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Bootstrapping the Battle of Britain

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Publication details

JournalThe Journal of Military History
DateAccepted/In press - 22 Apr 2019
DatePublished (current) - Jan 2020
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)151-186
Original languageEnglish


The Battle of Britain is the focus of much historical controversy. We show here how the statistical technique of weighted bootstrapping can be used to create a new quantitative basis to help address such controversies. Bootstrapping facilitates the exploration of alternative campaign possibilities with different tactics. This results in comparative probabilities of “victory” for the actual and various counterfactual campaigns, providing a quantified assessment of the likelihood of German achievement of air superiority, thereby facilitating invasion. We find this more likely had the Luftwaffe targeted airfields more heavily, and greatly more likely had Germany brought forward its air campaign.

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