Eastern TBM-3 Avenger

Eastern TBM-3 Avenger

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Eastern TBM-3 Avenger

The Eastern TBM-3 Avenger was the second major version of the Avenger torpedo bomber to enter production, and had a more powerful engine than the earlier TBF-1/ TBM-1. The main problem with the Avenger dash-one was that it was underpowered. The 1,700hp engine had never been able to get it to its target speed of 300mph, and on the heavier -1C speed was further reduced, while a fully loaded take-off could be difficult.

The easiest way to solve this problem would have been to use a 2,000hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800, but all of these engines were allocated to fighter production. Instead Wright had to produce a more powerful version of their R-2600, coming up with the 1,900hp R-2600-10 and R-2600-20 engines. The -10 engine was used in the single XTBF-2 prototype, while the -20 was used in two Grumman-produced XTBF-3s (BuNo.24141 and 24341). These aircraft were very similar to late production -1Cs, but with extra cowl flaps and a second air scoop at the base of the cowl for the oil cooler.

These two prototypes were Grumman's last involvement with the Avenger. They were followed by four Eastern-built XTBM-3 prototypes, and then by 4,657 (or 4660) standard TBM-3s and TBM-3Es.

The TBM-3 was very similar to the TBM-1C. Most of the standard features of the new aircraft had been introduced during the -1C production run, including the use of zero-length rocket stubs under each wing instead of rocket rails. ASB radar with YAGI antenna were carried as standard equipment.


The first major production version, the basic -3 was virtually identical to the TBF/ TBM-1C other than the change of engine, carrying the same guns and payload as late production -1Cs.


The TBM-3D was similar to the -1D, carrying ASD-1 radar in a radome mounted on the leading edge of the right wing. The main scope was in the radio compartment, with a smaller scope in the pilot's cockpit. The armour and guns were often removed. The -3D was using during 1944 by groups on USS Enterprise and USS Saratoga and in smaller numbers on USS Independence.


The TBM-3E was the final major production version of the Avenger, and was lighter and thus faster than the standard -3.


The TBM-3H was a conversion of the TBM-3 with special surface search radar.


The TBM-3J was equipped for Arctic conditions, with de-icer shoes on all leading edges and more heaters.


The TBM-3L carried a retractable searchlight in its bomb bay and was used for anti-submarine warfare and air-sea rescue duties.


The TBM-3M was the designation given to aircraft modified to launch missiles during post-war missile development programmes.


The TBM-3N was a post-war night attack aircraft. The turret was removed and a new canopy installed, with the radar operator in an extended rear cockpit.


The TBM-3P was a photo-reconnaissance version of the Avenger with the cameras carried in the bomb bay.


The TBM-3Q was a post-war radar countermeasures aircraft, intended to jam enemy radar systems. The jamming equipment was carried in a large ventral radome similar to that on the -3W.


The TBM-3R was a transport and cargo aircraft designed to transport vital supplies and personnel to carriers at sea. It was produced during the Korean War by removing the turret, guns, bomb aiming equipment and armour from standard TBM-3s and TBM-3Es. A longer canopy was installed to cover the old turret position and seven seats were installed in the rear cockpit and radio operator's compartment. The bomb bay was modified to carry stretchers, while a special cargo basket was developed by a Chief Petty Officer with Fleet Aircraft Service Squadron Eleven in Japan. The Carrier On Board Delivery (COD) system was a great success and the TBM-3R was the first of a series of transport aircraft produced for this role.


The TBM-3S was a post-war anti-submarine warfare aircraft. The turret was removed and a new radar operator's position installed. The -3S carried its own AN/APS-4 radar, but normally operated alongside the TBM-3W radar early warning aircraft.


The TBM-3U was a generally utility version of the Avenger. Most interior fittings were removed, although the turret remained. The -3U was used as a target-tow, as a utility aircraft, a squadron hack and a light transport.


The TMB-3W was a radar-early warning aircraft developed during the Second World War but that didn't enter service until 1946, remaining in use the hunter part of hunter-killer anti-submarine teams with the -3S throughout the 1950s.

