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The Italian fleet in its base at the south-east Italian port of Taranto was attacked by the British in November 1940. The aircraft carrier Illustrious carried open cockpit biplane torpedo bombers with a maximum speed of 138 mph. Twenty-one of these antiquated Swordfish aircraft were flown in two waves at 2040 and 2120 on 11 November from 150 miles away. Three battleships were hit, Littorio, Duilo and Cavour. Only two Swordfish were lost. The success of this attack was closely studied by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto's (Yamamoto, Isoroku) staff and influenced plans for the Hawaii Operation.

See also: Hawaii Operation; Yamamoto, Isoroku