The Anniversary of The Channel Dash - 1942 - and the wider RN Fleet Air Arm during the Second World War

Her two escorting destroyers were also both lost with extremely heavy loss of life. One of them was able to torpedo the two German battlecruisers and cause damage that would need dockyard repairs.

There should have been aircraft patrolling but it is not certain how much of a difference that would have made. The Swordfish could have attacked the two battlecruisers, but would hitting one or both of them be enough to make the Germans break off their attack?

30knots top speed for HMS Glorious Vs 31 knots for Scharnhorst & Gneisenau
So it comes down to gunnery skill and of course HMS Ardent & HMS Acasta protecting their carrier.
 

Yokel

LE
30knots top speed for HMS Glorious Vs 31 knots for Scharnhorst & Gneisenau
So it comes down to gunnery skill and of course HMS Ardent & HMS Acasta protecting their carrier.

If the Swordfish had been able to slow the Gernans, and/or they had been able to summon reinforcement from the main British force, then things would likely have been different. As it was two heavy units armed with 11 inch guns were always going to win the surface action through sheer weight of fire.

The chaos of war?
 
PQ18, the first Arctic Convoy after the debacle and tragedy of PQ17, was the first Arctic Convoy to have an escort carrier (HMS Avenger) with Sea Hurricanes and Swordfish.

Wikipedia article - this appears to have been copied from one of the books mentioned in the references.

On 3 September 1942, Avenger, under the command of ex-Swordfish pilot Commander Anthony Paul Colthust, left Britain for Iceland to take part in Convoy PQ 18. The weather was cold, and in heavy seas one of her Sea Hurricanes broke its restraints and was lost over the side. The ship was located at sea by a Luftwaffe Focke-Wulf Condor, and shortly after arriving in Iceland, Avenger was subjected to a bombing attack by another Condor. Both of the bombs it dropped missed the ship, but two houses ashore were demolished. In their determination for PQ 18 to be a success, the Royal Navy created the largest escort force ever assembled for an Arctic convoy up until that time. Under command of Rear-Admiral Robert Burnett, the force included Avenger—the only aircraft carrier—which was joined by the anti-aircraft cruiser HMS Scylla and 16 fleet destroyers, plus the normal complement of close support sloops, corvettes, and minelayers. Avenger and Scylla, with the close escort destroyers Wheatland and Wilton, left Iceland and joined the convoy late on 9 September 1942. One of her Swordfish aircraft was immediately sent up on an anti-submarine patrol. Bad weather prevented any flying for the following two days, but the weather cleared by noon on 12 September. The clearer skies revealed a Blohm & Voss BV 138 flying boat shadowing the convoy. Four Hurricanes took off to intercept it but could not find it in the clouds. Later the same day, a Swordfish on anti-submarine patrol sighted two U-boats; they had dived by the time the escorts got into position.

The next day, 13 September, a Swordfish took off on patrol at 03:45 and attacked a U-boat on the surface. At 07:00, another Swordfish sighted two U-boats, which dived before an attack could be launched. Later another Blohm & Voss BV 138 was sighted and Sea Hurricanes were sent to intercept it, but it was lost in the clouds. At 09:00 two merchant ships were torpedoed and sunk; more aircraft and U-boats were located shadowing the convoy. This time the Sea Hurricanes did locate the German reconnaissance aircraft but found their .303 calibre machine guns had little effect on the armoured Blohm & Voss aircraft. At 15:00 six Junkers Ju 88 which had been circling the convoy headed in on a bombing attack. No ships were hit, and the Sea Hurricanes started to engage them. The bombing mission appears to have been a diversion to get the fighters out of position. It was followed with a torpedo attack by a mixed formation of 50 Junkers Ju 88 and Heinkel He 111. The planes flew into an intense anti-aircraft barrage which shot down five aircraft and disrupted the others, so that out of 96 torpedoes only eight found a target. One of the He 111s was also intercepted and shot down by the Sea Hurricanes. Another air attack by nine Heinkel He 115 torpedo bombers followed at 16:15. One was shot down by the convoy's anti-aircraft barrage, and the rest were sufficiently deterred so that their torpedoes, dropped at a distance, were easily evaded by the ships in the convoy. During this attack the Sea Hurricanes had again been diverted to look for a shadowing Blohm & Voss BV 138, which ultimately shot one of them down without any apparent damage to itself. At 20:40 a force of 12 He 111 torpedo-bombers attacked in small groups, but almost half were shot down by the anti-aircraft barrage and the Sea Hurricanes, which were in position to intercept them this time.

