The Battle of Britain had many heroic features but it also had negatives which could have ended the defence, had they continued. It’s unfair to single out technical limitations, such as the aircraft and the need for vast ground crews because these things are ongoing but I mean avoidable things such as the lack of adequate air-sea rescue.
RAF fighter training also emphasised by-the-book attacks by sections breaking away in sequence. Fighter Command recognised the weaknesses of this rigid structure early in the battle, but it was felt too risky to change tactics during the battle, because replacement pilots—often with only minimal flying time—could not be readily retrained and inexperienced RAF pilots needed firm leadership in the air which only rigid formations could provide. German pilots dubbed the RAF formations Idiotenreihen (“rows of idiots”) because they left squadrons vulnerable to attack.
So, recognizing that a rigid structure was suicidal, they continued because “it was too late to change”? Even when Dowding got the RDF moving well, there were still strange aspects to it:
Despite appearances, the Groups were not mutually supporting; Park, for instance, could only request – not demand – assistance from Brand (who usually co-operated), or from Leigh-Mallory (who often prevaricated). This was because Dowding had never issued standing orders to assist, nor had he created a method to co-ordinate it.
The Dowding-Park and Leigh-Mallory conflict was something which was always going to be anywhere tactics are used in any conflict and that was unfortunate because of the failure of the night defence systems or maybe even their absence. On the other hand, the way they were unceremoniously dumped at the end was not good. They’d done a great job overall.
How close we came to losing the battle has been hotly debated. For example, it wasn’t helped by the labour unrest, e.g. at the Spitfire factory and is actually one answer for Bill Quango who asked, in as many words, on another topic, why people would do things against their country. The Spitfire factory was an example.
It’s fine to press for wages and conditions in general and unions have had successes that way and thank you but that’s a far cry from what we’d see as treasonable activity. And yet the socialist mindset, which takes advantage of people’s desire for pay and conditions, recognizes loyalty to no country, only some vast international, ideological proletariat. Hence it was quite OK for unrest to go on in the face of annihilation. Annihilation would have been a godsend to the socialists because they imagined they could have picked up the pieces.
In the end, apart from the critical factors of cracking the Enigma, the RDF etc. and not forgetting the role of the humble GPO, it came down to who had the better planes and tactics at any given moment- the British would surge ahead with new marques, the Germans would have new planes on the drawing board etc.
That and the magnificence of The Few. We pay eternal homage.