SkyMax Models SM8004 USN Douglas TBD-1 Devastator Torpedo Plane - Ensign T. A. Aspell, VT-6, USS Enterprise (CV-6), Wake Island Raids, February 1942 (1:72 Scale)
"Advance against the Japanese in the Pacific, bypassing as many strongly-held enemy islands as possible, only landing to fight it out on islands needed to build air bases to support the next landing."
- Strategy advanced by General Douglas MacArthur
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of aircraft development caught up with it, and by the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the TBD was already outdated.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 The type was immediately withdrawn from front line service, replaced by the Grumman TBF Avenger.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 maneuverable, with light defensive weaponry and poor armor 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 a USN Douglas TBD-1 Devastator torpedo plane that was piloted by Ensign T. A. Aspell, who was attached to VT-6, then embarked upon the USS Enterprise, as it participated in the Wake Island Raids of February 1942.
Wingspan: 8-1/4 inches
Length: 5-3/4 inches
Release Date: September 2011
Historical Account: "Alamo of the Pacific" - Fearing an imminent invasion, the Japanese reinforced Wake Island with more formidable defenses. The American captives were ordered to build a series of bunkers and fortifications on Wake. The Japanese brought in an 8 in (200 mm) naval artillery gun that they had captured in Singapore. The U.S. Navy established a submarine blockade instead of an amphibious invasion on Wake Island. As a result, the Japanese garrison starved.
On February 24th, 1942, aircraft from the carrier Enterprise attacked the Japanese garrison on Wake Island. U.S. forces bombed the island periodically from 1942 until Japan's surrender in 1945. On July 8th, 1943, B-24 Liberators in transit from Midway Island struck the Japanese garrison on Wake Island. George H. W. Bush also conducted his first mission as an aviator over Wake Island. After this, Wake was occasionally raided but never attacked en masse.