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Eastern TBM-1 Avenger

Eastern TBM-1 Avenger

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Eastern TBM-1 Avenger

The Eastern TBM-1 Avenger was the first version of that aircraft produced by the Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors, and was produced in larger numbers than the Grumman TBF-1.

A great deal of effort went into getting the Avenger (and Wildcat) into production with General Motors. After the American entry into the Second World War General Motors stopped car production at all five of its large automobile factories, and began to look for contracts to produce aircraft spare parts. The Navy and Grumman had a more ambitious idea, instead wanted to open production lines for complete aircraft in the unused factories. Three of the five factories would be used to produce parts and sub-assemblies for the Wildcat and Avenger, while GM's Lindon, New Jersey factory would produce the completed FM-1 Wildcats and their Trenton, New Jersey would produce the TBM-1 Avenger. The newly created aircraft manufacturer became the Eastern Aircraft Division of GM.

Eastern were given ten full sets of Avenger sub-assemblies and a number of aircraft built with Parker-Kalon (PK) fasteners instead of rivets. These could be removed and replaced at will, allowing the sample aircraft to be repeated dismantled and assembled.

After the first meetings in the spring of 1942 a production contract was signed on 23 March 1942. The first complete TBM-1, built from Grumman-built sub-assemblies, was delivered in November 1942, followed by two more in December. Early in 1943 Eastern began to assemble aircraft constructed from their own assemblies, and thirty-one aircraft were delivered in March 1943. After that production built rapidly, to 75 in June, 100 in July, 215 in November 1943 and peaking at 400 in March 1945. The last Grumman Avengers were built in December 1943, leaving Eastern as the sole producer for the last two years of the war.

Between November 1942 and the end of the war Eastern built a total of 7,546 Avengers, three quarters of the total. Of these aircraft 550 were TBM-1s and 2,332 were TBM-1Cs, for a total of 2,882 aircraft.

The first 550 aircraft off the line were exact copies of the TBF-1, designated TBM-1, and with same .30in gun in cowling. They were followed by 2,332 TBM-1Cs which were identical to the Grumman TBF-1C. 334 -1Cs entered Fleet Air Arm service as the Tarpon II/ Avenger II.

TBM-1 Avenger

The TBM-1 Avenger was identical to the Grumman built TBF-1. The two types could be told apart by some of the internal paint colours, with Eastern not using Grumman's own colours, otherwise only the Bureau Numbers separated them.

TBM-1C Avenger

The TBM-1C was identical to the TBF-1C, armed with two .50in machine guns in the wing in place of the .30in gun in the cowling of the TBM-1.


The TBM-1CP was a photographic reconnaissance aircraft equipped with a trimetrogen camera, capable of taking panoramic pictures that spread from horizon to horizon in a single frame.


The TBM-1D was a night bomber produced by installed an ASD-1 (airborne search radar) set on a standard TBM-1 or -1C. The radar was carried in a pod mounted on the leading edge of the right wing. Those aircraft converted from -1Cs had their wing guns removed, while other guns were sometimes removed to save weight. The -1D was used as a control aircraft for night fighters, for airborne early warning duties and on anti-submarine patrols.

TBF-1E/ -3E

A small number of TBM-1s were given extra radar equipment and the designation TBM-1E.


The TBM-1J was modified for Arctic conditions, gaining de-icer boots on all leading edges and extra heaters. BuNo.06031 was converted to this standard.


The TBM-1L carried a retractable searchlight in the bomb-bay and was used for anti-submarine warfare and air-sea rescue duties.


Designation given to a small number of photo-reconnaissance conversions of the -1 or -1C.

TBF Avenger, U.S. Carrier Torpedo Bomber

-1C added 2 0.50 machine guns (wings) and racks for eight 66 lb (30 kg) rockets. It also added fittings for 1 275 gallon (1041 l) bomb bay drop tank and 2 58 gallon (220 l) wing drop tanks for a total ferry fuel capacity of 726 gallons (2748 liters) and ferry range of 2335 miles (3758 km).

-3 had radar and a R-2800-20 engine rated at 1900 hp (1417 kW) that increased the service ceiling to 27,100' (8230 m).

-3P was a photoreconnaissance version with the cameras mounted in the bomb bay

-3W was the model number for CADILLAC, which went into production 1943-3 but was still undergoing field tests at the time of the surrender.

The TBF Avenger made its combat debut at the Battle of Midway, where a strike of six TBFs was launched from Midway Island. Only one returned, shot to pieces, with the gunner dead and the radioman wounded. Most missions flown by the TBF were much more successful, with this type proving the most flexible carrier bomber of the war. It could deliver torpedoes or be used for horizontal bombing, and it was discovered to be a surprisingly effective glide bomber. Like all Grumman aircraft, it was very rugged. Unlike its predecessor, the TBD Devastator, it had an internal torpedo bay that greatly reduced drag.

The first production order, of 286 aircraft, was placed in December 1940, even before the first prototype flew on 7 August 1941. This reflected both dissatisfaction with the performance of its predecessor, the TBD Devastator, and the shortage of Devastators, of which only 130 had been produced and only 40 were still operational by June 1942. The Navy had requested a design with a top speed of 300 mph (483 km/h), an internal torpedo bay, and a range of 3000 miles (4800 km), but Grumman could only manage 275 mph. The Navy decided that this would have to do, and the only major modification required to the TBF prototype was the addition of a dorsal fin for stability.

After building the first 2290 aircraft, Grumman turned production over to General Motors in order to focus on the F6F Hellcat, and General Motors' Eastern Aircraft division produced another 7546 Avengers as the TBM. A few early production TBMs suffered from structural failure of the wings, and this was eventually traced to relocation of rivets to speed production that inadvertently reduced wing strength. In general, though, the combination of Grumman's aeronautical engineering expertise and General Motor's mass production techniques was a successful partnership.

Experiments with the Avenger as a glide bomber were conducted in July 1942, perhaps because of the Navy's disappointment with the accuracy of horizontal bombing using the Norden bombsight. It was discovered that the Avenger could dive from 6500' (1980m) at an angle of 45 to 60 degrees, drop its bomb at 2500' (760m), and come within 40' (12m) of a moving target. A bomb crutch, such as was used in dive bombers, was not needed for this relatively shallow dive. Because the Avenger was not originally designed for glide bombing, an Avenger occasionally came apart during a glide bombing attack, and there are reports that some crews tried to reduce this danger by lowering the landing gear to act as a sort of dive brake. Later production aircraft were strengthened at a few critical points and equipped with accelerometers to warn pilots when the aircraft began pushing its envelope, but a true glide bomber version of the Avenger using high-strength alloys and strengthened wing hinges, the TBM-4, did not make it into production before the war ended.

Given the Avenger's effectiveness as a glide bomber, the Navy considered discarding the Norden bombsight, but hesitated to give up on the Avenger's horizontal bombing capability. By 1944, it was clear that the Avenger was a bust as a horizontal bomber, and that the only use to which most crews were putting the Norden was as an autopilot. The Norden began to be replaced with a conventional autopilot that year.

In March 1943, Avengers began flying mine laying missions in the central Solomons. Avengers would eventually be extensively employed to lay mines in Japanese ports throughout the Pacific. In some cases, ports were quietly mined just prior to a more general air or surface attack, in order to destroy shipping fleeing the harbor.

Beginning in late 1943, the U.S. Navy began night combat air patrols consisting of a radar-equipped Avenger accompanied by a pair of conventional Hellcats, with the Avenger acting as an airborne controller to direct its fighters onto the enemy. This required rather careful coordination. Later in the war, radar was developed that was small and simple enough to be operated from single-seat fighters, releasing the Avengers to scout for enemy warships.

By the end of the war, the typical American light carrier or escort carrier air group was composed entirely of fighters and Avengers, with Avengers making up about a third of the aircraft in escort carrier air groups and about a quarter of the aircraft in light carriers. Fleet carriers carried increasing numbers of fighters to fend off kamikaze attack, with a single squadron (about 15 aircraft) each of Avengers and dive bombers. Virtually the entire production of the Avenger went to the Pacific.

The British received 402 and New Zealand 63 as Lend-Lease. The aircraft continued in post-war service, with the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm continuing to employ 100 Avengers as antisubmarine aircraft as late as 1953.