Grumman Eastern TBM Avenger Torpedo Bomber Specifications:

Length: 40 feet, 9 inches
54 feet, 2 inches
13 feet, 9 inches
Empty -10,500lbs Max Takeoff - 16,460lbs
Max Speed: 275mph
Cruise Speed: 150mph
Range: 1,100 miles
Service Ceiling: 23,000 feet
Fuel Capacity: 330 gallons
Powerplant: Wright R-2600 Cyclone 14 cylinder radial engine 1,900hp
Three 50cal Browning machine guns
1,200lb Bomb Load
First Flight : 1941
Cost: $

Although this aircraft is so clean you could eat off it the museum said this TBM Avenger Torpedo Bomber is airworthy. I would love to hear that Wright Cyclone fire up!

Eastern TBM-3 Avenger - History

Aircraft History
Built by General Motors, Eastern Aircraft Division during 1943. Constructors Number 3919. Delivered to the U.S. Navy.

During 1963 to 1972 owned by Central Air Service in Lewiston, Montana and registered in the United States as N7017C.

During May 1976 to 2002 operated by Forest Protection, Ltd. in Fredericton, New Brunswick and registered as C-GFPM. Used as an aerial tanker. Painted with white upper surfaces and gray lower surfaces and a red line with yellow wingtips and tail plus "Forest Protection, Ltd" in black on the rear fuselage with nose number 21. Retired during 2002.

In 2004, sold to Mr. Steve Searle and transported to Australia and restored at Coolangatta. Registered in Australia as VH-MML on September 21, 2005. First flight after restoration was April 6, 2006 and was based at Gold Coast Airport.

In 2011, sold to Mr. Paul Bennett and registered to Bennet Aviation Ltd. in Redhead, NSW on July 2, 2013. This aircraft is airworthy, painted in U.S. Navy markings with fuselage number "441" and a white arrow on the tail.

As of September 2014, this aircraft was listed for sale by Platinum Fighter Sales.

This Avenger often participates in Australian air shows. On September 16, 2015 participated in an air show at Jackson Airport to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Papua New Guinea independence with a Port Moresby fly-over.

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Eastern TBM-3 Avenger - History

Pilot Ensign Floyd Ewing Hall (POW, executed 3-9-45, BR)
Gunner AOM2c Glenn J. Frazier, Jr. USNR (POW, executed 2-24-45, BR) Athol, KS
Radio ARM3c Marve "Marvie" William Mershon, USNR (POW, executed 2-24-45, BR)
Crashed February 18, 1945

Aircraft History
Built by General Motors, Eastern Aircraft Division as a model G-40. Delivered to the U.S. Navy (USN) as TBM-3 Avenger bureau number 23637.

Wartime History
Assigned to the USS Randolph CV-15 to Torpedo Squadron 12 (VT-12). No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On February 18, 1945 took off from USS Randolph CV-15 on mission against targets at Chi Chi Jima. Over the target, hit by anti-aircraft fire and crashed. The entire crew survived.

Fates of the Crew
All three crew members were captured by the Japanese Army and became Prisoners Of War (POW). All three were executed two on February 24, 1945 and one on March 9, 1945.

Frazier managed to evade capture for five days before surrendering to the Japanese Army. On February 24, 1945 after his interrogation, he was beaten to death by Japanese Army Captain Noburu Nakajima with a club. His body was placed into an unmarked grave.

Mershon was ordered to die by Japanese Army Major Sueo Matoba, Commanding Officer (C. O.) of the 308th Infantry Battalion. On February 24, 1945 he was taken to a cemetery and beheaded by Lt. Hironobu Morishita. Parts of his body were removed and later eaten by high ranking Japanese officers as part of Bushido warrior indoctrination. The rest of his remains were buried in a grave.

Hall was also ordered to die by Major Matoba. He was executed on March 9, 1945. Parts of his body were removed and later eaten by high ranking Japanese officers as part of a Bushido warrior indoctrination ceremony. His remains were buried a grave.

