The Avenger was Grumman's first torpedo aircraft, and its design had much in common with that of the Company's fighters - as its chunky and robust appearance testifies.  The design and engineering team under W.T. Schwendler developed the aircraft very quickly - the order for two prototypes was placed on 8 April 1940 and the first Avengers went into service just over two years later.

The new plane first saw action on 4 June 1942 against the Japanese carrier strike force at the Battle of Midway - only six Avengers were involved, operating from Midway Island.  They were forced to attack against overwhelming odds, and five of the six were shot down, the surviving plane returning to Midway severely damaged and with its gunner dead.  However, the survival of this aircraft demonstrated the TBF's great  toughness, and it was immediately apparent that its battle-worthiness justified its production in great numbers.

The Avenger rapidly displaced the obsolete Devastator aboard US carriers,  and from the Guadalcanal landings in August 1942 until the end of the Pacific War it remained the only shipboard torpedo aircraft of the US Navy.

The US Navy's demands for Grumman production of the F6F Hellcat fighter led to manufacture of the Avenger being taken over by Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors - the GM-produced aircraft being designated the "TBM".

The Avenger took part in every carrier-versus-carrier battle and indeed almost all carrier operations from Midway onwards, working from every fast carrier and escort carrier of the Pacific Fleet. At Guadalcanal and in subsequent campaigns it was also active from land bases.  For almost all of this time it operated as a bomber, and as a search and anti-submarine aircraft, rather than as a torpedo-plane.  As a torpedo-plane it was initially hampered by the many serious defects in the American torpedoes.  Moreover the crushing losses inflicted on their torpedo squadrons at the Battle of Midway left the United States Navy with little confidence in aerial torpedo attack, confidence which was only regained with the success of the Avengers at the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

Nonetheless, in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, November 1942, TBFs inflicted heavy damage on the Japanese battleship Hiei with torpedoes after she had been crippled by US surface forces.  At Philippine Sea in June 1944, equipped with greatly improved torpedoes, Avengers hit the carrier Hiyo, which sank soon afterwards.  In this respect they were more successful than the American dive-bombers at Philippine Sea, and this increased US Navy's emphasis on torpedo attack in subsequent operations.

In the Battle for Leyte Gulf the TBF / TBM achieved one of its most notable successes by sinking (with 19 torpedo hits) the Japanese battleship Musashi, which at 67,000 tons was one of the two largest warships in the world (the other being her sister ship Yamato).  Later in the battle Avengers played an heroic and vital role  in the desperate defense of the US escort carrier group "Taffy 3" which unexpectedly came under surface attack from the main Japanese force off Samar.

On 7 April 1945, during  the Okinawa operation, Avengers of Task Force 58 played the main part in sinking the Yamato,  formerly Admiral Yamamoto's flagship -  hitting the huge battleship with ten or more torpedoes.

The Avenger's virtues, especially its ruggedness, reliability, and stability as a weapons platform, ensured it a remarkably long operational history.  It in fact remained in service - as an anti-submarine and airborne early-warning aircraft - until 1954.


 DREAMS CAN BECOME REALITY  (reprinted  from MAAM Member's Update - Feb 2003)

TBM Avenger formation 
Jack Kosko was a Grumman TBM radio operator with torpedo squadron VT-23 aboard the USS Langley (CVL-27) fighting with Task Force 38 during the closing months of World War II.

Following the war Jack earned his pilot's certificate, met his wife, began a family and today heads up a successful business in the government contracting arena.

Jack's original TBM crashed on the USS Langley




Like so many of his WW II counterparts, his service in the war left an indelible mark on him and the desire to someday own, restore and recreate "his" TBM, which was lost in a landing accident while coming aboard the Langley.  That aircraft was subsequently pushed over the side, but today that airplane is as alive in Jack's mind as if it were just yesterday!

In 1996 Jack purchased a former Canadian Forrest Protection Service TBM "project" from an individual in Maine, transported the disassembled TBM to a farm in south central Pennsylvania, built a building in which to work and began the restoration of the former US Navy torpedo bomber.


Jack Kosko next to his TBM

Seven years later the big Grumman has come full circle and has completed its transition from C.F.P.S. tanker #9 back to US Navy Bureau No. 53638 and Jack's old tri-colored TBM #4 thanks to his determination and a crew of eighteen highly dedicated volunteers from the surrounding area.

Complete with original radios, tail hook, gun turret, diamond tread tires, "Stinger" gun and USS Langley markings, #4 is quite a sight to behold as Jack and his crew have spared nothing when it came to restoring the TBM to its original configuration.

Jack had previously approached the Mid Atlantic Air Museum to see if there was any interest in having the aircraft placed with the museum for display and to be flown to airshows. 


Later Jack made the decision to donate the aircraft to the museum rather than place it on long-term loan as originally proposed.


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Engine Wright R-2600 radial engine of 1900 HP
Wing Span 54 Feet, 2 Inches
Length 40 Feet
Height 7 Feet, 6 Inches
Maximum Speed 267 MPH
Normal Cruising Speed 160 MPH
Normal Crew 3 - Pilot, Gunner, Radio Operator/Bombardier
Armament Three .50 caliber machine guns: one in each wing and one in a dorsal turret;  and one .30 caliber machine gun "stinger" in a ventral port
Bomb Load One 22 inch torpedo or 2000 lb bombs/depth charges
Range 1000 Miles

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