SkyMax Models SM8002 USN Douglas TBD-1 Devastator Torpedo Plane - 0299, "Neutrality Patrol," VS-71, USS Wasp (CV-7), 1940 (1:72 Scale)
"This nation will remain a neutral nation, but I cannot ask that every American remain neutral in thought as well. Even a neutral has a right to take account of facts, even a neutral cannot be asked to close his mind or close his conscience. I have said not once but many times that I have seen war and that I hate war; I say that again and again. I hope the United States will keep out of this war, I believe that it will. And I give you assurance and reassurance that every effort of your government will be directed toward that end. As long as it remains within my power to prevent there will be no blackout of peace in the United States."
- President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, September 5th, 1939
The Douglas TBD Devastator was a torpedo bomber of the United States Navy, ordered in 1934, first flying in 1935 and entering service in 1937. At that point, it was the most advanced aircraft flying for the USN and possibly for any navy in the world. However, the fast pace of aircraft development caught up with it, and by the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the TBD was already outdated. It performed well in some early battles, but in the Battle of Midway the Devastators launched against the Japanese fleet were almost totally wiped out. The type was immediately withdrawn from front line service, replaced by the Grumman TBF Avenger.
The TBD Devastator marked a large number of "firsts" for the U.S. Navy. It was the first widely-used carrier-based monoplane as well as the first all-metal naval aircraft, the first with a totally enclosed cockpit, the first with hydraulically folding wings; it is fair to say that the TBD was revolutionary. A semi-retractable undercarriage was fitted, with the wheels designed to protrude 10 in (250 mm) below the wings to permit a "wheels-up" landing with only minimal damage.
A crew of three was normally carried beneath a large "greenhouse" canopy almost half the length of the aircraft. The pilot sat up front; a rear gunner/radio operator took the rearmost seat, while the bombardier occupied the middle seat. During a bombing run, the bombardier lay prone, sliding into position under the pilot to sight through a window in the bottom of the fuselage, using the Norden Bombsight. The offensive armament that he targeted would be either a single Bliss-Leavitt Mark 13 aerial torpedo or a single 1,000 lb (454 kg) bomb. Defensive armament consisted of either a .30 caliber or .50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine gun firing forwards, and a .30 caliber machine gun for the rear gunner.
The power plant was a Pratt & Whitney R-1830-64 Twin Wasp radial engine of 900 hp (671 kW). A total of 129 of the type were purchased by the U.S. Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics (BuAer), equipping the carriers USS Saratoga, USS Enterprise, USS Lexington, USS Wasp, USS Hornet, USS Yorktown and USS Ranger.
The U.S. Navy became aware by about 1940 that the TBD had become outclassed by the fighters and bombers of other nations and a replacement (the TBF Avenger) was in the works, but it was not in service yet when the United States entered World War II. By then, training attrition had reduced their numbers to just over 100 aircraft. The Devastator had become a death trap for its crews: slow and poorly manoeuverable, with light defensive weaponry and poor armour relative to the weapons of the time. Its speed on a glide-bombing approach was a mere 200 mph (322 km/h), making it easy prey for fighters and defensive guns alike. The aerial torpedo could not even be released at speeds above 115 mph (185 km/h). The U.S. Navy assigned popular names to its aircraft in late 1941, and the TBD became the Devastator.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of an USN Douglas TBD-1 Devastator torpedo plane that was attached to VS-71, then embarked upon the USS WASP during 1940.
Wingspan: 8-1/4 inches
Length: 5-3/4 inches
Release Date: May 2011
Historical Account: "The Neutrality Patrol" - At the beginning of World War II, when Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland on September 1st, 1939, started hostilities in Europe, President Franklin D. Roosevelt immediately declared the United States' neutrality. The Neutrality Patrol, organized September 4th, 1939, as a response to the war in Europe, was ordered to track and report the movements of any warlike operations of belligerents in the waters of the Western Hemisphere. To augment the fleet units already engaged in the Neutrality Patrol, which President Roosevelt had placed around the eastern seaboard and Gulf ports, the Navy recommissioned 77 destroyers and light minelayers which had lain in reserve at either Philadelphia or San Diego.
The Neutrality Patrol led to U.S. warships assisting British Royal Navy vessels in convoying merchant shipping across the Atlantic Ocean. This placed U.S. naval personnel at considerable risk, as shown by the sinking of the destroyer USS Reuben James from Convoy HX-156 by U-552 on October 31st, 1941.