Luftwaffe Air Intelligence During the Battle of Britain


The performance of Luftwaffe air intelligence prior to and during the Battle of Britain was seriously flawed and perhaps doomed it to failure from the outset. British air intelligence was equally guilty of serious miscalculations during this period, but by comparison the Luftwaffe was ill prepared for the task at hand. As will be seen, poor organization and staffing, low esteem of the Luftwaffe's intelligence corps, and the Nazi "system" itself (a system that resulted in an almost complete absence of coordination amongst the various intelligence agencies) all combined to help ensure defeat.


Air intelligence was subordinated to the operations staff at the major levels of the Luftwaffe. (See Appendices 6 and 7.) At the General Staff level, the 5th Abteilung (Detachment) served as the senior intelligence agency. A similar position was retained at the air fleet (luftflotte) level. It is also significant to note that no intelligence organizations were stationed below the fliegerkorps until 1944.

Because of the organizational subordination of intelligence to the operations staff, it was very often the operations staff officers themselves who would prepare intelligence assessments of the situation. Their reports sometimes included inputs from the intelligence departments but most frequently they did not. This was apparently not considered unreasonable because these "intelligence assessments" also reflected the Luftwaffe's future "operational intentions, objectives or missions."1

In effect, intelligence officers were perceived as "maids of all work," and were manned with low-quality personnel whose inputs were considered of limited usefulness to the conduct of future operations.2

Knowledge is power. Nowhere is this axiom more prevalent than within the wartime German state, within the Wehrmacht and of particular importance here, within the Luftwaffe. More than a dozen intelligence collection agencies existed outside the realm of the armed forces.3 All of these agencies competed with one another; none fully cooperated with the others and only at the very highest level--Hitler--did the potential for a true picture exist. The result was information passed "largely vertically, and seldom horizontally." Even within the Luftwaffe's own intelligence agencies the rivalry and mistrust was so great that the 3d Abteilung (signal intelligence; also under the operations staff) rarely coordinated with the 5th Abteilung. The "friction and rivalry between [the two detachments] led directly to erroneous assessments."4

Chastise the bearer of unhappy tidings. If not the motto of the Nazi regime, certainly this was the apparent attitude of many individuals, including Hitler, Goering and even Jeschonnek. All three demonstrated a dislike of intelligence reports that did not fit their own personal visions. Intelligence analysis was often watered down to reach conclusions more acceptable to the intended reader. Thus the reputation of the 5th Abteilung's chief, Col "Beppo" Schmid, evolved as one renown "within the Luftwaffe for garnishing his reports to make them more palatable to Goering."5

Generally speaking, it was the nature of the German organizations assigned the tasks of collecting information, analysis and the subsequent dissemination of intelligence that proved the fatal flaw. Jealously guarded, intelligence meant power to the chiefs of the various agencies. Intelligence, when made


available to military commanders, was often looked upon with distrust and deemed of limited usefulness. Or, conversely, the reports were selectively believed to their fullest extent. The failings of the system "were so intimately bound up with the political structure of the Third Reich that only a change in regime could have made any fundamental difference . . . the failings of German intelligence can nearly all be traced to the nature of the intelligence organization that had been created."6


In addition to the much touted Enigma (ULTRA) intercepts, British intelligence gained considerable information from other, low-grade Sigint sources. The German communications "were of four types: high-grade ciphers encrypted by Enigma; low-grade W/T traffic, usually to and from aircraft; low-grade radio telephone traffic; and other signals traffic such as navigational beacons."7 The problem for the Luftwaffe was that radio discipline of the German bomber and fighter units was relatively poor. Before the war, the bomber and transport aircraft used standard unit call signs. This allowed the RAF to develop a fairly accurate picture of the German air order of battle. After the war began, although the codes were changed, the previous intelligence already amassed by the RAF allowed most operational units to be reidentified by the end of 1939.

By the summer of 1940, RAF exploitation of low-grade sources had increased in efficiency. Intercepts of transmissions by "the German air traffic control service gave early warning of the departure of aircraft, and direction-finding often revealed the bases involved." In addition, combining this information with the low radio discipline of the flying units enabled "frequent early and accurate guesses of the units taking part in a raid."8 This later proved operationally significant because the RAF signals interception units "could, on occasion, determine where enemy aircraft were forming up for a raid outside radar's detection range, give the altitude of the aircraft, and indicate the type of aircraft in the formation."9 More importantly, the British signals intercept units established direct telephone links with RAF Fighter Command's Group and Sector headquarters.


