Avenger file photo

TBF Avenger

CountryUnited States
ManufacturerGrumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation
Primary RoleTorpedo Bomber
Maiden Flight1 August 1941

Contributor: C. Peter Chen

The TBF Avenger torpedo bombers were introduced in 1942 to replace the TBD Devastator bombers. Designed by Leroy Grumman, these bombers held three crew members: a pilot, a turret gunner, and a radioman/bombardier/ventral gunner. They were designed with a versatile large bomb bay, which allowed them to be excellent ground support bombers when carrying bombs in the torpedo bay. Their advanced radio equipment also made them good reconnaissance aircraft. Although a small number of TBF Avenger torpedo bombers were present at Midway during its namesake battle in Jun 1942, the first battle where significant number of TBF Avenger aircraft were present was the Battle of the Eastern Solomons between 23 and 25 Aug 1942, where 24 TBF Avenger aircraft sank the Japanese aircraft carrier Ryujo, which acted as bait to draw American aircraft away from their home carriers. During the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in Nov 1942, Marine Corps and Navy TBF Avengers played a role in the sinking of the battleship Hiei, but Hiei was not the only big prize earned by the TBF Avenger pilots. Toward the end of the Pacific War, these torpedo bombers claimed kills for both of the Yamato-class battleships.

George H. W. Bush, the future American president, was an TBF Avenger pilot. He received a Distinguish Flying Cross for bravely releasing his payload before crashing down in enemy territory on 2 Sep 1944.

Jim Metcalf, a TBF Avenger gunner of US Navy VT-13 aboard carrier Franklin, noted that the "TBF was a big, sturdy airplane. It flew like a brick but we loved her anyway. We thought she was a terrific bird that could take an enormous amount of damage." Bob Frank, a maintenance officer aboard Franklin in charge of TBF Avenger aircraft, recalled that they were "pretty reliable and somewhat versatile."

Some TBF Avenger torpedo bombers made their way to Britain's Fleet Air Arm while a few others to New Zealand Air Force. Together with the United States, these were the only three countries that operated TBF Avenger aircraft during WW2.

Sources: Inferno, Wikipedia.

TBF Avenger Timeline

1 Aug 1941 Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo bomber took flight for the first time.

SPECIFICATIONS

TBF-1
MachineryOne Wright R-2600-8 radial engine rated at 1,700hp
Armament3x7.62mm machine guns, 1x900kg torpedo or 900kg of bombs
Crew3
Span16.51 m
Length12.48 m
Height5.00 m
Wing Area45.52 m
Weight, Empty4,580 kg
Weight, Loaded7,214 kg
Speed, Maximum445 km/h
Rate of Climb10.50 m/s
Service Ceiling7,132 m
Range, Normal1,600 km
Range, Maximum1,950 km

TBM-3E
MachineryOne Wright R-2600-20 radial engine rated at 1,900hp
Armament2x7.62mm machine guns, 3x12.7mm machine guns, 1x900kg torpedo or 900kg of bombs
Crew3
Span16.51 m
Length12.48 m
Height5.00 m
Wing Area45.52 m
Weight, Empty4,787 kg
Weight, Loaded8,117 kg
Speed, Maximum430 km/h
Rate of Climb10.50 m/s
Service Ceiling9,174 m
Range, Normal1,600 km
Range, Maximum1,950 km

Photographs

US Navy pilot Ensign C. V. Grumman TBF-1 Avenger aircraft of US Navy Torpedo Squadron 4 dropping torpedo in training flight, location unknown, 1942Saratoga underway at sea, circa 1942, with 5 Grumman F4F fighters, 6 Douglas SBD scout bombers, and 1 Grumman TBF torpedo bomber on the flight deckTBF Avenger aircraft at rest, circa early 1942
See all 139 photographs of TBF Avenger Torpedo Bomber



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Visitor Submitted Comments

  1. Hobilar. says:
    25 Sep 2007 05:35:15 AM

    Deliveries to the Royal Navy began in August 1942. Originally named the Tarpon Mk.I (Changed to Avenger T.R.Mk.I in January 1944) in British service, the Lend -Lease Avengers were a mix of TBF-1B and TBF-1C machines. These were essentially the same as the U.S. Navys TBF-1 with British equipment (-1B) or with an additional fuel tank in the bomb-bay and underwing bombracks (-1C). The first 25 were basic U.S. Navy tranferred TBF-1 (presumably still with American equipment). These entered service in early 1943 and were in action in April 1943 in support of the US landings in the Solomons.

