The British raid on the port of Taranto dealt a heavy blow to the Italian navy and formed the Japanese strategy for a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.
On the night of November 11, 1940, waves of British torpedo bombers sneaked up to the port of Taranto in southern Italy in the dark, where the anchorages of many warships were protected by a series of anti-aircraft guns and anti-aircraft guns. Aircraft gun. Headlights. This was the beginning of a sudden attack on the British aircraft carrier group, which inspired Japan’s plan to attack Pearl Harbor a year later.
In the autumn of 1940, Britain was in a very difficult situation. The fall of France and Nazi rule in Western Europe left them alone and helpless. When Italy entered the war on the Axis side, the situation got worse.
Although Italy is weaker than Germany or Japan, it is located in the middle of the Mediterranean and has a strategic advantage, blocking the route to the Suez Canal and the island of Malta. In order to avoid the Italian navy and air force, the British convoy will not enter the Mediterranean through the Strait of Gibraltar, but will sail around Africa through the Suez Canal.
The British navy is larger than the Italian navy, but it has to diversify its forces to deal with the risk of German invasion, as well as to protect the Atlantic escort and respond to the threat of ships from the German underground.
At the same time, the Italian Navy is considered timid because it does not want to lose valuable and irreplaceable warships in large-scale naval battles. Italian warships are often moored in the port under the protection of the air force, and only go to war when the British army is at a disadvantage.
In 1940, deploying an aircraft carrier to ambush a fleet in a harbor still few people would think of. However, the United Kingdom has been studying plans to use aircraft carriers to launch torpedo attacks on Taranto Port since 1938, code-named “Operation Trial.”
Compared with the 6 Japanese aircraft carriers and 400 fighter jets that participated in the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, the British mobilized only the aircraft carrier Kokure, 2 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers and 5 destroyers in this battle. The Italian fleet based in Taranto consists of 6 battleships, 9 heavy cruisers, 7 light cruisers and 13 destroyers. If they find the British fleet, the result will be a massacre.
The squadron of the aircraft carrier Radiance has only 21 obsolete Fairey Swordfish biplane bombers, but can fly at low altitudes and slowly drop precise torpedoes.
He launched a night raid to help the bombers avoid the Italian fighters. Twenty-one swordfish attacked in two waves, half of which carried torpedoes, and the rest carried flares and armor-piercing bombs.
There are elements of surprise and luck in this raid. The Italian army set up torpedo nets in the port, but the torpedo nets were not long enough to reach the seabed, allowing British torpedoes to pass underneath.
“We turned around until the correct battleship was in the center of the torpedo line. The sea was too close below, and it was not clear whether we threw the torpedo or jumped into the sea first. Then they, I leveled it and pressed the button, and a bastard told me that the torpedo had escaped. ,” a British pilot recalled.
The attack started at 11pm and ended at midnight. The British lost two planes, two crew members were killed, and two were captured, but they failed three Italian battleships, damaged one heavy cruiser and two destroyers, and destroyed two fighter jets. 59 Italian soldiers were killed and about 600 wounded.
The sudden attack caused heavy losses to the Italian battleships and dealt a heavy blow to the navy’s fragile combat spirit. Italy subsequently launched a minesweeper in retaliation. On December 19, 1941, the minesweeper severely damaged two British battleships while docking in the Egyptian port of Alexandria.
A few days after the attack, Takeshi Naito, an assistant military attache of the Japanese Air Force stationed in Germany, came to Taranto to study carefully, ask questions, and carefully record the depth and distance.
Lieutenant John Opie, a U.S. Navy observer on the USS Glory, reported the lessons of the battle and asked to go to Pearl Harbor to teach his defense experience. However, the U.S. Navy ignored this point, thinking that the waters of Pearl Harbor were too shallow for the torpedo to function, so it decided not to deploy a net to prevent torpedoes.
“This was a wrong decision. The United States suffered heavy losses, thousands of soldiers were killed, and the eight warships in Pearl Harbor sank or were severely damaged in a sudden Japanese ambush a year later.” Military expert Michael Peck emphasized.
son (follow National interest)