The summer of 1940 was supposed to be the beginning of the end of Britain. Europe had fallen to Hitler's storm troops with terrifying speed, and once the Royal Air Force was destroyed, Britain was next. But that was precisely where the Nazis stumbled. For 123 days, while Herman Goering sent wave after wave of Luftwaffe fighters to rain down fire on Britain, three thousand young RAF airmen fought back with a ferocity and agility that stunned the world. Now in this riveting book, military historian and journalist Patrick Bishop presents the first account of this critical campaign told from the perspective of the pilots themselves. Drawing on interviews with scores of surviving pilots as well as diaries and letters never seen before, Bishop re-creates with astonishing intimacy and clarity this excruciating, exhilarating war of nerves. In their own words, the pilots describe what it felt like when an engine exploded, a parachute failed to open, a swarm of Messerschmitts surrounded their plane, a bomb fell on their home village, a comrade's plane "went in" (their bland term for a high speed crash into the ground). Had the RAF failed, a successful German invasion would have been inevitable-and the pilots knew it. Under unimaginable pressure, these nineteen- and twenty-year-old heroes brought down the world's most powerful air force and saved their nation-and the free world.