He was called the "flying coffin." On the one hand, it seems to be fair, on the other hand, it is completely drawn out. Let's try to figure it out, because many planes that they called coffins turned out to be completely different.
What about the Devastator. Back in 1912, US Rear Admiral Fiske patented (oh, these patents!) The method of torpedo attack of ships from the air.
And two years later, specially created torpedo bombers underwent baptism of fire in naval battles of the First World War. It is clear that the idea was good, because even a low-speed biplane bookstore easily caught up with the fastest cruiser or destroyer of that time. 120 km / h was more than enough.
It so happened that by the beginning of the 30s in the marine aviation US torpedo bombers not only took root, they became the main weapons aircraft carriers.
As a rule, these were biplanes with an open cockpit and a crew of three people: pilot, navigator, scorer and gunner.
In addition to the "clean" T-class torpedo bombers, the U.S. aircraft carriers were equipped with double "B" class marine bombers.
And in the summer of 1934 the aviation command fleet proposed to develop a universal deck-based combat aircraft, received the designation "TV". "Torpedo-bomber", that is, a torpedo bomber. A universal attack aircraft, the load of which could be changed depending on the requirements of the situation.
In the struggle for the order came together three firms. The first, the Gray Lakes, introduced the very archaic, even for those times, model of the XTBG-1 brace biplane. Of course, the military did not like such an aircraft.
The second was more advanced Hell designers. Their version of the twin-engine monoplane XTBH-1 was more interesting, but did not fit in speed characteristics.
In the end, the winner was the Douglas company and its single-engine torpedo bomber XTBD-1. Douglas received an order for the construction of the aircraft, and, I must say, very reasonably.
In general, a lot of numerals “first” are applied to this machine.
The world's first monoplane torpedo bomber with a closed cockpit. For 1934 - very progressive. The only legacy of the past was the corrugated duralumin wing sheathing and canvas-trimmed steering surfaces.
The crew consisted of three people. Pilot, navigator, scorer and radio operator. They were seated one after another in a common cabin, closed by a long lamp with movable sections. This scheme later became a classic for American attack aircraft.
The folding of wings, which was used before, was first mechanized by applying a hydraulic drive of the mechanism. On the biplanes of that time, the wings also folded, but the wing boxes pressed against the sides of the fuselage, and for the monoplane, they came up with a more economical way in which the consoles went up and folded over the cockpit.
As a power plant, the Pratt-Whitney XP-1830-60 air-cooled engine with a power of 900 hp was chosen. Two wing fuel tanks contained 784 liters of gasoline.
Defensive armament initially consisted of two 7,62 mm machine guns. One machine gun in the ring turret was controlled by a radio operator gunner, defending the rear hemisphere. In a normal flight, this machine gun was sunk into the fuselage, and if necessary, the shooter opened special flaps from above, pushed his section of the flashlight in the direction of travel, thus preparing for firing.
The second machine gun was synchronous and was located in the fuselage to the right of the engine, a pilot fired from it.
Subsequently, with the beginning of combat operation, on some machines a rear mounted Browning spark of 7,62 mm caliber, and part of the aircraft had two synchronous 12,7 mm machine guns.
The Bliss Leavitt torpedo Mk.KhII (908 kg) was 4,6 m long and 460 mm in diameter, but the outdated Mk.VIII could be suspended if necessary. An interesting point is that not a torpedo was created for the aircraft, but the aircraft was created for the use of a specific torpedo.
There were two holders for a pair of bombs of 500 pounds (227 kg) on each side of the torpedo's suspension.
It is clear that with the bomb version the torpedo was not suspended. Instead of two 227-kg bombs, 12 bombs of 45 kg could be suspended on the underwing holders. The torpedo was fired by the pilot using a telescopic sight, and the navigator was in charge of the bombs, dropping them with the Norden Mk.XV-3 automatic sight.
The maximum speed of the XTBD-1 without external suspensions was 322 km / h. If the flight was carried out with a torpedo, then the speed dropped almost twice, to 200-210 km / h, and with bombs this figure was slightly higher.
