The Luftwaffe launch 'Adler Tag' – Eagle Day

The crew of a Dornier 17 are briefed before a mission, Summer 1940

On 13th August 1940 The Luftwaffe launched ‘Adler Tag’ or Eagle Day the start of intended mass attacks which would knock out the RAF.

We had been briefed the day previous to Adler Tag that we would be going across the Channel in strong formations to attack England. At last, we would be concentrating in large bomber formations with a fighter escort. For so long, we had been flying our individual missions on simple operations like photographic reconnaissance or minelaying duties. Some, like us, had not even seen a British fighter or even fired a shot in anger and it hardly seemed as if a war was on at all. Now, our airfields had many bombers at the ready, many had been flown in from inland airfields, and I could see that now our great Luftwaffe would be at last attacking England.

Feldwebel Karl Hoffmann 1/KG30

The crew of a Ju 88 prepare for combat.

A Heinkel III takes off

A fleet of Dornier 17 bombers in flight

German newsreel footage of the bombing of England:

In fact, largely due to weather, the Luftwaffe attacks were launched without the close co-ordination of fighters and bombers that had been anticipated, and the resilience of the RAF was much greater than Luftwaffe intelligence suggested. Both sides claimed large numbers of planes shot down, only post war research has established that the true figures were 47 German losses against 13 British fighters shot down.

For much more on Eagle Day and the Battle of Britain see battleofbritain1940.net

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