Douglas TBD Devastator

Photo Page

Many of you who are regular visitors will know of my interest in this oft-maligned aircraft, and the men who flew it.  I am pleased to offer this page with photos from varied sources, including a treasure trove from the Boeing Archives courtesy Dan Johnson.  Other valuable contributions have been made by historians William T. Larkins (who actually took the photos he sent...what a wonderful era that must have been) and Mark Horan, co-author of A Glorious Page in our History

I intend to integrate the BuNo database and photo page into a single, searchable entity at some point in the future for added convenience.  I would also like to invite any submissions from visitors who may have photos of TBDs, as well as any feedback you may have.  Thanks for visiting!

Action and service photos

The VT-2 photos below are taken from one group photo (SM23964-TBD-1-6-41) over California on 6 January 1941.  Interestingly, this photo has four future VT-8 aircraft in the formation.  This is the second-largest airborne shot of VT-8 aircraft in formation that I am aware of; the largest being a picture of the entire squadron passing over Hornet on the way to attack the Kido Butai on 4 June 1942 shortly after 9 AM local time.

tbd.0271.0275.vt3.jpg (99373 bytes)    tbd.0284.3t14.oakland.jpg (126510 bytes)    tbd.0294.0295.0304.0308.jpg (152314 bytes)    tbd.0296.2t3.jpg (138687 bytes)    tbd.0297.2t2.jpg (101089 bytes)    tbd.0298.0292.jpg (100091 bytes)

The following images were recently made available via the Photographic Section at (an outstanding resource, for those who are unfamiliar with that site).  I cannot emphasize how pleased I am to see these photos readily available in the public domain, and offer my thanks to the individual or group responsible for compiling and scanning this photo collection!  Each photo has a brief explanation in the caption.  Additionally, links are provided to identified aircraft through the data page (e.g. BuNo "0333" being jettisoned from the Yorktown).  NOTE:  This is not, repeat, NOT, BuNo 0333.  I am still trying to determine exactly which aircraft this is, but I know for a fact it's not 0333 as I received a letter from one of the two men who would know best...Ray Machalinski, the gunner who took a swim along with his pilot, Lt. Leonard Ewoldt when they ditched BuNo 0333 after the Tulagi raid on May 4, 1942.  More details as they become available!

tbd.from.vt6.over.wake.jpg (75445 bytes)    tbd.on.cv2.coralsea.jpg (92280 bytes)    tbd.0333.oncv5.jpg (71420 bytes)    tbd.0333.goingforaswim.jpg (46991 bytes)    tbd.6t4.launching.jpg (50856 bytes)    tbd.6t9.launching.jpg (55955 bytes)

tbd.6t10.launching.jpg (58046 bytes)    tbd.6t19.launching.jpg (48197 bytes)    tbd.6tx.launching.jpg (63746 bytes)    tbd.0313.5t18.bent.jpg (116862 bytes)    tbd.of.vt3.on.cv6.jpg (112545 bytes)

These photos illustrate the application of the experimental Barclay camouflage scheme to two VT-3 aircraft, BuNos 0320 and 0339 (3-T-7?).  The photos were taken at NAS North Island, San Diego CA on 22 Aug 1940.

BuNo 0320, Barclay 7:    tbd.0320.1.jpg (59566 bytes)    tbd.0320.2.northisland.jpg (69766 bytes)    tbd.0320.3.barclay7.jpg (61967 bytes)

BuNo 0339, Barclay 8:    tbd.0339.2barclay8.jpg (70677 bytes)    tbd.0339.jpg (89190 bytes)    tbd.0339.3.8-22-40.jpg (85647 bytes)

The TBD in Color

The Devastator was the Navy's first monoplane to see squadron service, and as such was afforded quite a bit of press in its day.  Fortunately, some of the photos taken were shot in color, giving us an opportunity to see those Golden Wings the way they were meant to be seen!

