To Save a Devastator

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One of the most significant aircraft in the history of naval aviation was the Douglas TBD-1 “Devastator” torpedo bomber. A revolutionary design when introduced in 1935, the type played a key role in the critical opening months of the Pacific War at the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway. Today, no example of the Devastator survives in any museum or collection.

Two intact Devastators have been found in relatively shallow water on the bottom of Jaluit lagoon in the Marhsall Islands. These aircraft not only represent the best surviving examples of their type but they are also individually historic. Ditched on February 1, 1942 during a raid launched from USS Yorktown, they are among the first American aircraft lost in offensive operations in World War Two. The best candidate for recovery and preservation is the deeper of the two aircraft: U.S. Navy TBD-1 Bu.No. 1515.

TIGHAR is grateful to our valuable partners with whom we are working closely to reach this goal:

  • The Republic of the Marshall Islands
  • The United States Navy
  • The Center for Marine Archaeology and Conservation at Texas A&M University
  • The University of Hawai‘i Undersea Research Lab
  • The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Advanced Visualization and Imaging Laboratory.