Fairey Swordfish Mk 1 – 815 NAS, HMS Illustrious, Taranto Raid 1940
2 in stock
2 in stock
From the Amercom helicopter series comes this brilliant 1/72 scale Fairey Swordfish in the attractive livery of 815 Naval Air Squadron, RN Fleet Air Arm, as flown by Kenneth Williamson and Norman Scarlett from the carrier HMS Illustrious during the raid on the Italian fleet at Taranto in 1940.
Length 6 inches Wingspan 7.75 inches.
Constructed of a mixture of metal and plastic, complete with stand in a sealed plastic blister. Amercom/Altaya have vastly improved the finish of their products recently, as these have properly indented, authentic looking panel lines. This model also comes with very authentic looking wire rigging between the upper and lower wings. Brilliant value for money!
The Battle of Taranto took place on the night of 11–12 November 1940 during the Second World War between British naval forces, under Admiral Andrew Cunningham, and Italian naval forces, under Admiral Inigo Campioni. The Royal Navy launched the first all-aircraft ship-to-ship naval attack in history, launching a small number of obsolescent Swordfish biplane torpedo bombers from the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (R87) in the Mediterranean Sea. The attack struck the battle fleet of the Regia Marina at anchor in the harbour of Taranto using aerial torpedoes despite the shallow depth of the water. The devastation wrought by the British carrier-launched aircraft on the large Italian warships was the beginning of the ascendancy of naval aviation over the big guns of battleships. According to Admiral Cunningham, “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.”
The first wave of 12 aircraft, led by Lieutenant Commander MW Williamson RN of 815 Squadron, left Illustrious just before 21:00 hours on 11 November 1940, followed by a second wave of nine about 90 minutes later. Of the second wave, one turned back with a problem with its auxiliary fuel tank, and one aircraft launched 20 minutes late, after requiring emergency repairs to damage following a minor taxiing accident, so only eight aircraft made it to the target.
The first wave, which consisted of six Swordfish armed with torpedoes and six with bombs, was split into two sections when three of the bombers and one torpedo bomber strayed from the main force while flying through thin clouds. The smaller group continued to Taranto independently. The main group approached the harbour at 22:58. A flare was dropped east of the harbour, then the flare dropper and another aircraft made a dive bombing attack to set fire to oil tanks. The next three aircraft, led by Lieutenant Commander K Williamson RN of 815 Squadron, attacked over San Pietro Island, and struck the battleship Conte di Cavour with a torpedo that blasted a 27 ft (8.2 m) hole in her side below her waterline. Williamson’s plane was immediately shot down by the Italian battleship’s anti-aircraft guns. The two remaining aircraft in this sub-flight continued, dodging barrage balloons and receiving heavy anti-aircraft fire from the Italian warships and shore batteries, to press home an unsuccessful attack on the battleship Andrea Doria. The next sub-flight of three attacked from a more northerly direction, attacking the battleship Littorio, hitting it with two torpedoes and launching one torpedo at the flagship—the battleship Vittorio Veneto—which failed to hit its target. The bomber force led by Captain O Patch RM attacked next. They found the targets difficult to identify, but attacked two cruisers from 1,500 ft (460 m), followed by another aircraft which straddled four destroyers.
The second wave of nine aircraft led by Lieutenant Commander JW Hale of 819 Squadron, was now approaching, with two of the four bombers also carrying flares, the remaining five carrying torpedoes. Flares were dropped shortly before midnight. Two aircraft aimed their torpedoes at Littorio, one of which hit. One aircraft, despite having been hit twice by anti-aircraft fire, aimed a torpedo at Vittorio Veneto but the torpedo missed. One aircraft hit the battleship Caio Duilio with a torpedo, blowing a large hole in her hull and flooding both of her forward magazines. The aircraft flown by Lieutenant GWLA Bayly RN was shot down by antiaircraft fire from the heavy cruiser Gorizia while following the attack on Littorio, the only aircraft lost from the second wave. The final aircraft to arrive on the scene 15 minutes behind the others made a dive bombing attack on an Italian cruiser despite heavy anti-aircraft fire, then safely returned to Illustrious at 02:39. Of the two aircraft shot down, the two crew members of the first plane were taken prisoner. The other two died in their plane. The Italian battleships suffered significant damage