Grumman TBF / TBM Avenger
Two prototypes designated XTBF-1 were ordered on 8 April 1940, the first flying on 1 August 1941. The engine was a Wright R-2600-8 Cyclone 14-cylinder two-row radial rated at 1700 hp driving a Hamilton Hydromatic propellor. The extremely large wings folded to the rear about skewed hinges so that they lay along the sides of the fuselage, upper surfaces outwards. The main landing gear had a wide track yet retracted outwards into the wings. The fuselage accommodated a crew of three and an internal weapons bay, and the defensive and offensive armament was well planned. The pilot dropped the short 55.9-cm (22-in) torpedo, 907-kg (2000-lb) bomb or other internal load, fired the fixed guns (one 7.7-mm Browning in the upper right of the nose, and in the TBF-1C and nearly all subsequent versions two 12.7-mm in the outer wings) and rockets (eight 27.2-kg in the TBM-3). The bomb-aimer sat in the lower fuselage behind the weapon bay, helped with navigation, sighted the torpedo or bombs in level bombing and manned the 7.7-mm machine-gun in the rear ventral position. In the electrically-operated turret with its 12.7-mm gun sat the radio operator and turret gunner.
In December 1940 the US Navy placed an initial order for 286, subsequently multiplied, and deliveries began in January 1942 to VT-8. The same squadron took their TBF-1 Avengers into action for the first time during the Battle of Midway, where they did great damage for little loss, while 35 of the 41 old TBDs were shot down in a single engagement. By December 1943 Grumman had delivered 2293 Avengers, most of them being TBF-1Cs with the wing guns and provision for two under-wing drop tanks. The Royal Navy received 402 of these Grumman-built aircraft (for the first six months calling them Grumman Tarpons), with the US Lend/Lease designation of TBF-1B and the British name Avenger I. The first squadron, Fleet Air Arm No 832, was in action at the Battle of the Solomon Islands in June 1943, aboard the US carrier Saratoga. A further 63 TBF-IBs were supplied to the RNZAF.
So important was the Avenger that a second source was arranged, to boost rate of output. As with the Wildcat fighter this second manufacturer was Eastern Aircraft division of General Motors. Between September 1942 and April 1944 Eastern delivered 2882 TBM-1 and -1C Avengers, almost identical to the Grumman -1 and -1C, and 334 TBM-1 were designated Avenger II when supplied to the Royal Navy.
In early 1943 Grumman built an XTBF-3 prototype with 1900-hp R-2600-20 engine. This version subsequently became the standard production Avenger, all made by East-ern Aircraft (Grumman concentrating on the F6F Hellcat fighter). Between April 1944 and August 1945 Eastern delivered 4664 of this more powerful TBM-3 model, which also carried more fuel, had stronger wings equip-ped to carry drop tanks, radar or rocket projectiles, and in most aircraft had the turret removed. The Royal Navy received 222 designated Avenger III.
The TBM-3E, almost the same as the earlier TBF, had a fuselage stretch of around one foot and a more powerful engine.
In 1946 the Avenger was the first aircraft ever to carry early-warning (AEW) radar, the Project Cadillac set that became APS-20. This became a standard interim service type, designated TBM-3W and -3W2, with no tur-ret and rearranged interior. The TBM-3E was a post-war rebuild which was put back into ‘remanufacture production' during the Korean war, for the Royal Navy (100 Avenger AS.4), Royal Canadian Navy (115) and Aeronavale (96). The TBM-3S and -3S2 were antisubmarine strike versions for the Netherlands and Japan. The TBM-3U was a target-towing version, and the TBM-3R was a seven-seat COD (Carrier On-Board Delivery) transport.
958 served with the Royal Navy.
All models were powered by Wright R-2600 Cyclone engine.
A total of 9839 aircraft were built.
Avengers in service with the Royal Canadian Navy in 1955 were ex-U.S.N. aircraft, modified by Fairey Aviation of Canada. Some retain original ballshape gun turret at rear of glasshouse. Others are unarmed. All carry a radome cannister under starboard wing.
Royal Canadian Navy TBM-3
Engine: 1 x Wright R-2600-8 Cyclone 1700 hp.
Max speed: 278 mph / 445 kph.
Service ceiling: 22,600 ft / 6890 m.
Wing span: 54 ft 2 in / 16.5m
Width folded: 19 ft / 5.8 m.
Length: 40 ft / 12.2 m.
Height: 15 ft 5 in / 5 m.
Wing area: 490 sq.ft.
Empty wt: 10,600 lb.
MTOW: 7053 kg / 17,600 lb.
ROC: 1075 fpm / 376 m/min.
Range: 1450 km / 905 sm.
Armament: One .30 mg in cowling, one fixed .50 mg in each outer wing, one .50 mg in power-operated turret, one .30 mg in ventral hatch, bomb bay / one torpedo, one 2000 lb bomb or four 500 lb bombs
Engine: 1,750 h.p. Wright R2600-20
Wingspan: 54 ft. 2 in
Length: 40 ft. 11.5 in
Loaded weight: 16,761 lb
Max. speed: 261 mph
Ceiling: 22,600 ft.
Typical range: 1,130 miles at 151 mph
TBM-3 / TBF
Engine: Wright R-2600-20 Cyclone 14, 1726 hp / 1305kW
Span: 16.51 m (54 ft 2 in)
Length: 12.2 m (40 ft 0 in)
Height: 16 ft 5 in / 5.0 m
Wing area: 489.977 sq.ft / 45.52 sqm
Weight empty: 10105.5 lb / 4583.0 kg
Gross weight: 8278 kg (18 250 lb)
Max speed: 232 kts / 430 km/h (267 mph)
Cruising speed: 128 kts / 237 km/h / 147 mph
Service ceiling: 23392 ft / 7130 m
Wing loading: 37.31 lb/sq.ft / 182.00 kg/sq.m
Range: 982 nm / 1819 km
Armament: 3x MG cal.50 (12,7mm), 1x MG cal.30 (7,62mm), 907kg ord.
Engine: 1 x Wright R-2600-20 Cyclone