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Shirley Chisholm, first African-American congresswoman, a representative for New York. Long before the First World War, the Italian Royal Navy's First Squadron was based at Taranto. In light of widespread skepticism at the time about the viability of carrier-based airpower, the comment of Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham, British commander in chief in the Mediterranean, was perhaps more noteworthy: Taranto and the night of November 11–12, 1940, should be remembered for ever [sic] as having shown once and for all that in the Fleet Air Arm the Navy has its most devastating weapon. In one night, the Royal Navy succeeded in halving the Italian battleship fleet and gained a tremendous advantage in the Mediterranean. Billy Idol (William Broad), punk rock musician; member of Generation X band. Plans for the capture of the port at Taranto were considered as early as the Italian invasion of Abyssinia in 1935. Slaughter were killed in action. Bo Jackson, the only pro athlete to be named an All-Star in two major American sports (football and baseball); ESPN named him the greatest athlete of all time. 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. Additional balloons had been placed but had been lost due to high winds on November 6. It signaled the replacement of the battleship by the aircraft carrier as the centerpiece of naval forces and an accompanying shift in naval tactics and strategies. Jonathan Swift, English satirist who wrote Gulliver's Travels. To subscribe, click here. He served nearly 52 months in federal prison. During this time, Captain Lumley Lyster of the carrier HMS Glorious proposed using its aircraft to mount a nighttime strike. Yes, Malta remained a crucial British base, but it faced continuous threat by land-based Italian and German aircraft, as did the shipping that supported it. 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. Early in the campaign, the British were able to control the sea lanes, however by mid-1940 the tables were beginning to turn with the Italians outnumbering them in every class of ship except aircraft carriers. Of greatest historical significance, however, tactical airpower projected by sea quickly became a crucial component of U.S. national power, and more than seven decades later that special element of global power remains in full force. Blunting the power of any adversary in the Mediterranean Sea was an ongoing exercise. As a result of the strike, the Italians withdrew the bulk of their fleet farther north to Naples. HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Historynet LLC, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. 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. British losses were two Swordfish flown by Williamson and Lieutenant Gerald W.L.A. The British Royal Navy was on the For their part the Italians needed to preserve the battleships, cruisers and destroyers that supported Italian ground operations in North Africa, while also threatening British logistics in the theater. Spotted by the Italians, this aircraft alerted their defenses, however as they lacked radar they were unaware of the impending attack. It also had implications that went far beyond that time and place. At Taranto, the base was defended by 101 anti-aircraft guns and around 27 barrage balloons. Upon departing the Mediterranean Fleet, Pound advised his replacement, Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham, of the proposed plan, then known as Operation Judgement. Led by Lieutenant Commander Kenneth Williamson, the first flight departed Illustrious around 9:00 PM on November 11. To compensate for the shallow water of Taranto harbor (40 ft.), the British specially modified their torpedoes and dropped them from very low altitude. For their … Two of Hale's crews attacked Littorio scoring one torpedo hit while another missed in an attempt on the battleship Vittorio Veneto. ■ As the torpedoes and bombs exploded at Taranto, so did the traditional naval combat doctrines based on the big guns of battleships. They also badly damaged a heavy cruiser. The British plan called for the planes to attack in two waves. 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. Dropping flares, the Swordfish endured intense, but ineffective, antiaircraft fire as they began their runs. British forces landed near the port on September 9, 1943 as part of the Allied invasion (Operation Slapstick). The torpedo attacks sank one Italian battleship and heavily damaged two others, and a heavy cruiser and several destroyers took bomb hits. It also had implications that went far beyond that time and place. In the course of these attacks, Williamson's Swordfish was downed by fire from Conte di Cavour. Photographs from these flights indicated changes to the base's defenses, such as the deployment of barrage balloons, and Lyster ordered the necessary alterations to the strike plan. 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. During 1940–41, Italian Army operations in North Africa, based in Libya, required a supply line from Italy… Those that were in place did not extend deep enough to fully protect against the British torpedoes. The latter had been intentionally grounded to prevent its sinking. Among Britain’s objectives was the preservation of Malta as an operational hub in the Mediterranean. Abbie Hoffman, political and social activist; co-founded the Youth International Party (Yippies); he became a symbol of the counterculture era. In the days before the attack, the Royal Air Force's No. This solution, as well as other aspects of the raid, was heavily studied by the Japanese as they planned their attack on Pearl Harbor the following year. Taranto, a port city on the south-east coast of Italy, was home to the first squadron of Regia Marina. Their ordnance expended, the second flight cleared the harbor and returned to Illustrious. 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