Could Hitler have won the Battle of Britain ?
By T.K. Randall
January 11, 2020 · 25 comments
The Spitfire was a staple of the RAF's defense efforts. Image Credit: PD - Royal Air Force
Mathematicians have used statistical models to calculate how different WW2 strategies would have played out.
The Battle of Britain - which saw a relatively small number of Royal Air Force (RAF) planes defend the skies over the UK against the much larger force of Germany's Luftwaffe - is often regarded to be one of the most pivotal moments of the Second World War.
But what if Hitler had tried a different tactic - would it have ever been possible for him to win ?
Now in a renewed effort to answer this question, mathematicians from the University of York have used statistical models to determine the likely outcome of various alternative strategies.
"The weighted bootstrap technique allowed us to model alternative campaigns in which the Luftwaffe prolongs or contracts the different phases of the battle and varies its targets," said Dr. Jamie Wood.
The results of the analysis suggested that if the Luftwaffe had started its attack 3 months earlier and had focused on Britain's airfields instead of its cities, the outcome would have been very different.
If the likelihood of the RAF's success was 50% in the real battle, these changes would have reduced the chances of a victory over the Luftwaffe to a mere 10%.
"It demonstrates just how finely-balanced the outcomes of some of the biggest moments of history were," said Professor Niall Mackay.
"Even when we use the actual days' events of the battle, make a small change of timing or emphasis to the arrangement of those days and things might have turned out very differently."
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