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Grumman TBF/TBM Avenger Torpedo Bomber

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Main US Torpedo Bomber in the Pacific - Avenger


TBF-1 Avenger dropping a torpedo

Grumman TBF-1 Avenger dropping a torpedo. Aircraft is from squadron VT-4. U.S. Navy Naval Aviation News August 1978.

From 1942 to 1945, the Grumman Avenger was the main torpedo bomber used in the Pacific during World War II. A navy aircraft, it was both carrier and land based.


Crew & Armament

With a crew of three, the pilot, bombardier-gunner, and radio operator-gunner, the improved TBF-1C version was equipped with two wing-mounted .50 caliber machine guns, a .50 caliber in the rear turret, and one .30 caliber machine gun ventral machine guns. The deep fuselage allowed an internal bomb bay in which the Avenger could carry a bomb load of up to 2,000 lb. of bombs, torpedoes or rockets in various combinations.



TBM Avenger leaving escort carrier USS Makin Island (CVE-93)

TBM Avenger leaving the escort carrier USS Makin Island. U.S. Navy photo.

Retractable Landing Gear

Landing gear on the Avenger was fully retractable, including the tailwheel. The forward landing gear, on oleo legs which reduced bounce, raised in an outward direction into a recess in the underside of the wings. Designed with a three-bladed variable-pitch propeller, the TBF was powered by a Wright R-2600-8 Cyclone radial engine.


Avenger in Combat



George Bush in TBF Avenger

George Bush in his aircraft. US Navy photo.

With the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, need for the aircraft grew urgent and Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors became a second source of Avengers which would be designated TBM. In all, Eastern produced 7,546 of the total 9,836 Avengers built.


During WWII, the Avenger saw combat in both the Atlantic and the Pacific theaters, with some serving in the British Navy and New Zealand Air Force.


Famous TBF Avenger Airmen and Incidents

Famous TBF Avenger airman included future President George H. W. Bush (a pilot), and actor Paul Newman (a rear gunner). Unfortunately, the TBF Avenger is perhaps most famous for an incident shortly after World War Two in which training Flight 19, consisting of five TBF Avengers disappeared over the Bermuda Triangle on December 5, 1945. The Avenger remained in service until 1954.


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* TBF/TBM Avenger facts

Category Torpedo bomber
Manufacturer Grumman, General Motors
Introduced 1942
Used in
WWII by
United States Navy
Royal Navy
Royal Canadian Navy
Royal New Zealand AF
Produced 1941-1945
Number built 9,836
Cruising speed 153 mph
Max. speed 278 mph
Altitude 22260 feet service ceiling
Range 905
* Numbers are approximate

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