The range with a torpedo and bombs reached 700 km and 1126 km, respectively, and the ceiling was 6000 m. Such data cannot be called very high, but for 1935 they were very good. And in comparison with the LTX of the predecessor, the TG-2 biplane, they were simply amazing.
In January 1938, the leadership of the U.S. Navy officially adopted a new torpedo bomber for arming and in February signed a contract for the supply of 114 aircraft. For production vehicles, they left the TBD-1 index, adding in October 1941 their own name “Devastator”, that is, “Devastator” or “Destroyer”.
Even in terms of the name "Devastator" was the first. Prior to this, all naval attack aircraft did not have their own names and were called only alphanumeric indices.
On October 5, 1937, the first of the ordered torpedo bombers landed on the deck of the Saratoga aircraft carrier.
With the start of operation of the TBD-1, the flaws of the new aircraft began to be identified. The most serious of them turned out to be severe corrosion of the wing skin from the effects of sea salt, because of which it was necessary to constantly change the rusted sheets. There were problems with the nodes of the linkage of the rudder, there were complaints about the brakes.
But overall the naval liked the car.
Therefore, in 1938, when the new aircraft carriers Yorktown, Enterprise, Wosp, and Hornet came into operation, they all received the Devastators. In 1940, the Torpedo bombers received the Ranger.
Retraining from obsolete biplanes on TBD-1 naval pilots met with enthusiasm, but not without incident. Several aircraft crashed due to the fact that the pilots began to take off, not making sure that the wing was fixed in the “deployed” position.
But in the air, the Devastator, with its large-area wing, behaved perfectly and had good maneuverability for its class. And the flaps, which provided a landing speed of about 100 km / h, allowed even inexperienced pilots to land successfully on the deck of an aircraft carrier.
The plane "stopped", more complaints, by the way, were to the dashboard, which the developers obviously did not bring to standard.
Rejoiced at the success, the Douglas tried to expand the range of tasks of their aircraft, and in 1939 they equipped one of the aircraft with floats. However, the fleet did not show much interest in such an aircraft, which received the designation TBD-1A.
But the Dutch liked the idea of a float torpedo bomber. They wanted to adopt a naval patrol bomber. The Dutch asked to make a number of changes to the design of the seaplane. The main thing was the request to replace the engine with a Wright GR1820-G105 with a capacity of 1100 hp in order to unify the aircraft with the Brewster B-339D Buffalo American fighter already in service.
The aircraft was developed, but did not have time to deliver; in 1940, Holland ended with the help of German troops.
For three pre-war years, the Devastator became the main deck torpedo bomber of the US Navy. By December 7, 1941, the Devastators were based on seven aircraft carriers:
Lexington - 12 aircraft, VT-2 division;
“Saratoga” - 12 aircraft, VT-3 division;
Yorktown - 14 aircraft, VT-5 division;
Enterprise - 18 aircraft, VT-6 division;
Hornet - 8 aircraft, VT-8 division;
“Uosp” - 2 aircraft, division VS-71;
"Ranger" - 3 aircraft, VT-4 division.
Before the war with Japan, another very useful innovation was introduced on an airplane. The torpedo bomber was equipped with inflatable underwing floats. Thus, when landing a damaged TBD-1 in the water, the pilot had a chance to wait for help with the machine. True, some skeptics from the command were dissatisfied with this decision, believing that the enemy would have a much better chance of capturing the Norden secret bomb sight.
When Admiral Nagumo's squadron destroyed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, there were no aircraft carriers in the harbor, so the main striking force of the US Pacific fleet survived.
So the first combat use of Devastators occurred only on December 10, 1941, when aircraft from Lexington attacked a Japanese submarine. The Norden super-sights did not help, the bombs fell without causing any damage to the boat.
Truly serious, the Devastators took up the enemy only in February 1942. In the Marshall Islands, Enterprise and Yorktown aircraft sunk an armed Japanese trawler near the Kwajalein Atoll and damaged seven more ships. The crews from the Enterprise distinguished themselves.
