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Grumman TBF Avenger
The Grumman TBF Avenger was a torpedo bomber used by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps during World War II. It operated from land and aircraft carriers, first seeing action at the Battle of Midway. Crewed by a pilot, turret gunner, and radio operator/bombardier/ventral gunner, the Avenger became one of the best torpedo bombers of the war. Its superior operational ceiling and range let it perform in a variety of roles, from submarine hunting to ground strafing and as a command aircraft for Commanders, Air Group (CAGs). The Avenger's excellent capabilities kept it in service until the 1960s.
Grumman TBF Avenger in World War II
The Grumman TBF was nicknamed the "Avenger" in October 1941. Grumman introduced the Avenger to the public at a ceremony to open a new manufacturing facility on 7 December 1941, the day of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The facility was sealed immediately because of security concerns.
The Avenger first saw combat at the Battle of Midway on 4 June 1942. In early June, over 100 Avengers were shipped to Pearl Harbor, arriving just hours after three U.S. Navy aircraft carriers departed for Midway. But on Midway Island, VT-8 had six Avengers available, and others flew from the USS Hornet (CV-8). In the battle, the Avenger, due in part to lack of pilot experience with the aircraft, suffered heavy losses, though still helped draw off Japanese combat air patrols so that American dive bombers were able to strike Japanese carriers.
The Avenger next saw action at the Eastern Solomons on 24 August 1942. The 24 Avengers based on the USS Saratoga (CV-3) and Enterprise (CV-6) sank the Japanese light aircraft carrier Ryujo, losing seven aircraft in the process. Navy and Marine Corps Avengers helped sink the Japanese battleship Hiei at the Battle of Guadalcanal in November 1942.
In the Battle of the Atlantic, Avengers used their torpedoes to destroy 30 submarines, including the Japanese cargo submarine I-52. They also helped fend off German U-boat attacks on Allied convoys.
On 20 June 1944 Avengers from the Belleau Wood (CVL-24) sank the Japanese light aircraft carrier Hiyo. Later in 1944 Avengers participated in the destruction of the Japanese battleship Musashi, and helped fend off Japanese surface ships at the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
The Avenger was the aircraft flown by former president George H.W. Bush when he saw shot down on 2 September 1944 over Chichi-jima in the Pacific. The actor Paul Newman served as a rear gunner aboard an Avenger. The Avenger is also famous because of Flight 19, mysteriously lost in the Bermuda Triangle on 5 December 1945.
The Fleet Air Arm of the British Royal Navy and the Royal New Zealand Air Force both operated the Avenger during WWII. The British initially used the designation "Tarpon" but later adopted the "Avenger" name. The RNZAF used the Avenger as a bomber in the South Pacific.
After the war, the Avenger remained in use in both military and civilian capacities. The Royal Canadian Navy obtained 125 former USN TBM-3E Avengers, using them primarily for anti-submarine warfare. Other retired Avengers were used in agriculture and fire-fighting roles.
Grumman TBF Avenger Models and Production History
The Avenger was the replacement for the obsolescent TBD Devastator. Grumman won a competition to replace the Devastator with its TBF design. Engineers led by Leroy Grumman developed the first prototype, designated the XTBF-1.
Grumman incorporated many new features into the TBF, including a wing-folding mechanism designed to maximize storage space on aircraft carriers. The Wright R-2600-20 was adopted as the powerplant, necessary because of the large size and weight of the aircraft.
Early Avengers had a .30 cal. machine gun mounted in the nose. But when pilots requested more firepower and better strafing capacity, the .30 cal. was replaced with one .50 cal. gun in each wing. The Avenger also had a large bomb bay, which could hold one 2,000-lb. bomb or up to four 500 lb. bombs.
Grumman refined the Avenger design, increasing fuel capacity and doubling the range. But in 1943, Grumman shifted from manufacturing Avengers to the F6F Hellcat. The Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors took over production of the TBF, and such Avengers are designated "TBM" instead of "TBF." The TBM-3, with a more powerful engine and hardpoints on the wings for drop tanks or rockets, was manufactured in greater numbers than any other Avenger model.
Grumman equipped the Avenger with the latest avionics and communications gear. The radio equipment took up considerable space, filling the entire glass canopy behind the pilot. The Avenger was the first fighter to carry onboard radar because it had the space to accommodate the bulky equipment.
A total of 9,839 TBF/TBM Avengers were manufactured. Major models are as follows.
The first production model of the Avenger, this aircraft was based on the second prototype. A total of 1,526 were built. The TBF-1C saw the addition of wing guns and an increased fuel capacity. A total of 765 were built.
The TBM-1 was the General Motors version of the TBF-1, with a total of 550 built. The TBM1-C was essentially the same as the TBF-1C, with 2,336 built.
The General Motors version of the TBM1-C, but with double cooling intakes and an improved engine. A total of 4,657 were built. Various "dash 3" designations were developed for specific needs during the war, usually as conversions.
Grumman TBF Avenger Characteristics
Note: Characteristics vary slightly with the TBF Avenger variant, manufacturing site, and date.
Recommended Books about the Grumman TBF Avenger
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