Douglas TBD Devastator

Published: August 9th, 2017     
Product Image
Front cover
Author: David Doyle
Reviewed by: 
Frank Landrus, IPMS# 35035
Company: Schiffer Publishing
ISBN #: 978-0-7643-5419-9
E-Book ISBN #: 0764354191
Other Publication Information: Hard Bound ; 9” x 9”, 112 pages
Price: $19.99
Product / Stock #: Legends of Warfare - Aviation 3

David Doyle's latest book is one of the initial entries into a new series called 'Legends of Warfare' with entries in Ground, Naval, and Aviation. The first Ground book is focused on the Panzerkampfwagen IV, the first Naval book is on the USS Yorktown (CV-5), and the first two Aviation books are on the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk (#4) and Douglas TBD Devastator (#3). The first and second in the series (Wayne Mutza's Bell 47/H-13 Sioux Helicopter is #1 and David Doyle's Grumman F4F Wildcat at #2) are scheduled to release later this year.

After many years of being published in enthusiast publications focused on military vehicle restorations, David Doyle 'graduated' to full-fledged books in 2003. His first book was a hefty 512 page history of US military vehicles. He has now had more than 100 books published in military vehicles, aviation and naval topics. David and his wife Denise have amassed a collection of ten Vietnam era military vehicles that still displays at shows. In June 2015, was honored with the Military Vehicle Preservation Association's Bart Vanderveen Award, given in recognition of "...the individual who has contributed the most to the historic preservation of military vehicles worldwide." Be sure to check out David's website at where you can see and buy at a discounted price off of MSRP all his books that are still available.

The US Navy's Douglas Devastator first flew in April 1935. At the time, the Devastator was the most technologically advanced aircraft flying for any navy in the world. The storm of war stirred up the pace of aircraft development so quickly that when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, it was already obsolete. The Devastator performed well in a few early battles in the Marshall and Gilbert Islands, but by the Battle of Midway, it's day was complete. US carriers launched 41 Devastators, but only six survived to land on their carriers, and no torpedo hits were achieved. Some of the failures of the Devastators can be blamed on the horrible Mark 13 torpedo, but the Devastators were relegated to training activities after the Battle of Midway.

The front cover features a color photograph of a TBD-1 (BuNo 0381) against a background of BT-1s of USS Yorktown's (CV-5) air group. The back cover depicts a black and white picture aboard the USS Ranger of '4-T-6' with wings folded. You get 112 glossy pages graced by clear, well captioned photographs. I counted 197 well captioned photographs; 3 in color and 194 in black and white. Many of the selected photographs are being published for the first time, coupled with vivid captions.

David Doyle starts off with the 1934 Bureau of Aeronautics request for proposals of 1934 and some gorgeous photos of the wooden mock-up of the XTBD-1. The prototype began performance trials soon after its first flight with only a few changes being made for series production. The most obvious change was to the canopy, going from a small, straight line canopy that was in line with the rear turtle deck to a much larger canopy that improved the view and rollover protection. David provides dozens of sharp, clear photographs as a walk-around of the XBTD-1 Devastator and the follow on production variant, the TBD-1. The rest of the book, from page 58 on, addresses fleet service, broken down by each unit as depicted in the following

Table of Contents:

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction [Page 6]
  • The XBTD-1 [Page 19]
  • The TBD-1 [Page 38, 50]
  • VT-3, Fleet Service Begins [Page 67]
  • VT-2 Service
  • VT-5 Service [Page 84]
  • VT-6 Service
  • VS-42 and VT-4 Service
  • VT-7 Service
  • VT-8 Service

One of the sections I found quite interesting was of the US Navy's experimentations with disruptive camouflage instead of the standard bright yellow wings. Weathering fiends will delight in these photographs as they provide a view to a totally different paint job. The Airfix kit in 1/72 has been around since 1969 and has been re-popped on a regular basis from Airfix as well as re-packaged by MPC, Encore Models, and Sentai. Valom released three new tooled kits in 2005 and 2006 and Admiral released a new tool kit in 2013. The modeling front is well represented in 1/48 scale with the tried and true Monogram kit of 1974 along with the relatively new release of the TBD-1 by Great Wall Hobby in 2012. Great Wall even released a TBD-1A Floatplane version out of the box if you are so inclined. Trumpeter has promised a TBD-1 in 1/32 for some time now and Olimp had promised a new-tooled 1/72 TBD-1 kit in 2016.

This is a gorgeous hard-bound book and is well worth the money. David Doyle provides lots of detailed photographs with detailed captions. I am definitely looking for more monographs in this new and affordable series of books from Schiffer.

Highly recommended!

My thanks to David Doyle Books at ( ) and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

  • Back cover
    Back cover
  • Page 6
    Page 6
  • Page 19
    Page 19
  • Page 38
    Page 38
  • Page 50
    Page 50
  • Page 67
    Page 67
  • Page 84
    Page 84