These three photos are part of a special color centerfold feature shot aboard CV-6 Enterprise in either late 1940 or early 1941 which appeared in the March 31, 1941 edition of LIFE.  VT-6 was one of the earliest adopters of the Navy's new all-grey camouflage scheme directive issued in January 1941, as evidenced by their appearance in the Warner Brothers' classic movie "Dive Bomber" . vt6deckphoto.jpg (123894 bytes)    vt6formation.jpg (127241 bytes)    vt6echelon.jpg (64786 bytes)
This somewhat pixelated Rudy Arnold shot appeared in the February 1942 edition of "Flying" magazine.
Another shot from the incomparable Rudy Arnold, this shows a TBD attached to VS-42 aboard USS Ranger on patrol along the Eastern seaboard (most likely off Norfolk) sometime in 1941.


Accident photos

TBD-1_Crash_VT-2-0366.jpg (37287 bytes)    TBD-1_crash-pcola1.jpg (34730 bytes) (108920 bytes)    

        Other assorted photos

tbd.0302.2t17.jpg (36535 bytes)    tbd.0324.6t3.jpg (49527 bytes)    vt3_vt6_tbds.jpg (49975 bytes)    DougXtbd1texas.jpg (27826 bytes) (66197 bytes)

5-t-7.full.jpg (41910 bytes)    tbd.5t7.8.9.jpg (85844 bytes)    vt2.t-5-17.donbrammer.jpg (27234 bytes) (52315 bytes)

Color profiles and Squadron emblems

(A word about the profiles:  I am most certainly NOT Tom Tullis or Claes Sundin, so please excuse the basic appearance of these!)  These are just to give an idea of how the aircraft looked at a given time, and salient features are captured as best as possible.  This will be a large project, and will eventually be categorized in a searchable database by four digit BuNo.  This section is currently under development...below is the first "base profile" for the Golden Wings versions as it appears under development.

tbd.base.profile.jpg (152753 bytes)


Walkaround photos

The majority (if not all) of these photos are of BuNo 0268, the first production Devastator, and were taken throughout 1937 at the Douglas factory in Santa Monica (judging by the background).  This aircraft was subsequently retained for testing by the Navy, later being fitted with Edo floats as the TBD-1A.  Further details are available on the data page; the aircraft was unceremoniously scrapped on 22 September 1943.

tbd.0268.ft.stbd.jpg (173362 bytes)    tbd.0268.wingsdown.jpg (132398 bytes)    tbd.0268.ft.port.jpg (163617 bytes)    tbd.11437.10oclock.view.jpg (127332 bytes)    tbd.11440.4oclock.view.jpg (104831 bytes)

tbd.11439.6oclock.view.jpg (94137 bytes)    tbd.11449.wingsfolded.jpg (108956 bytes)    tbd.11446.canopies.closed.jpg (113018 bytes) (110629 bytes)

Interior photos

Well, if you can't do a Devastator with THESE photos, I don't know what else to tell you.  :-)  Most of these are scanned from original Douglas factory photographs; a couple come from the Erection and Maintenance manual, and these are of a slightly fuzzy quality, that's just how they are in the book.  Now, the only thing we need are color photos...

Pilot's Cockpit:

tbd.11701.port.frontpit.jpg (167628 bytes)    tbd.11702.stbd.frontpit.jpg (176641 bytes)    tbd.11704.mapcase.jpg (207110 bytes)    tbd.11705.instpanel.jpg (297062 bytes)    tbd.11723.stick.and.pedals.jpg (177236 bytes)

Bomb and torpedo aiming position:

tbd.11728.aimer.pad.jpg (140281 bytes)    tbd.11792.aimdoors.shut.jpg (128328 bytes) (123282 bytes)

 Gunner/radioman position: (77539 bytes) (176180 bytes)    tbd.11646.guntunnel.jpg (123494 bytes)    tbd.11594.30cal.mounted.jpg (97749 bytes)    tbd.11595.30cal.extended.jpg (102486 bytes)    tbd.em.40.jpg (307942 bytes)

 Exterior details:

tbd.em.62.jpg (309532 bytes)    tbd.12897.portgear.jpg (135822 bytes)    tbd.11686.floatbag.jpg (150805 bytes)

Technical drawings

Thanks to the unparalleled generosity of a fellow modeler, I am now in possession of an Erection and Maintenance Manual for the TBD-1 as well as the Pilot's Notes and an engine manual..

tbd.em.77.jpg (195581 bytes)    tbd.em.299.jpg (125241 bytes)