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The Battle of Britain

Evening Program

Thursday, November 21, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.
Code: 1H0469

Aircraft spotter in London during the Battle of Britain

The Battle of Britain, the high-stakes contest between the Royal Air Force and the Luftwaffe over the skies of England, is one of the critical turning points of World War II. Britain possessed an effective air defense system and first-rate fighter pilots, while Germany was beset with an air force depleted by its victory over France as its army and navy prepared to invade Britain by sea. The outcome of this supreme test of wills hung in the balance.

George Mason University historian Kevin Matthews reevaluates this dramatic story and discusses how the RAF—which included men from around the world—won control of the skies and forced the Nazi forces to abandon their invasion of Britain. This, as much as any other factor, made possible the Allied victory that would come five years later.

Smithsonian Journeys curates a special trip to commemorate the Battle of Britain anniversary.

S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)