Douglas Aircraft

The Douglas TBD Devastator was an American torpedo bomber of the United States Navy. Ordered in 1934, it first flew in 1935 and entered service in 1937.

Douglas TBD Devastator


Ordered on 30 June 1934, and entered into a US Navy competition for new bomber aircraft to operate from its aircraft carriers, the Douglas entry was one of the winners of the competition.[1] Other aircraft ordered for production as a result of the competition included the Northrop BT-1 which would evolve into the SBD Dauntless, the Brewster SBA and the Vought SB2U Vindicator.


The XTBD Devastator, which flew for the first time on 15 April 1935, marked a large number of "firsts" for the US Navy. It was the first widely used carrier-based monoplane as well as the first all-metal naval aircraft, the first with a totally enclosed cockpit, the first with power-actuated (hydraulically) folding wings and in these respects the TBD was revolutionary. A semi-retractable landing gear was fitted, with the wheels designed to protrude 10 in (250 mm) below the wings to permit a "wheels-up" landing which might limit damage to the aircraft. A crew of three was normally carried beneath a large "greenhouse" canopy almost half the length of the aircraft. The pilot sat in front; a rear gunner/radio operator took the rearmost position, while the bombardier occupied the middle seat. During a bombing run, the bombardier lay prone, sliding into position under the pilot to sight through a window in the bottom of the fuselage, using the Norden Bombsight.

The normal TBD offensive armament consisted of either a 1,935 lb (878 kg) Bliss-Leavitt Mark 13 aerial torpedo or a 1,000 lb (450 kg) bomb, to be carried semi-recessed into a fuselage bomb bay. Alternatively, three 500 lb (230 kg) general-purpose bombs (one under each wing root and one inside the bomb bay), or twelve 100 lb (45 kg) fragmentation bombs (six under each wing root), could be carried. This weapons load was often used when attacking Japanese targets on the Gilbert and Marshall Islands in 1942.Defensive armament consisted of a .30 in (7.62 mm) Browning machine gun for the rear gunner. Fitted in the starboard side of the cowling was either a .30 in (7.62 mm) or .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine gun.

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Douglas TBD Devastator

In fairness to the Devastator, the newer TBF Avengers were similarly ineffective in 1942, losing five out of six aircraft without scoring a hit during the Battle of Midway. The Avengers' only successes in 1942 would be against the light carrier Ryūjō and the battleship Hiei  In the initial part of the Pacific War, the poor performances of US torpedo bombers was due to the vulnerability of that type in general against fire from anti-aircraft artillery and defending fighters, plus the inexperience of American pilots and lack of coordinated fighter cover, as well as serious defects in US torpedoes which were not discovered and corrected until the fall of 1943.

  • History

    Role  Torpedo bomber

    National origin  United States

    Manufacturer  Douglas Aircraft Company

    First flight  15 April 1935

    Introduction  3 August 1937

    Produced  1937–1939

    Number built  130

  • First Flight

        Crew: Three: Pilot, Torpedo Officer/Navigator, Radioman/Gunner

        Length: 35 ft 0 in (10.67 m)

        Wingspan: 50 ft 0 in (15.24 m)

        Height: 15 ft 1 in (4.60 m)

        Empty weight: 5,600 lb (2,540 kg);     Loaded weight: 9,289 lb (4,213 kg)

        Max. takeoff weight: 10,194 lb (4,624 kg)

        Powerplant: One × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-64 Twin Wasp radial engine, 900 hp (672 kW)

  • General Info

        Maximum speed: 206 mph (179 knots, 331 km/h) at 8,000 ft (2,400 m)

        Cruise speed: 128 mph (111 knots, 206 km/h)

        Range: 435 mi (700 km) (378 nmi, 700 km) with Mk XIII Torpedo, 716 mi (623 nmi, 1,152 km)

        Service ceiling: 19,500 ft (5,945 m)

    Armament ;Guns:

            1 × forward-firing 0.30 in (7.62 mm) or 0.50 (12.7 mm) machine gun

            1 × 0.30 in (7.62 mm) machine gun in rear cockpit

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The Navy immediately withdrew the 39 remaining TBDs from frontline units after the debacle at Midway. The surviving Devastators in VT-4 and VT-7 remained in service briefly in the Atlantic and in training squadrons until 1944.[23] Many were relegated to training duties for pilots and mechanics or were destroyed following use as instructional airframes for firefighting training. By late 1944, no TBD Devastators were left in the US Navy inventory.[24] The original prototype finished its career at NAS Norman, Oklahoma; the last TBD in the US Navy was used by the Commander of Fleet Air Activities-West Coast. When his TBD was scrapped in November 1944,[25] there were no more.[26] None survived the war and there are none known to exist on dry land today.

Douglas TBD Devastator


The Douglas TBD Devastator was an American torpedo bomber of the United States Navy. Ordered in 1934, it first flew in 1935 and entered service in 1937.


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