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A pilot of No. 64 Squadron RAF races toward his Supermarine Spitfire Mk. 1 fighter during a “scramble” from Kenley airdrome on Aug. 15, 1940.

While the Spitfire is for many the iconic aircraft of the Battle of Britain, the type was actually outnumbered in RAF service at the time by the Hawker Hurricane. Fighter squadrons dedicated to the air defense of Britain during the battle maintained aircraft on immediate alert status on airfields throughout England and Scotland, and when warned of incoming enemy aircraft (either by ground observers or the Chain Home radar stations) the fighters scrambled from their home fields and vectored toward the incoming bandits by ground controllers.

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