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Douglas TBD Devastator

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Donald Douglas fine aircraft company developed the TBD Devastator in 1934 to give the US Navy a much needed torpedo bomber which was able to fly from aircraft carrier decks. The low wing, tailwheel equipped Devastator was able to carry a torpedo or bomb beneath its fuselage, or smaller bombs under its fuselage and wings.

The crew of three, consisting of pilot, gunner and navigator/ torpedo officer operator, faced a great deal of danger. From the very beginning of World War II, it was obvious that the Devastator was outclassed.

On 4 June 1942 at Midway, no fewer than 35 Devastators were shot down. They included all of the US Navy's Torpedo Squadron Eight (VT-8). Sole survivor Ensign George Gay, having succumbed to Japanese fire and bobbing in a life raft, had a horrific view as Japanese guns blasted his colleagues out of the sky. Many were victims of withering fire from the ships guns; others were shot down by fighters.

Soon afterwards, the Devastator was withdrawn from combat units - left behind by a war that was moving faster than it did - and relegated to training duties.

This American torpedo bomber is mainly remembered for a tragic reason at Midway an entire squadron of Douglas TBD Devastators was lost in a matter of minutes. The Devastator was a perfectly acceptable aircraft by pre-war standards, but it came on the scene when change was occuring rapidly. By the time men and machines were pitted in combat in the Pacific, the TBD was no longer an effective warplane.


Douglas TBD Devastator

Douglas TBD Devastator three seat torpedo bomber Douglas TBD Devastator abroard Enterprise before Midway The Douglas TBD Devastator seen over Wake Island in February 1942
VT-3 was the first unit to receive the Devastator, in October 1937. Three more squadrons received the aircraft in 1938, and in 1942 all four saw action against the Japanese. Only four of these TBDs from torpedo bomber squadron VT-6 returned from their next mission. This TBD from the Enterprise carries a fresh coat of sea green and pale grey paint. In May, a US Navy dispatch ordered the red national insignia and tail markings to be removed.

Douglas TBD Devastator (Technical Specification)
Role Three seat torpedo bomber
Manufacturer Douglas
Maximum Speed 332 kmh (205 mph)
Maximum Range 670 km (415 miles)
Ceiling 6,005 meters (19,700 feet)
Wing Area

15.24 meters (50 ft)
10.67 meters (35 ft)
4.60 meters (15 ft)
39.20 square meters (422 sq ft)
Engines One Pratt & Whitney R-1830-64 Twin Wasp radial piston engine which provides 671-kW (900 hp)
Armament One 7.62 mm (0.30 cal) forward firing machine gun
One 7.62 mm (0.30 cal) on flexible mount
One 454 kg (1,000 lbs) torpedo
Or up to 680 kg (1,500 lbs) of bombs

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