The first major study and analysis of British "air power and economic capabilities" was produced by the 5th Abteilung from January to June of 1939.10 The study was initiated by Goering and code-named "Studie Blau" (Blue Study). Although the study was conducted and directed by Colonel Schmid, Goering also appointed Milch, Udet and Jeschonnek as permanent members of the study group. Civilian experts from fields such as industry, economics, foreign trade, technology, politics, etcetera, were also enlisted to provide specialized inputs from their areas of expertise. This group operated with relative efficiency and cooperation when compared to studies conducted later in the war. Meetings were held once or twice weekly and were conducted in the form of "lectures, discussions, and interrogations."11

On 2 May 1939, Colonel Schmid issued a report (presumably this was based on knowledge gained during the then ongoing development of Studie Blau) that concluded France and Britain would not "catch up with the major advance in the expansion of the air forces achieved by Germany during the next 1-2 years."12 Schmid also believed the Western powers could only match Germany's lead in the "technical development of fighters." In other words, they could design, but not produce a superior fighter capable of effecting the outcome of a war in 1939-1940. He believed the lead time required for production placed Germany two to three years ahead in fighters and even more in bombers! Furthermore, Schmid thought the British defenses were inadequate to defend anything more than the general areas


around London. This would leave the rest of England open to attack.

Schmid's report gave no credit to the British radar systems even though they had already been detected by General Martini's 3d Abteilung. This omission presumably led to the further conclusion that the British defense of their island would pose a greater problem than that facing the Luftwaffe in the offense. The British were being forced to rely on ground observation, by the observer corps, to detect incoming German raids. Similar conclusions were reached in the report of 16 July 1940.13

The 94-page Studie Blau addressed too favorably the chances of German success and as such portrayed "a mixture of truth and falsehood."14 The British guarantee, in March 1939, to defend Poland did not prevent Schmid from concluding that it was "quite possible" that in spite of these promises from the West, a war arising in eastern Europe could be localized. As with later reports, the study overestimated the capabilities of German air strength; the final conclusion stating "the German Luftwaffe is at present superior to any single European air force, and this applies not only to the numbers and quality of the equipment and armament of troops, but also to the organization, training, and especially the tactical and command side of the preparation for war in the air."15

England was considered very vulnerable from the air while at the same time the report stated that even a combined air attack by the British and French upon Germany "had only a small chance of reaching its targets." These conclusions were reached despite the fact that the German bombers would be forced to operate without fighter cover and, more importantly, could not reach most of the "critical" targets because of the circuitous routes they would have to take around Belgium and the Netherlands! The study identified the "weakest points in the overall British economy [as] its dependence on imports from abroad and on sea routes."16 Therefore the British naval and merchant shipping ports would be especially susceptible to air attack.

Coincident with the development of Studie Blau, operational exercises conducted by General Felmy's Luftflotte 2 reached an opposite conclusion. The exercises, conducted in May 1939, were carried out in the presence of Jeschonnek, Milch and the chiefs of staff from Luftflotten 1 and 3. The German armament, training, tactics and organization described as "superior" by the 5th Abteilung were found to be inadequate in Felmy's exercises. Aircraft ranges were found to be too short, there were not enough bombers available and crew training, especially instrument flying, was inadequate.

Felmy's conclusions formed the basis of a follow-up Luftwaffe General Staff appraisal "of the 'operational objectives of the Luftwaffe in the event of a war against Britain in 1939' dated 22 May 1939. It was also pointed out that an air war against British imports could not be successful because the western and southern ports lay beyond the range of the Air Fleet Two concerned, and furthermore that terror attacks on London as the stronghold of the enemy air defense would hardly have a catastrophic effect or contribute significantly to a war decision. They would only strengthen the British will to resist."17

Colonel Schmid presented the final results of Studie Blau in a briefing to Goering only a month after General Felmy's sobering exercises. In attendance for the July briefing were "the Chief of Staff [Jeschonnek], an Under Secretary of State, the Commanding General of the Second Air Fleet [Felmy] and his Chief of Staff."18 Goering was apparently impressed with the optimism of the Schmid report; a report that both he and Jeschonnek had played a significant role in developing. Perhaps not surprisingly, opposing views were not well received, and even condemned. It was also no coincidence that General Felmy and his chief of staff were present for the


briefing (as it would be the responsibility of Luftflotte 2 to carry out any early offensive against England).

