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Douglas TBD Devastator

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The TBD Devastator was a single-engined torpedo bomber used aboard aircraft carriers. Although a modern aircraft when it entered United States Navy service in 1937 by the time the United States entered the Second World War in December 1941 it was obsolete. During the Battle of Midway the Douglas TBD Devastator would suffer heavy losses and was phased out of service.

Quick Facts
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First flight
15th April 1935
Entered service
5th October 1937
Total built

Front view
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Side view
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Rear view
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During 1934 the United States Navy wanted a new torpedo bomber for use aboard its aircraft carriers so launched a design competition to find a new aircraft. The design submitted by Douglas was known as the XTBD-1.

Powered by the 800-hp Pratt & Whitney XR-1830-60 Twin Wasp engine the XTBD-1 prototype made its first flight on the 15th April 1935. Housing a crew of three, comprising pilot, bomb-aimer/navigator and gunner, the XTBD-1 would be the first United States Navy carrier aircraft to be of monoplane design that would go into production.

After undergoing service trials with the United States Navy the 3rd February 1936 saw an order for 129 examples placed. Known as the Douglas TBD-1 the aircraft was powered by the 850-hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830-64 Twin Wasp engine which gave the aircraft a top speed of 206 mph, range of 416 miles with a service ceiling of 19,700 ft. Armament consisted of a pair of 0.30-in machine-guns, one forward firing and one rear firing. Bomb load was 1,000lb bombs or torpedoes.

The United States Navy took delivery of its first TBD-1 on the 25th June 1937 with United States Navy Squadron VT-3 the first to be equipped with the type when they began to receive theirs on the 5th October 1937.

During its time in service with the United States Navy, and now known as the Douglas TBD Devastator, the aircraft would be used during the Battle of the Coral Sea (4th May 1942 - 8th May 1942) and the Battle of Midway (4th June 1942 - 7th June 1942). However one operation during the Battle of Midway showed just how vulnerable the TBD was when of forty one aircraft deployed, only six returned. The rest shot down by Japanese aircraft and anti-aircraft guns. This led to remaining examples being phased out of service, replaced by the Grumman TBF Avenger.

Only 130 TBD Devastators were built, the prototype and the only order of 129 placed by the United States Navy.

Technical Details

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Top Speed Range Service Ceiling Armament
TBD-1 206 mph 416 miles 19,700 ft two 0.30-in machine-guns
and either 1,000lb bombs or


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See This Aircraft

(C) = Cockpit only exhibit. (F) = Fuselage only exhibit. (R) = Remains of an aircraft.

No known examples currently on public display in the UK.

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