War Crimes Trial
Postwar, Major Sueo Matoba and Lt. Hironobu Morishita became Prisoners Of War (POW). During 1947, both went on trial as a war criminal on Guam for war crimes including the murder of this crew and were found guilty. Matoba was hanged and buried in unmarked grave on the island. Morishita was sentenced to several years in prison.

Recovery of Remains
Postwar, the remains of all three were recovered by American forces and transported to the United States for final burial.

Administratively, the crew was officially declared dead on February 19, 1946. Hall, Frazier and Mershon were permanently buried at Santa Fe National Cemetery in Santa Fe, NM at section N, grave 275. The grave incorrectly notes the date of death as February 19, 1946.

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Eastern TBM-3 Avenger - History

Plane Details

Plane: TBM-3E Avenger
Manufacturer: General Motors
Service Dates: 1942-1954
Bureau Number
: 53726

General Motors TBM-3E Avenger History:

The Grumman TBF Avenger (designated TBM for aircraft manufactured by General Motors) is an American torpedo bomber developed for the United States Navy and Marine Corps. The Avenger entered U.S. service in 1942, and first saw action during the Battle of Midway. Grumman began to slowly phase out production of the Avenger to produce F6F Hellcat fighters, and the Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors took over production, with these aircraft being designated TBM.

Starting in mid-1944, the TBM-3 began production (with a more powerful power plant and wing hardpoints for drop tanks and rockets).

The Avenger was used by a number of Marine Corps squadrons, both on land and from a number of dedicated aircraft carriers. The first to enter combat was VMSB-131 which reached Henderson Field with its TBF-1s just in time to take part in the last major Japanese offensive.
The Marine Avengers achieved their first major success during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in mid-November 1942. At this point VMSB-131 was operating alongside VT-10 (normally based on the Enterprise) and VT-8. On 13 November all three squadrons took part in a series of attacks on the Japanese battleship Hiei, claiming ten torpedo hits from twenty-six launched, and sinking the battleship. Another success came on the next day when aircraft from VT-10 and VMSB-131 sank the cruiser Kinugasa. There were rare examples of Marine Corps Avengers making torpedo attacks – most of the time they used bombs and rockets to support the Marines or depth charges and rockets while on anti-submarine patrols.

One year after VMSB-131 made its debut on Guadalcanal, VMTB-143, 232 and 233 took part in the fighting on Bougainville, operating from Torokina air strip. The same three units then took part in the prolonged series of attacks on the Japanese airfields and harbor at Rabaul, allowing that strong Japanese base to be neutralized and leapfrogged.

In July 1944 VMTB-131 and VMTB-242 took part in the fighting in the Mariana Islands, providing air support of Guam and Tinian. In August 1944 VMTB-134 took part in the invasion of Peleliu, operating from airfields that were virtually on the front line.
In March 1945 VMTB-242 was still based on Tinian, but the war had moved on to Iwo Jima. The squadron took off to make the 800 mile trip to Iwo Jima, planning to land on the island if an airstrip had been secured or on a nearby carrier if not. They were eventually able to land on the island, providing air support for the ground troops. At the end of the campaign they flew anti-submarine patrols from the island, then returned to Tinian.

Four aircraft carriers operated with Marine Corps squadrons embarked. USS Block Island carried VMTB-233 during the battle of Okinawa and for attacks on the Ryukyu Islands. USS Gilbert Island had VMTB-143 during the Okinawa campaign and then took part in the attack on Balikpapan. USS Vella Gulf had VMTB-234, operating in the Central Pacific and attacking Pagan and Rota. USS Cape Gloucester operated VMTB-132 in the East China Sea.

The Marine Corps utilized the Avenger in the Korean War as a utility aircraft with Headquarters Squadrons 22 and 33 (1950-1953).