Eastern TBM-1 Avenger - History

Aircraft History
Built by General Motors, Eastern Aircraft Division. Delivered to the United States Navy (USN) as TBM-1C Avenger bureau number 45810.

Wartime History
Assigned to USS San Jacinto (CVL-30) to Torpedo Squadron 51 (VT-51). No known nickname, nose art or squadron number.

Mission History
On July 27, 1944 at 8:30am took off from USS San Jacinto (CVL-30) piloted by Lt. Ronald R. Houle during "Operation Snapshot" armed with four 500 pound bombs leading a formation of four Avengers on a bombing mission against warehouses, storage buildings on Malakal Island (Ngemelachel) in Palau (target areas 43.1-37.9 to 43.3-38). The formation also included eight F6F Hellcats from VF-51 plus carrier aircraft from USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) including eight SB2C Helldivers from VB-8 and eight F6F Hellcats from VF-8 and eight TBM Avengers.

The formation approached the target area from the the southeast at an altitude of 9,000' when a ship was observed south of Arorumaldon Island. Spotting the vessel, Lt. Houle turned to the south and pushed over into a glide bombing but spotted the Avengers from VT-8 already in their dives and broke off his attack turning to the north until northwest of Arakabesan Island (Ngerekebesang) then turned to the right to attack Malakal Island.

Ahead of the rest of his flight, Lt. Houle alone began a glide bombing attack from 7,000' from the northwest to southeast with the other three planes in his flight roughly 3-5 miles away they last observed him in a dive over or just northwest of Malakal Island at 4,000 alongside a cloud. This Avenger was never seen again and when it failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA) due to unknown causes.

While the other three planes entered their dives, they observed an open parachute with someone hanging below descending into Malakal Harbor about 200 yards southeast of the wharf. Simultaneously, a fire was observed on the water several hundred yards farther to the south, possibly a crashed plane. As the other three planes pulled out of their dives, they observed a plane with square wing tips (possibly an Avenger) 6-8 miles west of Malakal loosing altitude. Later, another flight observed a square wing tip plane ditched in shallow water just inside the outer reef 8-10 miles west of Malakal Island. At the time, no information was available to determine if either of these sightings were related to the loss of this Avenger. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Fates of the Crew
In fact, while flying low over the target, after this Avenger released its bomb the explosion rocked the aircraft and caused it to crash into the sea. The pilot survived while the gunner and radio operator were killed in the crash. Pilot Houle bailed out of this Avenger before it crashed but his fate is unknown.

This Avenger crashed into Malakal Harbor off Malakal Island.

On March 24, 2014 the crash site of this Avenger was located at a depth of approximately 100' by a team from Project Recover including members of Bent Prop plus staff and students from Scripps Institute of Oceanography including Dr. Eric Terrill and the University of Delaware. The crash site is on a sandy bottom encrusted with soft coral. One of the propeller blades is upright and unbent and the left wing with the intact pitot tube was observed..

Four days later, they also located the wreckage of F6F Hellcat 41881. On March 31, 2014 a flag ceremony was conducted over the crash site with a U.S. and Palau flags.

Recovery of Remains
During April 2014 a team from Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) conducted their own investigation. On April 20, 2014 a documentation dive was made by on the Avenger crash site using sonar and photography.

During February 2018, Kozak’s niece was contacted by the U.S. Navy to provide a DNA sample to potentially verify remains found with pieces of an aircraft were DNA tested by Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).

On July 25, 2018 the Department of Defense (DoD) announced that radio operator Walter E. Mintus was accounted for.

The three crew were officially declared dead on February 4, 1946. All three earned the Purple Heart, posthumously. All three are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

Houle also has a memorial marker at Fort Snelling National Cemetery at section MA, site 28-2.

Ingram also has a memorial marker at Barrancas National Cemetery at section 36, site 2778.

Mintus was buried in November 2018 at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Portage, PA.

Rich Kozak (nephew of Mintus)
Caroline Kozak (stepsister of Mintus)
Agnes Phillips (sister of Mintus)

Navy Serial Number Search Results - TBM-1C Avenger 45810
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List July 1944 - TBM-1C 45810 VT-51 USS San Jacinto (CVL-30)
NARA "VT-51 ACA Reports #1 thru #8 - Air Operations Against Palau Islands, Period 7/25-27/44" pages 22-25
NARA "War History, 5/3/44 to 8/15/45 Appendix-6 In Memoriam - Missing In Action" page 87
"Houle, Roland R. Lietu. 7-27-44
Ingram, Otis E. ACOM 7-27-44
Mintus, Walter E. ARM3c 7-27-44"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Roland R. Houle
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Walter E. Mintus
"the remains of Aviation Radioman 3rd Class Walter E. Mintus were accounted for in 2018"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Otis E. Ingram
"the remains of Aviation Radioman 3rd Class Walter E. Mintus were accounted for in 2018"
FindAGrave - Lt Roland R Houle (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Lieut Roland Richard Houle (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - ARM3 Walter E Mintus (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Walter E “Bert” Mintus (photo, grave)
FindAGrave - ACOM Otis E Ingram (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Otis Earl Ingram (memorial marker)
Letter from President G. H. W. Bush 2003 to Agnes Phillips (sister)
"Your uncle went on a mission to Palau on 27 July 1944 with Lt (Roland Eichard) Houle and they never returned. they were both shot down. I was shot down on 2 September 1944 and lost both of my crewman,” Bush wrote. “When I worked at the White House, we tried to locate all living VT-51 squadron members and relatives of the deceased members. if you have any questions, please let us know. Barbara and I are most appreciative of your kind words for our son (President George W. Bush). Please keep him and our brave troops in your prayers.”
BentProp "P-MAN VII Update 5 March 2005" (photos) via Wayback March 30, 2016
BentProp "P-MAN VII Update 15 March 2005" (photos) via Wayback March 30, 2016
BentProp "P-MAN VII 2005 Final Report via Wayback October 20, 2010
BentProp "P-MAN XVI Update # 12 - Success, TBM-style!" 25 March 2014 via Wayback April 2, 2016
BentProp "P-MAN XVI Update # 13 - Sean's photos for The Big Find." 24 March 2014 via Wayback April 2, 2010 BentProp "P-MAN XVI Update # 14 - A 2005 retrospective: finding a TBM wing in the mangroves, hearing a family legend, and closing another circle. THIS is why we never give up." 26 March 2014 via Wayback March 31, 2016
FoxNews "Group hunts Pacific jungles for remains of WWII fighters, planes" April 3, 2014
"Joyce said the wreckage was from a General Motors TBM Avenger that crashed in the ocean after a mission to bomb a power plant. The plane was flying so low that when the bomb went off, the explosion rocked the plane and caused the crash. Japanese soldiers captured the pilot and immediately executed him. The plane's two other occupants went down with the plane.
'Nine years ago a Palauan showed us a wing of an Avenger deep in a mangrove swamp,' BentProp&rsquos Flip Colmer said from Palau, in reporting on the search. &ldquoThe mangrove trees had grown enough to lift the entire wing up out of the water. But no other parts could be found and previous searches came up empty. 'Then a Palauan friend of BentProp&rsquos told us a few years later that her father told her of watching the airplane get hit and crashing off the coast,' Colmer said. 'She even pointed to the area where we eventually found the aircraft."
CNET "How BentProp and undersea robots found long-lost WWII bombers" April 20, 2014
(Photo) Later that day [March 31, 2014], Scannon would lead a similar ceremony above the wreckage of a TBM Avenger also shot down in 1944."
Science Daily "Downed World War II aircraft missing for 72 years located in Pacific Islands" May 25, 2016
Ocean News & Technology "Returning From the Deep: WW2 Aircraft Discovered off the Coast of Palau" May 2014
Scripps "New Technology Enables Historic Finds" November 6, 2014
"In the case of the two planes found last spring, a TBM Avenger and an F6F Hellcat, BentProp had been searching for them for nearly 10 years. It took the REMUS-mounted instruments to see them at a depth of more than 100 feet, hidden from plain view by the persistent murk of the seafloor."
Science Daily "Locating World War II airmen lost in waters off Palau" November 10, 2014
"The group narrowed their search area and in March 2014, the AUVs found the remainder of the Avenger bomber, which had been missing in action for 70 years. A few days later, sonar images helped reveal a second aircraft, an F6F Hellcat, in a second location."
DPAA "Sailor Killed During World War II Accounted For (Mintus, W.)" July 25, 2018
The Times "Family of missing WWII radioman may get confirmation of his fate" by Tom Davidson March 27, 2018
Thanks to Reid Joyce / Bent Prop and Katherine Rasdorf for additional information

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prepared by Forest Garner

The US Navy ordered the prototype of the world's first monoplane torpedo bomber, the Douglas TBD Devastator, in 1934. First flown the following year, production delivery of this advanced aircraft started in 1937. Powered by an early 850 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp, the TBD-1 was capable of 206 mph. However, aviation technology was changing quickly, and by 1939 the Navy recognized that improved performance was needed. On 25 March of that year the Navy asked contractors to respond to a requirement for an advanced torpedo plane. This decision was fortunate, as by 1942 the TBD would be obsolete.