Pilots from Yorktown were less fortunate to lose four cars during an attack on Japanese ships off Jalu Island. Two planes were shot down in an air battle, and another pair had to land on the water due to a lack of fuel, and their crews were captured.
In March 1942, Lexington and Yorktown carried out a successful operation against the enemy bases of Lae and Salamau in New Guinea. Here, the loss of the Japanese fleet amounted to three ships, including a light cruiser.
However, the merits of the Devastators in the battle were rather modest. TBD-1 accounted for only one successful hit in a small transport with a displacement of 600 tons.
The reason for this was not the training of the crews, with this just everything was more or less decent. The MK.XIII torpedoes behaved absolutely disgustingly, which simply did not explode when they hit the target.
However, the advantage was that there were no losses among the Devastators, which reinforced the illusion of the naval command that these aircraft could attack ships without fighter cover.
Then the battles began in the Coral Sea. Here, for the first time, American and Japanese aircraft carriers clashed with each other in battle. The Japanese wanted to capture Port Moresby, and the Americans opposed this.
The air-sea battle went on for five days, and each side lost an aircraft carrier: the Americans, Lexington, and the Japanese, Soho. The losses of the Devastators in the air were small - only three aircraft, but all the surviving vehicles from the Lexington went to the bottom with him.
After the battle, the Americans again returned to the problem of torpedoes, since MK.XIII not only disgustingly exploded, but even after dropping and entering the water it gained speed too slowly, and the Japanese ships managed to maneuver and avoid being hit.
There was more further. Next was Midway.
Yes, in the USA, the battle at Midway Atoll is a symbol of victory. But for the crew of the Ravagers, this is a symbol of a slightly different character. Rather, “Midway” could be called a funeral march with which the “Devators” were escorted.
It’s a joke, in three days from June 3 to 6, the Yorktown, Enterprise, and Hornet aircraft carriers lost 41 aircraft, and by the end of the battle only 5 torpedo bombers survived.
The Devastators had nothing to catch from fate when the Zero appeared in the sky. Then just the beating began.
True, there is one point that pretty much spoils the whole picture. While in the Battle of Midway, Japanese fighters destroyed (and exterminated) the Devastators, none of which caused even minimal damage to at least some Japanese ship, the following happened: the Japanese, carried away by the torpedo bombardment, missed the appearance of a second wave of American aircraft.
Both Dontless dive-bombers from Enterprise carriers (37 pieces) and Yorktown (17 pieces) bombed the Japanese aircraft carriers Akagi, Kaga and Soryu with nuts using bombs.
Yes, the Japanese sank the Yorktown in response, but they lost their last aircraft carrier, the Hiru. On that, the battle at Midway actually ended. So we can say that the attack of the torpedo bombers TBD-1 was not in vain, it can be attributed to distracting maneuvers.
Well so distracted, yes. For three aircraft carriers. But in principle, there are arguments in favor of the poor, for the Devastators haven’t devastated anything except for hangars on aircraft carriers.
The last combat operation in the Pacific, TBD-1 was carried out on June 6, 1942. The remaining torpedo bombers from the Enterprise, along with the dive bombers, attacked two Japanese cruisers, Mikuma and Mogami, damaged in the collision. "Mikum" was sunk, but reliable information about the impact of torpedoes is not available.
At the end of 1942, Devastators began to be replaced by Avengers, which by then had already firmly established themselves in production. Confidence in the "Devatators" was undermined by huge losses in the battles of Midway, and opinions went about the plane as a "flying coffin."
Calling is always very easy, especially if you do not bother with evidence. Why are you shot down? Shot down. Crap plane, and deal with the end.
In general, Americans are masters of sculpting labels (no worse than us) and not lovers of admitting their own mistakes. And in our case there were more than enough errors.
Torpedo bombers were sent to attack by scattered groups from three aircraft carriers, without a general command and without fighter cover. Well, if the target was some kind of convoy like PQ-17, without cover and escort.
