Honour - TARANTO 1940

Date - 11-November
Type - Fleet or Squadron Actions
Conflict - World War 2; 1939-45

Description The action took place at the Italian harbour of Taranto.

Five of the six Italian battleships were at anchor in the harbour and so an attack was mounted by aircraft from the aircraft carriers Illustrious and Eagle. The Italians and general naval opinion believed their aircraft were safe from torpedo attack because torpedoes dropped from aircraft would hit the bottom of the shallow harbour waters.

However the Fleet Air Arm developed a technique which stopped their torpedoes from diving so deep and allowed the torpedo attack to be carried out. The attack also included bomb armed aircraft.

Three battleships were sunk (but later salvaged), and Royal Navy surface ship command of the Mediterranean was re-established.

The British lost 2 aircraft.

HMS Eagle was not able to take part in the attack and her aircraft were flown off from Illustrious.

Another consequence of the attack was that it showed Japanese forces that a torpedo attack could be carried out in the shallow waters of a harbour and so they began planning their attack on Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, a year later..


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This page last edited - 17 September, 2012.

Copyright Ian M King, except where otherwise indicated.