However, a few years late into the war, it did not have a good record in battle. At Midway, for all 47 land- and carrier-based Devastators, only 3 airplanes survived (40 short down, 2 crashed and 2 badly damaged after recovered). Among them, 35 Devastators were short down during June 4th sortie attacking Japanese Aircraft Carriers. All fifteen VT-8’s TBD Devastators from USS Hornet were shot down, with Ensign George Gay the only survivor. VT-6 from USS Enterprise lost 10 of their 14 Devastators, and 10 of USS Yorktown VT-3's 12 Devastators were shot down. Within half hour, all torpedo squadrons from three carriers were practically eliminated. And even more devastated, all this loss has not contributed a single hit.

It is worth to note that Devastator did meet the torpedo airplane specifications by Navy, posted at 1932. The loss is due to the tactic (need a slow speed to release torpedo, make the airplane a perfect targets), the inadequate defense fire power and there is no coordinated fighter escort. The critical of air cover could not be better showed considering the success run of British’s torpedo bomber Fairey Swordfish on attacking German’s super battleship Bismarck. The biplane Swordfish had even slower airspeed than Devastator and by no means better airplane than TBD Devastator.

Even more devastated, its Mark 13 torpedo was unreliable (it taken almost another year to finally convince of the default and literally takes Einstein to resolve the defaulted trigger). Indeed for budget reason, no one had ever tested the real torpedo before the war. In some account, it is the first time for many pilots to work with real torpedo in the Battle of Midway.

The airmen of TBD Devastator torpedo bomber squadrons did a heroic performance. As trained for torpedo run, they flied low in a straight line against target and keep a stable-lower speed, all in the rains of antiaircraft fire. However, this bombing tactic also makes them easy targets especially for Japanese fighter, A6M Zero, the formidable fighter at the time. Just like they were being briefed, only a few Devastators break through Zero’s defense line. Among all three torpedo squadrons, 68 of 82 crewmen (83%) were killed that morning.

 “Theirs not to make reply
Theirs not reason why
Theirs but to do and die…”

 Their sacrifice did cause Japanese carriers to keep dodging the torpedo attack which delay launching their counterattack and even prevent recycle their CAP (combat air patrols). All defending Zeros were drawn close to sea level. They were running low in fuel and ammo when SBD Dauntless arrived and started high altitude dive bombing. The dive bomber squadrons had perfect chance with virtually no resistance. Within 5 minutes, three of the Japanese carriers were fatally damaged. The 5 minutes marked the turning point of the battle and the Pacific War.

After debacle at Midway (44 loss in few hours over 130 solely produced TBD Devastator), Navy withdrew the remaining 39 operable TBDs from front line. Although, in retrospect, there is a short on tactic, air support and most importantly, the default of Mark 13 torpedo, Devastator had never since served in the battle and was doomed as obsolescence. By many reviewers, Devastator is on top list of the worst airplane in history.

From the most advanced to the “worst” airplane in history, this is Devastator.

Video watch:
(follow video may contain depictions of violence, viewer discretion is advised.)

​​Dauntless SBD Devastator TBD Midway Dive Bomber          Torpedo Squadron 8 Story (VT-8)

​Battle 360 E2 Vengeance at Midway Part 2/6                 Battle 360 E2 Vengeance at Midway Part 3/6

The US Aircaft Carrier "Yorktown' - History Documentary

The Battle for Midway: the discovery of the USS Yorktown.(this video is no longer available)
This national geographic video was published in 1999. It’s about to relocate the aircraft carriers with veterans of both Japan and American. Included also is the battle history and stories told by the veterans and their view on the war. It’s the first video that gets me fascinated into the history of Battle of Midway. I put this video with TBD Devastator in memory of Lloyd F. Childers from VT-3 torpedo squadron of USS Yorktown (CV-5).

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Douglas TBD Devastator torpedo bomber                 (Skill index 5)

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​Torpedo bomber

First flight:  April 15, 1937

Introduction:  August 3, 1937

Retired:  1942 (from active service), 1944 (completely)

Production:  130 (1937-1939)

My take: This is too dramatic, it is Devastator’s

The airplane has a dramatic name, Devastator, so for its story. At its debut on 1937, Douglas TBD Devastator is the most advanced torpedo plane in the world. As a carrier based torpedo plane, it’s US Navy’s first all metal monoplane with the retractable landing gear, an enclosed cockpit, the folding wing and many more new features (as compared to British’s Fairey Swordfish).


Devastator vs Fairay Swordfish.Devastator (left), a most advanced torpedo plane at time, has been named worst airplane in history. Swordfish (right), a slower biplane with open cockpit, have put torpedo on German's super battleship Bismarck and cridited for critically wounded Bismarck. 

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4D model template of Douglas TBD Devastator.


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​4D model template of Douglas TBD Devastator.​ Devastator in history during Battle of Midway