|Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation
|1 August 1941
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseThe 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.
ww2dbaseGeorge 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.
ww2dbaseJim 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."
ww2dbaseSome 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.
ww2dbaseSources: Inferno, Wikipedia.
Last Major Revision: Oct 2007
TBF Avenger Timeline
|1 Aug 1941
|Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo bomber took flight for the first time.
|14 Jul 1943
|TBF-1 Avenger aircraft flown by Lt(jg) John Ballantine flying from USS Santee in the Atlantic south of the Azores attacked the surfaced German submarine U-160 using Mark 24 FIDO acoustic homing torpedoes. U-160 was lost with all 57 hands.
|15 Jul 1943
|Different groups of TBF-1 Avenger aircraft and F4F Wildcats flying from USS Santee in the mid-Atlantic made two separate attacks on surfaced German submarines using Mark 24 FIDO acoustic homing torpedoes each with underwater explosions reported. Only U-509 was reported lost in this area on this date.
|26 Jul 1943
|While underway in Chesapeake Bay for the day, escort carrier USS Card landed TBF-1 Avengers and F4F-4Wildcats of Composite Squadron VC-1.
|30 Jul 1943
|TBF-1 Avenger aircraft from USS Santee in the Atlantic southwest of the Azores attacked the surfaced German submarine U-43 using Mark 24 FIDO acoustic homing torpedoes. U-43 was lost with all 55 hands.
|3 Aug 1943
|US Navy Lt(jg) Zeke Cormier flying a TBF Avenger from escort carrier USS Card dropped two depth charges and one Mark 24 FIDO on what was believed to be a German submarine in the mid-Atlantic. One submarine was reported sunk but this was never confirmed.
|7 Aug 1943
|In a coordinated attack by six TBF-1 Avenger torpedo bombers and four F4F-4 Wildcat fighters with Composite Squadron VC-1 flying from USS Card, German supply submarine U-117 was sunk with Mark 24 FIDO acoustic homing torpedoes. U-117 had been supplying U-66 in the mid-Atlantic when both were caught on the surface by Lt(jg) A.H. Sallenger in his Avenger. U-117 was sunk and U-66 was likely damaged.
|8 Aug 1943
|In poor weather with heavy swell south of Greenland, German submarine U-262 (KapitĂ¤nleutnant Rudolf Heinz Franke) was awaiting refueling from U-664 whilst U-760 was being supplied. At 1010 hours, a TBF Avenger aircraft and F4F Wildcat aircraft from escort carrier USS Card located the submarines and attacked. The Wildcat strafed the decks of U-262 while the Avenger approached with depth charges. The gunners aboard U-262 hit both attackers. The Wildcat crashed, killing Ensign John F. Sprague. The Avengerâ€™s bomb bay was hit, jamming the release mechanism. The Avenger pilot, Lt(jg) Asbury H. Sallenger pulled away, and was hit again in the starboard wing. The crew manually released two depth charges (damaging U-262 with a near-miss) and jettisoned a Mark 24 FIDO torpedo, and Sallenger made a water landing. Sallenger and the gunner survived, but the radio operator went down with the aircraft. The two survivors were spotted by another aircraft from USS Card and were picked up by destroyer USS Barry in the afternoon. TBF Avenger pilots Lt(jg) C.R. Stapler and Lt(jg) â€śZekeâ€ť Cormier dropped additional Mark 24 FIDO torpedoes on a moving oil slick that was likely from the damaged U-262, but results were unobserved. U-262, though damaged, made her way back to base. In a separate attack, companion German submarine U-664 launched three torpedoes at USS Card under the cover of darkness. There were no explosions and USS Card reports make no mention of this, indicating Card was unaware of the attack. Planes from Card would sink U-664 the next day.
|9 Aug 1943
|TBF-1 Avengers and F4F-4 Wildcats from escort carrier USS Card attacked German submarine U-664 in the mid-Atlantic using 500-pound bombs, depth charges, and machine gun fire. The submarine was crippled and began to sink. Seven or eight of her crew were killed (sources differ) and 44 abandon ship. Once darkness fell, seven hours after the attack, one of Cardâ€™s escorts, destroyer USS Borie, picked up all 44 survivors. During the recovery operation, Borieâ€™s log reported five different torpedo wakes passing close aboard the ship. The U-664 survivors would be transferred to USS Card the following day.
