The Douglas TBD Devastator was an American torpedo bomber of the United States Navy. Ordered in 1934, it first flew in 1935 and entered service in 1937. At that point, it was the most advanced aircraft flying for the Navy and possibly for any navy in the world. However, the fast pace of aircraft development quickly caught up with it, and by the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the TBD was already outdated.
This specific plane, the US Navy Douglas TBD-1 Devastator BuNo 1515, was assigned to VT-5 on USS Yorktown (CV-5), and ditched at Jaluit on 1 Feb 1942, during the USN’s first offensive action of WW2.
Devastators played a key role as America’s frontline torpedo bomber throughout the early dark days of the Pacific War from Pearl Harbor to Midway. TBD crews served with courage, flying a plane that was rapidly obsolescent in the face of overwhelming odds. Torpedo squadrons from the carriers Yorktown, Enterprise, and (most famously) Hornet suffered grievously in securing victory at the Battle of Midway.
Today no example of this important type survives in any museum or collection anywhere in the world.
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