Douglas TBD Devastator
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.
The following images were recently made available via the Photographic Section at www.history.navy.mil (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!
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:
BuNo 0339, Barclay 8:
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" . 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.
Other assorted photos
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.
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.
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...
Bomb and torpedo aiming position:
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..