At the outset of hostilities, in September 1939, General Felmy produced another report outlining many of the Luftwaffe's weaknesses that would prove decisive in the coming Battle of Britain. He was subsequently relieved as commander of Luftflotte 2 "on Hitler's orders."19


By the late summer of 1940, with France, the lowlands and also Poland having already been overrun, the mood within the Wehrmacht and that of the political leadership was one of optimism. For the Luftwaffe, no task was too great. Ominous indicators existed however, (loss rates against the British during the air battles above Dunkirk for example) but these were either ignored or overwhelmed by the positive optimism resulting from earlier military successes. And the "weaknesses in intelligence both mirrored and contributed to a fatal overconfidence throughout the German High Command. Hitler's own conviction that the British were weak and would capitulate and accept overtures for peace, either before or after a short air offensive, was bound to affect Luftwaffe thinking. . . ."20

The air of optimism remained throughout the conduct of the Battle of Britain. Assessments of raid results were almost always overstated. For example, following the raids on 17 August, Luftwaffe intelligence claimed 11 airfields permanently destroyed with another 12 severely damaged. All of these airfields were in fact operational. In a similar manner, estimates of British loss rates were grossly in error. Three and four times the actual loss rates were claimed by German intelligence during the crucial August-September time period. German losses were also high. Considerable confusion developed between the two primary Luftflotten involved in the battle--Luftflotten 2 and 3. "Kesselring claimed that Fighter Command had been destroyed, while Sperrle claimed it had 1,000 aircraft."21 The optimistic view prevailed, supported by Goering, and the inaccurate intelligence estimates, and the German emphasis was soon switched to London.

Radar. Perhaps the greatest failure was the German conclusions about the effectiveness of the British radar stations. As already mentioned, General Martini's 3d Abteilung had detected the British radar before the outbreak of hostilities. To gain additional information, signals intelligence even flew collection missions using the airship Graf Zeppelin. Either General Martini initially failed to pass this information to Colonel Schmid, or Schmid and his team failed to grasp the significance of radar's potential. In any event, little emphasis was placed on sustained attacks against the British early warning system. As the battle progressed, however, Schmid did become aware that Martini's monitoring service had detected that radar information was being passed to RAF fighters by radio. For Schmid, this served to confirm his earlier conclusions and he remained convinced that the mass attacks being conducted by the Luftwaffe would overload what he considered to be an "inflexible" command and control system. In truth, massed formations of German aircraft proved far easier to detect and track.

Further supporting Colonel Schmid's flawed conclusions about radar was the effectiveness of an undetected deception plan derived from a British policy to continue transmitting from damaged radar sites. Thus, radar sites that were incapable of receiving information continued to transmit signals. The German signals intelligence was "deceived into thinking that the bombing of radar stations which was undertaken early in the campaign was ineffective. . . ."22 In concert with pilot reports that "led the Germans to believe that the vitals of the radar stations were located in bombproof bunkers," the decision was finally made to


discontinue attacks against the radar sites altogether.23

Target Selection. The analysis of Great Britain as established by Studie Blau formed the foundation of the bomber offensive conducted during the Battle of Britain.24 In addition, an "England Committee" was established to provide specialized guidance on target selection to the 5th Abteilung. The membership of the committee was similar to that established for the development of Studie Blau. Included were scientists, politicians, and also the former air attaché in London. Curiously, no engineers or economists were included on the committee. Although target lists were prepared by the 5th Abteilung, the final decisions seem to have been made on the spot by Goering and Jeschonnek.25

Needless to say, considerable confusion existed within the Intelligence and Leadership communities of the Luftwaffe over the choice of targets for a strategic campaign. Intelligence weaknesses had earlier been identified when, in 1936, the director of operations of the Luftwaffe General Staff identified the lack of good intelligence as having "very great significance in a bombing war."26 This director further established that the current knowledge and experience within the military was inadequate to properly identify the relative vulnerability of "technical-industrial" systems.27 Thus, the selection of key centers of gravity within the British industrial, economic and military systems would be difficult, if not impossible, without the inclusion of advice from outside civilian expertise.

