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The Grumman TBF Avenger or TBM was a torpedo bomber that was used by the United States during WWII.


The first production model of the TBF Avenger series was the TBF-1. It had a crew of three and had an air-cooled, Wright 2600-8 Engine capable of propelling the Avenger atr speeds of up to 436 km/h. The armament of the TBF consisted of two 12.7mm MGs in the wings, one 7.62mm MG in a ventral gun position, and one additional 12.7mm MG mounted in the rear gunner position.[1] In the way of explosives, the TBF could carry either one Mk XIII Torpedo, four bombs, or five rockets.

The weight of the TBF was about 4,572 kg and the total length was 12.2 meters. The height was 4.7 meters and the rate of climb was 628 meters per second. The service ceiling was about 6,828 meters while the maximum range was just under 2,000 kilometers. One of the most important features of the TBF was that it had folding wings, which allowed many to be stored in a single aircraft carrier. This folding mechanism was special in that the wings folded against the main body of the aircraft, not simply folded up.[2]

"In April 1945, we went after the last remnants of the Japanese Fleet, which comprised the battleship Yamato, the cruiser Yahagi, and two screen destroyers. When we went to look for them it was overcast, and the TBF crews had to find them, which we did. When we came into range, the squadrons split into two sections. The admirals wanted very badly to bring down the battleship, and if necessary every airplane would hit it. It turned out, that was not necessary. The first TBM's got the wagon, and she was severely damaged, ready to sink." - Charles G. Fries, an American TBF Avenger tail gunner describing the US reaction to Operation Ten-Go

The TBF's torpedo or bombs were dropped once a special hydraulic door was opened on the bottom of the aircraft via the bomb aimer.[3] The TBF was given good reviews in combat. It proved very reliable and the ability to return to base after sustaining heavy damage not only was well liked by crews, but almost definitely saved many crew's lives. The TBF was capable of carrying up to three additional fuel tanks that could be dropped in flight for long-range missions or traditional patrols. The TBF could even carry an emergency life boat should the plane ditch in the sea.

A TBM-3E on display at the Quonset Air Museum.


The TBF was a very successful torpedo bomber and thus had many variants. The first of which was the TBF-1C which had two 20mm guns mounted in the wings and increased fuel capacity. Although there was a version designated the TBF-1B, it was not different in design from the original TBF, the only actual difference being that it was sent to Great Britain. The next actual variant in the TBF series was the TBF-1CP which was a photo-reconnaissance version of the TBF. It was followed by the TBF-1D and TBF-1E which were slightly different from each other but were different from the 1C and original TBF in that they featured radar and special electronic equipment.

The TBF-1D and E versions were succeeded by the TBF-1L version which had a search light mounted in the bomb bay. TBM versions of the series were not very different from the original TBFs except that they were produced by General Motors. The TBM-3 was a version produced by General Motors and it had a new engine and stronger wings implemented. 

The TBF-3P was just a TBF-3 converted for photo-reconnaissance operations. The TBM-3H and TBM-3W were the last in the Avenger series and their main differences was additional radar equipment. Some TBFs were redesignated Avenger Mk. I, II, III, or IV under British/Commonwealth use. These TBFs were not variants however since they did not modify the original TBF base.

A flight of Avengers over Wake Island in 1943.


The TBF Avenger series first began development in 1941 and it began production in 1942. Although, Grumman stopped producing TBFs in 1943, GM continued production. The TBF series was used throughout the US' involvement in WWII and also saw use with Great Britain. TBFs were used to great success by the allies during WWII and well over 9,000 were produced during WWII. 900 alone were sent to Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.[4]


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