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Avenger file photo [11]

TBF Avenger

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

Contributor:

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 Avengers and FM-2 Wildcats 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 FM-2 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 (Kapitänleutnant 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 Avenger’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) “Zeke” 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 Card’s escorts, destroyer USS Borie, picked up all 44 survivors. During the recovery operation, Borie’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 “Milchkau” 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.
12 Oct 1943 Lt(jg) Leston “Sam” Balliett piloting a TBF Avenger flying from USS Card attacked a refueling operation between German submarines U-488 (“Milchkau”) 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 “attacked as submarine submerged and sank it.” 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) Leston “Sam” 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.
23 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 a Mark 24 FIDO acoustic homing torpedo against the diving 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 submarine’s hull. I-44 was lost with all 130 hands plus four Kaiten pilots.

SPECIFICATIONS

TBF-1
MachineryOne Wright R-2600-8 radial engine rated at 1,700hp
Armament3x7.62mm machine guns, 1x900kg torpedo or 900kg of bombs
Crew3
Span16.51 m
Length12.48 m
Height5.00 m
Wing Area45.52 m²
Weight, Empty4,580 kg
Weight, Loaded7,214 kg
Speed, Maximum445 km/h
Rate of Climb10.50 m/s
Service Ceiling7,132 m
Range, Normal1,600 km
Range, Maximum1,950 km

TBM-3E
MachineryOne Wright R-2600-20 radial engine rated at 1,900hp
Armament2x7.62mm machine guns, 3x12.7mm machine guns, 1x900kg torpedo or 900kg of bombs
Crew3
Span16.51 m
Length12.48 m
Height5.00 m
Wing Area45.52 m²
Weight, Empty4,787 kg
Weight, Loaded8,117 kg
Speed, Maximum430 km/h
Rate of Climb10.50 m/s
Service Ceiling9,174 m
Range, Normal1,600 km
Range, Maximum1,950 km

Photographs

US Navy pilot Ensign C. V. Interior view of the ventral gun position of a TBM Avenger, 1942
See all 270 photographs of TBF Avenger Torpedo Bomber



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Visitor Submitted Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking for any information on Chief Aviation Pilot (CAP) Stanley W. Tumosa ln VT-5 or perhaps VF-5-killed 19 March onboard Franklin.
14. Carlos says:
25 Jan 2015 01:00:21 PM

Would like to know survival rate of TBF Avenger crews during the war.
15. TBM Pilot says:
16 Aug 2015 10:20:42 AM

With nearly 10,000 Avengers delivered, and over 46,000 combat sorties flown, the total losses were only 729 aircraft. The Avenger may be considered one of the safer places to be. The losses came from 422 Anti-aircraft fire, 47 Aerial combat, and 260 Operational (bad landings, mechanical failures and such) per USN records
16. TBM Pilot says:
17 Aug 2015 03:52:26 PM

I did not mention that the prior statistics are those on an "action sortie" against enemy forces. There were 662 additional losses which may be on ferrying flights, training, etc. This is quite typical for WWII aircraft. They did not have today's flight simulators and modern training aids so it was quite dangerous. You might read http://www.wwiifoundation.org/students/wwii-aircraft-facts/ for details.
17. Pilot's Daughter says:
16 Oct 2016 04:27:48 PM

How many men Naval pilots were trained on TBM Avengers? Is there a list of names somewhere in the government records?
18. Commenter identity confirmed David Stubblebine says:
16 Oct 2016 04:48:37 PM

To Pilot’s Daughter above:
Thousands of men were trained to fly the TBM. There was never a need to compile a single list of pilots trained to fly the TBM so no such list exists. If you want to know about your father’s service, request his service record (which is easier than it sounds). See: http://www.archives.gov/research/military/ww2/ww2-participation.pdf
19. gary says:
21 May 2017 06:11:18 AM

Were any Avengers converted to dual-control, and thus be able to be controlled from the seat behind the pilot (co-pilot)?
20. Dick Cosbie says:
16 Mar 2021 05:26:11 PM

Trying to find out the tail number of my cousin plane TBF #22889 shot down over Chi Chi Jima 2/18/1945. He and his crew were members of VT-82 aboard the USS Bennington.
21. Richard VS says:
8 Apr 2021 09:30:44 PM

Lieut. T. G. Bondurant was my uncle Tom Ryan's commander of a TBF/M group in 1944/45. Wish I could determine which carrier he was on then.

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TBF Avenger Torpedo Bomber Photo Gallery
US Navy pilot Ensign C. V. Interior view of the ventral gun position of a TBM Avenger, 1942
See all 270 photographs of TBF Avenger Torpedo Bomber


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