November 11/12, 1940 - Flying from HMS Illustrious, British aircraft attack the Italian fleet at Taranto. Codenamed Operation Judgment, the attack on Taranto was designed to cripple the Italian fleet and permit the re-supply of British forces in North Africa. Led by Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham and Vice Admiral Lumley Lyster, the British task force located the bulk of the Italian fleet in port at Taranto. Launching 21 Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers (right) on the night of November 11, the British caught the Italians by surprise. In the attack, the planes managed to sink one battleship and heavily damage two more, halving the Italian battleship fleet. A heavy cruiser was also damaged. Following the battle, the Italians withdrew their remaining ships to safer anchorages. The raid was heavily studied by the Japanese during their planning for the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Photograph Source: Public Domain