Trumpeter 1/32 TBD-1 Devastator

By Rod Bettencourt

The Douglas TBD-1 Devastator was the US Navy’s premier torpedo bomber when hostilities broke out on December 7, 1941. Six months later it was completely obsolete and removed from combat operations. The subject of my build is from the USS Yorktown VT-3 aircraft (0303) crewed by Harry Corl and ARM3 Lloyd Childers. One the morning of the 4th at approximately 1200 hrs, Petty Officer Childers spotted smoke 25 miles away to the starboard. Machinist/pilot Harry Corl was able to get the squadron skipper Lt Cdr Massey’s attention. The skipper made a course correction to head for the nearest carrier (Hiryu). It was reported that at this time the squadron was jumped by approximately 30 Zeros. VT-3 was lucky enough to have 4 F4F Wildcats with them to help fend off the attackers. After what I could only imagine as an agonizing 20-minute slow approach, they were able to release 5 torpedoes. Corl and Childers 0303 had been badly shot up on the approach and the only way to keep airborne was to jettison their torpedo.

The following is from Machinist WO/Pilot Harry Corl Mission report date 6-15-42:

The free gun had jammed during the fight. Childers, Arm3, my gunner used his .45 automatic during the 10 minutes of the attack. Childers was hit in the right ankle causing a compound fracture of the same. He received two hits in his left leg above the knee; no broken bones in that leg. I arrived at the Yorktown at 1425 circled it twice and saw that there was no chance of getting aboard. (Yorktown was bombed by Hiryu Vals) So I proceeded over to the Enterprise. I attempted to land aboard, but discovered I did not have enough tab control on the elevator to keep the nose up. I landed in the water ahead and to the starboard of the carrier alongside the destroyer USS Monaghan. The time of the landing was 1510.

Ensign Harry Corl was KIA(VT-3 TBF-1) 25 August 1942. Lloyd Childers survived the war and became a Marine Aviator and retired as a Lt Col.

This is the Trumpeter 1/32 TBD-1 Devastator from VT-3 USS Yorktown on June 4th, 1942, Midway.

I added Air Scale products such as the Photo Etch, propeller set, wheels and the single .30cal machine gun. I highly recommend their products. I also did bits of scratch building such as adding cockpit wiring, relief tube, two internal windscreen braces (removed the molded on external windscreen braces), wingfold braces and leather pad for the bombardier under the pilots area.

I used AK real color for the light grey bottom, Model master Blue/grey for the top and AK for the interior green for the crew areas. I have seen some debate on-line about this, what color? But for me it was decided upon seeing the pics of sunken TBD’s aircraft from the discovery of the USS Lexington at the battle of Coral Sea. Interior green is also stated in TBD’s Devastators in action book(The Old One).

Another debate is whether what squadrons carried the twin .30’s. It is very obvious that VT-8 for sure had them and I have seen some documentation that VT-6 (USS Enterprise) may have also had them. After many hours of research, I came to the conclusion that VT-3 only had the single .30. I came to this by listening to several recorded interviews with Mr. Lloyd Childers. And in the end, there is just no conclusive proof they carried the twins.

I used Hawaiian Air Depot masks for the A/C numbers and the insignias. I had previously bought the Gold Medal decals but figured painting over the corrugation would be far easier then decals. But I am glad I purchased it because they come with aircraft data. If anyone has seen what Trumpeter did with their data decals…well.

I added the indoor pics of the TBD on the carrier elevator base which I won at a contest with this build. I always wanted to model a TBD on an elevator. The base was designed by Tony Quartaro.


© Rod Bettencourt 2024

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This article was published on Saturday, May 11 2024; Last modified on Sunday, May 12 2024