GRUMMAN TBF/TBM AVENGER
Build No: 53857
First Flight: 7 August 1941
Built: 9,839 (TBF Grumman, TBM Eastern Aircraft Division, General Motors).
Users: Nine Military Air Arms.
Currently painted in markings of VT.8 that flew from USS Bunker Hill part of CVG-8 (Carrier Air Group 8) commencing March 1944.
On March 30 and the April 1 1944, VT-8 was involved in operations against the Japanese held islands of Palau, Yap, Ulithi and Woleai in the Caroline Islands. One month later VT-8 attacked the Japanese island fortress of Truk then Santawan, Ponape and the airfield complex at Hollandia in New Guinea before its participation in the Marianas Campaign between June 12 and August 10 1944. The Marianas Campaign also included the Battle of the Phillipine Sea and the Battle of Leyete Gulf.
Between June 19-20 1944 VT-8 participated in the Battle of the Phillipine Sea, the largest Carrier to Carrier battle in history. Bunker Hill formed part of Task Group 58.2 consisting of Bunker Hill, Wasp, Cabot and Monterey and part of the larger Task Force 58. This battle was a crushing victory for the US forces that all but destroyed the Japanese carrier fleet.
From October 23–26 1944 Bunker Hill participated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, possibly the largest battle in the history of naval warfare
VT8 attacked targets on Okinawa and Formosa in November 1944 before Bunker Hill withdrew for overhaul.
The Grumman Avenger was the heaviest single engine aircraft of WWII and was first shown to the public at the factory on the afternoon of 7 December 1941 – Pearl Harbour Day.
First action for the Avenger was the Battle of Midway on June 4 – 7 1942. Only six TBF-1 attended Midway but were credited with drawing away the Japanese fighters so US dive bombers could attack the carriers.
On August 24 1942 Avengers played a role in the East Solomons Saratoga/Enterprise sinking the carrier ‘Ryujo’. In November 1942 the Marine Corps and Navy sunk the Battleship ‘Hiei’ at Guadalcanal with TBF Avengers. Another involvement for the avenger was the sinking of the Musashi and Yamato super battleships.
George Bush was the youngest US Naval Aviator and is best known for his time flying the Avenger. Bush was shot down at Chichi Jima Island at the end of WWII going on to then be awarded the DFC.
An Avenger was involved in another unusual event in history when a turret gunner shot down a V1 over the English Channel.
The Avenger last military use was by the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force between 1950 – 1960.
Power plant: 1 x 1,900 hp Wright R2600 (14 cylinder)
Length: 40’ 11.5” (12.48m)
Span: 54’ 2” (16.51m)
Max Speed: 240kt (442km/hr)
Range: 870nm (1,610km)
Weight: 17,893 lb (8,115kg)
Armament: 5 x .30 and .50 machine guns
8 HVAR 5”rockets
2000b of bombs or 1 x Mk13 torpedo weighing 2000lb