goering

After an embarrassing show of incompetence in France, the Armee De L' Air watched the surviving examples of its finest fighter plane, the D.520, adopted by Luftwaffe training units, and the RAF slunk out the back door with its few remaining Hurricanes. The Wehrmacht Panzers ran roughshod over France and the Low Countries and appeared to be ready to conquer all of Europe. But the Wehrmacht's blitzkrieg came to a screeching halt at the shores of the English Channel, as Hitler came to the painful realization that he really didn't have much of a Navy, and no realistic way to get all of those Panzers over to the other side. In fact, he didn't even really want to, being much more interested in conquering Russia (because the world just wasn't big enough for TWO psychotic dictators), and decided to let his portly head of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Goering, attempt to bludgeon the English people into submission from the air. And so the Battle of Britain began.

Spitfires
Galland

The Luftwaffe met its match in the RAF during the Battle of Britain. The Spitfire stood toe to toe with the Me109 in performance and looked better doing it, and the recent invention of British radar insured that those Spitfires were where they needed to be more often than not. Stuka pilots began to feel like they'd brought a scooter to a motorcross rally, and German bomber pilots put up such a stink about combat losses that Goering forced his fighter pilots to fly very close escort for their lumbering machines... a tactic that succeeded only in giving the bomber pilots a great view of their infuriated kinsmen being pounced upon by RAF fighters as they dawdled along low and slow in an effort to stay with the bombers. Adolf Galland, a cigar chomping Luftwaffe hero with a Groucho Marx mustache became famous at this time for annoying Goering by asking for a squadron of Spitfires for his own unit. The Spitfire was a better choice for defensive fighting than the 109, since it turned tighter, and the comment implied that the Luftwaffe pilots were being forced onto the defensive because of Goering's meddling. In most police states, this sort of behavior normally goes on your permanent record, but somehow Galland ended up being promoted to General of the Fighter Arm.

dowding

Despite Galland's good luck, things were not going well for the Luftwaffe as a whole, and matters only grew worse when a Luftwaffe pilot got lost and dropped his bombs on London, inadvertently triggering the London blitz, as mentioned earlier. (Go back to page 3, if you weren't paying attention. It's OK, I'll wait. Sigh.)

Eventually, the foul weather of late autumn put an end to any real hope of aerial victory for the Luftwaffe, and the German generals began to turn their attention to planning the invasion of Russia. Britain was saved, and the RAF showed its gratitude to the capable but humorless Sir Hugh Dowding, head of Fighter Command, by canning him. Nobody likes a sour puss, I guess, even when their dire predictions of doom are pretty accurate.