Chilling images show how close Nazis came to invading Britain with forces in Channel

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These chilling never-before-seen images show German forces preparing to invade the UK.

A fleet of Nazi armoured landing craft can be seen in the English Channel with the White Cliffs of Dover in the background, caught in a gun’s range finder.

They were part of a massive force created by Adolf Hitler in 1940 ahead of a planned seaborne invasion, codenamed Operation Sealion.

The photos were taken by German army soldier Ernst Grossman during sea trials in the Channel.

They serve as a stark reminder of how close Germany came to invading the British isles Many of the photos show some of the 150 flat-bottomed landing craft Germany designed and built ahead of the invasion.

The 80ft long catamarans were made using heavy bridge pontoons that formed the two hulls 40ft apart and a superstructure built on top.

Named Siebel Ferries in honour of their designer, the craft were designed to run onto the beaches.

They were capable of transporting hundreds of troops, tanks and heavy artillery across the Channel.

But they were never put to use as Hitler called off Operation Sealion following the RAF’s victory in the Battle of Britain.

Robin Schaefer, of Iron Cross magazine, described the images as “exceedingly rare”.

He added: “They offer a glimpse into what it would have looked like if Germany had invaded Britain.

“One astonishing image shows the radar masts behind Dover photographed through a German artillery gunsight.

“This shows just how close they were, it doesn’t get more threatening than that.”

Plans for a German invasion of Britain were first mooted in November 1939, two months into the war.

Operation Sealion was presented to Hitler in June 1940 and after that Maj Friedrich Siebel designed the Siebel landing craft.