|11 Aug 1943
|TBF-1 Avenger aircraft and F4F-4 Wildcats flying from USS Card in the mid-Atlantic attacked the surfaced German submarine U-525 using two depth charges and one Mark 24 FIDO acoustic homing torpedo. U-525 was lost with all 54 hands.
|27 Aug 1943
|TBF-1 Avenger aircraft flying from USS Card in the mid-Atlantic launched two separate attacks on two separate German submarines using Mark 24 FIDO acoustic homing torpedoes. U-508 was damaged but escaped and U-847 was sunk with all 62 hands.
|4 Oct 1943
|A TBF Avenger patrol aircraft with Composite Squadron VC-9 from Hunter-Killer escort carrier USS Card discovered German submarines U-264, U-422, and U-455 refueling from â€śMilchkauâ€ť U-460 on the surface of the Atlantic 440 miles north of the Azores. Attacking with aerial depth charges and one Mark 24 FIDO acoustic homing torpedo, U-422 was sunk immediately while the other three submarines submerged. As more aircraft and escort ships arrived in the area, a hunt for the other submarines ensued resulting in U-460 being sunk by aerial depth charges about seven miles away. U-264 and U-455 got away but U-264 was damaged. By breaking up this gathering of submarines, Convoy UGS-19 and its 102 merchant ships was able to safely pass through this area and complete its crossing from the United States to North Africa.
|12 Oct 1943
|Lt(jg) Letson â€śSamâ€ť Balliett piloting a TBF Avenger flying from USS Card attacked a refueling operation between German submarines U-488 (â€śMilchkauâ€ť) and U-402 in the mid-Atlantic using one Mark 24 FIDO acoustic homing torpedo. Although this attack claimed one sinking, both submarines escaped with only minimal or no damage. Later, another TBF Avenger from Card flown by Lt(jg) Doty attacked and damaged U-731.
|13 Oct 1943
|TBF Avengers flying from USS Card attacked and sank German Type VIIC submarine U-402 in the mid-Atlantic using the Mark 24 FIDO acoustic homing torpedo.
|30 Oct 1943
|TBF-1 Avenger from escort carrier USS Card flown by Lt(jg) Fryatt sighted a German submarine on the surface in the mid-Atlantic. He reported that he â€śattacked as submarine submerged and sank it.â€ť No German submarine was lost on this date in this area and there is no report of a similar attack (but within two days, two different U-Boats were lost almost on this spot so the attack could have been against one of these who had no chance to file a report about it).
|31 Oct 1943
|TBF-1 Avenger aircraft flying from USS Card in the mid-Atlantic flown by Lt(jg) W.S. Fowler and Lt(jg) Letson â€śSamâ€ť Balliett launched a coordinated attack on German submarine U-584 using Mark 24 FIDO acoustic homing torpedoes. U-584 was lost with all 53 hands. U-91 was also attacked at the same rendezvous point but escaped unharmed.
|2 Nov 1943
|USS Card escort USS Borie suffered 27 dead in the ramming of U-256 the day before and was damaged so badly that she could not be towed. Borie was scuttled by gunfire and torpedoes from USS Barry as well as three aerial bombs from a TBF Avenger from Card.
|12 Dec 1943
|TBF Avengers from USS Bogue attacked the surfaced German submarine U-172 in the eastern Atlantic using Mark 24 FIDO acoustic homing torpedoes. U-172 evaded the attack but a 27-hour running battle followed.
|20 Dec 1943
|TBF Avengers from USS Bogue attacked the surfaced German submarine U-850 in the eastern Atlantic with Mark 24 FIDO acoustic homing torpedoes. The U-850 was lost with all 66 hands.
|24 Jun 1944
|Acting on intelligence intercepts, Hunter-Killer carrier USS Bogue attempted to intercept the meeting between German submarine U-530 and Japanese submarine I-52 in the mid-Atlantic as I-52 was transiting to Germany with 21,000kg of precious metals and other intelligence cargo. A TBM Avenger from Bogue located I-52 on the surface but not U-530. Launching Mark 24 FIDO acoustic homing torpedoes against the submarine, I-52 was sunk with all 109 aboard.