Throughout the Battle of Britain, a continued omission of expert advice led to "a preference for the choice of a large number of targets for simultaneous attack as a precaution, lest one important target be left out, rather than concentrating on the most important targets. . . ."28

One point appears to have received singular agreement. The common belief rose from the experiences of World War One; civilian populations could be driven to panic, even revolution, as the direct result of aerial bombing. Goering and Jeschonnek obviously shared this view, as did the England Committee.29 Hitler and the England Committee believed that the poorer working classes could "be incited against the rich ruling class to bring about a revolution. . . ."30 This ideological and sociological viewpoint pervaded the England Committee and would remain ingrained in the Luftwaffe leadership's thinking until the end of the war.

Within the 5th Abteilung, Group III was responsible for Great Britain. The group advocated "the destruction of the aircraft industry."31 It was believed that the industry could be destroyed by focusing on "individual places of concentration of the sub-contractors' works."32 Presumably this also included the suppliers of raw materials as the target types discussed included steel works, the aluminum and magnesium extraction of raw materials, glass factories, engine works and port installations. However, vacillation over centers of gravity and the specific target sets persisted. Somewhere between 31 and 51 target types were finally identified.

Apparently no specific priority for the destruction of the identified target types was established. By September 1940, Jeschonnek had ordered that only small-scale attacks would be allowed on these targets using just a few select crews. The focus was to be on those targets having the greatest effects upon the population. Again the dominant influence of the German belief in the "fear of aerial bombardment" is evident. Furthermore, by mid-October Goering would personally order "frequent changes of targets . . . in order to achieve the necessary effect on the population of London and to confront the enemy's defenses with a new situation."33


Both sides suffered from intelligence faults. The British learned from their


failures and improved. The Germans, generally did not. Vacillation over targets, and specifically the determination of centers of gravity (the key components of the British system), persisted throughout the campaign.

The efficiency of the German intelligence network was constrained by its very substance. There were perhaps too many agencies, each with their own power base, their own "secrets," and their own conclusions. The system further stifled the transfer of information from agency to agency. More important, however, the system stifled the transfer of timely and accurate intelligence to the war-fighting units. The major leaders, Hitler, Goering and Jeschonnek, and to a lesser degree Kesselring and Sperrle, continued in their ideological attempts to break the will of the British people through so-called terror bombing.

But, perhaps above all else, it was rampant optimism, the product of previous battlefield successes that clouded the vision of the senior leaders. It was a handful of leaders who made the key decisions. It was these same leaders who were either unwilling or incapable of synthesizing any reports that did not fit with their preconceived notions. And that's what ultimately spelled defeat.


1. Michael I. Handel, Intelligence and Military Operations (Portland, Ore.: International Specialized Book Service, 1973), 352.

2. Ibid., 426.

3. Ibid., 350-51, for a complete listing of the major intelligence agencies.

4. Ibid., 426-27.

5. Ibid., 427.

6. Ibid., 440-41.

7. Ibid., 429.

8. Ibid., 433.

9. Ibid.

10. Paul Deichmann, General der Flieger, The System of Target Selection Applied by the German Air Force in World War II (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: USAF Historical Division, Monograph Series, 1955), 50.

11. Ibid.

12. Handel, 435.

13. See Appendix 4 of The Battle of Britain, A German Perspective; and Handel, 435-37.

14. Handel, 357.

15. Ibid., 356.

16. Deichmann, 52. (An extensive listing of the economic analysis is available in Deichmann's paper on pages 53-58.)

17. Handel, 357.

18. Deichmann, 51.

19. Handel, 435.

20. Ibid., 438.

21. Ibid., 439.

22. Ibid., 437.

23. Ibid.

24. Handel, 366.

25. Ibid., 367.

26. Ibid., 368.

27. Ibid.

28. Ibid.


29. Handel, 368-69.

30. Ibid., 368.

31. Ibid., 369.

32. Ibid.

33. Ibid.


APPENDIX 1. Directive No. 16

The Fuhrer and CINC of
the Wehrmacht
OKW/WFA/L #33 160/4O g. Kdos.
Fuhrer HQ, 16 July 1940

Fourth of seven copies Geheime

Geheime Kommandosache Chefsache!
Officer Courier only!


