History of the Avenger Monograph Found in NHC Files

Notes on History of the Avenger (TBF/TBM)

Two XTBF-1's were ordered under a contract which was placed in May 1940, In December 1940 the Navy placed a production contract with Grumman for 286 TBF-1's. The XTBF-1 made its first flight on 7 August 1941 and the Navy accepted it in December 1941. The first production TBF-1 was accepted by the Navy in January 1942. The first TBM contract issued by the Navy to the Eastern Aircraft Divisions, General Motors Corporation was dated 23 March 1942. Eastern delivered 1 TBM-1 in November 1942 and 2 in December 1942. These were assembled out of parts supplied by Grumman but Eastern was soon fabricating its own parts.

A total of 9,836 Avengers were delivered to the Navy including 984 for others. Of these, 1832 were TBF-1's & 1C's manufactured by Grumman and 2,546 TBM-1's and -1C's manufactured by Eastern. The remainder were TBM-3's, and 3E's manufactured by Eastern.

Service Use

The TBF-1 was first delivered to an operating unit, Torpedo Squadron Eight on March 25, 1942 and was introduced to combat by a shore based unit of that squadron at the Battle of Midway, June 4, 1942, Soon thereafter, the TBF-1 aircraft was placed aboard carriers and it served as a standard torpedo plane during the war. It was also used as a glide bomber and beginning in early 1944 made rocket attacks against enemy targets, the first attack being made by two TBF-1C's of Composite Squadron 58 from the escort carrier Block Island against a German U-boat on 11 Jan.


Basic Avenger designations were TBF for aircraft built by Grumman and TBM for aircraft built by the Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors Corporations, In January 1946, 8 models of the TBF and 18 models of the TBM were in existence. The most important of these were the TBF-1 and TBM-1, which were the original configuration; the TBF-1C and TBM-1C which were equipped with two-fifty caliber wing guns and the TBM-3 which was equipped with a more powerful engine than the early versions. (See attached Characteristics Charts.) Other configurations included the -1CP and -3P special photographic reconnaissance versions, equipped with trimetrogen cameras; -1D and -E, -3D and -3E, special radar versions; 1L and -3L with a searchlight mounted in the bomb bay, -1J, -3J and -3U utility versions; -3N equipped for night operations; -3Q equipped for radar counter measures, and -3W a special radar search airplane. The XTBM-4,

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was to have had its structural strength increased beyond that of -1 and -3. Later in 1946 an anti-submarine version of the TBM-3E was designated TBM-3S, By 1948 the TBM-3D was assigned to aircraft used for drone control. In 1951 the designation TBM-3R was assigned to a transport-cargo version and TBM-3S2 to an improved ASW version.


        USN 469104, Dec 1944 Avenger coming in for landing,
        features (Landing Signal Officer)

        USN 428459 Avenger laden with rockets, 1944

        USN 427779, TBM-3S

Combat Record

No information on TBF/TBM combat record is available which distinguishes it from that of other attack type aircraft. Navy and Marine aircraft of all types sank 174 Japanese warships total 745,000 tons, 447 Japanese merchant ships of better than 1,500,000 tons and 63 German submarines.


        Articles on Avenger:

        Naval Aviation News,  July 1951
              "          "      "      ,  June 1954
              "          "      "      ,  Dec 1955


        A.R. Buchanan, (Ed), The Navy's Air War, New York and London
(Harper and Brothers), 1946

        S.E. Morison, U.S. Naval Operations in World War II, (15 volumes)
        Boston (Little Brown and Co.), 1947-1962

        U.S. Navy Department, U.S. Naval Aviation in the Pacific,
        Washington, Government Printing Office, 1947

        U.S. Navy Department, United States Naval Aviation. 1910-60,
        Washington, Government Printing Office, 1961

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