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United States' Douglas TBD Devastator

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Douglas TBD Devastator:
United States' Douglas TBD Devastator
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook

Douglas TBD Devastator:
United States' Douglas TBD Devastator
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Douglas TBD Devastator:
United States' Douglas TBD Devastator
Douglas TBD Devastator:
United States' Douglas TBD Devastator

Design

The Douglas TBD Devastator was the first US Navy all metal, low wing, carrier based monoplane with hydraulic folding wings. If there was a strong wind, ground crew would have to move the wings. Some of the early pilots weren't used to the folding wings and crashed their planes when they didn't check that the wings were locked down.

Was designed by Donald Douglas in 1934. The TBD was the United States Navy's first all metal low wing aircraft. Designs from Great Lakes Aircraft Corporation (XTBG-1) and Hall Aluminum Aircraft Corporation (XPTBH-2) were also submitted.

The TBD Devastator originally had wing floatation bags to help the crew escape if the aircraft was ditched, but they were removed during the war to make sure the Norden bombsight would go down with the TBD.

Undercarriage

The undercarriage retracted but the main wheels would remain sticking out of the belly. This was to allow for safer emergency landings.

Cockpit

After the tests of the prototype, the design of the cockpit was improved to allow better pilot visibility.

Wings

By using hydraulic controls the wings could be folded back.

1941 Torpedo Bomber Comparison

Prototype

The XTBD-1 prototype first flew on April 15, 1935.

Carrier trials were conducted aboard the USS Lexington in December 1935.

Production

114 / 129 TBD-1s were ordered in February 1936. 15 more ordered in August 1938.

  • Douglas XTBD-1: 1
  • Douglas TBD-1: 129
  • Total: 130
    • Manufacturer: Douglas Aircraft Company
    • Manufacturing location: El Segundo, California

Torpedo Bomber All Production Comparison

Variants

  • Great Lakes XTBG-1: Prototype. Biplane.
  • Hall Aluminum XPTBH-2: Prototype. High wing.
  • Douglas XTBD-1: Prototype. Powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-1830-60 Twin Wasp.
  • Douglas TBD-1: Powered by Pratt & Whitney R-1830-64 Twin Wasp engine. More powerful engine. Canopy raised.
  • Douglas TBD-1A: Fitted with Edo floats and test flown in 1939 at Newport, Rhode Island.

Usage

The VT-3 (Torpedo Squadron), on the USS Saratoga, was the first unit to receive the TBD Devastators in October / November 1937.

Start of War

There were 69 operational TBD Devastators, out of 100 available, that were in service at the time of the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbof.

Midway

On June 4, 1942, 35 / 36 TBD Devastators were shot down. There were a total of 41 Devastators from the Enterprise, Hornet, and Yorktown. The Hornet had 14 of its 15 Devastators that took off on June 4, 1942, shot down.

Bomber

In 1942, against the Japanese in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands, the TBD Devastators were outfitted with three 500 lb / 227 kg bombs or twelve 100 lb / 45 kg bombs (six under each wing).

Retired

After being pulled from the front lines, after the Battle of Midway, TBD Devastators were used for communications and training.

Specifications

  Douglas TBD-1 Devastator
Type Torpedo bomber
Crew 3
Pilot, gunner/navigator, torpedo operator
Engine (Type) Pratt & Whitney R-1830-64 Twin Wasp piston
Wright Cyclone
Cylinders Radial, Radial 14
Cooling Air
HP 900
Propeller blades 3, 3 variable pitch
Dimensions  
Span 50'
15.24 m
Length 35'
10.67 m
Height 15', 15' 1"
4.6 m
Wing area 422 ft2
39.2 m2
Weight  
Empty 6,169 lb, 6,182 lb
2,804 kg
Loaded 10,173 lb, 10,194 lb
4,624 kg
Performance  
Speed @ sea level 206 mph
Speed @ 8,000' /
2,440 m
205 mph, 206 mph
332 kph
Cruise speed 128 mph
206 kph
Climb 720'/minute
219 m/minute
Service ceiling 19,700'
6,005 m
Range 415 miles, 716 miles
670 km
Range with full load
(1,000 lb)
435 miles, 716 miles
700 km
Maximum range 716 miles
1,152 km
Armament 2: MG
Nose 1: 0.3" MG
1: .30 cal MG
Port wing 1: 7.62 mm MG
Rear cockpit 1: 7.62 mm MG
1: 0.3" MG
1: .30 cal MG
Bombs 1,000 lb, 1,500 lb
680 kg
OR  
Torpedo 1: 1,000 lb
1: 21"
1: 454 kg
53 cm

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  3. World War II Airplanes Volume 2, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  4. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
  5. American Attack Aircraft Since 1926, E. R. Johnson, 2012
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