The 25 March requirements included a maximum speed of 300 mph, a range of at least 1,000 miles while carrying a torpedo, a ceiling of at least 30,000 feet, a take off run in combat trim of not more than 325 feet into a 25-knot wind, and a stalling speed with a torpedo of no more than 70 mph. Additionally, it was required that the torpedo, or bombs, must be carried internally. In response, the Navy received 13 design proposals from six manufacturers. By 3 November, 1939, the Navy had focused on two of these designs one from Vought powered by the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp, and one from Grumman powered by the Wright R-2600. Although the Navy announced its intention to order each design, it took six months for the contracts to be awarded.

Grumman received the order for two examples of the XTBF-1 on 8 April, 1940. This was a mid-wing cantilever design with a crew of three. Externally, it looked like Grumman's F4F Wildcat, but with a bigger belly. The TBF was designed from the start with folding wings, with the folding mechanism patterned after that developed for the Martlet II and F4F-4 Wildcat. Armament consisted of one synchronized "50 caliber" (12.7mm) Browning machine gun in the upper engine cowling firing through the propeller, another 50 caliber weapon firing from a small turret at the aft end of the long canopy, and a ventral flexible 30 caliber (7.62mm) machine gun firing rearwards from a position just aft of the long weapons bay. The weapons bay was large enough to hold four 500-pound bombs, or one 22.4-inch 2,000 pound Mark 13 torpedo. Provision was made for carrying the Norden bombsight, but Avenger pilots found this to be less accurate than other aiming techniques.

The US Navy placed some urgency in replacing the TBD, as an order was placed for 285 TBF-1 aircraft and one TBF-2 on 30 December, 1940, more than seven months before the prototype XTBF-1 was ready for flight tests. The two sub-types differed in that the TBF-1 was to be powered by the two-speed single-stage R-2600-8, while the TBF-2 was to be powered by the single-speed two-stage R-2600-10.

The prototype flew on 7 August, 1941. Several significant problems were identified, but were quickly solved. Development of the TBF was not greatly affected when the first prototype crashed after catching fire in flight on 28 November, 1941, as the second prototype was nearly ready by that time.

The first production TBF-1 was completed on 3 January, 1942. The TBF-1 had a span of just over 54 ft (17 ft with wings folded), a length of 40 ft, weighed 10,080 pounds empty, 13,667 pounds loaded, and 15,905 pound maximum. Powered by a 1,600 hp Wright R-2600-8, the TBF-1 reached a maximum speed of 271 mph at 12,000 ft, although it cruised at a leisurely 145 mph. Internal fuel capacity was 335 gallons, giving a range (with torpedo) of 1,215 miles.

Grumman assembled 1,524 examples of the TBF-1, while the Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors built 550 of the virtually identical TBM-1.

The designation TBF-1B applied to 402 aircraft built for the Royal Navy, which the British initially called Tarpon T.R. Mark I, but later called Avenger T.R. Mark I. British Avengers were sometimes modified to British specification by Blackburn Aircraft, including the installation British oxygen systems and gunsights.

The TBF-1C deleted the nose-mounted machine gun and, instead, mounted one 50 caliber weapon in each wing. This variant was plumbed to carry up to 391 gallons of additional fuel in auxiliary fuel tanks. Grumman built 764, while GM built 2,332 of their virtually identical TBM-1C.

The TBF-1D was a modification of the TBF-1 fitting the ASD or ASB radar for locating surfaced submarines or surface ships.

The first of two XTBF-3 prototypes flew on 20 June, 1943. This aircraft featured the 1,900 hp Wright R-2600-20 engine in an attempt to restore performance lost through increased operational weight in later TBF-1 variants. However, no production TBF-3 was built by Grumman. To allow Grumman's factory to focus on production of the critically important F6F Hellcat, production of Avengers was completely in the hands of the Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors, which fabricated portions of the aircraft in several cities, and performed final assembly in Trenton, New Jersey. GM built 4,657 of this variant, called the TBM-3, between April 1944 and August 1945.

There were at least 15 variants of the TBM-3, including many modified to carry various types of surface search radar or airborne early warning radar.

In its first combat action at Midway on 4 June, 1942, the TBF faired badly. Six TBF-1 aircraft attacked the Japanese Kido Butai (Striking force) of four fleet aircraft carriers with a powerful screen. Five Avengers were shot down, and the sixth, badly damaged, barely made it back to Midway Island. This attack, like most that day, achieved nothing. However, Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers made successful attacks later that day, inflicting fatal damage on all four Japanese carriers.

In subsequent clashes with the Japanese Navy, the Avenger was hampered by the ineffectiveness of its primary weapon, the Mark 13 torpedo. The generally poor manufacture of this weapon was a serious problem, but was overshadowed by its many design flaws. It was slow, and too fragile for release speeds greater than 130mph (increased later in the war). While this slow release speed made the TBF vulnerable to antiaircraft fire, pilots were thankful that the Avenger was a tough aircraft, like all Grumman aircraft of that era. This, and poor Japanese antiaircraft gunnery, saved many American pilots. Later, the Mark 13 torpedo was improved by installing a "pickle barrel" housing around the nose of the torpedo to allow much faster drops. The warhead, initially 401 pounds of TNT, was increased to 600 pounds of the much more potent Torpex in 1943. With the later, more effective, variants of the Mark 13, Avengers played the primary role in sinking the huge battleships Yamato and Musashi, and several Japanese aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, and other warships.

Service in the Atlantic Ocean

In the Atlantic, the Avenger was the obvious choice for use aboard British and American escort carriers in screening convoys and hunting down U-boats. Avengers would sight surfaced U-boats, and swoop down on them in a glide bombing approach, releasing multiple 250-pound, 325-pound, or (most often) 500-pound depth bombs. If the U-boat put up accurate flak, the Avenger pilot might choose to circle out of range wait for other aircraft to assist. Grumman Wildcat fighters, with either four or six heavy machine guns, were often effective at subduing the U-boat's flak battery so that the Avengers could more safely make their attacks. Later the Avenger's arsenal included rockets for use on surfaced U-boats and, after mid-1943, a super-secret anti-submarine homing torpedo known as the Mark 24 Fido (also called Zombie). Various versions of the Avenger were fitted with radar for finding submarines or surface ships, with sonobuoys to track submerged submarines, and with flares and searchlights for illuminating potential targets at night. Avengers were known to carry combinations of these devices, such as two 500-pound depth bombs, one Fido, radar, flares, and sonobuoys.

American escort carrier air groups sank, or assisted in sinking, 35 submarines in the Atlantic. Most, perhaps all, of these kills must have been made by Avengers. To this total must be added the achievements of British Avengers. Additionally, Avengers flew anti-submarine patrols from land bases, and laid mines.

In all, 9,839 Avengers were assembled, including 2,293 TBFs built by Grumman and 7,546 TBMs built by Eastern Aircraft (General Motors). After the war, they faded from service more gradually than most aircraft of the era, serving useful roles into mid-1950s.

U-boats sunk by this aircraft type (Avenger)

Sep U-589 +,

May U-569, Jun U-217, U-118, Jul U-487 +, U-160, U-509, U-67,
U-527, U-43, Aug U-117 +, U-664 +, U-525 +, U-185, U-847 +, Oct U-422 +,
U-460 +, U-402, U-378 +, U-220 +, U-584, Dec U-172 +, U-850 +,

Jan U-544 +, Mar U-575 +, U-801 +, U-1059 +, Apr U-288 +, U-515 +, U-68 +, May
U-66 +, Jun U-860 +, Jul U-543 +, Aug U-1229 +,

May U-711 +,

35 U-boats lost to Avenger aircraft. + means that the Avenger shared the credit for the sinking.


  • Francillion, R. J. (1989) "Grumman Aircraft since 1929"
    Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD.
  • Gunston, W. (1986) "American Warplanes"
    Crescent Books, New York, NY.

