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Grumman TBF Avenger Carrier-Borne Torpedo Bomber (1942)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 5/1/2015
Picture of Grumman TBF Avenger
Picture of Grumman TBF Avenger
Picture of Grumman TBF Avenger
Picture of Grumman TBF Avenger
Picture of Grumman TBF Avenger

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The Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo bomber saw nearly 10,000 produced during World War 2.

Destined never to win beauty contests, the Grumman TBF Avenger series of aircraft would go down as one of the most potent torpedo bombers of World War 2. Its design was characterized by its portly fuselage, three-man crew and multi-faceted capabilities than endeared her to many-an-airmen throughout the war. The success of the Avenger stemmed beyond its use by the United States Navy for the aircraft saw extensive service with British and Commonwealth forces as well as becoming a staple of aircraft inventories around the world in the Cold War years. Amazingly, Avengers managed a frontline existence well into the 1950s despite the arrival of the jet age and newer, more modern mounts becoming available - such were the inherent strengths of the might Pearl Harbor "Avenger".

The TBF Avenger was born from a 1939 US Navy requirement intending to replace the already outclassed Douglas TBD Devastator series of carrierborne torpedo dive bomber aircraft. Despite its rather advanced features when it was introduced in 1937 - these including a fully-enclosed cockpit, retractable undercarriage and stressed metal skin construction - global technology quickly superseded the Douglas design to the point that it was made obsolete at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. Thrust into war, the United States military feverishly attempted to stock its inventory with more adaptable and modern types, ultimately leaving the Devastator out of its plans. The aircraft was withdrawn from frontline duties as soon as 1942 and was officially retired from the USN inventory in 1944, with only 130 having been procured since inception.

Looking to take advantage of the latest in available engines from top manufacturers such as Pratt & Whitney and Wright, the USN fleshed out their latest requirement and the need was responded to by aircraft concerns Vought and Grumman. Vought delivered their XTBU-1 prototype which the US Navy purchased in two evaluation examples. Similarly, two of the XTBF-1 Grumman prototype were ordered and this became the company's first foray into the world of carrier-based torpedo bombers. The Grumman offering consisted of a conventional monoplane design featuring multiple crew and all-metal construction, designed in a mere five weeks under the direction of Grumman engineer Bob Hall. R. Koch contributed the addition of an internal weapons bay to aid in aerodynamics while keeping a ventral machine gun position in place for defense. Oscar Olsen, having worked for General Electric prior, developed an electrically-powered dorsal turret with "Amplidyne" control where the turret's motor could react to the violent changes in loads during flight maneuvers resulting in excellent reaction time for the gunner. The ungainly design earned the aircraft the in-house nicknames of "Turkey" and "Pregnant Beast" for obvious reasons. Primary armament included a fixed, forward-firing 7.62mm gun along the right side of the nose (to be operated by the pilot), a 7.62mm machine gun in a rear-facing ventral position (for the bombardier) and a 12.7mm heavy machine gun in the dorsal powered turret for a dedicated machine gunner.

The US Navy selected the Grumman design as the winner of the competition and placed an order for 286 aircraft on April 8th, 1940 - this before the prototype had even flown. It was not until August 1st, 1941 that the XTBF-1 achieved first flight with chief engineer Bob Hall at the controls and the aircraft powered by a single Wright R-2600-8 14-cylinder Cyclone radial piston engine of 1,700 horsepower. So promising was the design and so dire a need for viable military aircraft for the USN that the initial procurement order was eventually edited to become "open-ended" in nature.

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Specifications for the
Grumman TBF Avenger
Carrier-Borne Torpedo Bomber

Focus Model: Grumman TBF-1 Avenger
Country of Origin: United States
Manufacturer: Grumman; General Motors - USA
Initial Year of Service: 1942
Production: 9,835

Crew: 3

Length: 40.12 ft (12.23 m)
Width: 54.17 ft (16.51 m)
Height: 15.42ft (4.70 m)
Weight (Empty): 10,080 lb (4,572 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 15,904 lb (7,214 kg)

Powerplant: 1 x Wright R-2600-8 Double-Cyclone air-cooled radial engines developing 1,700 horsepower.

Maximum Speed: 271 mph (436 kmh; 235 kts)
Maximum Range: 1,215 miles (1,955 km)
Service Ceiling: 22,402 ft (6,828 m; 4.2 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 2,060 feet-per-minute (628 m/min)

Hardpoints: 12
Armament Suite:
1 x 7.62mm M1919 Browning machine gun in fixed, forward-firing nose mount.
1 x 7.62mm M1919 Browning machine gun in rear-facing ventral gun position.
1 x 12.7mm M2 Browning machine gun in rear-facing powered dorsal turret.

2 x 12.7mm M2 Browning machine guns in wings (1 per wing).
1 x 7.62mm M1919 Browning machine gun in rear-facing ventral gun position.
1 x 12.7mm M2 Browning machine gun in rear-facing powered dorsal turret.

Up to 2,000lbs of internal and external ordnance.

1 x Mk XIII Torpedo in internal bomb bay
4 x 500lb bombs OR 12 x 100lb conventional drop bombs.
5" unguided rockets in various mountings.

Variants: [ SHOW / HIDE ]

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