But no, planes were sent to attack by aircraft carriers, ships that at that time had their own most powerful air defense and fighters, some of which always hung on combat patrols. And as long as the Zero could hold out in the sky, not a single American plane could do so much.
In addition, the Japanese perfectly saw the approach of the torpedo groups, just from the patrol links, and organized them more than a warm welcome.
And a torpedo. The ill-fated torpedo Mk.KhIII, which in addition to low reliability, had too small effective range (3500 m) and very strict restrictions on discharge (speed not more than 150 km / h, altitude up to 20 m). In order to have at least some chance of a hit, it was required to approach the target almost flush under fire, at a distance of 450-500 m.
Who understands - he understands. Torpedo work MK.XIII was a pleasure for the complete sadomasochists. But seriously - the crew of the Devastators were actually sent for slaughter. At the air defense of four aircraft carriers (the same "Hiryu" air defense consisted of 12 127-mm guns and 31 automatic 25-mm gun barrels) and under the bullets and shells of A6M2 fighters.
If we believe historical notes, the crew of the Devastators were aware of where they were being sent. The words of the short speech of the commander of the VT-8 division, John Waldron, have been preserved:
“Guys, be prepared for the fact that few of us will survive. But even if only one breaks through, he must obey the order! ”
The guys did not fulfill the order, because they could not. But this was not their fault, not a single plane returned from the division to the aircraft carrier. But eight crews from the Hornet did not return, not because TBD-1 were useless aircraft, but because of the above reasons.
In general, writing off the miscalculation of command in the tactics of application to the flaws of the aircraft, of course, is the easiest. However, it is worth noting that on the same day, the division (6 vehicles) of the latest TVM-3 Avenger torpedo bombers from the Enterprise aircraft carrier was completely destroyed.
The Avengers, which replaced the Devastators, suffered the same fate. So, all the same, it’s not so much in the airplanes, but in the level of application.
Nevertheless, immediately after Midway, the verdict to the Devastator was signed, and it seems that the disgraced plane was hastily removed from service with the units of the first line.
“Devastators” in the Atlantic served on the aircraft carrier “Wasp”, a part was transferred ashore for patrol service. Several TBD-1s escorted convoys to the North Atlantic from the Hatson air base.
The TBD-1s remained in service with the Ranger aircraft carrier for the longest time. This is because the Ranger's duty station was the relatively calm Caribbean Sea, where TBD-1s made patrol flights until August 1942.
The main part of TBD-1 was then used as training until the end of 1944. And after the end of his flying career, the written-off “Devastators” lived out their lives as teaching aids in aviation technical schools.
Inglourious ending, to be honest. It is very difficult to say how right were those who called the "Devastator" "flying coffin." The plane, of course, was not new. Created in 1935, albeit with a bunch of new products, TBD-1 by 1942, of course, is outdated.
The question is how much. Created in 1933 and adopted by the armed forces in 1934, the I-16 fighter in 1942, even if not easily, fought with the Messerschmitts and won. The Junkers Ju-87 began service in 1936 and fought until the very end of Germany. And he certainly was not a masterpiece, anyway.
The question, probably, is still the ability to use an airplane.
Wingspan, m: 15,20.
Length, m: 10,67.
Height, m: 4,59.
Wing Area, m2: 39,21.
- empty aircraft: 2 540;
- normal take-off: 4;
- maximum take-off: 4 624.
Engine: 1 x Pratt Whitney R-1830-64 Twin Wasp x 900 hp
Maximum speed, km / h: 322.
Cruising speed, km / h: 205.
Practical range, km:
- with bomb load: 1 152;
- with a torpedo: 700.
Rate of climb, m / min: 219.
Practical ceiling, m: 6 000.
Crew, pers .: 2-3.
- one 7,62 mm machine gun and one 7,62 mm machine gun turret in the rear cockpit;
- 1 torpedo MK.13 or 454 kg of bombs.