roles during the First World War, Second World War and Cold War, No. 242 Squadron RAF was a Royal Air Force squadron made up of Canadians serving in the RAF and RCAF personnel. This squadron is particularly significant as it was the first squadron to be commanded by Douglas Bader.

601 / 609

242 Squadron242 Squadron | Image courtesy of the Battle of Britain Historical Society

Consisting of mainly RAF Regiment gunners, squadron 601/609 was formed at Yeadon in 1936 and flew Spitfires during the Battle of Britain. As the only RAF Regiment Reserve unit in the north of England, this iconic squadron supported the 2 Force Protection Wing.

The pilots

Here are just some of the many pilots that flew in the Battle of Britain.

Adolph Malan

Sailor MalanAdolph Malan | Image courtesy of The 74(F) Tiger Squadron Association

Known as the "flying ace" because he shot down five aircrafts, Adolph Malan was one of the leading fighter pilots in the Second World War, leading the number 74 squadron in the Royal Air Force.

Billy Fiske

Billy Fiske served with No. 601 Squadron, also known as The Millionaire's Squadron. Fiske was one of a number of US citizens who fought in the Second World War for Britain by pretending to be Canadian and joining the RAF.

Billy Fiske's flight commander, Flight Lieutenant Sir Archibald Hope, described Fiske as the best fighter pilot he had known, who excelled when it came to flying in battle.

Brian Lane

Brian LaneBrian Lane | Image courtesy of The Spitfire Society | Source IWM

A natural and popular leader, Brian Lane joined the RAF in 1936 and was a valued member of No. 66 and No. 213 Squadrons. Brian took part in a number of important flying operations throughout the Battle of Britain and was in charge of 19 Squadron.

Casualties

The number of casualties and losses during the Battle of Britain really puts the significance of this iconic battle into perspective.

1,542 aircrew were killed, 422 aircrew wounded, 1,744 aircrafts destroyed in battle, 14,286 civilians killed and 20,325 were injured.

2,585 German aircrew also lost their lives.

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