Royal Air Force on Eagle Day

Aircrafts and bases of the RAF squadrons in August 1940

Hurricane pilots 'scramble' on Eagle Day.

Hurricane pilots ‘scramble’ on Eagle Day.

The first phase of the German plan for the invasion of England was to gain control of the air and so during the months of July and August 1940 the RAF prepared its forces for the inevitable battle against the Luftwaffe.

The main defence possessed by the British was RAF Fighter Command which was under the inspired leadership of Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding. The country was divided into four large areas to be defend by fighter groups, the most important being 11 Group under the command of Air Vice-Marshal Keith Park. This Group covered London, the Home Counties and south-east England, the fighting areas of the Battle of Britain.
Underneath th Group was the sector (nine in 11 Group) which would control anything from two to five squadrons. In some sectors all the squadrons would be based on the one airfield, in others they would be spread out over as many as four airfields. A typical sector was Northolt which was organised as follows:
No. 1 Sqdn – 10 Hurricanes;
No. 275 Sqdn – 13 Hurricanes;
No. 604 Sqdn – 10 Blenheim heavy fighters;
No. 609 Sqdn – 15 Spitfires.

By the end of July the RAF had 530 Hurricanes and Spitfires fighter aircraft ready for combat out of a total of just over 600, with another 289 fighters in reserve. Before Eagle Day, on 11 August 1940, there were 960 fighter planes ready for combat. Of these 704 were Hawker Hurricanes and Supermarine Spitfires (plus 289 reserve planes). Eagle Day (‘Adlertag’) on 13 August 1940 was the launching of the great Luftwaffe offensive planned to destroy RAF Fighter Command in four days.

The RAF had considerable advantages over the Luftwaffe, the chief of these being a flexible command structure which ensured resources were not wasted; an integrated radar system which usually enabled RAF fighter pilots to intercept the German bomber squadrons; and the advantage of fighting over home territory.
The margin of the RAF’s victory over the German Air Force was slim but it was sufficient to deter the Wehrmacht from seriously contemplating an invasion of Britain.