TBM-3E (BuNo 53726) was accepted by the U.S. Navy on June 16, 1945. On June 1, 1946 it was assigned to the aircraft pool at NAS San Diego CA. In September 1946 it was transferred to the island of Oahu, Territory of Hawaii, and assigned to the aircraft pool at NAS Ford Island, and then NAS Barbers Point. After an overhaul period in San Diego it was assigned to NAS Norfolk and then the Naval Aviation Reserve Training Unit (NARTU) at NAF Anacostia, Washington DC. In late 1949 it was refurbished at NAS Corpus Christi, TX. It spent the next two years in storage at Litchfield Park, AZ. It was pulled out of storage to support the surge in pilot training during the Korean War. In 1952 it served at the NARTU at NAS Birmingham, AL before heading to Carrier Qualification Training Unit FOUR (CQTU-4) and Basic Training Unit THREE (BTU-3) at Naval Air Auxiliary Field Barin Field, AL. In 1954 this aircraft returned to Litchfield Park for storage and was stricken from Navy inventory in April 1962. It was purchased by Marsh Aviation in 1963 and converted to an air tanker. In 1965 it was sold to Reeder Aviation and was used for the Spruce Budworm aerial spray program in Newfoundland and New Brunswick Canada. In 1987 this aircraft was purchased by Northwest Warbirds Inc. in Twin Falls, Idaho. In 1988 it was purchased by the National Museum of the Marine Corps and displayed at MCAS El Toro. In 1999 it moved to its current location at MCAS Miramar. It is painted in the colors of VMBT-132 when in July 1945 it was deployed in the escort carrier USS Cape Gloucester (CVE-109) and participated in the battle of Okinawa


Manufacturer:General Motors Corporation
Type: Torpedo Bomber
Accommodations: Pilot, gunner and radar operator
Power Plant: 1 Wright R-2600-20 Cyclone
Horsepower: 1,900 hp
Length: 39 ft,2 in
Wing Span: 54 ft 2 in
Height: 16 ft, 5 in
Max Speed: 430 kts (470 mph)
Rate of climb: 2,060 ft/min
Ceiling: 23,40019 ft
Range: 982 nm (1,036 mi)
Guns: 2 × 7.62mm machine guns
1 x12.7 mm machine gun
Bombs (internal bomb bay): 1 × Mk XIII Torpedo

General Motors (Grumman) TBM-3E Avenger

The Avenger was designed and built initially by the Grumman company and designated TBF. However, since Grumman’s facilities were straining to produce enough of their fighters for the Navy it was decided to ask General Motors to open another production line for the design. The General Motors version was designated the TBM but was otherwise identical. The Avenger first entered combat during the Battle of Midway, and despite a poor performance in that engagement went on to be the primary torpedo bomber of the war. Later versions of the aircraft designated TBM-3 had a more powerful engine and the “E” variant was equipped with a special anti-submarine radar. Avengers continued to serve in the U.S. Navy well into the 1950s.

Maximum Speed

Service Ceiling

General Motors

Navy Torpedo Squadron 1 (VT-1), USS Bennington, 1945



Serial Number

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TBM-3 Avenger

In 1939 the Bureau of Aeronautics specified requirements for a new US Navy carrier-borne torpedo bomber.

In April 1940 two competing designs were accepted for further development – XTBF-1 by Grumman and XTBU-1 by Vought. Shortly afterwards, two prototypes of each of the two designs were ordered. Since the XTBF‑1 was slightly lighter, had better range and a smaller span with folded wings, it was duly proclaimed the winner of the contest and in December 1940 the first order for serial production was placed.

The XTBF-1 prototype was first flown on 7th August 1941. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour the new aircraft was christened “Avenger”. The first serial TBF-1s were delivered to the US Navy in January 1942. The new bomber made its debut in small numbers during the famous Battle of Midway in June 1942. The production figures quickly soared and soon the already out-dated Douglas TBD-1 “Devastator” was phased out in favour of the new design.

In 1942 an agreement was struck with the Eastern Aircraft Division of the General Motors Company to enable the company to build the Avenger under license. The GM production Avengers were designated TBM. Apart from TBF/TBM-1 and -1C sub-variants, one more version, TBM-3, was pressed into service by the end of the WWII. More specialized variants followed afterwards. All in all, 9839 Avengers of all sub-types were built, including as many as 7546 manufactured by General Motors.

