Breathtaking Images – Crashed Luftwaffe Planes During The Battle of Britain

Heinkel He 111 P of Stab/KG 55 which crash-landed at Hipley in Hampshire on 12 July 1940. It was shot down by Hurricanes of 'B' Flight, No. 43 Squadron over Southampton Water.
Heinkel He 111 P of Stab/KG 55 which crash-landed at Hipley in Hampshire on 12 July 1940. It was shot down by Hurricanes of 'B' Flight, No. 43 Squadron over Southampton Water.


The most famous aerial battle in history, the Battle of Britain was a hard fought and desperate struggle to hold back Nazi Germany. Having launched air raids against Britain in June and July 1940, on the 8th of August, the Germans launched the first of the high-intensity raids that marked this battle. Intended to soften up the British ready for an invasion, these attacks eventually ended in failure. Britain and her allies held back the tide.

Faced with the might of the Luftwaffe, how did they win?

They Made Use of Pilots From Across Europe

At the start of the conflict, the Royal Air Force (RAF) faced a shortage of trained pilots. Some were drawn in from the Fleet Air Arm and from Coastal Command to make up numbers. But it was other European fliers who made the Battle of Britain into something for the whole of Europe.

Fighter pilots had fled Eastern European countries as they fell to the Nazis. Enough arrived in Britain to form four whole squadrons of Polish pilots and another made up of Czech fliers. With their allies at their side, the British took to the skies.

They Had Better Planes

One of the German planes was the twin-engine Messerschmitt Bf 110 “destroyer”, a plane so much slower and less maneuverable than its opponents that it earned the nickname “Göring’s folly”. The Messerschmitt Bf 1o9E was better, being about as fast as any British plane and able to climb faster than the famed Spitfires.

But it was the Spitfires that made the difference. More maneuverable than anything the Germans flew and armed with eight machine-guns, they were unrivaled in the skies.

The Germans Lacked Strategic Focus

At the start of the campaign, the Luftwaffe’s overall strategy was to focus on the infrastructure that kept the RAF in the air. Airfields, factories, and ports were targeted.

But there was still a lack of focus in these attacks, shifting from one target to the next. As a result, the effect of the attacks was blunted.

During the Battle of Britain, it is estimated that the Royal Air Force shot down 1887 German planes. Some planes crashed nose-first into the ground and were completely obliterated but other pilots managed to crash land and their planes remained relatively intact.

These planes were prized trophies for propaganda reasons but also to learn more about the German planes and technology. Last but not least, the remains were recycled back into new planes for the RAF, because the crashed planes were full of metals that Britain desperately needed to survive.

The design decisions of both sides gave the Allies the technological edge.

The crashed planes were photographed and cataloged and then removed, here are 22 of the best images we could find!

Troops guard the wreck of Heinkel He 111P (W.Nr 1582: G1+FR) of 7./KG 55, which was shot down during an attack on Great Western Aerodrome (now Heathrow) and crash-landed at High Salvington near Worthing, 16 August 1940.
Civilian staff investigate the fuselage of a Messerschmitt Bf 109E4, ‘Red 2’, of 3./LG 2, in the grounds of a technical college, 1940. Note the ‘Mickey Mouse’ staffel emblem on the rear fuselage.
RAF personnel inspecting Heinkel He 111P (coded G1+FA) of Stab/KG 55 which was brought down at Hipley in Hampshire, 12 July 1940. It has been camouflaged to prevent the Luftwaffe attempting to destroy the remains. The bomber was shot down by ‘B’ Flight of No. 43 Squadron over Southampton Water.

Messerschmitt Bf 109E-1 of Oberleutnant Paul Temme, Gruppe Adjutant of I/ JG 2 ‘Richtofen’, which crashed near Shoreham aerodrome in Sussex on 13 August 1940.
RAF personnel inspecting the burnt-out wreckage of a Junkers Ju 88 reconnaissance aircraft of 4.(F)/122 on Cockett Wick Farm, St Osyth near Clacton-on-Sea in Essex. The aircraft was shot down on 20 July 1940 by No. 56 Squadron Hurricanes.
A soldier peers into the cockpit of a downed Messerschmitt Bf 109E. This is probably Bf 109E-1 (W.Nr. 3576) ‘Red 13’ of 7./JG 54, flown by Uffz. Zimmermann, which crashed near Lydd in Kent on 27 October 1940.
The remains of Junkers Ju 88A-1 (W.Nr. 2142: 3Z+DK) of 2./KG 77 on public display at Primrose Hill in London, 10 October 1940. The bomber had been hit by AA fire and crash-landed on Gatwick racecourse on 30 September.

Soldiers guard the smoldering remains of Junkers Ju 88 (W.Nr. 4136: 3Z+BB) of I/KG 77 which crashed at Hertingfordbury, Hertfordshire on 3 October 1940.
Civilians and RAF airmen inspect the burning remains of a Heinkel He 111 which was shot down by RAF fighters over the north east coast of Scotland and crashed on a house, July 1940.
Troops and civilians pose with Junkers Ju 88A-1 (B3+BM) of 4./KG 54, which belly-landed on Marsh Farm, Earnley, Sussex, on the evening of 21 August 1940. It had been intercepted by No. 17 Squadron Hurricanes during an attack on RAF Brize Norton.
The fuselage of a Heinkel He 111 bomber, being transported by road to a scrap yard, October 1940.
Locals watch as troops and police inspect Messerschmitt Bf 109E-1 (W.Nr. 3367) “Red 14” of 2./JG52, which crash-landed in a wheatfield at Mays Farm, Selmeston, near Lewes in Sussex, 12 August 1940. Its pilot, Unteroffizier Leo Zaunbrecher, was captured.
Messerschmitt Bf 109E-1 (W.Nr. 3465) ‘White 2’ of 4./JG 52, flown by Feldwebel Paul Bosche, which force-landed on Little Grange Farm, Woodham Mortimer, Essex on 8 October 1940.
Soldiers collecting for the Spitfire Fund use the fuselage of a Heinkel He 111 as a focus of interest for locals in a street ‘somewhere in south east England’, 10 October 1940.
Soldiers pose with Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4 (W.Nr. 5587) ‘Yellow 10’ of 6./JG 51 ‘Molders’, which crash-landed at East Langdon in Kent, 24 August 1940. The pilot, Oberfeldwebel Beeck, was captured unhurt.
RAF personnel examine the wreck of Heinkel He 111H (G1+LK) of 2./KG 55 on East Beach, Selsey in Sussex, shot down by P/O Wakeham and P/O Lord Shuttleworth of No. 145 Squadron, 11 July 1940.
A crashed Italian Fiat BR.20M bomber in Britian. Italy formed the “Corpo Aereo Italiano” with 13° and 43° Stormi (80 BR.20Ms) in September 1940. They flew attacks on twelve days between 24 October and 10 January 1941, losing three aircraft to enemy fire, and 17 for other reasons.
Wrecked German aircraft (Me 109E, He 111 and Ju 88A) in Britian, 1940.

Joris Nieuwint

Joris Nieuwint is a battlefield guide for the Operation Market Garden area. His primary focus is on the Allied operations from September 17th, 1944 onwards. Having lived in the Market Garden area for 25 years, he has been studying the events for nearly as long. He has a deep understanding of the history and a passion for sharing the stories of the men who are no longer with us.