Grumman TBF Avenger

By Charles Stafrace

"Without doubt the Grumman Avenger was the most successful torpedo-bomber of the Second World War, and certainly one of the wartime aircraft that could most sustain punishment and yet make it back to base. Built by both Grumman under its TBF designation and by Eastern Division of General Motors under the TBM designation, no less than 9,837 examples were constructed until production ceased in August 1945. The Avenger saw action in all theatres of the Second World War with the United States Navy and Marine Corps, Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy, and by the Royal New Zealand Air Force. Despite its designated role of torpedo-bomber, the Avenger was more commonly used in roles other than dropping tin-fish. It bombed, laid mines, gave ground support, directed drones, hunted submarines, and in the postwar period was employed as a personnel carrier, bulk carrier, airborne early warning, Carrier On-board Delivery, and other tasks by the major navies as well as by other air forces and naval air arms. It is also significant that after the last Avengers left Fleet Air Arm service in 1946, the Royal Navy again found a useful role for the aircraft for antisubmarine tasks in 1953.
The US Navy even needed its last examples of Avengers for specialized tasks during the Korean War. No doubt, carrying out these diverse tasks for so many years in a difficult environment was made possible by the Avenger design's adaptability to change, and thanks to the traditional strength of its Grumman airframe. "