The latter had been intentionally grounded to prevent its sinking. Led by Lieutenant Commander Kenneth Williamson, the first flight departed Illustrious around 9:00 PM on November 11. G. Gordon Liddy, chief operative for the "White House Plumbers" (July-September 1971) during Richard Nixon's administration, he organized and oversaw the Watergate burglaries of the Democratic National Committee headquarters. The Royal Navy made this point with one carrier and twenty planes. Spotted by the Italians, this aircraft alerted their defenses, however as they lacked radar they were unaware of the impending attack. On the night of 11 November 1940, during World War II, the Italian ships, which were at anchor in Mar Grande and Mar Piccolo, were severely damaged by British naval forces in what became known as the Battle of Taranto. The Taranto Raid changed many naval experts' thoughts regarding air-launched torpedo attacks. Prior to Taranto, many believed that deep water (100 ft.) was needed to successfully drop torpedoes. World War II: Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, World War II and the Battle of the Java Sea, World War II: Battle of Empress Augusta Bay, World War II: Battle of the Philippine Sea, M.S., Information and Library Science, Drexel University, B.A., History and Political Science, Pennsylvania State University, 21 torpedo bombers, 1 aircraft carrier, 2 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers, 4 destroyers, 6 battleships, 7 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers, 8 destroyers. While the Italians were easily able to supply their troops, the logistical situation for the British proved more difficult as their ships had to traverse almost the entire Mediterranean. HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Historynet LLC, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. In their wake, the 21 Swordfish left Conte di Cavour sunk and the battleships Littorio and Caio Duilio heavily damaged. Some aircraft were armed with torpedoes, others carried bombs. Approaching the harbor just before 11:00 PM, part of Williamson's flight dropped flares and bombed oil storage tanks while the remainder of the aircraft commenced their attack runs on the 6 battleships, 7 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers, 8 destroyers in the harbor. While Williamson and his observer Lieutenant N.J. Scarlett were captured, Bayly and his observer, Lieutenant H.J. Hale's flight of nine aircraft, four armed with bombers and five with torpedoes, approached Taranto from the north around midnight. The first wave was assigned targets in both the outer and inner harbors of Taranto. Cunningham and Lyster refined the plan and planned to move forward with Operation Judgement on October 21, Trafalgar Day, with aircraft from HMS Illustrious and HMS Eagle. The 1940 British attack on the Italian naval base at Taranto had a significant impact on the early stages of World War II in the Mediterranean. Slaughter were killed in action. ■ Surprise remains an invaluable force multiplier in naval warfare, whether you’re talking about triremes or ballistic missile submarines. As a result of the strike, the Italians withdrew the bulk of their fleet farther north to Naples. To subscribe, click here. Dropping flares, the Swordfish endured intense, but ineffective, antiaircraft fire as they began their runs. The torpedo attacks sank one Italian battleship and heavily damaged two others, and a heavy cruiser and several destroyers took bomb hits. For their … While Eagle was being repaired, it was decided to press on with the attack using only Illustrious. In that period, the British Royal Navy developed plans for countering the power of the Regia Marina(Italian Navy). ■ Others will mimic a successful tactic: What worked at Taranto was even more effective at Pearl Harbor. Taranto, a port city on the south-east coast of Italy, was home to the first squadron of Regia Marina. ■ New technologies and the new tactics they enable can be surprisingly effective in applying ancient military maxims, such as Sun-tzu’s advice to “appear where you are least expected.”. Not only had they sunk ships and damaged others, but they forced the Italians to recognize that Taranto … HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines. In the days before the attack, the Royal Air Force's No. In an effort to tip the scale in their favor, the Royal Navy launched a daring aerial strike against the Italian anchorage at Taranto on the night of November 11-12. Aboard Illustrious, 21 Fairey Swordfish biplane torpedo bombers began taking off on the night of November 11 as Lyster's task force moved through the Ionian Sea. In late 1940, the British became increasingly concerned about Italian naval strength in the Mediterranean. Winston Churchill, British prime minister during and after World War II. Eleven of the planes were armed with torpedoes, while the remainder carried flares and bombs. In the long view of history, however, the Battle of Taranto changed the face of naval warfare forever. The Battle of Taranto was fought on the night of November 11-12, 1940 and was part of the Mediterranean Campaign of World War II (1939-1945). Several of Eagle's aircraft were transferred to augment Illustrious' air group and the carrier sailed on November 6. In one night, the Royal Navy succeeded in halving the Italian battleship fleet and gained a tremendous advantage in the Mediterranean. The Royal Navy used the novel tactic of attacking the Italian fleet at Taranto … In late 1940, the British became increasingly concerned about Italian naval strength in the Mediterranean. Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens), American writer best remembered for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The plan was reactivated in September 1940, when its principal author, Lyster, now a rear admiral, joined Cunningham's fleet with the new carrier HMS Illustrious. In the anchorage, the larger warships normally would have been protected by anti-torpedo nets but many had been removed in anticipation of a pending gunnery exercise. Planning for this type of eventuality had begun as early as 1938, during the Munich Crisis, when Admiral Sir Dudley Pound, commander of the Mediterranean Fleet, directed his staff to examine options for attacking the Italian base at Taranto. Kennedy Hickman is a historian, museum director, and curator who specializes in military and naval history. Battleship Littorio being salvaged after the attack on Taranto. Bayly. The 1940 British attack on the Italian naval base at Taranto had a significant impact on the early stages of World War II in the Mediterranean. Long before the First World War, the Italian Royal Navy's First Squadron was based at Taranto. Among Britain’s objectives was the preservation of Malta as an operational hub in the Mediterranean. ■ As the torpedoes and bombs exploded at Taranto, so did the traditional naval combat doctrines based on the big guns of battleships. Prime Minister Winston Churchill assessed the impact of the raid in the House of Commons: The result, while it affects decisively the balance of naval power in the Mediterranean, also carries with it reactions upon the naval situation in every quarter of the globe.