AHTL:The Bloodiest Day

21st October 1940
170 miles off the coast of Italy.


Just after the sun sets aircraft from the carriers Illustrious,Eagle and Ark Royal launch 84 aircraft. Twenty two Blackburn skua and twenty Fairey swordfish launch from Ark Royal. Fourteen swordfish launch off the deck of Eagle. Twenty six swordfish take to the air from Illustrious.

The plan is for twelve skuas to drop flares the remaining ten carrying a single 500ib bomb to hit the fuel farm.Half the swordfish are carrying torpedoes and the other half carrying six 250 ib bombs each. There target is the five battleships, sixteen cruisers and thirteen destroyers along with the other auxiliaries of the Italian fleet.


Half the swordfish carrying the torpedoes drop to wave top height and streak towards the battleships moored in the inner harbour. The other half of the swordfish carrying the torpedoes split up and head for the 16 cruisers. The swordfish carrying the bombs climb to 500 feet and head to the auxiliaries and destroyers moored in the outer harbour.
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How stupid are you making the RN iTTL?

If 3CV can reach station at night why would they not strike at night?
(Its the RN unique advantage)

The Skua can only carry a single 500lb bomb which will hardly damage a modern BB
and 22 of them simply can't hope to more than scratch 5 targets

Therefore why are all of the TSR carrying a torpedo in the first wave not targeting the battleships? and perhaps later waves any CA in the outer harbor?
With 50 Swordfish available at least 30 should be carrying a fish with a magnetic exploder
(i.e. 3 times OTL. 3 waves each equal to OTL sounds reasonable ).

A Swordfish carries 3 times the bomb load of a skua, so use all those left over as the level bombers for the inner harbor.
That is ~ 20 a/c (i.e. double OTL)

The Skuas could carry up to 8 flares ... 12 are more than enough for all contingencies
That leaves 10 or so as bombers.
The Oil tank farm perhaps when the harbor attacks are done or perhaps even first to start fires as markers?

No need for fighter escort an night, which reduces the congestion on deck at launch.
Have them ready for dawn.

Back the attack up with some "gardening" by land based aircraft from Malta

and the Strike would be truly worthy of "the immortal memory"
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The Italian air-raid sirens start to sound as the first flares light up the harbour. Bombs from the ten skuas start to drop on the fuel farm setting it a blaze. The first bombs from three swordfish hit one of the heavy cruisers. Killing 20 and injuring 30 more. Another swordfish hits one of the eight destroyers sinking it. Half the crew survive.

Three swordfish release their torpedoes at the battleship Andrea Dora the first torpedo hits the bow and the battleship starts to list to the right. The second torpedo hits midships and punches a hole in the hull flooding the battleship. The third torpedo hits the stern and she finally capsizes.

At the same time three more swordfish release their torpedoes at the battleship Conte di Cavour .The first torpedo hits the bow and doesn't explode. The Second torpedo hits true and explodes against the bow and the battleship starts to list five degrees to port. The last torpedo hits the stern and blows it clean off.
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22:00 fuel farm

The first of the ten skuas start to drop there 500ib bombs. The First bomb misses but strikes a tanker ship taking on fuel. It explodes, the shockwave lifts the ship up and bits of metal shrapnel knocks down the skua. The second skua drops its bomb straight and true into the number one tank.
The bomb sets the fuel a light and sparks a chain reaction. The remaining eight skuas drop there 500ib bombs on the ammo depot setting it on fire.

The fuel farm is reduced to a blazing wreck. The fire can be seen as far as 25 miles away. The ammo depot is a total loss for the Italians.The skuas having done their job head out back to the carriers.


Three swordfish drop their torpedoes at the battleship Roma one fails to hit the battleship, the remaining two torpedoes hit. Of the two that hit one fails to explode and the other punches a hole in the hull flooding the engine compartment. Another three swordfish hit the battleship littoria which quickly turns on its side. The crew of the battleship Vittore Vento who managed to get the engines running at the start of the attack slowly get her moving at ten knots.
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The Italians manage to get four fighters up and heading for the inner harbour. One fighter manages to shoot two skuas and damage a third. The second fighter manages to shoot down two swordfish but is engaged by a fulmar .The third fighter is engaged by two fulmars who send it tumbling down in flames it impacts a destroyer damaging it the flames spread to anti aircraft ammo on the deck setting it on fire five minutes later it explodes sinking it with all hands. The fourth fighter is engaged by two more fulmars one fulmar is shot down and the crew bail out. The fulmar crashes into the water.

The Italians start firing anti aircraft guns and manage to hit two fulmars one crashes into the water the second is damaged and heads for the carriers. The remaining fulmars and the three Italian fighters start to dogfight through the anti aircraft fire and the search lights.
I do not think the Italians have night fighters available at this time.
I an afraid that I am finding this thread extremely implausible! Example. Night fighters dogfighting? How? Night fighters have to stalk their targets to get into a position to attack, In the dark maintaining the visual contact and situational awareness required to dogfight just does not happen.

The Vittore Vento now at 12 knots and turning to port is hit by a swordfish carrying a torpedo. The torpedo hits the stern and damages the rudder forcing her into a stop. A second swordfish carrying six 250ib bombs hit the Vento. Doing minimal damage to the battleship. Several crew are killed, twenty more are injured.


Several swordfish carrying bombs hit four destroyers moored next to each other sinking the four destroyers. The next three swordfish target three heavy cruisers sending a torpedo into them. Sinking two and crippling the third.


With most of the Italian fleet sunk or crippled. The swordfish retreat into the night. The Italian anti aircraft guns firing blindy into the night after them.