1. The Battle of Britain
It was seemingly simple. The air superiority of the Luftwaffe would overwhelm the RAF and remove any obstacles that would hamper an invasion of England. Hitler would decisively beat England and the war in the West would be complete, allowing Hitler to prepare for and execute an invasion of the Soviet Union. As has been said before, “Simple. Things. Aren’t.”
The Luftwaffe was defeated over the skies of Great Britain by an undermanned and out gunned RAF. With nearly four times the aircraft, the Luftwaffe possessed superior numbers and more pilots overall, and in any one day, the Luftwaffe could put up twice as many planes as RAF and as many experienced pilots as well. The biggest advantage the RAF had was RADAR which could detect German planes at a distance, allowing the RAF to respond quickly. In addition, German fighters did not have the ability to fly as far as their bombers, allowing the RAF to attack these undefended bombers as they attempted to drop their deadly payload. It was a battle that would cost Hitler dearly. By the end of the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe was beaten and German air superiority over Europe would be broken. This would allow the allies to initiate bombing raids in Germany, as the Germans were doing to England. It would bring the war home to the average German person, showing them for the first time that Germany was not invincible and that success on the ground would not necessarily translate to success in the air. The German defeat would also help to dispel the myth that wars could be won by air power alone. As great as the Luftwaffe was, it was matched by the skill and determination of the pilots of the RAF. In the immoral words of Sir Winston Churchill,
2. The Battle of Stalingrad
The city was the one thing that Hitler wanted…Stalingrad. That city was to serve as the turning point in the war on the Eastern front, and spell doom for the Wehrmacht throughout Europe. General Paulus was to command the German Sixth Army of some one million men, with General Zhukov commanding the Soviet Army of a similar strength. Simply stated, Stalingrad was not particularly important for the Germans. It would allow a better opportunity to control the Caucasus which were strategically important for their oil and gasoline production, but it was not essential for victory. It has been asserted that Hitler insisted on Stalingrad because of his hatred of Stalin. It has also been suggested that Stalin was equally determined to keep it as it bore his name. Whatever the reason, the German Sixth Army was obliterated, effectively opening the door to the Soviet advance to Germany. Germany had not the man power or equipment to resist the Russian advance. From 1943 on, it was simply a matter of time before the Germans were defeated.
3. Invasion of Normandy
This was the largest amphibious landing in the history of human conflict. Normandy was also to be the great push to finally open up fortress Europe to the allied armies in order to drive Hitler out and reclaim Europe for the West. The Germans knew that an invasion was coming, but were in somewhat of a conundrum. Do they keep their forces at Calais where the strait is most narrow, or do they move their forces, as Rommel suggested, to Normandy where he was convinced that the invasion would stem from? Hitler’s generals outside of Rommel were insistent that the invasion would come at Calais. Due to some rather fantastic fakery by the allies, the evidence was quite convincing. Rubber tanks, cardboard ships, even fake flash traffic that insisted that George Patton would lead the invading group. June 6th, 1944…history was made! The allies landed in Normandy and were successful in not only landing, but establishing a beach head allowing the re-entry into what was then called Fortress Europe. Truly a monumental gamble by Dwight Eisenhower and staff, but one that paid off in spades as the allies were able to take that foothold and parlay it into the new Western front. That, combined with the Russians advancing on the Eastern front would prove the end of the Third Reich and the scourge that was Adolf Hitler.