Active RAF Squadrons on Eagle Day (13 August 1940)
Sqn Base Planes Sqn Base Planes
1 Northolt Hurricane I 2 Hatfield Lysander I, II
3 Wick Hurricane I 4 Linton-on-Ouse Lysander I, II
5 Lahore (India) Hart 6 Ramleh (Palestine) Lysander I, II
7 Leeming Stirling I 8 Khormaskar (Aden) Vincent, Blenheim I
9 Honington Wellington IC 10 Leeming Whitley V
11 Sheikh Othman (Aden) Blenheim I 12 Eastchurch Battle
13 Hooton Park Lysander I, II 14 Port Sudan (Sudan) Wellesley
15 Bourn Blenheim IV 16 Okehampton (ab 14.Aug. Weston Zoyland) Lysander II
17 Debden (19 Aug. Tangmere) Hurricane I 18 West Raynham Blenheim IV
19 Fowlmere Spitfire I 20 Kohat (India) Audax
21 Lossiemouth Bleinheim IV 22 North Coates Beaufort I, II
23 Collyweston Blenheim IF 24 Hendon various communication types
25 Martlesham Heath Blenheim IF 26 West Malling Lysander I, II
27 Risalpur (India) Wapiti IIA, Hart, Tiger Moth 28 Kohat (India) Audax
29 Wellingore Blenheim IF, Hurricane I 30 Ikingi Maryut(Egypt) Blenheim I, IF
31 Peshawar (India) Valentia 32 Biggin Hill Hurricane I
33 Helwan (Egypten) Gladiator 34 Tengah (Singapore) Blenheim I
35 operational training unit - 36 Seletar (Malayia) Vildebeest III
37 Feltwell Wellington IA 38 Marham Wellington IA, IC
39 Sheikh Othman (Aden) Blenheim I 40 Wyton Blenheim IV
41 Catterick Spitfire I 42 Wick Beaufort I
43 Tangmere Hurricane I 44 Waddington Hampden I
45 Helwan (Egypt) Blenheim I 46 Digby (18 Aug. Duxford) Hurricane I
47 Chartago (Sudan) Wellesley 48 Hooton Park Anson I, Beaufort I
49 Scampton Hampden I 50 Lindholme Hampden I
51 Dishforth Whitley V 52 operational training unit
53 Detling Blenheim IV 54 Hornchurch Spitfire I
55 Fuka (Egypt) Blenheim I 56 North Weald Hurricane I
57 Elgin Blenheim IV 58 Linton-on-Ouse Whitley V
59 Thorney Island Blenheim IV 60 Ambala (India) Blenheim I
61 Hemswell Hampden I 62 Tengah (Singapore) Blenheim I
63 operational training unit - 64 Kenley (19 Aug. Leconfield) Spitfire I
65 Hornchurch (28 Aug. Turnhouse) Spitfire I 66 Coltishall Spitfire I
70 Heliopolis (Egypt) Valentia 72 Acklington (31 Aug. Biggin Hill) Spitfire I
73 Church Fenton Hurricane I 74 Hornchurch ( 14 Aug. Wittering) Spitfire I
75 Feltwell (15 Aug. Mildenhall) Wellington I, IA, IC 77 Driffield (28 Aug. Linton-on-Ouse) Whitley V
78 Dishforth Whitley V 79 Acklington (27 Aug. Biggin Hill) Hurricane I
80 Amriya (Egypt) Gladiator, Hurricane I 81 disbanded
82 Watton Blenheim IV 83 Scampton Hampden I
84 Shaibah (Iraq) Blenheim I 85 Debden (19 Aug. Croydon) Hurricane I
87 Exeter Hurricane I 88 Sydenham Battle
92 Pembrey Spitfire I 94 Sheikh Othman (Aden) Gladiator
97 disbanded 98 Kaldadarnes (Iceland) Battle
99 Newmarket Wellington I, IA, IC 100 Seletar (Singapore) Vildebeest II, III
101 West Raynham Blenheim IV 102 Driffield (25 Aug. Leeming) Whitley V
103 Newton Battle 104 operational training unit
105 Watton Blenheim IV 106 Finningley Hampden I
107 Wattisham Blenheim IV 108 operational training unit
110 Wattisham Blenheim IV 111 Croydon (19 Aug. Debden) Hurricane I
112 Maaten Gerawla (Egypt) Gladiator 113 Maaten Bagush (Egypt) Blenheim IV
114 Horsham St.Faith (10 Aug. Oulton) Blenheim IV 115 Marham Wellington IA, IC
139 Horsham St.Faith Blenheim IV 141 Prestwick (30 Aug. Turnhouse) Defiant I
142 Eastchurch Battle 144 Hemswell Hampden I
145 Westhampnett (14 Aug. Drem) Hurricane I 148 disbanded
149 Mildenhall Wellington I, IA, IC 150 Newton Battle
151 North Weald (29 Aug. Stapleford Tawney) Hurricane I 152 Warmwell Spitfire I
185 operational training unit - 201 Sullon Voe (Shetland Is) Sunderland I
202 Gibraltar London II 203 Khormaksar (Aden) Blenheim IV
204 Sullon Voe (Shetland Is) Sunderland I 205 Seletar (Ceylon) Singapore III
206 Bircham Newton Hudson 207 operational training unit
208 Qasaba (Egypt) Lysander I, II 209 Pembrock Dock Lerwick I
210 Oban Sunderland I 211 Qotafiya (Egypt) Blenheim I
212 disbanded 213 Exeter Hurricane I
214 Stradishall Wellington I, IA, IC 216 Heliopolis (Egypt) Valentia, Bombay
217 St.Eval Anson, Beaufort I 218 Oakington Blenheim IV
219 Catterick Blenheim IF 220 Thornaby Hudson
222 Kirton-in-Lindsey (29 Aug. Hornchurch) Spitfire I 223 Summit (Sudan) Wellesley
224 Leuchars Hudson 225 Tilshead Lysander
226 Sydenham (Northern Ireland) Battle 228 Pembroke Dock Sunderland I
229 Wittering Hurricane I 230 Alexandria (Egypt) Sunderland I
231 Newtownards Lysander 232 Sumburgh Hurricane I
233 Aldergrove Hudson 234 Middle Wallop Spitfire I
235 Bircham Newton Blenheim IVF 236 St.Eval Blenheim IVF
237 (Rhodesian) Nairobi (Kenia) Hardy, Hart, Audax 238 Middle Wallop (14 Aug. St.Eval) Hurricane I
240 Stranrear Stranrear I 242 Coltishall Hurricane I
245 Ballyhalbert Hurricane I 248 Dyce Blenheim IVF
249 Church Fenton (14 Aug. Boscombe Down) Hurricane I 252 disbanded
253 Turnhouse (23 Aug. Prestwick) Hurricane I 254 Dyce Blenheim IV
257 Northolt (15 Aug. Debden) Hurricane I 261 Hal Far (Malta) Sea Gladiator, Hurricane I
263 Grangemouth Hurricane I 264 Kirston-in-Lindesy (22 Aug. Hornchurch) Defiant I
266 Eastleight (14 Aug. Hornchurch) Spitfire I 269 Wick Hudson I
271 (Transport) Doncaster Harrow Ford 5, HP42 273 China Bay (Ceylon) Vildebeest III, Seal
274 Amriya (Egypt, operational 19 Aug.) Gladiator, Hurricane I, MS 406, Potez 63 300 (Polish) Bramcote (22 Aug. Swinderby) Battle
301 (Polish) Bramcote (28 Aug. Swinderby) Battle 302 (Polish) Leconfield Hurricane I
303 (Polish) Northolt Hurricane I 304 (Polish) Bramcote (operational 22 Aug.) Battle
305 (Polish) Bramcote (operational 29 Aug.) Battle 306 (Polish) Church Fenton (operational 28 Aug.) Hurricane I
311 (Czech) Honington Wellington IA, IC 312 (Czech) Duxford (operational 29 Aug.) Hurricane I
320 (Dutch) Pembroke Dock Fokker T-VIIIW, Anson 321 (Dutch) Carrew Cheriton Anson I
500 Detling Anson I 501 Gravesend Hurricane I
502 Aldergrove Anson I 504 Castletown Hurricane I
600 Manston (22 Aug. Hornchurch) Blenheim IF 601 Tangmere (19 Aug. Debden) Hurricane I
602 Westhampnett Spitfire I 603 Turnhouse (27 Aug. Hornchurch) Spitfire I
604 Middle Wallop Blenheim IF 605 Drem Hurricane I
607 Usworth Hurricane I 608 Thornaby Anson I
609 Middle Wallop Spitfire I 610 Biggin Hill Spitfire I
611 Digby Spitfire I, II, IIA 612 Dyce Anson I
613 Netherhorpe Lysander I, III 614 Grangemouth Lysander I, II
615 Kenley (29 Aug. Prestwick) Hurricane I 616 Leconfield (19 Aug. Kenley) Spitfire I

