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Douglas XTB2D Skypirate

TB2D Skypirate
XTB2D-1 prototype
Role Torpedo bomber
Manufacturer Douglas Aircraft Company
First flight 13 March 1945
Status Cancelled
Number built Two

The Douglas TB2D Skypirate (also known as the Devastator II) was a torpedo bomber intended for service with the United States Navy's Midway- and Essex-class aircraft carriers; it was too large for earlier decks. Two prototypes were completed, but the dedicated torpedo bomber was becoming an outdated concept, and with the end of World War II, the type was deemed unnecessary and cancelled.


  • Design and development 1
  • Operational history 2
  • Specifications (TB2D Skypirate) 3
  • See also 4
  • Notes 5
  • Bibliography 6

Design and development

In 1939, Douglas designers Ed Heinemann and Bob Donovan began work on a VTB Proposal to replace the TBD Devastator torpedo bomber. In 1942, the team led by Heinemann and Donovan began work on a new project named the "Devastator II". On 31 October 1943, just four days after the new Midway class aircraft carriers were ordered into production, Douglas received a contract for two prototypes, designated TB2D, receiving the official name: "Skypirate".[1]

The TB2D was powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major driving contra-rotating propellers. Four torpedoes or an equivalent bomb load could be carried on underwing pylons. Defensive armament consisted of two 20 mm (.79 in) cannon in the wings and .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns mounted in a power-operated dorsal turret.[2]

Very large for a single-engined aircraft, the TB2D would have been the largest carrierborne aircraft at the time; it could carry four times the weapon load of the Grumman TBF Avenger. With only limited support from the US Navy, and facing a recommendation for cancellation on 20 May 1944 due to the aircraft being designed only for the CVB and CV9 carriers, the TB2D project was in peril even at the design and mockup stage.[3]

Operational history

The XTB2D-1 showing the contra-rotating propellers.

The two "Skypirate" prototypes, BuNo 36933 and 36934, were ready for flight trials in 1945 with the first prototype XTB2D-1 flying on 13 March 1945. The second example had a 58 cm increase in the length of the fuselage, and flew later in summer 1945. Both prototypes were test flown without any armament. Despite the flying trials proceeding on schedule, the collapse of the Japanese forces in the Pacific along with delays in the Midway class, eliminated the need for the type and the 23 pre-production aircraft on order were subsequently cancelled. The flight trials were suspended and the two prototypes were eventually reduced to scrap in 1948.[4]

Specifications (TB2D Skypirate)

Data from McDonnell Douglas Aircraft since 1920 [5]

General characteristics


  • Guns:
    • 4 × wing mounted .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns
    • 2 × .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns in dorsal turret
    • 1 × .50 in machine gun in ventral bath
  • Bombs: Up to 8,400 lb (3,810 kg) of bombs or four torpedoes

See also

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists


  1. ^ Baugher, Joe. "Douglas XBT2D Dauntless II." US Attack Aircraft via, 24 October 2001. Retrieved: 7 June 2010.
  2. ^ Kowalski 1996, pp. 32–33.
  3. ^ "Memorandum: Cancellation of XTB2F Project - Recommendation for." Chief, BuAer, 20 May 1944. Retrieved: 7 June 2010.
  4. ^ Kowalski 1996, pp. 42–43.
  5. ^ Francillon 1979, p. 379.


  • Andrews, Harold: XTB2D -1. In: United States Naval Aviation News January 1982, pp. 20–21 [2]
  • Francillon, René J. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft since 1920. London: Putnam, 1979. ISBN 0-370-00050-1.
  • Kowalski, Bob. Douglas XTB2D-1 Skypirate (Naval Fighters, Volume Thirty-Six). Simi Valley, CA: Ginter Books, 1996. ISBN 0-942612-36-1.
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