World War II/Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain was the first part of a plan by the Germans for an invasion of Britain. The Germans called this plan Operation Sea-Lion. The Battle of Britain was the German attempt to get air supremacy over Britain for a landing of the Wermacht on the South coast of Britain.
Before the Battle of Britain, Germany had launched Blitzkrieg on France and the low countries, and it also had control of Norway and Denmark. This gave Germany many airbases near the British coast. This allowed them to launch attacks on Britain from the air.
Germany never launched an invasion of Britain, but launched attacks by air. Germany bombed ports, factories and centres of population including London. They hoped that, with mounting casualties, the British would surrender. They also did this to knock out the Royal Air Force in a couple weeks, or RAF, so that an invasion would be possible. The Germans planned to knock out the RAF by attrition. They hoped with their superior numbers they would be able to take losses better. Instead, the British fought harder, and the Germans were unable to destroy Britain's air defenses in several months.
Reasons for failure
One of the reasons the Germans failed was that their fighters were overstretched and so could not accompany the German bombers. Later in the Second World War when the roles of Britain and Germany were reversed the British also had high losses when bombing France and Germany.
The End of the Battle
When some stray German bombers attacked London, in retaliation Churchill ordered the bombing of Berlin. In retaliation to this Hitler ordered the emphasis of attacks to focus on London. These attacks became known as the Blitz.
The failure of Germany to knock out Britain, meant Germany would have to fight a war on two fronts when Germany invaded the USSR.