Concerning preparations for an amphibious operation against England.

Since Britain still shows no sign of willingness to come to an agreement in spite of her hopeless military situation, I have decided to prepare and if necessary carry out an amphibious operation against England.

The purpose of this operation will be to eliminate the English mother country as a base for continuation of the war against Germany and, if it should become necessary, to occupy the entire island.

To this end I order as follows:

1. The amphibious operation must be carried out as a surprise crossing on a broad front extending approximately from Ramsgate to the region of the Isle of Wight, with Luftwaffe elements assuming the role of artillery, and naval units assuming the role of engineers.

Each individual branch of the Wehrmacht will examine from its own viewpoint whether it appears practicable to carry out subsidiary operations, for example to occupy the Isle of Wight or Cornwall County, prior to the general crossing, and will report its findings to me. I reserve the decision to myself. Preparations for the overall operations must be completed by mid-August.

2. These preparations will include the creation of conditions which will make a landing in England possible:


3. Organization of Command and Preparations. Under my command and in accordance with my general directives the commanders in chief of the three branches of the Wehrmacht will direct the operations of their forces employed in the operation.

From 1 August on, the operations staffs of the commanders in chief of the Army, the Navy, and the Luftwaffe must be within the area with a maximum radius of 30 miles from my headquarters at Ziegenberg.

To me it appears advisable for the most vital elements of the operations staffs of the commanders in chief of the Army and the Navy to occupy mutual premises in Giessen.

The commander in chief of the Army will thus have to establish an army group headquarters to conduct the operations of the landing armies.

The operation will be given the designation Sea Lion. During preparations and in the execution of the operation the missions of the three branches of the Wehrmacht will be as follows:

a. Army. Preparation of plans of operations and of a crossing plan initially for all units to be shipped in the first wave. The units accompanying the first wave will remain under Army control (under the individual landing groupments) until it is possible to subdivide their mission into responsibility for (1) support and protection for the ground forces, (2) protection of the ports of debarkation, and (3) protection for the air bases to be occupied.

The Army will also allocate shipping space to the individual landing groupments and will define the points of embarkation and debarkation in agreement with the Navy.

b. Navy. Procurement and assembly of the required shipping space at the points of embarkation designated by the Army and in accordance with nautical requirements. As far as possible use will be made of ships from defeated hostile countries.

The necessary naval advisory staff, escort ships, and other protective naval units will be provided by the Navy at each crossing area.

In addition to the protection afforded by the air units employed, naval forces will protect the flanks of the entire movement across the Channel. Orders will be issued regulating the chain of command during the actual crossing.

Another mission of the Navy is to direct the uniform disposition of coastal artillery, namely, of all naval and Army batteries which can be used against naval targets and to generally organize the control of fire.

The largest possible number of the heaviest artillery units will be so placed that they can be brought into effective action as speedily as possible to protect the flanks of the movements against hostile naval attack. For this purpose all railway artillery, reinforced by all available captured guns but minus the K-5 and K-12 batteries earmarked for counterbattery fire against shore-based hostile artillery in England, will be withdrawn from present positions and emplaced on railway turntable mounts.

In addition to the above, all platform guns of the heaviest types will be so emplaced under concrete protection opposite the Straits of Dover that they will be proof against even the heaviest air attacks. They will be so sited that they will command the Straits under all circumstances as far as their ranges permit.


The technical work involved will be carried out by Organization Todt (a paramilitary labor organization auxiliary to the military forces).

c. Luftwaffe. The mission of the Luftwaffe will be to prevent interference by hostile air forces. In addition airpower will be employed to neutralize coastal fortifications which could deliver fire in the landing areas, to break the initial resistance offered by the hostile ground forces, and to destroy reserves during their forward movement. These missions will require extremely close contact between the individual air units and the landing forces of the Army.

It will also be important for air units to destroy roads which could be used by the enemy to move reserves forward, and to attack naval units approaching the areas of operations while still far distant from the crossing routes.

I request recommendations on the use of paratrooper and glider and other airborne forces. The question must be examined together with the Army whether it would be wise to withhold paratrooper and other airborne forces during the initial stages as a reserve force which could be moved quickly to critical areas in the event of an emergency.

