On the night of November 11, 1940, 21 biplanes from a Royal Navy aircraft carrier launched a surprise attack on the Italian fleet anchored in the port of Taranto. The Italian ships were protected by anti-torpedo nets, barrage balloons and anti-aircraft defenses. They were thought to be virtually immune to air attack.
ROYAL SWORDFISH TAKE TARANTO reveals how, in less than two hours, the lumbering torpedo bombers were able to sink or disable three battleships and several cruisers, and severely damage the port installations--while losing just two aircraft and four men. It was a raid that not only revolutionized naval warfare, but also changed the course of history. Following this innovative use of the aircraft carrier, the Japanese Imperial Fleet decided to use the same method to launch an assault on the American Fleet in Pearl Harbor. GREATEST RAIDS reveals the details behind the grand plan, and relives the night when the old-fashioned biplanes gave England nearly total control over the Mediterranean.
'Taranto, and the night of November 11th and 12th, 1940, should be remembered for ever as having shown once and for all that in the Fleet Air Arm the Navy has its most devastating weapon.' Admiral Andrew Cunningham
The Fleet Air Arm's attack on Taranto ranks as one of the most daring episodes in the Second World War. It transformed the naval situation in the Mediterranean and was carefully studied by the Japanese before their carrier-borne strike on the American fleet at Pearl Harbour in December 1941.
In mid 1940 the balance of power was tilting against Admiral Cunningham's Mediterranean Fleet. The Italians had no fewer than six battleships and outnumbered Cunningham in every class of ship except aircraft carriers, although they proved unwilling to operate very offensively. Both factors pointed to an air attack on the Italians in Taranto, their main fleet base on the south coast of Italy. The Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, was anxious that Italian strength be reduced before German forces arrived to bolster their ally.
Tags: World war 2, ww2, royal swordfish, Taranto, Dangerous Missions, axis, allies, catapult, naval warfare, aircraft carrier, battleships, cruisers, world at war, Anti-aircraft defenses, luftwaffe, kriegsmarine, italian fleet
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