Dangerous Sky: A Resource Guide to the Battle of Britain

Dangerous Sky: A Resource Guide to the Battle of Britain

Dangerous Sky: A Resource Guide to the Battle of Britain

Dangerous Sky: A Resource Guide to the Battle of Britain


Dangerous Sky attempts to bring together all of the titles and sources of information needed for the history of the 1940 airwar over Britain. The Battle of Britain, running roughly from mid-July through the end of October, was among the most critical and decisive struggles in the European theater of war. Not only does this volume provide general guidelines for Royal Air Force research, but it attempts to organize the numerous official documents, memoirs and biographies, and histories of the battle into major categories; under each category, appropriate materials are cited and described. Access is augmented through an author index.


The Battle of Britain was the most decisive in the European theatre of war, and everyone, civilian and military alike, knew that Britain's freedom depended upon its outcome. France had fallen a few weeks before in that same year of 1940, leaving Britain totally without allies. Thus, if Britain fell, as seemed likely, Europe's fate was sealed.

In 1940, Britain's resources, considerably reduced by the evacuation from Dunkirk, were strained to the utmost. A quarter of the pilots of Fighter Command lost and the bulk of the army left behind in France. Fighter Command, aware that the next stage of the war would be between the Royal Air Force and the Luftwaffe, stepped up the training of pilots, but the time taken to do so was cut to less than half that of peacetime and reduced still further as the war progressed. Aircraft production was increased so that factories worked round the clock shifts. Even so, squadrons often found themselves with insufficient serviceable machines and not enough officers to take command of front line units.

There are no clear parameters with which to define the beginning or the end of the Battle, but mid-July to the end of October 1940 are the accepted dates in which it filled the skies with vapour trails, crashing aircraft, and parachutes falling out of what should have been a beautiful summer.

This was the only battle to be fought over English soil since the Civil War ended at Worcester on 3 September 1651. It is only coincidental that the Second World War began on the same day in 1939, to involve the whole of Britain. The wars of the Scottish Rebellion lasted until the reign of George II but involved only a small area of northern England. No enemy had set foot in England since then, and certainly not by air. The invasion of Wales by the French in . . .

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