4. The Wehrmacht chief signal officer will ensure that all necessary preparations are made to establish communications between France and England. Preparations will be made in cooperation with the Navy to lay what is still available of the 48 miles of marine cable taken up from the East Prussian canal.

5. I request the commanders in chief to submit to me as early as possible:


s/ Adolf Hitler


Commander in Chief, Army           Ribbon Copy
Commander in Chief, Navy           Second Copy
Commander in Chief, Luftwaffe           Third Copy
Wehrmacht Operations, Office           Fourth Copy
National Defense Branch           Fifth to Seventh Copies

SOURCE: Karl Klee, Operation "Sea Lion" and the Role Planned for the Luftwaffe, Monograph 8-115-5 (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: USAF Historical Division, 1955), 66-73.


APPENDIX 2. Directive No. 17

FUHRER HQ1 Aug 1940

OKW/WFL/L # 33 210/40 G. Kdos., Chefs.           Geheime Kommandosache.
Fourth of ten Copies.
Chef Sache.
Officer Courier Only.



For the purpose of creating conditions for the final defeat of Britain, I intend continuing air and naval warfare against the English motherland in a more severe form than hitherto. For this purpose I order as follows:

1. The Luftwaffe will employ all forces available to eliminate the British air force as soon as possible. In the initial stages, attacks will be directed primarily against the hostile air forces and their ground service organization and supply installations, and against air armament industries, including factories producing AAA equipment.

2. Once temporary or local air superiority is achieved, operations will continue against ports, particularly against installations for the storage of food, and against food storage installations farther inland. In view of intended future German operations, attacks against ports on the south coast of England will be restricted to a minimum.

3. Air operations against hostile naval and merchant ships will be considered a secondary mission during this phase unless particularly lucrative fleeting opportunities offer or unless such action will achieve increased effects in the operations prescribed under Item 2, above, or in the case of operations serving to train aircraft crews for the continued conduct of air warfare.

4. The intensified air offensive will be so conducted that adequately strong air forces can be made available whenever required to support naval operations against favorable fleeting targets. In addition, the Luftwaffe will remain prepared to render effective support for Operation Sea Lion.

5. Terrorization attacks as retaliatory measures will be carried out only on orders from me.

6. Intensified air warfare can commence at any time from 5 August on. The Luftwaffe will itself determine the deadline after completion of its preparations and in accordance with weather conditions.

s/ Adolf Hitler

Initialed: K[eitel]

CINC, Luftwaffe       First Copy
CINC, Navy       Second Copy
CINC, Army       Third Copy
Wehrmacht High Command, Chief WFA Fourth copy


SOURCE: Karl Klee, Operation "Sea Lion" and the Role Planned for the Luftwaffe, Monograph 8-1115-5 (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: USAF Historical Division, 1955), 66-73.

APPENDIX 3. Operational Orders of I Air Corps

Operational Orders of I Air Corps for the first attack on London, September 7, 1940 From G.O.C. I Air Corps Corps HQ 6.9.40Ia Br.B.Nr. 10285 g.Kdos. N.f.K.

  1. In the evening of 7.9. Luftflotte 2 will conduct major strike against target: Loge.* To this end the following units will operate in succession: For the Initial Attack: at 18.00 one KG of II Air Corps For the Main Attack: at 18.40 II Air Corps at 18.45 I Air Corps, reinforced by KG 30
    *Code name for London.

  2. Disposition of I Air Corps Units:

    KG 30 (plus II/KG 76): on right
    KG 1 : central
    KG 76 (less II/KG 76): on left
    For target see general Appendix.

  3. Fighter Cover

    1. Purpose of Initial Attack is to force English fighters into the air so that they will have reached end of endurance at time of Main Attack.

    2. Fighter escort will be provided by Jafu 2 in the proportion of one fighter Geschwader for each bomber Geschwader.

    3. ZG 76 (for this operation under I Air Corps command) will as from 18.40 clear the air of enemy fighters over I Air Corps targets, thereby covering attack and retreat of bomber formations.