Note: Squadron Nos. 400 to 499 were squadrons of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force and Royal New Zealand Air Force. Not all numbers were used and unfortunately there are no detailed information available.


Overview of RAF squadrons equipment and location
Plane UK, Shetland Iss, Iceland Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, Sudan, Aden, Kenya Malta, Gibraltar India, Malayia Total
Hurricane 34 - - - 34
Spitfire 19 - - - 19
Gladiator - 5 1 - 6
Blenheim IF, IVF 9 - - - 9
Defiant 2 - - - 2
Hart - 1 - 2 3
Vildebeest - - - 3 3
Wellesley - 7 - - 7
Blenheim I - 7 - - 7
Blenheim IV 16 2 - - 18
Battle 11 - - - 11
Beaufort 4 - - - 4
Whitley 6 - - - 6
Hampden 7 - - - 7
Wellington 9 - - - 9
Stirling 1 - - 1
Hudson 6 - - - 6
Anson 5 - - - 5
Lysander 9 2 - - 11
Audax - - - 2 2
Valentina - 2 - 1 3
Vincent - 1 - - 1
London - - 1 - 1
Singapore - - - 1 1
Lerwick 1 - - - 1
Stranrear 1 - - - 1
Sunderland 4 1 - - 5
Total 144 24 2 9 179

The strength of RAF squadron was between 6 and 18 aircrafts.


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