Directive Adler. On 8 August 1940 Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring signed the operational plan, which foresaw annihilation of the Royal Air Force. Here Göring is inspecting Luftwaffe units deployed along the English Channel for the air ofensive against the British Isles.



The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) was organized in Air Fleets (Luftflotten), which in their designated areas were exercising operational, mobilization, and administrative functions. The area of each air fleet was divided into two or three Air Districts (Luftgau), which corresponded to the army districts. For realization of the plan Adler, and then for support of the invasion troops in operation Seelöwe there were designated two air fleets. The 2nd Air Fleet (Field-Marshal Albert Kesselring) was deployed on the airfields in Holland, Belgium and north-west France. It had to operate first of all over the south-east coasts of England, including London. The 3rd Air Fleet (Field-Marshal Hugo Sperrle) was also deployed in north-west France. Its objective was operating over south-west England, and the cities of Southamptom, Plymouth and Bristol. Subsidiary to those two air fleets was the 5th Air Fleet (General Hans Stumpff) deployed in Denmark and Norway; it had to support the other two air fleets, and attack northern coasts of the British Isles in order to disperse the efforts of the Royal Air Force and prevent them from focusing their activities in the south. Another two air fleets (1st and 4th) were deployed in Germany to guard its eastern and southern air space.

As to the strengths of the German air forces, concentrated against Great Britain, the data are controversial. Various sources and historical documentations provide different numbers of aircraft possessed by individual air fleets. However comparison analysis of works written by different authors, and first of all critical estimation of the sources they used, allows to accept that the Luftwaffe used at that period about 2600-2700 combat aircraft. The state of the German air force, as well as types and numbers of the planes used in the Battle of Britain are presented in the following table:

Air Fleet Aircraft types Aircraft Quantity
2nd and 3rd bombers He-111, Ju-88, Do-17, Do-215 1,200
dive bombers Ju-87 280
fighters Bf-109 760
fighters-bombers Bf-110 200
5th bombers FW-200 130
fighters-bombers Bf-110 30
reconnaissance Do-17 30
TOTAL: 2,630

An important factor was also bigger combat experience of the Luftwaffe personnel, gained during the civil war in Spain (Legion Condor), and in the campaigns against Poland, Norway and France. German pilots were deeply convinced about their superiority and enemy's inferiority. It came out not only from thereto victories, but also from a "proper" education in the spirit of Nazism. Air forces' staff was the créme de la créme of the Nazi youth educated in such organizations like Jungvolk and Flieger-Hitlerjugend in the spirit of imperial chauvinism and blind obedience to any, even the most blatantly criminal, orders. They enjoyed admiration of German women and German propaganda, and special attention of the Kulturträgers, who composed for their glory poems and songs like this one:

Wir stellen den britischen Löwen,
Zum letzten entscheidenen Schlag.
Wir halten Gericht,
Ein Weltreich zerbricht,
Das ist unseren stolzester Tag.

Kamerad, Kamerad,
alle Mädel müßen warten.
Kamerad, Kamerad,
der Befehl ist da, wir starten.
Fangen an, fangen an,
die Losung ist bekannt.
Ran an den Feind!
Ran an den Feind!
Bomben auf Engelland!
We challenge today British lions,
We challenge the powerful might.
The destiny's calling,
The Empire's falling,
In the final and decisive fight.

Comrade, comrade,
with girls you have to part.
Comrade, comrade,
by order there we start.
Take off, take off,
our flight is straight:
On foe we raid!
On foe we raid!
Bringing bombs to English land!

Those young Übermenschen in cold blood bombed cities and villages, shot at defenceless refugees in the roads, and generally were an ideal terroristic tool in Adolf Hitler's strategic concepts.

At that time Luftwaffe was the world's leader not only in respect of the planes it possessed, but also in respect of their quality. The following table shows the technical data of the most representative planes used in the Battle of Britain:

Manufacturer Aircraft Crew Max. speed Ceiling Range Armament
[km/h] [m] [km] guns m-guns bombs
Messerschmitt Bf-109 F 1 570 10,450 660 1 2 200kg
Bf-110 2 510 10,000 1300 2 5 1,000kg
Heinkel He-111 M 5 435 8,400 2800 1 7 2,000kg
Junkers Ju-88 A-4 4 472 8,235 2730 4
3,000kg
Ju-87 B 2 387 8,100 800 3
600kg
Dornier Do-17z 4 410 6,900 2000 4
1,000kg
Do-215 B 4 485 9,000 2450 4
1,000kg
Focke-Wulf FW-200 7 406 8,500 4100 4 2 9,800kg

The deployment and the goals of the Luftwaffe against Great Britain had been stated in the memorandum of Gen. Otto Stapf, the liaison officer of the Chief Command of the Air Force (OKL), which was presented to the chief of staff of Chief Command of the Army (OKH) on 4 July 1940. Here is how it was recorded by Gen. Franz Halder:

Object: To crush the enemy air forces and his system of supplies and production. No need to separate these tasks specifically (also inflict damages on the navy). Make use of any appropriate opportunity to attack the enemy in the air and on the ground. At the same time conserve our own forces to carry on. (...) Deadline for the general offensive: at the end of this week, when the deployment will be completed. [Halder F. (1988).]

Concentrated Luftwaffe forces on the first stage of the battle had to destroy the British air forces on the airfields and secure favourable conditions for seaborne invasion; on the second stage they had to break the British economy down through massive bombings of key industrial objects.

On 31 July Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring finally confirmed that two air fleets (2nd and 3rd) would first engage their fighter forces, reinforced if necessary, against the British fighters. They also had to stage air raids on the first days of the battle on London and its suburbs to make impression of a grand air offensive and lure the British fighters into fights, in which they could be destroyed. Göring in particular wanted to "drag" British pilots over the English Channel and shoot them down there. It was a cunning idea. In case if it worked, British losses would be more efficient than during fights over the island, where they had better chances of rescuing themselves. Simultaneously the commander of the German air forces was convinced that it would be plausible and desirable to attack also other objects in Great Britain. Persistent appeals of the commanders of the 2nd and 3rd Air Fleets to the OKL to concentrate bombings on the British fighters on their airfields first, and only after that hit cities, ports and industrial objects, went unanswered. It was not until the end of August that the chief of the OKH administration department, Gen. Herbert Osterkamp, as well as the chief of staff of the air force, personally appealed to higher instances and the general operation plan was amended. The main emphasis was now put on destruction of the British fighters on the airfields deployed in the south and east of London.

Beginning of 1 August 1940 all the air fleets launched briefings, staff trainings and combat exercises aimed at preparation of the staffs and troops for the operation Adler. At night from 3 to 4 August Adolf Hitler and his closest aides secretly came back from Berchtesgaden to Berlin to be in closer contact with the Chief Command of the Air Force during the pending air offensive. Its commencement was delayed though due to bad weather conditions. Since the weather was not expected to improve radically, Hitler went back to the Berghof, where he intended to stay until his air Armada would start the big game.