Royal Air Force on Eagle Day

Aircrafts and bases of the RAF squadrons on 13 August 1940, the Eagle Day. Number of squadrons, locations and aircraft equipment in Britain, Africa, Middle and Far East.

Hurricane pilots 'scramble' on Eagle Day.
Hawker 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):

1NortholtHurricane I2Hatfield Lysander I, II
3WickHurricane I4Linton-on-OuseLysander I, II
5Lahore (India)Hart6Ramleh (Palestine) Lysander I, II
7LeemingStirling I8Khormaskar (Aden) Vincent, Blenheim I
9HoningtonWellington IC10LeemingWhitley V
11Sheikh Othman (Aden)Blenheim I12EastchurchBattle
13Hooton Park Lysander I, II14Port Sudan (Sudan)Wellesley
15BournBlenheim IV16Okehampton (ab 14.Aug. Weston Zoyland)Lysander II
17Debden (19 Aug. Tangmere)Hurricane I18West RaynhamBlenheim IV
19FowlmereSpitfire I20Kohat (India)Audax
21LossiemouthBleinheim IV22North Coates Beaufort I, II
23CollywestonBlenheim IF24Hendonvarious communication types
25Martlesham HeathBlenheim IF26West Malling Lysander I, II
27Risalpur (India) Wapiti IIA, Hart, Tiger Moth28Kohat (India)Audax
29Wellingore Blenheim IF, Hurricane I30Ikingi Maryut(Egypt) Blenheim I, IF
31Peshawar (India)Valentia32Biggin HillHurricane I
33Helwan (Egypten)Gladiator34Tengah (Singapore)Blenheim I
35operational training unit-36Seletar (Malayia)Vildebeest III
37FeltwellWellington IA38Marham Wellington IA, IC
39Sheikh Othman (Aden)Blenheim I40WytonBlenheim IV
41CatterickSpitfire I42WickBeaufort I
43TangmereHurricane I44WaddingtonHampden I
45Helwan (Egypt)Blenheim I46Digby (18 Aug. Duxford)Hurricane I
47Chartago (Sudan)Wellesley48Hooton Park Anson I, Beaufort I
49ScamptonHampden I50LindholmeHampden I
51DishforthWhitley V52operational training unit-
53DetlingBlenheim IV54HornchurchSpitfire I
55Fuka (Egypt)Blenheim I56North WealdHurricane I
57ElginBlenheim IV58Linton-on-OuseWhitley V
59Thorney IslandBlenheim IV60Ambala (India)Blenheim I
61HemswellHampden I62Tengah (Singapore)Blenheim I
63operational training unit-64Kenley (19 Aug. Leconfield)Spitfire I
65Hornchurch (28 Aug. Turnhouse)Spitfire I66ColtishallSpitfire I
70Heliopolis (Egypt)Valentia72Acklington (31 Aug. Biggin Hill)Spitfire I
73Church FentonHurricane I74Hornchurch ( 14 Aug. Wittering)Spitfire I
75Feltwell (15 Aug. Mildenhall) Wellington I, IA, IC77Driffield (28 Aug. Linton-on-Ouse)Whitley V
78DishforthWhitley V79Acklington (27 Aug. Biggin Hill)Hurricane I
80Amriya (Egypt) Gladiator, Hurricane I81disbanded-
82WattonBlenheim IV83ScamptonHampden I
84Shaibah (Iraq)Blenheim I85Debden (19 Aug. Croydon)Hurricane I
87ExeterHurricane I88SydenhamBattle
92PembreySpitfire I94Sheikh Othman (Aden)Gladiator
97disbanded-98Kaldadarnes (Iceland)Battle
99Newmarket Wellington I, IA, IC100Seletar (Singapore) Vildebeest II, III
101West RaynhamBlenheim IV102Driffield (25 Aug. Leeming)Whitley V
103NewtonBattle104operational training unit-
105WattonBlenheim IV106FinningleyHampden I
107WattishamBlenheim IV108operational training unit-
110WattishamBlenheim IV111Croydon (19 Aug. Debden)Hurricane I
112Maaten Gerawla (Egypt)Gladiator113Maaten Bagush (Egypt)Blenheim IV
114Horsham St.Faith (10 Aug. Oulton)Blenheim IV115Marham Wellington IA, IC
139Horsham St.FaithBlenheim IV141Prestwick (30 Aug. Turnhouse)Defiant I
142EastchurchBattle144HemswellHampden I