    4. Jafu 2 guarantees two Fighter Geschwader to cover I and II Air Corps.

  4. Execution

    1. Rendezvous:
      To be made with Fighter Escort before crossing coast. Bombers will proceed in direct flight.

    2. Courses:
      KG 30: St Omer--just south of Cap Gris Nez--railway fork north of "Seveneae"--target.
      KG I: St. Pol--"mouth of la Slack"--Riverhead--target.
      KG 76: Hedin--north perimeter of Boulogne--Westerham--target.

    3. Fighter escort: JG 26 for KG 30
      JG 54 for KG 1
      JG 27 for KG 76

      In view of the fact that the fighters will be operating at the limit of their endurance, it is essential that direct


      courses be flown and the attack completed in minimum time.

    1. Flying altitudes after RV with fighters:
      KG 30: 15,000-17,000 feet
      KG 1: 18,000-20,000 feet
      KG 76: 15,000-17,000 feet
      To stagger heights as above will provide maximum concentration of attacking force. On return flight some loss of altitude is permissible, in order to cross English coast at approximately 12,500 feet.

    2. The intention is to complete the operation by a single attack. In the event of units failing to arrive directly over target, other suitable objectives in Loge may be bombed from altitude of approach.

    3. Return flight:
      After releasing bombs formations will turn to starboard. KG 76 will do so with care after first establishing that starboard units have already attacked. Return course will then be Maidstone--Dymchurch--escort fighter bases.

    4. Bomb loads:
      He111 and Ju88: No 100-pound bombs 20 percent incendiaries 30 percent delayed-action bombs of 2-4 hours and 10-14 hours (the latter with-out concussion fuses)
      Do17: 25 percent disintegrating containers with BI EL and no SD 50. Load only to be limited by security of aircraft against enemy flak. Fuel sufficient for completion of operation and marginal safety to be carried only.

  1. To achieve the necessary maximum effect it is essential that units fly as a highly concentrated force--during approach, attack and especially on return. The main objective of the operation is to prove that the Luftwaffe can achieve this.

  2. I Air Corps Operational Order No. 10285/40 is hereby superseded.

SOURCE: Cajus Bekker, The Luftwaffe War Diaries (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday and Co., 1968), Appendix 6.


APPENDIX 4. Intelligence Appreciation of the RAF


Oberkommando der Luftwaffe
16 July 1940
Operations Staff IC


a. Strength and Equipment

1. Fighter Formations
With 50 fighter squadrons each having about 18 aircraft, there are 900 first line fighters available, of which about 675 (75 percent) may be regarded as serviceable.

About 40 percent of the fighters are Spitfires and about 60 percent are Hurricanes. Of these types the Spitfire is regarded as the better.

In view of the combat performance and the fact that they are not yet equipped with cannon guns both types are inferior to the Me109, while the individual Me110 is inferior to skillfully handled Spitfires.

In addition to the above formations Blenheim squadrons are available for night fighter tasks as auxiliary heavy fighters and operated in cohesion with particularly intense searchlight defense.

2. Bombing Formations
Assuming the average squadron strength to be 20 aircraft, the 55 or 60 bomber squadrons contain about 1,150 first line bombers, of which about 860 (75 percent) may be regarded as serviceable.

This strength is divided among four types of aircraft of various series, approximately as follows:

Hampden 400
Wellington 350
Whitley 300
Lockheed Hudson 100
Comparison of these types shows that the Hampden has the best qualities as a bomber.

In addition, there is a large number of Blenheim bombers available. Most of these are in training schools but there are also some in operational units. However, in view of its performance, this type can no longer be considered a first line aircraft.

In comparison with German bombers, all these types have inadequate armor, and poor bomb-aiming equipment. However, they usually have strong defensive armament.

3. Other Formations
These include coastal formations equipped with Lockheed Hudsons (reconnaissance) and flying boats and various obsolescent types of aircraft--close reconnaissance and low-level attack aircraft designed for cooperation with the army.

These need not be taken into consideration in this report.


4. Antiaircraft Artillery (AA)
In view of the island's extreme vulnerability to air attack and the comparatively limited amount of modern equipment the number of heavy and light AA guns available (1,194 plus 1,114) is by no means adequate to ensure the protection of the island ground defenses.

The large number of efficient searchlights available (3,200) constitutes an advantageous factor in defense at night.

Only limited importance should be attributed to the numerous barrage balloons, as these can be used only at low altitudes (1,000 to 2,000 meters) owing to the medium wind velocities prevailing over the island. The balloons cannot be raised at all at appreciable wind velocities.