At 03:30 on 14 September, a U-boat torpedoed and sank a tanker at the rear of the convoy. A patrolling Swordfish attacked at 04:00 and forced a surfaced U-boat to dive, although the submarine did not appear to be damaged. Another Swordfish sighted U-589 at 09:40; this submarine also dived, but was located and sunk by
HMS Onslow. Avenger's captain now had to change tactics to work around a limitation of the Sea Hurricanes and Fairey Swordfish: They were not able to use the USN designed catapult which required a tail down take off, rather than the tail up method used by the Royal Navy's catapults, and so needed the full deck length to take off. He endeavoured to keep a section of fighter aircraft in the air during daylight hours and another ready to launch, so they could break up large German aircraft formations. This entailed a continuous cycle of take offs and landings to re-fuel and re-arm. At 12:30 a group of 22 Ju 88s and He 111s with an escort of Messerschmitt Bf 110s approached the convoy from dead ahead. Aboard Avenger, nine Sea Hurricanes took off. Their presence forced some of the German planes to drop their torpedoes early and turn away, while others were shot down by the anti-aircraft barrage. A simultaneous attack by a force of 14 Ju 88s at the rear of the convoy divided the Sea Hurricane squadrons, which shot down one of the Ju 88s. The carrier and escorts were targeted by the German aircraft, and about 20 aircraft succeeded in making a bombing run. One aircraft was shot down by the barrage, the eleventh of the day.

Immediately following, at 15:30, 25 He 111 torpedo bombers appeared in front of the convoy. Of these, 17 targeted
Avenger, which managed to evade all the torpedoes. However, three of her Sea Hurricanes, which had closed on the He 111s, were shot down by the escorts' barrage. The pilots were all rescued. Another force of Ju 88s appeared and targeted Avenger and Scylla. Neither ship was hit, but a number of near misses were recorded. One near miss started a small fire in Avenger's catapult room, which was quickly dealt with. That was the last attack of the day. The Sea Hurricanes claimed five out of 24 aircraft shot down; another three were probably shot down; and 14 were damaged.

During the early hours of 15 September, the convoy was fogbound. The fog started to clear at 12:20, and Avenger's radar operator reported a group of 70 bombers approaching. All of
Avenger's remaining Sea Hurricanes took off to intercept them. The presence of the fighters kept the bombers above the cloud level; their altitude kept them from bombing with any accuracy. The bombers remained in the vicinity of the convoy until fuel shortages forced them to leave, and by 16:45 Avenger's radar was clear of any targets. On 16 September a Consolidated Catalina of No. 210 Squadron RAF, based in Russia, arrived to take over the anti-submarine patrols from Avengers' Swordfish. This allowed her to clear the deck of Swordfish and assemble the spare Sea Hurricanes for the return journey. Avenger, Scylla, and the destroyers left PQ 18 that evening to join the homeward bound convoy leaving Russian waters. When Convoy PQ 18 arrived at Archangel no escorts and only ten of the 41 merchant ships in the convoy had been sunk.
'Only 10'. 25%.
 

Pteranadon

LE
Book Reviewer
Her two escorting destroyers were also both lost with extremely heavy loss of life. One of them was able to torpedo the two German battlecruisers and cause damage that would need dockyard repairs.

There should have been aircraft patrolling but it is not certain how much of a difference that would have made. The Swordfish could have attacked the two battlecruisers, but would hitting one or both of them be enough to make the Germans break off their attack?
A search aircraft might have sighted the Germans early enough for Glorious and her escort to escape.
 

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