Chocks away! Spitfire TE 311, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, Live magazine, Mail On Sunday, 2013

In autumn 1940, as the Battle of Britain raged, Luftwaffe commander-in-chief Hermann Göring gazed across the Channel towards Dover’s white cliffs and asked German fighter ace Adolf Galland what he’d need to defeat the RAF. “Eine Ausstattung von Spitfires für meine Gruppe (An outfit of Spitfires for my group),” was Galland’s reply. Göring’s response wasn’t noted but as the newly appointed Reichsmarschall was under intense pressure from Berlin to gain air superiority prior to an invasion of England (planned between Worthing and Folkestone), we can assume he wasn’t overly impressed. Adolf Hitler expected swift victories against air forces equipped with obsolete biplanes, not a furious defence by an island of obstinate garden-shed inventors.

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