Selected media links

Eastern TBM-1 Avenger - History

Eastern (Grumman) TBM-3 Avenger
WWII carrier-based single-engine three-crew mid-wing torpedo bomber, U.S.A.

Archive Photos [1]

[Eastern TBM-3 &ldquoAvenger&rdquo (BuNo 53835, c/n 3897, N3967A) on display (10/10/2012) at the CAF Museum, Falcon Field Airport, Mesa, Arizona (Photo by Lt. Col. Marc Matthews, M.D.)]

Overview [2]

  • Grumman TBF/Eastern TBM &ldquoAvenger&rdquo
  • Role: Torpedo bomber
  • Manufacturer: Grumman (TBF) General Motors/Eastern Aircraft (TBM)
  • First flight: 7 August 1941
  • Introduction: 1942
  • Retired: 1960's
  • Status: Retired
  • Primary users: United States Navy, Royal Navy Royal Canadian Navy Royal New Zealand Air Force
  • Number built: 9,839

The Grumman TBF &ldquoAvenger&rdquo (TBM by General Motors) was a torpedo bomber developed initially for the United States Navy and Marine Corps, and eventually used by several air or naval arms around the world.

The &ldquoAvenger&rdquo entered U.S. service in 1942, and first saw action during the Battle of Midway. Despite losing five of the six &ldquoAvengers&rdquo on its combat debut, it survived in service to become one of the outstanding torpedo bombers of World War II. Greatly modified after the war, it remained in use until the 1960's.

Design and Development [2]

The Douglas TBD &ldquoDevastator&rdquo, the U.S. Navy's main torpedo bomber introduced in 1935, was obsolete by 1939. Bids were accepted from several companies but Grumman's TBF design was selected as the TBD's replacement and two prototypes were ordered by the Navy in April 1940. Designed by Leroy Grumman, the first prototype was called the XTBF-1. It was first flown on August 1, 1941. Although one of the first two prototypes crashed near Brentwood, New York, rapid production continued.

Grumman's first torpedo bomber was the heaviest single-engine aircraft of World War II, and only the USAAF's Republic P-47 &ldquoThunderbolt&rdquo came close to equalling it in maximum loaded weight among all single-engined fighters, only being some 400 lb (181 kg) lighter than the TBF, by the end of World War II. The &ldquoAvenger&rdquo was the first design to feature a new &ldquocompound angle&rdquo wing-folding mechanism created by Grumman, intended to maximize storage space on an aircraft carrier the Grumman F4F-4 &ldquoWildcat&rdquo and later models of &ldquoWildcat&rdquo received a similar folding wing and the Grumman F6F &rdquoHellcat&rdquo employed this mechanism as well. The engine used was the Wright R-2600-20 &ldquoCyclone&rdquo 14 twin-row radial engine (which produced 1,900 hp/1,417 kW). The aircraft took 25 gallons of oil and used one gallon per minute at start-up. There were three crew members: pilot, turret gunner and radioman/bombardier/ventral gunner. One 0.30 caliber machine gun was mounted in the nose, a 0.50 caliber (12.7 mm) gun was mounted right next to the turret gunner's head in a rear-facing electrically powered turret, and a single 0.30 caliber hand-fired machine gun mounted ventrally (under the tail), which was used to defend against enemy fighters attacking from below and to the rear. This gun was fired by the radioman/bombardier while standing up and bending over in the belly of the tail section, though he usually sat on a folding bench facing forward to operate the radio and to sight in bombing runs. Later models of the TBF/TBM dispensed with the nose-mounted gun for one 0.50 caliber gun in each wing per pilots' requests for better forward firepower and increased strafing ability. There was only one set of controls on the aircraft, and no access to the pilot's position from the rest of the aircraft. The radio equipment was massive, especially by today's standards, and filled the whole glass canopy to the rear of the pilot. The radios were accessible for repair through a &ldquotunnel&rdquo along the right hand side. Any &ldquoAvengers&rdquo that are still flying today usually have an additional rear-mounted seat in place of the radios, allowing for a fourth passenger.

The &ldquoAvenger&rdquo had a large bomb bay, allowing for one Bliss-Leavitt Mark 13 torpedo, a single 2,000 pound (907 kg) bomb, or up to four 500 pound (227 kg) bombs. The aircraft had overall ruggedness and stability, and pilots say it flew like a truck, for better or worse. With its good radio facilities, docile handling, and long range, the Grumman &ldquoAvenger&rdquo also made an ideal command aircraft for Commanders, Air Group (CAG's). With a 30,000 ft (10,000 m) ceiling and a fully loaded range of 1,000 mi (1,610 km), it was better than any previous American torpedo bomber, and better than its Japanese counterpart, the obsolete Nakajima B5N &ldquoKate&rdquo. Later &ldquoAvenger&rdquo models carried radar equipment for the ASW and AEW roles. Although improvements in new types of aviation radar were soon forthcoming from the engineers at MIT and the electronic industry, the available radars in 1943 were very bulky, because they contained vacuum tube technology. Because of this, radar was at first carried only on the roomy TBF &ldquoAvengers&rdquo, but not on the smaller and faster fighters.

Escort carrier sailors referred to the TBF as the &ldquoturkey&rdquo because of its size and maneuverability in comparison to the F4F &ldquoWildcat&rdquo fighters in CVE airgroups.

Operational History [2]

On the afternoon of 7 December 1941, Grumman held a ceremony to open a new manufacturing plant and display the new TBF to the public. Coincidentally, on that day, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor, as Grumman soon found out. After the ceremony was over, the plant was quickly sealed off to guard against possible sabotage. By early June 1942, a shipment of more than 100 aircraft was sent to the Navy, ironically arriving only a few hours after the three carriers quickly departed from Pearl Harbor, so most of them were too late to participate in the pivotal &ldquoBattle of Midway&rdquo.

Six TBF-1's were present on Midway Island, as part of VT-8 (Torpedo Squadron 8), while the rest of the squadron flew &ldquoDevastator&rdquos from the USS Hornet. Unfortunately, both types of torpedo bombers suffered heavy casualties. Out of the six &ldquoAvengers&rdquo, five were shot down and the other returning heavily damaged with one of its gunners killed, and the other gunner and the pilot injured. Nonetheless, the US torpedo bombers were credited with drawing away the Japanese combat air patrols so the American dive bombers could successfully hit the Japanese carriers.

Author Gordon Prange posited in &ldquoMiracle at Midway&rdquo that the outdated &ldquoDevastator&rdquos (and lack of new aircraft) contributed somewhat to the lack of a complete victory at Midway (the four Japanese fleet carriers were sunk directly by dive bombers instead). Others pointed out that the inexperienced American pilots and lack of fighter cover were responsible for poor showing of US torpedo bombers, regardless of type. Later in the war, with improving American air superiority, attack coordination, and more veteran pilots, &ldquoAvengers&rdquo were able to play vital roles in the subsequent battles against Japanese surface forces.

On 24 August 1942, the next major naval battle occurred at the Eastern Solomons. Based on the carriers &ldquoUSS Saratoga&rdquo and &ldquoUSS Enterprise&rdquo, the 24 TBF's present were able to sink the Japanese light carrier &ldquoRyujo&rdquo and claim one dive bomber, at the cost of seven aircraft.

The first major &ldquoprize&rdquo for the TBF's (which had been assigned the name "&ldquoAvenger&rdquo" in October 1941, before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor) was at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in November 1942, when Marine Corps and Navy &ldquoAvengers&rdquo helped sink the battleship &ldquoHiei&rdquo, which had already been crippled the night before.

After hundreds of the original TBF-1 models were built, the TBF-1C began production. The allotment of space for specialized internal and wing-mounted fuel tanks doubled the &ldquoAvenger&rdquo's range. By 1943, Grumman began to slowly phase out production of the &ldquoAvenger&rdquo to produce F6F &rdquoHellcat&rdquo fighters, and the Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors took-over, with these aircraft being designated TBM. The Eastern Aircraft plant was located in North Tarrytown (re-named Sleepy Hollow in 1996), NY. Starting in mid-1944, the TBM-3 began production (with a more powerful powerplant and wing hardpoints for drop tanks and rockets). The TBM-3 was the most numerous of the &ldquoAvengers&rdquo (with about 4,600 produced). However, most of the &ldquoAvengers&rdquo in service were TBM-1's until near the end of the war in 1945.

