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Fairey Swordfish
Taranto after the raid

On this day 11/12 November 1940

Published: 11 Nov 2012

In one of Fleet Air Arm’s greatest achievements the Battle of Taranto took place on the night of 11 November 1940 – 12 November 1940. The Royal Navy launched the first all-aircraft naval attack in history, flying a small number of Swordfish aircraft from HMS Illustrious in the Mediterranean Sea and attacking the Italian fleet at harbour in Taranto. During Operation ‘Judgment’ the strength of the Italian battlefleet was immediately halved and the surviving ships took refuge in Naples, further away from the area of operations. The Italian fleet had been neutralised, for the loss of two aircraft, a remarkable victory for such a small force. The effect of the British carrier-launched aircraft on the Italian warships foreshadowed the end of the "big gun" ship and the rise of naval air-power.

"Taranto, and the night of November 11-12, 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 Browne Cunningham

Forces taking part in Operation JUDGEMENT, night air strike on the Italian fleet and harbour at Taranto, 11 November 1940. Battle Honour awarded to the following FAA Squadrons: 813, 815, 819, 824

Taranto harbour image copyright FAA Museum.


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