B. Personnel and Training

At present there are no difficulties regarding the number of men available.

From the outset the training is concentrated on the production of good pilots, and the great majority of the officers in particular are trained solely as such. By comparison tactical training is left far in the background. For this reason the RAF has comparatively well-trained fighter pilots while the bomber crews are not up to modern tactical standards. This applies to the bomb-aimers in particular, most of whom are NCOs and men with little service experience. Although there are deficiencies in equipment, the comparatively low standard in bombing accuracy may be attributed to this factor.

C. Airfields

In the ground organization there is a considerable number of airstrips in the southern part of the island and in some areas in the north. However, only a limited number can be considered as operational airfields with modern maintenance and supply installations.

In general, the well-equipped operational airfields are used as take-off and landing bases, while the numerous smaller airfields located in the vicinity serve as alternative landing grounds and rest bases.

There is little strategic flexibility in operations as ground personnel are usually permanently stationed at home bases.

D. Supply Situation

1. As regards aircraft, the RAF is at present almost entirely dependent on home production. American deliveries will not make any important contribution before the beginning of 1941.

If deliveries arriving in Britain in the immediate future are supplemented by French orders these aircraft may be ready for operations by the autumn.

At present the British aircraft industry produces about 180 to 300 first line fighters and 140 first line bombers a month. In view of the present conditions relating to production (the appearance of raw material difficulties, the disruption or breakdown of production at factories owing to air attacks, the increased vulnerability to air attack owing to the fundamental reorganization of the aircraft industry now in progress), it is believed that for the time being output will decrease rather than increase.

In the event of an intensification of air warfare it is expected that the present strength of the RAF will fall, and this decline will be aggravated by the continued decrease in production.

2. Unless an appreciable proportion of present stocks is destroyed, the fuel situation can be regarded as secure.

3. Bombs. Bomb production is limited by the method of manufacture (cast casings). However, there will be no difficulty in the supplies of bombs so long as present stocks are not used and operations continue on a moderate scale. It is believed that these stocks will be adequate for intensive operations lasting several weeks.


Most of the bombs available are of medium caliber (112 and 224 kilogram), of which a large proportion are of an obsolete pattern with unfavorable ballistic qualities (bombs with fins).

E. Command

Command at high level is inflexible in its organization and strategy. As formations are rigidly attached to their home bases, command at medium level suffers mainly from operations being controlled in most cases by officers no longer accustomed to flying (station commanders). Command at low level is generally energetic but lacks tactical skill.


(a) For its operations the RAF has at its disposal an area of only 200 to 300 kilometers in-depth. This corresponds approximately to an area the size of the Netherlands and Belgium.

There is little possibility of Ireland being used in the system of depth owing to the lack of ground organization and the fact that once RAF units have been transferred there they cannot restore their serviceability.

In contrast the Luftwaffe has at its disposal an area extending from Trondheim, across Heligoland Bay and along the North Sea and Channel coasts to Brest with a practically unlimited zone in-depth.

(b) In view of the inferiority of British fighters to German fighters, enemy bomber formations, even with fighter escort, are not capable of carrying out effective daylight attacks regularly, particularly as escort operations are in any case limited by the lack of long-range single-engine or heavy fighters.

The RAF will therefore be obliged to limit its activity to night operations even in the event of intensified air warfare. These operations will undoubtedly achieve a nuisance value but will in no way be decisive.

In contrast, the Luftwaffe is in a position to go over to decisive daylight operations owing to the inadequate air defenses of the island.


The Luftwaffe is clearly superior to the RAF as reqards strength, training, command and location of bases. In the event of an intensification of air warfare the Luftwaffe, unlike the RAF, will be in a position in every respect to achieve a decisive effect this year if the time for the start of large-scale operations is set early enough to allow advantage to be taken of the months with relatively favorable weather conditions (July to the beginning of October).

SOURCE: Francis K. Mason, Battle Over Britain (Bucks, UK: Bourne End, 1990), Appendix H, 507-8.


APPENDIX 5 Operational Chain of Command in the Luftwaffe

Operational Chain of Command in the Luftwaffe


APPENDIX 6 Luftwaffe High Command Staff Organization Chart


APPENDIX 7 Air Fleet Organization Chart



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