Grumman Torpedo Bomber
By Stephen Sherman, Apr. 2001. Updated January 21, 2012.While the Douglas Devastator had been "state of the art" when it was introduced in 1935, by 1939, the US Navy determined that it needed a more potent torpedo bomber, one with greater range, larger payload, faster speed, and tougher resistance to battle damage. The requirements for the new aircraft included: a top speed of 300 MPH, a (fully loaded) range of 1,000 miles, an internal weapons bay, 2000 lbs. payload, and a ceiling of 30,000 feet.
The Grumman "Iron Works" almost inevitably would be the supplier. Leroy Grumman, an engineer by background, helped design the torpedo bomber that would meet the navy's specs. The prototype was designated XTBF-1: eXperimental, Torpedo Bomber, F = Grumman, 1st variant. Two aircraft were built, one of which crashed in the woods near Brentwood, Long Island. But the program continued at the rapid pace which was a hallmark of Grumman's production.
Built around the 1700 horsepower Wright R-2600-8 engine, a 14-cylinder double row radial, the new TBF featured:
- folding wings - critical for carrier use. Grumman developed a unique wing-folding mechanism for the TBF and F6F, which tucked the wings flat against the fuselage, for the most compact storage possible. Allegedly, Leroy Grumman first brainstormed the idea with a soap-eraser and paper clips.
- three seats - A pilot, a rear gunner, and a bombardier/belly gunner.
- powered rear turret - As required by the Navy, the plane included a powered turret for the rear gunner, originally equipped with a single .30 caliber machine gun.
- three .30 caliber machine guns - The turret gun noted above. A nose-mounted gun for the pilot, firing through the propeller. And another rear-firing .30 caliber was tucked into its belly. This weaponry was increased in later variants.
- large internal bay - By mounting the wings mid-way up the fuselage, Grumman allowed a roomy bay, for one 2,000 lb. torpedo, or four 500 lb. bombs, or an extra fuel tank.
- large wings - A Grumman trademark. Relatively large wings helped to make Grumman aircraft easier to handle, a vital characteristic for a plane flown by masses of pilots with varying skill levels from pitching & heaving carrier decks.
- extreme ruggedness - Another Grumman feature. The ability to absorb battle damage and still fly was equally important, especially to the aircrews.
On the afternoon of December 7, 1941, Grumman held a ceremony to open its new Plant 2 in Bethpage and display the new torpedo bomber to the public. During the program, Grumman vice president Clint Towl was called to the phone. "The Japs have bombed Pearl Harbor. We're at war." No announcement was made and the festivities continued. When the crowd filed out of the plant, they locked the gates, swept the plant for saboteurs, and went to a war footing, which they stayed on for almost four years.
Over the next few months, Grumman struggled mightily to turn their hand-crafted prototype into a mass-produced airplane. By June, the company had delivered 145 TBF-1's to the Navy, a pace that would be dwarfed in the next three years.
First Combat - MidwayOnly six TBF's actually entered front-line, combat service in time for the critical Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942. These planes, attached to VT-8, flew up to Midway Island itself three days before. Commanded by Lieutenant Langdon K. Fieberling, none of the TBF pilots had ever been in combat, and only a few had ever flown out of sight of land before. (Most of this squadron, the famed Torpedo Squadron Eight, flew the outmoded Douglas Devastators from the carrier Hornet.) But both new and old were nearly wiped out.
Lieutenant Fieberling's six TBFs reached the Japanese fleet at 7:10 AM, dropped to low altitude and bore on toward the carriers. Zeros swarmed around the vulnerable torpedo planes. Two TBFs were destroyed in the first attack, followed by three more. Realizing that he could not reach the carriers, Ensign Albert K. Earnest loosed his torpedo at a cruiser, then broke away with two Zeros after him. Earnest flew his shot-up TBF back to Midway, navigating "by guess and by God." Earnest's was the only TBF to return, with nothing but the trim tab for longitudinal control, with one wheel and the torpedo bay doors hanging open. Radioman 3rd Class Harrier H. Ferrier was injured and Seaman 1st Class Jay D. Manning, who was operating the .50 caliber machine gun turret, was killed during the attack.
Eastern Solomons - Aug. 24, 1942After the Americans took Guadalcanal, Admiral Yamamoto wasted no time in organizing a large naval counter-stroke. On the 24th of August, the opposing carrier forces met; this time the US Navy had just two carriers: Saratoga and Enterprise. By August, enough TBF's had been delivered and worked their way through the pipeline to equip the two ships' air groups with 24 TBF's:
- VT-8 on "Sara," commanded by Cdr. Harold "Swede" Larsen
- VT-3 on the "Big E," led by Lt. Cdr. Charles M. Jett
Santa Cruz - Oct. 26, 1942In the war's fourth big carrier engagement, the Avengers didn't do much damage.