From mid-1942 on, TBF/TBM Avenger was the primary carrier-borne US Navy bomber in the Pacific Theatre of Operations. It also played a vital role in hunting the German U-boats in the Atlantic. The aircraft was also successfully deployed in neutralizing ground targets during the American amphibious operations. Initially the aircraft mainly served as a bomber as the American torpedoes of that time proved very faulty.

Not before the mid-1944 – after introducing substantial improvements in torpedo designs – was this weapon re-deployed in the battlefield. By then, the Avenger ordnance also featured depth charges and rocket missiles.

Avenger was one of the best carrier torpedo bombers of World War II. It was the first American carrier-based bomber fitted with a bomb bay and the first American aircraft sporting the electrically-driven gun turret. Throughout the war Avenger served with US Navy, US Marine Corps, the British Fleet Air Arm and the Royal New Zealand Air Force. It stayed with US Navy until 1954. After the war Avengers were also used by Canada, France, Netherlands, Uruguay, Brazil, and… Japan.

TBM-3 Doris Mae Capital Wing

Our TBM-3E Avenger is a Grumman designed (TBF) aircraft built under license by GM in New Jersey in 1945. Assigned initially to the US Marine Corps, we know that this aircraft served as a replacement aircraft in several USMC training units in California from 1945 to 1948 and then was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy in 1952.

The Avenger was bought by the CAF Stars & Stripes Wing in 2001 for $64,000 and flown to Frederick, MD for restoration to the TBM-3E WWII configuration.

TBM-3 Specs
Role Torpedo bomber
Manufacturer General Motors
Introduced 1942
Power 1 × Wright R-2600-20 radial engine, 1,900 hp
Length 40 ft 11.5"
Height 15 ft 5 in
Wingspan 54 ft 2 in
Range 1,000 mi

Our TBM-3E Avenger is a Grumman designed (TBF) aircraft built under license by GM in New Jersey in 1945. Assigned initially to the US Marine Corps, we know that this aircraft served as a replacement aircraft in several USMC training units in California from 1945 to 1948 and then was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy in 1952.

The Avenger was bought by the CAF Stars & Stripes Wing in 2001 for $64,000 and flown to Frederick, MD for restoration to the TBM-3E WWII configuration.

Grumman's first torpedo bomber was the heaviest single-engined aircraft of World War II, and only the USAAF's P-47 Thunderbolt came close to equalling it in maximum loaded weight among all single-engined fighters, being only some 400 lb (181 kg) lighter than the TBF, by the end of World War II. The Avenger was the first design to feature a new "compound angle" wing-folding mechanism created by Grumman, intended to maximize storage space on an aircraft carrier

U.S. Navy Aircraft History

I was recently asked if I had any pictures of a TBM-3Q. First, I had to refresh my memory of the type, one of several modifications of TBM-3Es, a veritable alphabet soup of repurposed Turkeys.

The TBM-3E was the last production model, redesigned in detail to reduce weight and add provisions for an APS-4 radar pod under the starboard wing. The Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors built 1,480 as the war was winding down and Navy contractors were completing the development of various single-engine attack airplanes like the AD Skyraider that would replace it and the Curtiss SB2C. The most obvious external difference was that the tailhook was stowed under the aft fuselage rather than within it.

The TBM-3Q was one of the first carrier-based airplanes configured specifically for electronic reconnaissance although it retained its ordnance-delivery capability so ELINT (short for electronic intelligence) was more of a collateral duty. It could also be used to "home-in" on enemy ships and shore-based defenses that utilized radar and jam the capability.

I found this picture of two "TBM-3Ns" on the excellent web site of the National Naval Aviation Museum (http://www.navalaviationmuseum.org/).

I so informed the museum's library staff and got the immediate and polite response that to the best of their knowledge, the Ns did not have a turret and the Qs did. Another strike against online research.

