This article argues that Australia can learn from what enabled the UK to win the Battle of Britain—geography, number of aircraft and pilots, training, serviceability and sortie rates.


The Battle of Britain shaped the Europe we know today. It was the first campaign of strategic consequence fought entirely in the air and stopped any German invasion plans of Britain. Prime Minister Churchill (and others) claimed the British were greatly outnumbered. The facts are:

  • Even at the start, there were more British pilots than German.
  • Single-seat fighter numbers were about the same.

What was the winning difference?

  • Higher British serviceability rates and sorties.
  • British industry producing many more aircraft- numbers count.
  • Being downed on home soil, many British pilots returned to service.
  • Operating close to home negated range and endurance issues.

Implications for Australia

Hugh White suggests Australia needs the following:

  • 200 frontline aircraft.
  • Hardened forward bases reducing transit time.
  • Forward fuel and other consumable supplies.
  • More trained pilots than aircraft.
  • Forward maintenance facilities to reduce turnaround times.
  • Efficient second-line maintenance and repair to return aircraft to service.
  • Sufficient tanker aircraft.
  • An efficient rescue capability for ejected pilots.