Besides the traditional surface role (torpedoing surface ships), &ldquoAvengers&rdquo claimed about 30 submarine kills, including the cargo submarine I-52. They were one of the most effective sub-killers in the Pacific theater, as well as in the Atlantic, when escort carriers were finally available to escort Allied convoys. There, the &ldquoAvengers&rdquo contributed in warding off German U-Boats while providing air cover for the convoys.

After the &ldquoMarianas Turkey Shoot,&rdquo in which more than 250 Japanese aircraft were downed, Admiral Marc Mitscher ordered a 220-aircraft mission to find the Japanese task force. At the extreme end of their range, 300 nm (560 km) out, the group of &rdquoHellcats&rdquo, TBF/TBM's, and dive bombers took many casualties. However, &ldquoAvengers&rdquo from &ldquoUSS Belleau Wood&rdquo torpedoed the light carrier &ldquoHiyo&rdquo as their only major prize. Mitscher's gamble did not pay off as well as he had hoped.

In June 1943, future-President George H.W. Bush became the youngest naval aviator at the time. While flying a TBM with VT-51 from the &ldquoUSS San Jacinto&rdquo (CVL-30), his TBM was shot down on 2 September 1944 over the Pacific island of Chichi Jima. Both of his crewmates died. However, he released his payload and hit the target before being forced to bail out he received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Another famous &ldquoAvenger&rdquo aviator was Paul Newman, who flew as a rear gunner. He had hoped to be accepted for pilot training, but did not qualify because of being color blind. Newman was on board the escort carrier &ldquoUSS Hollandia&rdquo roughly 500 mi (800 km) from Japan when the Boeing B-29 &ldquoEnola Gay&rdquo dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

The &ldquoAvenger&rdquo was the type of torpedo bomber used during the sinking of the two Japanese super battleships &ldquoMusashi&rdquo and &ldquoYamato&rdquo.

The &ldquoAvenger&rdquo was also used by the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm where it was initially known as the &ldquoTarpon&rdquo however this name was later discontinued and the &ldquoAvenger&rdquo name used instead, as part of the process of the Fleet Air Arm universally adopting the U.S. Navy's names for American naval aircraft. The first 402 aircraft were known as &ldquoAvenger&rdquo Mk 1, 334 TBM-1's from Grumman were the &ldquoAvenger&rdquo Mk II and 334 TBM-3 the Mark III.

The only other operator in World War II was the Royal New Zealand Air Force which used the type primarily as a bomber, operating from South Pacific Island bases. Some of these were transferred to the British Pacific Fleet.

During World War II, the US aeronautical research arm NACA used a complete &ldquoAvenger&rdquo in a comprehensive drag-reduction study in their large Langley wind tunnel. The resulting NACA Technical Report shows the impressive results available if practical aircraft did not have to be &ldquopractical&rdquo.

In 1945 &ldquoAvengers&rdquo were involved in pioneering trials of aerial topdressing in New Zealand that led to the establishment of an industry which markedly increased food production and efficiency in farming worldwide. Pilots of the Royal New Zealand Air Force's 42 Squadron spread fertilizer from &ldquoAvengers&rdquo beside runways at Ohakea air base and provided a demonstration for farmers at Hood Aerodrome, Masterton, NZ.

The postwar disappearance of a flight of American &ldquoAvengers&rdquo, known as &ldquoFlight 19&rdquo, was later added to the &ldquoBermuda Triangle&rdquo legend.

100 USN TBM-3E's were supplied to the Fleet Air Arm in 1953 under the US Mutual Defense Assistance Program. The aircraft were shipped from Norfolk, Virginia, many aboard the Royal Navy aircraft carrier &ldquoHMS Perseus&rdquo. The &ldquoAvengers&rdquo were fitted with British equipment by Scottish Aviation and delivered as the &ldquoAvenger&rdquo AS.4 to several FAA squadrons including No. 767, 814, 815, 820 and 824. The aircraft were replaced from 1954 by Fairey &ldquoGannets&rdquo and were passed to squadrons of the Royal Naval Reserve including No. 1841 and 1844 until the RNR was disbanded. The survivors were transferred to the French Navy in 1957-1958.

One of the primary postwar users of the &ldquoAvenger&rdquo was the Royal Canadian Navy, which obtained 125 former US Navy TBM-3E &ldquoAvengers&rdquo from 1950 to 1952 to replace their venerable Fairey &ldquoFireflies&rdquo. By the time the &ldquoAvengers&rdquo were delivered, the RCN was shifting its primary focus to anti-submarine warfare (ASW), and the aircraft was rapidly becoming obsolete as an attack platform. Consequently, 98 of the RCN &ldquoAvengers&rdquo were fitted with an extensive number of novel ASW modifications, including radar, electronic countermeasures (ECM) equipment, and sonobuoys, and the upper ball turret was replaced with a sloping glass canopy that was better suited for observation duties. The modified &ldquoAvengers&rdquo were designated AS3. A number of these aircraft were later fitted with a large magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) boom on the rear left side of the fuselage and were redesignated AS3M. However, RCN leaders soon realized the &ldquoAvenger&rdquo's shortcomings as an ASW aircraft, and in 1954 they elected to replace the AS3 with the Grumman S-2 &ldquoTracker&rdquo, which offered longer range, greater load-carrying capacity for electronics and armament, and a second engine, a great safety benefit when flying long-range ASW patrols over frigid North Atlantic waters. As delivery of the new license-built Grumman CS2F &ldquoTracker&rdquos began in 1957, the &ldquoAvengers&rdquo were shifted to training duties, and were officially retired in July 1960.

Camouflage Research [2]

TBM &ldquoAvengers&rdquo were used in wartime research into counter-illumination camouflage. The torpedo bombers were fitted with Yehudi lights, a set of forward-pointing lights automatically adjusted to match the brightness of the sky. The planes therefore appeared as bright as the sky, rather than as dark shapes. The technology, a development of the Canadian navy's diffused lighting camouflage research, allowed an &ldquoAvenger&rdquo to advance to within 3,000 yards (2,700 m) before been seen.

Civilian Use [2]

Many &ldquoAvengers&rdquo have survived into the 21st century working as spray-applicators and water-bombers throughout North America, particularly in the Canadian province of New Brunswick.

Forest Protection Limited (FPL) of Fredericton, NB once owned and operated the largest civilian fleet of &ldquoAvengers&rdquo in the world. FPL began operating &ldquoAvengers&rdquo in 1958 after purchasing 12 surplus TBM-3E aircraft from the Royal Canadian Navy. Use of the &ldquoAvenger&rdquo fleet at FPL peaked in 1971 when 43 aircraft were in use as both water bombers and spray aircraft. The company sold three &ldquoAvengers&rdquo in 2004 (C-GFPS, C-GFPM, and C-GLEJ) to museums or private collectors. The Central New Brunswick Woodsmen's Museum has a former FPL &ldquoAvenger&rdquo on static display. An FPL &ldquoAvenger&rdquo that crashed in 1975 in southwestern New Brunswick was recovered and restored by a group of interested aviation enthusiasts and is currently on display. FPL was still operating three &ldquoAvengers&rdquo in 2010 configured as water-bombers, and stationed at Miramichi Airport. One of these crashed just after takeoff on April 23, 2010, killing the pilot. The last FPL &ldquoAvenger&rdquo was retired on July 26th, 2012 and sold to the Shearwater Aviation Museum in Dartmouth Nova Scotia.

There are several other &ldquoAvengers&rdquo in private collections around the world today. They are a popular airshow fixture in both flying and static displays.