|25 Jun 1944
|Task Group 22.10 (TG 22.10) was formed at Norfolk, Virginia as an anti-submarine Hunter-Killer group centered around escort carrier USS Card with the TBM-1C Avengers and FM-2 Wildcats of Composite Squadron VC-12 embarked and screened by destroyer escorts USS Baker, Bronstein, Thomas, Breeman, and Bostwick. TG 22.10 departed Norfolk bound for the Central Atlantic that same day.
|2 Jul 1944
|Acting on intelligence intercepts, escort carrier USS Wake Island attempted to intercept a German submarine making her way home from an unsuccessful patrol in the Gulf of Guinea. At 2145 hours local time, the TBM-1C Avenger aircraft flown by Ensign Frederick Moore sighted the surfaced U-543 off the coast of Africa between the Canary and the Cape Verde Islands. U-543 fired on the airplane and landed three hits from her 20mm guns. Ensign Moore attacked with two depth charges and one Mark 24 FIDO acoustic homing torpedo, sinking the submarine with all 58 hands.
|31 Jul 1944
|TBM Avengers from escort carrier USS Card dropped sonobuoys on an oil slick in the mid-Atlantic and detected propeller cavitation noises. Two Mark 24 FIDO homing torpedoes were dropped with one confirmed underwater explosion. No confirmation of a submarine was obtained.
|6 Aug 1944
|TBM Avengers from escort carrier USS Card detected submarine noises from sonobuoys in the mid-Atlantic and launched two Mark 24 FIDO homing torpedoes with one confirmed underwater explosion. No confirmation of a submarine was obtained.
|18 Sep 1944
|Task Group 22.2 (TG 22.2) was formed at Norfolk, Virginia as an anti-submarine Hunter-Killer group centered around escort carrier USS Card with the TBM Avengers and FM-2 Wildcats of Composite Squadron VC-8 embarked and screened by destroyer escorts USS Baker, Bronstein, Thomas, Breeman, Coffman, and Bostwick. TG 22.2 departed Norfolk bound for the Central Atlantic that same day.
|28 Sep 1944
|While bound from Bordeaux, France for Penang, Malaya, German submarine U-219 was attacked on the surface in the Central Atlantic by TBM Avenger and FM-2 Wildcat aircraft from Composite Squadron VC-6 off carrier USS Tripoli. The air attack consisted of strafing, rockets, depth charges and Mark 24 FIDO acoustic homing torpedoes but U-219 escaped, but not before fighting back and destroying one Avenger.
|26 Feb 1945
|45 miles west of Iwo Jima, Japanese submarine I-368 was spotted on the surface by US Navy Lt(jg) F.M. Fay flying a TBM-1C Avenger from USS Anzio. The Avenger released a Mark 24 FIDO acoustic homing torpedo and I-368 was lost with all 86 hands.
|31 Mar 1945
|In the Philippine Sea, Japanese submarine I-361 with its deck loaded with five Kaitens was spotted on the surface by US Navy Lt(jg) Sam Stovall flying a TBM-3E Avenger from USS Anzio. The Avenger released a Mark 24 FIDO acoustic homing torpedo and I-361 was lost with all 76 hands plus the five Kaiten pilots.
|29 Apr 1945
|Between Okinawa and Iwo Jima, Lt(jg) Donald Davis flying a TBM-3 Avenger with Composite Squadron VC-92 from USS Tulagi attacked Japanese submarine I-44 running on the surface with six Kaitens on her deck. Davis dropped one depth charge and one Mark 24 FIDO acoustic homing torpedo that exploded against the crash-diving submarineâ€™s hull. I-44 was lost with all 130 hands plus four Kaiten pilots.
|One Wright R-2600-8 radial engine rated at 1,700hp
|3x7.62mm machine guns, 1x900kg torpedo or 900kg of bombs
|Rate of Climb
|One Wright R-2600-20 radial engine rated at 1,900hp
|2x7.62mm machine guns, 3x12.7mm machine guns, 1x900kg torpedo or 900kg of bombs
|Rate of Climb
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George Patton, 31 May 1944