145Westhampnett (14 Aug. Drem)Hurricane I148disbanded-
149Mildenhall Wellington I, IA, IC150NewtonBattle
151North Weald (29 Aug. Stapleford Tawney)Hurricane I152WarmwellSpitfire I
185operational training unit-201Sullon Voe (Shetland Is)Sunderland I
202GibraltarLondon II203Khormaksar (Aden)Blenheim IV
204Sullon Voe (Shetland Is)Sunderland I205Seletar (Ceylon)Singapore III
206Bircham NewtonHudson207operational training unit-
208Qasaba (Egypt) Lysander I, II209Pembrock DockLerwick I
210ObanSunderland I211Qotafiya (Egypt)Blenheim I
212disbanded-213ExeterHurricane I
214Stradishall Wellington I, IA, IC216Heliopolis (Egypt) Valentia, Bombay
217St.Eval Anson, Beaufort I218OakingtonBlenheim IV
219CatterickBlenheim IF220ThornabyHudson
222Kirton-in-Lindsey (29 Aug. Hornchurch)Spitfire I223Summit (Sudan)Wellesley
226Sydenham (Northern Ireland)Battle228Pembroke DockSunderland I
229WitteringHurricane I230Alexandria (Egypt)Sunderland I
231NewtownardsLysander232SumburghHurricane I
233AldergroveHudson234Middle WallopSpitfire I
235Bircham NewtonBlenheim IVF236St.EvalBlenheim IVF
237(Rhodesian) Nairobi (Kenia) Hardy, Hart, Audax238Middle Wallop (14 Aug. St.Eval)Hurricane I
240StranrearStranrear I242ColtishallHurricane I
245BallyhalbertHurricane I248DyceBlenheim IVF
249Church Fenton (14 Aug. Boscombe Down)Hurricane I252disbanded-
253Turnhouse (23 Aug. Prestwick)Hurricane I254DyceBlenheim IV
257Northolt (15 Aug. Debden)Hurricane I261Hal Far (Malta) Sea Gladiator, Hurricane I
263GrangemouthHurricane I264Kirston-in-Lindesy (22 Aug. Hornchurch)Defiant I
266Eastleight (14 Aug. Hornchurch)Spitfire I269WickHudson I
271(Transport) Doncaster Harrow Ford 5, HP42273China Bay (Ceylon) Vildebeest III, Seal
274 Amriya (Egypt, operational 19 Aug.) Gladiator, Hurricane I, MS 406, Potez 63300(Polish) Bramcote (22 Aug. Swinderby)Battke
301(Polish) Bramcote (28 Aug. Swinderby)Battle302(Polish) LeconfieldHurricane I
303(Polish) NortholtHurricane I304(Polish) Bramcote (operational 22 Aug.)Battle
305(Polish) Bramcote (operational 29 Aug.)Battle306(Polish) Church Fenton (operational 28 Aug.)Hurricane I
311(Czech) Honington Wellington IA, IC312(Czech) Duxford (operational 29 Aug.)Hurricane I
320(Dutch) Pembroke Dock Fokker T-VIIIW, Anson321(Dutch) Carrew CheritonAnson I
500DetlingAnson I501GravesendHurricane I
502AldergroveAnson I504CastletownHurricane I
600Manston (22 Aug. Hornchurch)Blenheim IF601Tangmere (19 Aug. Debden)Hurricane I
602WesthampnettSpitfire I603Turnhouse (27 Aug. Hornchurch)Spitfire I
604Middle WallopBlenheim IF605DremHurricane I
607UsworthHurricane I608ThornabyAnson I
609Middle WallopSpitfire I610Biggin HillSpitfire I
611Digby Spitfire I, II, IIA612DyceAnson I
613Netherhorpe Lysander I, III614Grangemouth Lysander I, II
615Kenley (29 Aug. Prestwick)Hurricane I616Leconfield (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
Blenheim IF, IVF9---9
Blenheim I-7--7
Blenheim IV162--18

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

References and literature

The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force (James J. Halley)
Luftkrieg (Piekalkiewicz)
The Armed Forces of World War II (Andrew Mollo)
Das große Buch der Luftkämpfe (Ian Parsons)

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