Battle of Britain 80: The iconic Spitfire

Credit: ITV News

Today (15 September) marks 80 years since the RAF and the Luftwaffe fought it out in dogfights in the skies above Southern England.

Victory came thanks to the skill of pilots and air crews and the resilience of the aircraft, such as the iconic Spitfire.

The pilots who flew Spitfires during the Battle of Britain in 1940 were mostly men in their teens and 20s, who scrambled at the sound of the siren.

Credit: Pathe

The also operated Hurricanes, Bristol Blenheims, Boulton Paul Defiants, and Gloucester Gladiators to battle the Luftwaffe in the clouds.

Barry Hughes, Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar, says: "A lot of the dogfights took place very high up but they would engage the enemy. They tried to intercept at the higher altitude on the transit but they would engage at low level if they saw them engaging at low level along the coast."

Historians say the battle was the turning point of the war because by gaining air superiority, Britain scuppered Hitler's plans to invade or pressure our politicians to surrender.

The almost 3000 pilots and air crew became known as The Few.

Air gunner Owen Burns

Among them the late Owen Burns, an air gunner, who his widow says she is very proud of.

Deborah Burns says: ''Hugely proud of the role that he played. Hugely proud of everything the veterans did and everything our armed forces do today. There is no doubt about it that if we had lost the Battle of Britain, Germany would have undoubtedly gone on to win the War and all our lives would have been very different."

2020 marks 80 years since the Battle of Britain Credit: ITV News

Dave Brocklehurst from the Kent Battle of Britain Museum says: "A Battle of Britain pilot was thinking about what was going to happen on the day. If he lived for tomorrow it was all well and good...so it's very difficult for younger generations to actually understand that...they didn't know if they had a tomorrow so they lived for the day and worried about tomorrow if it came."