Variants [2]

  • XTBF-1: Prototypes each powered by a 1,700 hp (1,300 kW) R-2600-8 engine, second aircraft introduced the large dorsal fin. (2 built)
  • TBF-1: Initial production model based on the second prototype. (1,526 built)
  • TBF-1B: Paper designation for the &ldquoAvenger&rdquo I for the Royal Navy.
  • TBF-1C: TBF-1 with provision for two 0.5 in (12.7 mm) wing guns and fuel capacity increased to 726 gal (2,748 l). (765 built)
  • TBF-1CD: TBF-1C conversions with centimetric radar in radome on starboard wing leading edge.
  • TBF-1CP: TBF-1C conversion for photo-reconnaissance.
  • TBF-1D: TBF-1 conversions with centimetric radar in radome on starboard wing leading edge.
  • TBF-1E: TBF-1 conversions with additional electronic equipment.
  • TBF-1J: TBF-1 equipped for bad weather operations.
  • TBF-1L: TBF-1 equipped with retractable searchlight in bomb bay.
  • TBF-1P: TBF-1 conversion for photo-reconnaissance.
  • XTBF-2: TBF-1 re-engined with a 1,900 hp (1,400 kW) XR-2600-10 engine.
  • XTBF-3: TBF-1 re-engined with 1,900 hp (1,400 kW) R-2600-20 engines.
  • TBF-3: Planned production version of the XTBF-3, cancelled.

General Motors (Easter Aircraft) TBM

  • TBM-1: As TBF-1 (550 built)
  • TBM-1C: As TBF-1C. (2336 built)
  • TBM-1D: TBM-1 conversions with centimetric radar in radome on starboard wing leading edge.
  • TBM-1E: TBM-1 conversions with additional electronic equipment.
  • TBM-1J: TBM-1 equipped for all weather operations.
  • TBM-1L: TBM-1 equipped with retractable searchlight in bomb bay.
  • TBM-1P: TBM-1 conversion for photo-reconnaissance.
  • TBM-1CP: TBM-1C conversion for photo-reconnaissance.
  • TBM-2: One TBM-1 re-engined with a 1,900 hp (1,400 kW) XR-2600-10 engine.
  • XTBM-3: Four TBM-1C aircraft with 1,900 hp (1,400 kW) R-2600-20 engines.
  • TBM-3: As TBM-1C, double cooling intakes, engine upgrade, minor changes. (4,011 built)
  • TBM-3D: TBM-3 conversion with centimetric radar in radome on starboard wing leading edge.
  • TBM-3E: As TBM-3, stronger airframe, search radar, ventral gun deleted. (646 built).
  • TBM-3H: TBM-3 conversion with surface search radar.
  • TBM-3J: TBM-3 equipped for all weather operations.
  • TBM-3L: TBM-3 equipped with retractable searchlight in bomb bay.
  • TBM-3M: TBM-3 conversion as a missile launcher.
  • TBM-3N: TBM-3 conversion for night attack.
  • TBM-3P: TBM-3 conversion for photo-reconnaissance.
  • TBM-3Q: TBM-3 conversion for electronic countermeasures with large ventral radome.
  • TBM-3R: TBM-3 conversions as seven-passenger, Carrier onboard delivery transport.
  • TBM-3S: TBM-3 conversion as an anti-submarine strike version.
  • TBM-3U: TBM-3 conversion as a general utility and target version.
  • TBM-3W: TBM-3 conversion as an anti-Submarine search with APS-20 radar in ventral radome.
  • XTBM-4: Prototypes based on TBM-3E with modified wing incorporating a reinforced center section and a different folding mechanism. (3 built)
  • TBM-4: Production version of XTBM-4, 2,141 on order were cancelled.
  • &ldquoAvenger&rdquo Mk.I: RN designation of the TBF-1, 400 delivered.
  • &ldquoAvenger&rdquo Mk.II: RN designation of the TBM-1/TBM-1C, 334 delivered.
  • &ldquoAvenger&rdquo Mk.III RN designation of the TBM-3, 222 delivered.
  • &ldquoAvenger&rdquo Mk.IV: RN designation of the TBM-3S, 70 cancelled
  • &ldquoAvenger&rdquo AS4: RN designation of the TBM-3S, 100 delivered postwar.
  • &ldquoAvenger&rdquo AS3: Modified by RCN for anti-submarine duty, dorsal gun turret removed, 98 built.
  • &ldquoAvenger&rdquo AS3M: AS3 with magnetic anomaly detector boom added to rear fuselage.

Operators [2]

  • Brazil: Brazilian Navy operated three &ldquoAvengers&rdquo in the 1950s for deck crew training aboard the carrier &ldquoMinas Gerais&rdquo (A-11).
  • Canada: Royal Canadian Navy operated &ldquoAvengers&rdquo until replaced by the CS2F &ldquoTracker&rdquo in 1960.
  • France: Aéronavale operated &ldquoAvengers&rdquo in 1950s.
  • Japan: Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force operated Hunter-Killer &ldquoAvengers&rdquo groups in 1950s and 1960's.
  • Netherlands: Royal Netherlands Navy - the Dutch Naval Aviation Service operated &ldquoAvengers&rdquo during the 1950s.
  • New Zealand Royal New Zealand Air Force No. 30, 31, 41 & 42 Squadrons RNZAF Central Fighter Establishment.
  • United Kingdom Royal Navy - Fleet Air Arm 820, 828, 832, 845-846, 848-857, 955 Naval Air Squadrons.
  • United States: United States Navy United States Marine Corps.
  • Uruguay: Uruguayan Navy operated &ldquoAvengers&rdquo in 1950s.

Specifications (TBF &ldquoAvenger&rdquo) [2]

General Characteristics

  • Crew: 3
  • Length: 40 ft 11.5 in (12.48 m)
  • Wingspan: 54 ft 2 in (16.51 m)
  • Height: 15 ft 5 in (4.70 m)
  • Wing area: 490.02 ft² (45.52 m²)
  • Empty weight: 10,545 lb (4,783 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 17,893 lb (8,115 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Wright R-2600-20 radial engine, 1,900 hp (1,420 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 275 mph (442 km/h)
  • Range: 1,000 mi (1,610 km)
  • Service ceiling: 30,100 ft (9,170 m)
  • Rate of climb: 2,060 ft/min (10.5 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 36.5 lb/ft² (178 kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: 0.11 hp/lb (0.17 kW/kg)
  • Guns: 1 × 0.30 in (7.62 mm) nose-mounted M1919 Browning machine gun(on early models)
  • Guns: 2 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) wing-mounted M2 Browning machine guns
  • Guns: 1 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) dorsal-mounted M2 Browning machine gun
  • Guns: 1 × 0.30 in (7.62 mm) ventral-mounted M1919 Browning machine gun
  • Rockets: up to eight 3.5-inch forward firing aircraft Rockets, 5-inch forward firing aircraft rockets or high velocity aerial rockets
  • Bombs: Up to 2,000 lb (907 kg) of bombs or 1 × 2,000 lb (907 kg) Mark 13 torpedo

Copyright © 1998-2019 (Our 21 st Year) Skytamer Images, Whittier, California

Fleet Air Arm Avenger- which kit?

Can any of the Trumpeter 1/32 Avengers be built as an FAA Avenger or Tarpon? Tried looking on http://www.fleetairarmarchive.net/ but couldn't figure it out.
I've got a crazy hankering, but I'm going to suppress it and build an Avenger instead. BTW, it's too dammed hot to paint out on my back porch today- about 107 or so. Gotta go down to Palm Springs tomorrow, too. 2000 feet lower means that much more sweaty!

Jim Atkins
Twentynine Palms CA

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx

Depends on the paint scheme you want

Aug 16, 2007 #2 2007-08-16T23:13

The TBM 3 from what I have been able to work out only flew with the FAA in all over dark blue whilst the TBF-1/1C (Tarpon 1/2) flew in the variety of colour schemes with the FAA.

I am going to be using the Eagle STrike decals sheet 32072 for my 1/32 TBF-1C Avenger. It comes with three schemes:
1. Avenger I of 711 SQN 1945, Extra Dk sea grey/slate grey upper with white lower surfaces
2. Avenger 1 of 832 SQN, HMAS Begum 1944, EDSG/SG upper and RAF Sky lower with white cowling ring and
3. Tarpon Mk II of 848 SQN, HMAS Formidable mid 1945, EDSG/SG/RAF Sky.

OK- so I think I've got it now-

Aug 17, 2007 #3 2007-08-17T00:16

That's the sheet I was looking at and got started on this quest. Avengers were TBM-3s, Tarpon I was the TBF-1, and Tarpon II was the TBF-1C then. I know about the bulged observer window on Tarpons- do the kits have it included? Before I really outrage my wife I'd like to get the right kit in the first place.

