View Full Version : Ahoy, Mateys! Stringbags on the telly

11th Feb 2004, 00:12
I hope that regulars here were not deterred from watching the "War at Sea" prog on BBC2 last Sunday, assuming that it would be all rum, sodomy and the lash. The series is mis-named: it isn't about sea warfare in general, but about particular aspects of RN history (episode 1: a bit of Trafalgar, then lots on the battlecruiser bit of Jutland, "bloody ships", Beatty a bonehead etc, then about 4.5 seconds on the rest of the battle).

Getting to the point: episode 2 took as its theme the influence of air power on the WW2 RN campaigns in the Med (with a brief diversion to chase the Bismarck). Cue lots of interesting stuff about Swordfish, interviews with Swordfish pilots, archive footage and some good shots of the RN Historic Flight's stringbag doing its stuff. I had not heard Taranto described as the turning point of WW2 before, but I can see what they were getting at (no Taranto, no control of Med, no supply for N Africa, no disruption of Rommel's supplies, no Alamein, no end of beginning etc etc). It seems that you can find hinges of fate all over the place if you look hard enough.

If you missed it, look out for it when it turns up on the History Channel etc. Episode 3 this Sunday: Falklands, so expect some more aeroplanes.

Algy's Monocle
11th Feb 2004, 02:19
I had not heard Taranto described as the turning point of WW2 before,

And I was similarly intrigued by the suggestion that the visiting Japanese naval attache casually took home a few of the finer points on how to attack the fleet at anchor with aeroplanes...

11th Feb 2004, 02:38
Th bit about 'Japanese insparation' is usually mentioned by decent summaries of the raid. What to me is amazing as the incredibly low loss rate - 2 a/c (4 crew) and only 2 of those 4 killed (2 captured) IIRC. Having seen inside the cockpit of several Blackfish and Stringbags, I'm even more amazed. What is appalling is the fact that it remained the best carrier attack a/c the British industry came up with until post-war. Argument rages about the merit of the Barracuda, but it sounds like a disaster to me.

PS It was Bertie with the monocle BTW. Assuming you refer to Algernon Montgomery, of Monmouth Towers, Monmoth, Monmothshire, as introduced by Major James Bigglesworth in 'Biggles flies Again'.

Tiger_ Moth
14th Feb 2004, 00:31
I know the guy who made that series, Andrew Lambert. He's one of my lecturers.

17th Feb 2004, 15:49
Those with a interest in such nautical aviating will find Charles Lamb : War in a Stringbag ,
arrow books, isbn : 0 09 918250 5

An excellent read and gives some detail of taranto where he was one of the flare dropping party.

spelling mistakes are due week old baby induced lack of sleep :zzz:

19th Feb 2004, 02:40
An excellent summary of the battle here.

The Italian Navy was no joke. They had excellent ships. They were generally less armored than others, but faster.

One of their surviving Cruisers was given to the USSR as war reperations (Don't ask me what the Italians did to the USSR), and it was rebuilt as the Sverdlov class of Cruiser, which became the backbone of the Soviet fleet after WWII.

Her guns were of longer range than US Cruisers, and she was 2 kts faster.