    In total some 627 machines were supplied to the R.N.
  2. BOLIVAR says:
    5 Oct 2007 03:39:38 PM

    Excelent. Are you sure that the information about the weapons of tbf-1 is wright?
  3. Alan Chanter says:
    25 Oct 2007 09:48:03 AM

    Early Avengers (TBF-1 & TBF-1B) had one 0.3-in (7.62mm) Machine gun in the upper right of the nose fired by the pilot, one 0.3-in rear firing machine gun in the ventral position operated by the Bomb-aimer, and one 0.5-in (12.7mm) in the dorsal turret uperated by the Radio-operator. Later models (TBF-1C, TBF-1D and TBF-3E) replaced the nose gun with two wing mounted 0.5-in (12.7mm) guns.
  4. Alan Chanter says:
    13 Nov 2009 05:59:50 AM

    Six Avengers did indeed participate in the Battle of Midway. These were based on Midway Island (not the carriers). Only one survived from the attack.
  5. Bill says:
    14 Apr 2010 11:03:36 AM

    Does anyone have information pertaining to an incident reported in Life Magazine some time ago regarding an Avenger flown by a pilot named Helmig in which a 500 pound bomb dropped from he bay door on to the deck of the carrier as Helmig landed his aircraft. Reportedly the bomb rolled around on the deck but did not explode. I believe the carier was either the Gombier Bay or the St Lo. Any information regarding the pilot named Helmig will be appreciated.
  6. Anonymous says:
    6 Dec 2010 08:21:29 PM

    a very interesting topic.Is there a roster listing for ww 2 torpedo bomber pilot's? If no I can understand,because there probably was many. Les
  7. Alan says:
    28 Jun 2011 02:00:25 AM

    No. 832 Squadron FAA deployed its TBF-1s operationally on the USS Saratoga in June 1943, and took part in supporting the US Marines Amphibious landings on the Solomon Island Chain. This is regarded as the first occasion that FAA aircraft were flown into action from a US Navy carrier.

  8. commander wolffe says:
    23 Apr 2012 12:24:27 PM

    It is awesome
  9. kent cavender says:
    7 Jul 2012 05:19:06 PM

    I would like to know what the survival rate of the air crew was per mission.
  10. Linda says:
    20 Sep 2013 09:52:23 AM

    My dad flew with Squadron 19 on the USS Lexington"the Grey Ghost". My dad did not talk much of the war. Is there anyone out there that could give me information on this outfit and the men that served? All I was told that most of the flights were "classified". Help me to find closure, my dad died 43 years ago. Thank You
  11. Tom Schussler says:
    25 May 2014 03:56:02 PM

    My dad (deceased) was a USMC tail gunner in a TBF Avenger in the Pacific during WWII. He originally trained as a radioman but the needs of the corps were for aerial gunners so he trained in Florida prior to deploying. His nickname was Doc. At one point he was based in New Guinea. Anyone have any knowledge of him, his squadron, crew members etc.?
  12. Mark Michael says:
    1 Oct 2014 07:07:04 PM

    I am looking for information of a Lt. Edward R. Fichensher a Navy TBF pilot with VC-4 on the USS White Plains (CVE-66) during June 1944. I live on the island of Rota in the Marianas where he sunk the Japanese transport ship "Shoun Maru".

    Thanks.
  13. Anonymous says:
    13 Oct 2014 02:14:00 PM

    Looking for any information on Chief Aviation Pilot (CAP) Stanley W. Tumosa ln VT-5 or perhaps VF-5-killed 19 March onboard Franklin.

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