Jim Atkins
Twentynine Palms CA

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx

My kit doesn't have the rounded windows

Aug 17, 2007 #4 2007-08-17T01:49

I just had a look and compared it against the Accurate Miniatures kit and the 1/32 kit doesn't inlude the rounded windows unfortunately. I'm sure that someone out there makes after market stuff for it but I don't know who. There are numerous PE sets for the kit but i'm not sure that the kit actualy needs them as it is BIG and reasonably well detailed.

Wifes do get a bit fussy over spending the $ for the kit! My wife only relented as I swapped some kit's I wasn't using for it.

Aug 17, 2007 #5 2007-08-17T03:42

I saw a kit build and I believe the builder bought a Squadron-Falcon canopy set for the 1/48 Monogram B-29 and used the gunner blisters for the bulged circular windows on a Fleet Air Arm Avenger/Tarpon. I believe it was the Trumpeter kit.

Try to find the build by Jamie Haggo

Aug 17, 2007 #6 2007-08-17T07:16

Can any of the Trumpeter 1/32 Avengers be built as an FAA Avenger or Tarpon? Tried looking on http://www.fleetairarmarchive.net/ but couldn't figure it out.
I've got a crazy hankering, but I'm going to suppress it and build an Avenger instead. BTW, it's too dammed hot to paint out on my back porch today- about 107 or so. Gotta go down to Palm Springs tomorrow, too. 2000 feet lower means that much more sweaty!

Jim Atkins
Twentynine Palms CA

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx

FAA Avengers

Aug 17, 2007 #7 2007-08-17T09:38

The TBM 3 from what I have been able to work out only flew with the FAA in all over dark blue whilst the TBF-1/1C (Tarpon 1/2) flew in the variety of colour schemes with the FAA.

I am going to be using the Eagle STrike decals sheet 32072 for my 1/32 TBF-1C Avenger. It comes with three schemes:
1. Avenger I of 711 SQN 1945, Extra Dk sea grey/slate grey upper with white lower surfaces
2. Avenger 1 of 832 SQN, HMAS Begum 1944, EDSG/SG upper and RAF Sky lower with white cowling ring and
3. Tarpon Mk II of 848 SQN, HMAS Formidable mid 1945, EDSG/SG/RAF Sky.

Here is a quick primer on FAA Avengers.

Tarpon/Avenger I: All Grumman built TBF-1b and TBF-1c.
the TBF-1b is an expor version of the TBF-1.

Tarpon/Avenger II: All Eastern Built TBM-1 and TBM-1c

Avenger III: All Eastern built TBM-3

All were delivered with the second cockpit similar to the TBF/M-1, but with British radios. All were delivered with the bubble observers windows on the fuselage sides.

As for colors, all MK.I a/c were delivered in shades of EDSG, DSG, and sky which matched the MAP shades.All had Bronze green cockpits and tinted zinc chromate crew areas. The remainder of the interior was probably in "Grumman Grey", esp the cowl.

All Mk.II were delivered in US colors of Olive Drab, Sea Grey ( close to Neutral grey) and USN Non-Specular Lt. Grey. The entire cockpit was in interior green. The remainder of the interior of the airframe was in tinted zinc chromate or yellow Zinc chromate primer.

All Mk.III were delivered in Glossy Sea Blue.The remainder or the paint was as the Mk.II

So what you need is the serial number to see
1- Who built the a/c
2- was it a -1 or a -1c?

Ziroli Avenger History

Back in the early 2000s, Nick Ziroli Jr. wanted to design something extra special to compete with at Frank Tiano’s Top Gun Scale Invitational event. Since he hailed from Long Island, the famous Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo/bomber seemed most appropriate.

Nick Jr. designed and drew all the working plans for the 1/6-scale TBM model. He went on to build all the plugs and develop molds to produce the fiberglass fuselage and engine cowling, and he vacuum-formed the clear plastic canopy and gun turret. Nick Jr. then tackled the very daunting job of designing and machining the functional folding-wing mechanism. Nick Sr.’s longtime friend Bob Walker of Robart Manufacturing agreed to build the scale retractable landing gear and also helped Nick work out the design of the wing hinge locks.

The finished Avenger was a sight to behold. Powered by a Precision Eagle 4.2ci gas engine, the TBM was all done up in the U.S. Navy colors of future President George H.W. Bush.

The Avenger impressed everyone with its torpedo drop demo flights. The only real issue with the new model was that the folding wing mechanism gave the aircraft a very high wing loading, and it was subsequently damaged during one of the flights at Top Gun.

Undaunted, Nick returned to the workshop, removed the folding wing mechanism, and switched to lighter plug-in outer wing panels. The second time around Nick refinished his Avenger in the colors of the British Tarpon I. All went extremely well, or so it seemed, until the model experienced radio failure shortly after takeoff for the halftime show. The model climbed out at a high angle, tip-stalled, and came down hard, seriously damaging the airframe.

Nick Jr. had no intentions of completing the Avenger plans or offering them (or molded parts) for sale, but close friend Tony Kirchenko of Setauket, New York really wanted to build one. So Nick Jr. sent the damaged landing gear back to Robart for repair while he and Tony laid up another fuselage from the mold. They cut foam cores for the outer wing panels, and some months later, a new Grumman TBM, powered with a Quadra 75cc gas engine, rolled onto the Skyhawks’ flightline.

Tony’s new TBM featured a fully detailed cockpit interior, a droppable torpedo from its internal bomb/torpedo bay, and a retractable tail hook. Tony’s Avenger was just as impressive as the original. After owning it for several years, Tony decided it needed a new home as it was just too big was always cumbersome for Tony to move around.

Enter Jim McQueen of Wading River, New York. When Jim heard that Tony’s TBM was for sale, he jumped at the opportunity. You see, this was not only a Ziroli-designed TBM, it was the only flying Ziroli Avenger flying in the entire world! There are no others. You can’t build one, because there aren’t any plans available. And you can’t buy one, unless you make a deal with Jim, and I don’t think he intends to let go of this one any time soon.

Eastern TBM-1 Avenger - History

Off Cape Cod – July 19, 1944

U.S. Navy TBM Avengers
National Archives Photo

At about 10:45 p.m., on the night of July 19, 1944, an unspecified number of navy airplanes were conducting night training maneuvers off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, when two aircraft, both TBM-1C Avengers, were involved in a mid-air collision.

One plane, (Bu. No. 45716), was able to make it back safely to Otis Air Field in Falmouth, Massachusetts the other, (Bu. No. 45706), plunged into the sea and both men aboard were lost and never recovered. They were identified as:

(Pilot) Ensign Leo Henry Reimers, 22, of Yamhill, Oregon. There is a memorial to Ensign Reimers in Willamette National Cemetery, in Portland, Oregon. To see a photo, and learn more information about Ensign Reimers, see www.findagrave.com, Memorial, # 36351469.)

Aviation Radioman 3/c Herbert W. Burke, of Milton, Oregon.

The Register-Guard, (Eugene, Ore.), “Two Oregon Fliers Lost Off Cape Cod.”

“The first behemoth to fall victim to the Avengers’ attacks was the Musashi, a 67,000-ton battleship that sunk after nineteen hits.”

It almost never fails that heads turn and cameras flash as the powerful R-2600 engine of the TBM Avenger roars to life. This is the same roar echoed off countless carrier decks throughout the world over fifty years ago. Constructed in 1940 as a replacement for the obsolete Douglas TBD Devastator, Grumman’s team ended up creating one of the most influential aircraft of the Second World War.

The Avenger’s line of service began when a group of six Avengers took off on June 4th, 1942 as part of the Battle of Midway. Unfortunately, all but one of the six Avengers launched were shot down. This bloody initiation into combat caused the Navy to lose faith in the potential of the Avenger and the idea of torpedo attacks as a whole. However, after this harsh baptism under fire, the TBM would prove its lethal ability while it fought in every carrier-versus-carrier battle of the war.

While the Avenger had many successes in its combat career, there are a few that standout. At the Battle of Guadalcanal, the Avengers scored several key hits on the battleship Hiei. Later, in the 1944 Battle of the Philippine Sea, the Avengers prevailed in a duel against the carrier Hiyo, which sank shortly after several torpedo hits. Yet, the real victories for the Avenger occurred in 1945 when the world’s two largest battleships were sunk as a direct result of torpedo attacks. The first behemoth to fall victim to the Avengers’ attacks was the Musashi, a 67,000-ton battleship that sunk after nineteen hits. Next, the Yamato, which was the sister ship of the Musashi and former flagship of Admiral Yamamoto, mastermind of the Pearl Harbor attack, was sunk after ten torpedo hits. Accordingly, it is quite safe to state that the Avengers lived up to their name-avenging the attack on Pearl Harbor.

