Douglas TBD Devastator
USN Torpedo Bomber
By Stephen Sherman, Dec. 2009. Updated January 26, 2012.
The TBD torpedo bomber entered service in the mid-1930s as one of the most modern aircraft in the U.S. Navy's inventory. By 1941 however, it had become obsolete.
The Devastator was a terrible airplane that was slaughtered in combat when not heavily escorted by Wildcats. At Midway, 37 of 41 were wiped out in about an hour of fighting, most notably Torpedo Squadron Eight. Most of the crews were killed. After this fiasco, the TBD was quickly replaced with the TBF Avenger, a much better aircraft.
Due to the nature of the torpedoes the Devastator carried, the pilots had to fly at 50 feet and slower than 100 mph in order to successfully release their load. If the torpedo was dropped from a higher altitude or from a faster speed, it would porpoise, break in two, or propel itself straight down towards the ocean floor.
The TBD with a torpedo slung under the fuselage had a maximum speed of 125 mph at sea level. With a full ordnance load, the plane could barely achieve 14,000 feet.
Type: Torpedo bomber
Length: 35 ft.
Wingspan: 50.3 Ft.
Weight Empty: 6,182 lbs.
Weight Loaded: 9,862 lbs.
Power Plant: One 900 hp. Pratt and Whitney R-1830-G4 Twin Wasp Radial.
Armament: One .50-caliber or two .30-caliber machine guns in the rear and one .50-caliber machine gun in the nose.
Ordnance: One torpedo or up to 1,000 pounds of bombs
Top Speed: 206 mph
Range: 916 miles
Ceiling: 19,500 ft.
Climb Rate: 700 ft./min.
Source: Defunct Geocities website, Air War Over the Pacific