Prior to the start of the U.S. involvement in World War II, Grumman Aircraft answered a call to produce a new U.S. Navy carrier based torpedo bomber. We are told that the Grumman Avenger went from design in March of 1941 to its first flight in August of 1941, just five months later.
It was the largest single engine airplane in service at the start of WW II. Pilots called the Grumman Avenger "Turkey" due to its homely looks, yet they liked it for its ruggedness.
The three person crew of the Grumman Avenger consists of a pilot, turret gunner, and navigator. Just behind the wing on the right side of the aircraft is a door to the rear fuselage. The area generally holds equipment, flares, ammunition, and parachutes. The navigator has a folding seat from which he could man a .30 cal. machine gun in the dorsal of the aircraft, facing rearward, or face forward to perform other duties, including aiming for medium altitude level bombing. The cockpit is large with excellent visibility for the pilot.
Legend has it that the Grumman Avenger was named for avenging the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In actuality, it had already been named in October of 1941, two months prior to the attack. However, the Avenger certainly lived up to its name.
The Grumman Avenger first saw action in mid-1942 after which it participated in virtually every major action in the Pacific. Unfortunately, only six Grumman Avenger aircraft were deployed to Midway when the Japanese attacked. Five of the aircraft were downed, and the one that returned to base was no longer flyable. The Grumman Avenger is credited with the sinking of the Japanese battleships Hiei, Musahi, Yamato, the aircraft carrier Ryujo, up to 32 enemy submarines, more than 60 warships, and countless other shipping.
The Grumman Avenger was the first single engine U.S. Navy aircraft that carried the deadly Mark 13 torpedo along with bombs, depth charges, and rockets. It is the first U.S. Navy aircraft to be equipped with a power operated gun turret.
The Grumman Avenger torpedo bomber was also used by the U.S.M.C., and numerous U.S. allies, including the Canadian Navy, and the Royal Navy.
The Royal Navy received some 402 Grumman Avenger aircraft under "Lend Lease". They were first called Tarpon, but eventually were renamed Avenger. The first Avenger Squadron, No. 832, was based on board the HMS Victorious starting in February of 1943.
Grumman Avenger TBM-3 aircraft, designated Avenger Mk II, were delivered to the Royal Navy in April of 1944. Avenger torpedo bombers remained in Royal Navy service through 1947. Anti-submarine versions of the Grumman Avenger, with the British designation AS Mk IV and AS Mk V, were deployed by the Royal Navy in 1953. The aircraft were eventually sold to the French Navy in 1958.
The Royal Canadian Navy dispatched Grumman Avenger aircraft for anti-submarine warfare beginning in 1951. Eight Avenger aircraft with the Royal Canadian Air Force were used for Airborne Early Warning beginning in 1955.
In 1945 New Zealand acquired two squadrons of Grumman Avenger aircraft. Some were used in a program for increasing crop yields in Japan by the aerial spraying of fertilizer. Other aircraft were used for target towing, while the remainder operated from South Pacific island bases as bombers. During 1947 Grumman Avenger aircraft were used by New Zealand for aerial seed sowing and fertilizing. The auxiliary fuel tank of the aircraft was converted into a hopper. Between its bomb bay and hopper, the aircraft carried a total of 2,240 lbs. of fertilizer.
When World War II ended, a number of Grumman Avenger aircraft were enlisted as air tankers. Their ability to maneuver and dive at relatively slow speeds with heavy loads made them particularly suited to the task. Most were converted to be equipped with a 600 gallon retardant tank.
Grumman Avenger air tankers continued in operation in the U. S. until 1973 when they started being replaced by more modern airplanes. To date some of the air tankers continue to operate in Canada.
A total of 7,546 Grumman Avenger TBM aircraft were manufactured by General Motors under license. Grumman manufactured an additional 2,290 Grumman Avenger TBF aircraft.
Grumman Avenger used for spraying.
Post War Grumman Avenger Aircraft:
Glenn McBride writes: "Just thought you'd like to see the picture of a Grumman Avenger TBM outfitted for insecticide spraying operations in New Brunswick, Canada. These were used from the late 50's to the late 90's to stop the spread of budworms in pine trees (as well as water bombing). In 1971 there were more than 40 aircraft operational".
Pictured above is the Grumman Avenger from a Dare Hobbies kit. It has a 41" wing span and a length of 30". Recommended power is a MPI geared 280 motor.
We have seen a Grumman Avenger with a 48" wingspan sold by NitroPlanes, but don't know if it is still available.
The Grumman Avenger built by Errol Wilson has a wingspan of 124". Errol powers it with a Quadra 200 engine. All up weight is 55 lbs.
Scott Vickery's Grumman Avenger is built from a Skyshark kit. Wingspan is 72". It is 1/9 scale and has an all up weight of 12 lbs. Scott powers it with a Saito 100 engine. Skyshark recommends two stroke engines in the .60 to .89 range.
The Grumman Avenger built by Firebar of RCGroups wingspan is 108". The length is 80". It is from a Charles Kellog design sold by Precision Cut Kits. Materials used are balsa and plywood. It is powered by a 3W 75i US engine. All up weight is 38 lbs.
Easy Tiger Models Grumman Avenger wingspan is 81" and weight is about 15 lbs. You can use either motor or engine power for the scale rc model airplane. It has a glass fuse, built up wings, and retractable landing gear.
Please email us if you can recommend another Grumman Avenger.