After WWII, the Avengers served in several training squadrons and were also modified to be carrier onboard delivery aircraft (COD). Later, the TBM’s were even modified as first-generation early-warning aircraft. Through these roles, the Avengers helped to continue their mission of preserving freedom until they were retired from United States naval service in 1954.

Across America, generations of young Americans are growing up without much knowledge regarding the history of Word War Two. Accordingly, much of the sacrifice and undertakings of the people during the Second World War is being forgotten. We have taken it upon themselves to restore aircraft like the TBM so that people across the nation may better understand their history and those that participated in it. Therefore, when the TBM roars to life and takes off, it is not merely just an old airplane. It is a memorial to the thousands of people who worked and fought to preserve our way of life.

*The TBM is on the premises in Massachusetts and can be viewed during special events and by appointment only. Call the office for details.

The American Heritage Museum at the Collings Foundation featuring the Jacques M. Littlefield Collection explores major conflicts ranging from the Revolutionary War until today. Visitors discover and interact with our American heritage through the history, the changing technology, and the Human Impact of America’s fight to preserve the freedom we all hold dear.

American Heritage Museum
568 Main Street
Hudson, MA 01749

Eastern TBM-1 Avenger - History

Hobby Boss 1/48 TBF-1C Avenger

Kit #80314 MSRP $74.95 $63.70 from Great Models Web Store
Images and text Copyright © 2010 by Matt Swan with scale commentary by Gaston Marty

Developmental Background
The Avenger was one of the most famous aircraft of WWII in Navy service and rapidly displaced the obsolete Devastator aboard US carriers. Originally designed as a carrier-based torpedo bomber by Grumman Aircraft, the Avenger found use as a close-support bomber and patrol aircraft. From the Guadalcanal landings in August 1942 until the end of the Pacific War it remained the only shipboard torpedo aircraft of the US Navy and was known as the largest single-engine, carrier-based aircraft of WWII.
The order for two prototypes was placed on 8 April 1940 and first aircraft was flown on August 1st 1941. The first three-seat Grumman TBF-1 Avengers went into service just less than one year later. The US Navy's demands for Grumman production of the F6F Hellcat fighter led to manufacture of the Avenger being taken over by Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors - the GM-produced aircraft being designated the "TBM". Those manufactured by Grumman were designated “TBF”.
On the afternoon of December 7, 1941, Grumman held a ceremony to open its new Plant 2 in Bethpage and to display the new torpedo bomber to the public. During the program, Grumman vice president Clint Towl was notified that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor but no announcement was made and the festivities continued. The new plane first saw action on 4 June 1942 against the Japanese carrier striking force at the Battle of Midway - only six Avengers were involved, operating from Midway Island. Five of the six were shot down, the surviving plane returned to Midway severely damaged and with its gunner dead but it demonstrated the Avenger’s toughness, and it was immediately apparent that its battle-worthiness justified its production in great numbers.
The Avenger took part in every carrier-versus-carrier battle and almost all carrier operations from Midway onwards, working from every fast carrier and escort carrier of the Pacific Fleet and from land bases. For almost all of this time it operated as a bomber, a search aircraft and as an anti-submarine aircraft, rather than as a torpedo-plane. As a torpedo-plane it was initially hampered by the many serious defects in the American torpedoes however in the Battle of Leyte Gulf the Avenger achieved one of its most notable successes by sinking the Japanese battleship Musash after delivering nineteen hits.
The Avenger's virtues, especially its ruggedness, reliability, and stability as a weapons platform, ensured it a remarkably long operational history. It in fact remained in service - as an anti-submarine, search-and-rescue aircraft, an all-weather night bomber and an electronic countermeasures platform - until 1954. Until recently, at least one aerial firefighting operation used Avengers as fire bombers and/or fire spotters over the woods of Canada.
During its career it was known by many names: Chuff, Turkey, Pregnant Beast or Tarpon (RAF). No matter what it was called it was a widely used aircraft and was produced in great numbers with 7546 being manufactured by General Motors and 2290 manufactured by Grumman. Today, according to Warbird Alley, there are at least 42 of these amazing aircraft still airworthy.

The Kit
I think the first question that rose in many modelers minds when this kit was released was ‘do we really need another Avenger kit?’ Really, was the Accurate Miniatures kit not pretty darned good? Maybe the question should have been ‘what can be better than what we have now?’ or ‘what inaccuracies that I suffered previously have been resolved?’ Sadly the answers provided by the Trumpeter kit do not adequately resolve any of these questions. One thing the Trumpeter kit gives us that the earlier AM kit did not was folded wings. Admittedly you could buy an aftermarket wing fold kit for the Accurate Miniatures package and by that time you would have a comparable total kit cost so no great gain here. Before I talk about the actual physical plastic let’s take a moment and review some of the accuracy issues that were evident with the AM kit and whether they have been addressed in the Trumpeter kit or now.
First let me say that I don’t think there is any kit on the market of any subject that is completely accurate. There will always be some detail that the kit manufacture simply did not get right, sometimes these are minor while others they are glaringly obvious. As the modeler we need to decide what is acceptable or not on an individual basis. For many modelers if it looks like your intended subject, that is good enough. It may not matter that the model is 3 scale inches too long, has five spokes on a rim rather than four or has an extra row of rivets. For others this could be a deal breaker.

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My general modeling philosophy is “if it looks like a ------ then it’s good enough for me” providing of course that there are no really glaring errors. What exactly a glaring error is can be pretty subjective though so let’s visit or resident rivet counter, Gaston Marty and see just how this kit compares with published drawing.

Compared to the Accurate Miniatures kit (which has it’s own issues) the Hobby Boss TBM-3 demonstrates the correct prop and likely better side profile but the top and bottom intakes are far too proportionally deep or narrow, which would be very labor-intensive to fix.
There are no really good TBM-3 cowls or resin correction options, so the easy choices are limited to TBF-1 variants:

HB TBF-1: This cowling is the only one that appears to be correct.

Actual dimensions. (All from CAF TBM-3 pilot Rob Duncan)

Wing chord at root: 140" actual= 3556 mm= 1/48th: 74.0 mm

Wing chord at outer aileron edge: 59" actual= 1498 mm= 1/48th: 31.2 mm

Wing uppermost root point to canopy base: 29.0" actual= 736 mm= 1/48th: 15.3 mm

Actual aircraft front canopy bottom width: 38.5" actual= 978 mm= 1/48th: 20.3 mm.

Front canopy top frame cross-section width: 22" actual= 558 mm= 1/48th: 11.6 mm.

The Hobby Boss canopy is deceptive 22-23 mm on-sprue which in fact flexes down easily to the needed fuselage width of 20.5-20.6 mm. The Hobby Boss front canopy top frame comes in at 11.2 mm.

Decals and Instructions
Kit instructions consist of three separate sheets, two that are black and white multi-panel fold-outs and a single double sided full color glossy sheet. The fold-out sheets contain fourteen individual panels with lots of exploded view assembly steps. Part numbers are all clearly identified and there are some limited color call-outs. The full color sheet includes a fair paint code chart and displays decal placement instructions for three different aircraft.
The decal sheet is large and adequate for the three aircraft shown however does not include any instrument markings or seatbelt material. Color density is good, print registry looks spot on however the blue background appears nearly black which in my eyes is a little dark.

This kit looks pretty intimidating on paper as does the Accurate Miniatures kit, there are lots of little parts and layers upon layers of detail to deal with. I began with the interior floor pans painting them dark green then highlighting them with interior green. The engine cylinder banks were done with Alclad steel and highlighted with silver. The kit ignition harness really sucked so I simply cut it off and replaced it with medium magnet wire pieces cut to length – this dramatically improved the looks of the power-plant. The seatbelts were cut from the decal sheet and applied with the paper backing in place to give them a little more depth. The aft gun turret proved to be a real challenge being very fiddly and is also difficult to install in the fuselage.

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Watch the video: Eastern Aircraft TBM Avenger Part 1- Mid-Atlantic Air Museum (May 2022).