The Grumman TBF Avenger, initially facing setbacks at the Battle of Midway, emerged as the U.S. Navy's primary torpedo bomber during World War II. Despite a challenging debut where five out of six TBF-1 Avengers from Torpedo Squadron (VT) 8 were shot down, the surviving aircraft provided crucial insights for improvements. With a total production of 9,836 units, General Motors Eastern Aircraft Division contributed significantly, producing 7,546 TBMs. Ordered by the Navy in April 1940 as a replacement for the outdated Douglas TBD Devastator, the XTBF-1's maiden flight occurred in August 1941. By December of that year, the first production TBF-1 joined the fleet, and by January 1942, 145 TBFs had been delivered. The initial combat experience at Midway highlighted vulnerabilities, prompting necessary enhancements for better survivability. As wartime demands increased, Grumman shifted focus to the XF6F Hellcat, outsourcing F4F Wildcat and TBF Avenger production to General Motors' Eastern Aircraft Division. The GM plants in New York, New Jersey, and Maryland played a pivotal role, producing 18,000 aircraft by war's end, including 7,546 TBMs. The Avenger's versatility proved crucial as torpedo attacks diminished due to improved anti-aircraft defenses. It adapted to roles such as reconnaissance, antisubmarine operations, light transport, medical evacuation, and close air support. The British, following their tradition of naming torpedo planes after fish, referred to the TBF/TBM as the "Tarpon." Despite its challenging start, the Grumman TBF Avenger became a stalwart contributor to Allied airpower, leaving a lasting legacy in the annals of aviation history.


Manufacturer: General Motors Eastern Aircraft Division

Type: Torpedo bomber

Crew: Pilot, gunner, and radio operator/bombardier

Powerplant: One 1,900 hp Wright R-2600-20

Dimensions: Length: 40 ft., 11 in.

Height: 16 ft., 5 in. Wingspan: 54 ft., 2 in. Wing area: 490 sq. ft. Weight: Empty: 10,545 lb.

Maximum: 17,895 lb. Performance: Max Speed: 276 mph at 16,500 ft.

Cruise Speed: 147 mph

Climb Rate: 2,060 ft./min.

Ceiling: 30,100 ft.

Range: 1,010 miles Armament: Two .50-in. forward-firing machine guns; one .50-in. dorsal gun; one .30-in. ventral gun.; 2,000 lb. bomb/torpedo load. Also capable of carrying the Norden bombsight for level bombing.

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