The TBM-3N Radar Operator's position:

It appears that the TBM-3N was a postwar -3E modification to perform night and all-weather attack missions with updated electronic countermeasure avionics as a placeholder for the forthcoming Skyraider. Rick Morgan looked at some postwar location lists and estimates that no more than 30 conversions were accomplished. He found that some were assigned to the air groups linked with FDR (CVB-42) and Saipan (CVL-48) in early 1947 and early 1947/8 respectively. However most were operated by the night composite squadrons that provided detachments to deploying air groups, first VCN-1 and -2 and then their successors, VC-3 and -4. (For a brief summary of the role of composite squadrons, see http://thanlont.blogspot.com/2013/12/composite-squadrons-and-detachments.html.) TBM-3Ns were also operated by the two Fleet All-Weather Training Units, the Pacific (the two pictured above, circa 1950) and Atlantic

This is a picture from the files of the National Naval Aviation Museum of a VCN-2 TBM-3N landing on Philippine Sea in 1948.

Note the lack of a turret.

There was wartime precedence for the removal of the turret for night attack (and in fact, none of the Navy candidates for its postwar carrier-based attack requirements, day or night, had defensive armament). VT-90N removed the turret hardware (but not the enclosure) from its TBM-3D's in late 1944 or early 1945 to lighten them. If you look closely at the turret, you'll see that a crewman is sitting there, sans machine gun.

Note that the -3D was optimized for night attack with an APS-6 radar hard-mounted to the wing and various ECM antennas. Why was it not a -3N? Good question. For my attempt to unravel the World War II Navy airplane designation suffix history, see http://thanlont.blogspot.com/2014/03/navy-aircraft-designation-suffixes-redux.html and the links therein.

So what did the TBM-3Q look like? Larry Webster came up with this picture of one in an old Japanese aviation enthusiasts' magazine.

It has the aft-fuselage antennas like those on the TBM-3N but also retains the turret.

Rick Morgan was also exploring this question as well. His TBM-3Q post that resulted is far more detailed than the one I was coming up with. See http://rickmorganbooks.com/tbm-3q-avenger.html.

Your guess is as good as mine as to why the turret was retained on the -3Q. Mine is that there was a risk that the focus of its intention to collect electronic information for future strike-mission planning might take umbrage at the fact. As it turned out, several unarmed land-based "spy" planes were shot down during ELINT missions. For incidents involving the U.S. Navy, see https://www.nsa.gov/about/_files/cryptologic_heritage/publications/coldwar/dangerous_business.pdf

Rick Morgan opined that they retained the turrets because they were assigned to VT/VA squadrons that were primarily equipped with TBM-3Es that retained the turret. Since they could be assigned to day strikes along with the other Avengers in the squadron, their crews wouldn't want to be be defenseless in that event, much less likely to be singled out initially because of the lack of a turret.

Grumman TBM-3 Avenger

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Letecké jednotky vyzbrojené TBM-3

Obdobie / Period
Jednotka / Unit
Poznámka / Note
XX.01.1945-XX.XX.1946 (?)
Torpédovacia peruť 4 (VT-4)

Torpédovacia peruť 58 (VT-58)

Útočná peruť 1L (VA-1L)

Útočná peruť 1E (VA-1E)

Zdroj : Grossnick, Roy A.: Dictionary of American Naval Aviation Squadrons Volume I - The History of VA, VAH, VAK, VAL, VAP and VFA Squadrons Naval Historical Center, Department of the Navy, Washington, D.C., 1995

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Grumman TBM-3 Avenger (BuNo 69375), USS Hornet Museum, 2010. Letoun byl koupen nadací Aircraft Carrier Hornet Foundation v roce 1998 a následně byl dobrovolníky rekonstruován do podoby stroje od jednotky VT-17, která během 2. světové války bojovala z paluby letadlové lodi USS Hornet (CV-12).

Watch the video: Avenger TBM-3 USS Bunker Hill, Academy 1:48 - build and gallery in 4k