Douglas TBD Devastator Color Photographs

Here is a beautiful photograph of a TBD Devastator from a series taken for LIFE Magazine. This TBD is from Torpedo Six aboard USS Enterprise (CV-6), likely taken in 1940. Aircraft assigned to Enterprise carried blue tail surfaces, Enterprise’s call sign was “blue base”. Note how the Orange Yellow paint wraps around the leading edge of the wing, this was done to smooth the airflow.
Enterprise’s flight deck was stained Mahogany with Yellow markings, this was stained Deck Blue shortly before the U.S. entered the war. The object on the port side of the Devastator’s fuselage is a camera, used as a training aid to evaluate practice attack runs. The aircraft in the background has the mounts in place but no camera.
A flight of Torpedo Six’s Devastators off Hawaii, giving a nice view of the “Yellow Wings” scheme which was carried until December 1940. 6-T-16 is trailing a radio antenna.
The Devastator first entered Fleet service in 1937. While it was considered state of the art for its time, the pace of advancements in aviation rendered it obsolescent by the time the U.S. entered the Second World War. Midway would be the TBD’s last use in combat.
A portion of Yorktown’s airgroup seen ashore at a Naval Air Station, most likely North Island. In the foreground is the TBD of the commander of Torpedo Five, as indicated by the red fuselage band and cowling. The aircraft in the background are Northrop BT-1 dive bombers, just visible beyond them are three SBC Helldivers.
This is a still from the movie “Dive Bomber” and shows a TBD in the overall Light Gray scheme. The Light Gray scheme was only used until 20AUG41, when it was directed that carrier aircraft be painted Blue Gray on their upper surfaces.
While no Devastators are preserved in museums today, RV Petrel photographed this TBD on the bottom of the Coral Sea. This aircraft is from USS Lexington (CV-2) and was lost when the ship went down on 08MAY42. The preservation of the aircraft is remarkable, and shows her camouflage and markings to good advantage.
This is a screen grab from the John Ford film “Torpedo Squadron No. Eight” which was shot aboard USS Hornet (CV-8) on 15MAY42. Plane handlers run on either side of the aircraft carrying the wheel chocks. Modelers should note the wavy separation of the Blue Gray as it wraps under the wing.
Commanding Officer of Torpedo Eight LCDR John Waldron (right) and crewman RMC Horace Dobbs pose in front of their TBD. Waldron led Hornet’s Devastators in their attack against the Japanese Fleet at Midway, all fifteen of their aircraft were lost. Only one man, ENS George Gay, survived.