The Battle of Britain Data Base

The Battle of Britain data base came into existence at the request of OSD PA&E (Office of the Secretary of Defense, Program Analysis and Evaluation). They contacted us. They were working with LMI (Logistics Management Institute, on of a dozen FFRDCs) to develop an air combat model. They felt that the Battle of Britain would be perfect for helping to develop, test and validate their model. The effort was led by a retired Air Force colonel who had the misfortune of spending part of his career in North Vietnam.

The problem with developing any air campaign database is that, unlike the German army, the Luftwaffe actually followed their orders late in the war to destroy their records. I understand from conversations with Trevor Dupuy that Luftwaffe records were stored in a train and had been moved to the German countryside (to get them away from the bombing and/or advancing armies). They then burned all the records there at the rail siding.

So, when HERO (Trevor Dupuy’s Historical Evaluation Research Organization) did their work on the Italian Campaign (which was funded by the Air Force), they had to find records on the German air activity with the Luftwaffe liaison officers of the German armies involved. The same with Kursk, where one of the few air records we had was with the air liaison officer to the German Second Army. This was the army on the tip of the bulge that was simply holding in place during the battle. It was the only source that gave us a daily count of sorties, German losses, etc. Of the eight or so full wings that were involved in the battle from the VIII Air Corps, we had records for one group of He-111s (there were usually three groups to a wing). We did have good records from the Soviet archives. But it hard to assemble a good picture of the German side of the battle with records from only 1/24th of the units involved. So the very limited surviving files of the Luftwaffe air liaison officers was all we had to work with for Italy and Kursk. We did not even have that for the Ardennes. Luckily the German air force simplified things by flying almost no missions until the disastrous Operation Bodenplatte on 1 January 1945. Of course, we had great records from the U.S. and the UK, but….hard to develop a good database without records from both sides. Therefore, one is left with few well-documented air battles anywhere for use in developing, evaluating and validating an air campaign model.

The exception is the Battle of Britain, which has been so well researched, and extensively written about, that it is possible to assemble an accurate and detailed daily account for both sides for every day of the battle. There are also a few surviving records that can be tapped, including the personal kill records of the pilots, the aircraft loss reports of the quartermaster, and the ULTRA reports of intercepted German radio messages. Therefore, we (mostly Richard Anderson) assembled the Battle of Britain data base from British unit records and the surviving records and the extensive secondary sources for the German side. We have already done considerable preliminary research covering 15 August to 19 September 1940 as a result of our work on DACM (Dupuy Air Combat Model)

The Dupuy Air Campaign Model (DACM)

The database covered the period from 8 August to 30 September 1940. It was programmed in Access by Jay Karamales.  From April to July 2004 we did a feasibility study for LMI. We were awarded a contract from OSD PA&E on 1 September to start work on the database. We sent a two-person research team to the British National Archives in Kew Gardens, London. There we examined 249 document files and copied 4,443 pages. The completed database and supporting documentation was delivered to OSD PA&E in August 2005. It was certainly the easiest of our campaign databases to do.

We do not know if OSD PA&E or LMI ever used the data base, but we think not. The database was ordered while they were still working on the model. After we delivered the database to them, we do not know what happened. We suspect the model was never completed and the effort was halted. The database has never been publically available. PA&E became defunct in 2009 and was replaced by CAPE (Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation). We may be the only people who still have (or can find) a copy of this database.

I will provide a more detailed description of this database in a later post.

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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
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Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
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His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
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Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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10 Comments

  1. Thank you and I understand. As you said numerous books have been written, somewhat of a big deal this side of the pond.

    • Well, it was work that was done at a time when we had a half-dozen different contracts going on. Our focus then shifted over to insurgency and counter-insurgency studies (see America’s Modern Wars). So we have never really took the time figure out what we could/should do with this effort. I don’t think I am ready to sit down and write a Battle of Britain book. I am going to do a few blog posts on the database later.

  2. One of the problems that I have found in my amateur capacity with modelling aircraft is the difficulty in arriving at precise data. For example, maximum airspeed is usually (though not always) agreed upon but there is very little out there on quantifiable acceleration etc, while climb-rates are quite variable depending upon the source.
    Manoeuvrability is very difficult to measure beyond pilot statements, especially for the smaller nations.

    • This maybe of help http://www.wwiiaircraftperformance.org/. It as the copies of original performance. As an example the original Hawker Hurricane test performance http://www.wwiiaircraftperformance.org/hurricane/hurricane-I.html

      It had some significant advantages over both the 109E and Spitfire regarding stability as a platform and handling punishment. Like Sherman, early versions had a reputation for fire. The development from experience is interesting. The development and manufacturing of the reflector gun sight is priceless. The Scottish company could not fulfill the contract, so an Austrian company was then employed to deliver the gun sight under license. Despite, the Austria being taken over by Germany, the firm completed the contract by early 1940, despite technical being at war with the U.K. (Hurricane victor of the Battle of Britain).

      • That website was very helpful! Yes, I used it for getting some precise data but it’s not always complete (sigh!). 🙂
        Development history is fascinating. 🙂

    • There is a thorough analysis on aircraft performance by Konstantin Iwanow and Wladimir Georgiew (University of Sofia), years of research with the focus on avoiding fluctuations or manipulation (under similiar conditions). For German Data there is Teststelle Rechlin.

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