The two surviving carriers in the Pacific, Enterprise and Hornet, carried 14 Avengers each. In late October, the two U.S. flattops met the Japanese effort to seize Guadalcanal. The opposing fleets' patrol planes spotted each other in the early morning and both launched air strikes across the intervening 200 miles. Enterprise and Hornet sent out three strikes, totalling 73 planes: 18 Avengers, 32 dive bombers, and 23 F4F fighters.
Commanding Torpedo Ten, VT-10, from Enterprise was Lt. Cdr. John A. Collett. He led his torpedo bombers westward, toward the Japanese ships, passing Zeros and Vals heading for the American ships. When the U.S. planes found their targets, the Japanese combat air patrol and anti-aircraft knocked most of them down. The SBD's damaged on carrier, but the TBF's were shot out of the sky. A Zero shot up Lt. Cdr. Collett's Avenger. He and his radioman, ARM1/c Thomas C. Nelson were seen parachuting. Nelson was captured and (I believe) survived as a POW. Collett was never seen again. (A personal note - My maternal ancestors include the Abbott family of Winterport, Maine. The Abbott family cemetary there includes a stone inscribed "Lt. Cdr. John A. Collett, Commander VT-10, Lost at the Battle of Santa Cruz, Oct. 26, 1942." Of course, he isn't buried there. I presume that his mother was an Abbott, possibly indicated by his middle initial "A." One of my many unfinished projects is to determine Collett's relationship to my Abbott relatives. - SS)
These early battles showed the type's strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps its biggest weakness was not actually a problem with the aircraft itself, but rather with the deficient torpedoes used by the US Navy in the first two years of the war. The damn things just didn't explode (at least not with any high degree of reliability). The Mark 13 torpedoes were fragile, and had to be dropped from a low height, at speeds below 130 MPH. They under-ran their indicated depth by 11 feet; they failed to explode when they hit, and they sometimes blew up prematurely. Therefore the TBF's flew a lot of missions with ordinary 500 lb. bombs. The aircraft itself was sound and could be used in various roles: torpedo bomber, glide bomber, reconnaissance, mine-layer, and scout plane. With its good radio facilities, docile handling, long range, and extra seating, it made an ideal command aircraft for Air Group Commanders (CAGs).
Sink the Hiei - GuadalcanalNavy and Marine Corps TBF's scored in a big way in November, 1942. Led by Lt. Col. Paul Moret, Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 131 (VMSB-131) flew TBF-1 Avengers from Guadalcanal during this pivotal month. They arrived on the 12th, just in time for the last big Japanese attack. Leading the powerful Japanese naval forces was the Hiei, a 37,000 ton battleship. Through the night of the 12th-13th the American and Japanese surface ships pounded each other, and the Japanese pulverized Henderson Field with 14-inch explosive shells, in the great naval Battle of Guadalcanal. The US Navy lost 2 cruisers and 4 destroyers, while sinking 2 Japanese destroyers and crippling the battleship Hiei. But in the morning, the U.S. planes could still use their cratered airstrip. And the carrier Enterprise lurked 300 miles to the south.
At 6AM, dive bombers from Henderson hit Hiei. An hour later, Moret's Marine Corps TBF's put a torpedo in the drifting battleship. Around 10AM, they came at her again, and scored with another "fish."
Shortly, the Enterprise Avengers struck. Its Commander Air Department, John Crommelin, had sent in 15 Grumman TBF's under Lieutenant Al "Scoofer" Coffin. They were to attack Hiei, then land at Henderson Field. When they had launched in the early morning, a worried Crommelin had no idea if Henderson Field was American-held after the vicious battle, and his planes would not be able to abort back to Enterprise. Tearfully, he sent his boys in their Grummans on a possible one-way mission. They reached Hiei at 11:20 AM. The sky was full of black smoke, tracer fire and buzzing planes. Hiei fired back with everything she had, even incendiary 14-inch shells, unfired in the previous night's surface battle. The Avenger pilots saw the big shells fountain in the sea in an even row several miles astern. They flew at full throttle just over Hiei's burned and scorched decks. Seconds later, three torpedoes hit and exploded. But Hiei remained afloat. The Enterprise Avengers flew on to Henderson Field and found a friendly reception from American soldiers.
Six more of Col. Moret's Avengers hit Hiei with two more torpedos. Throughout the day, dive bombers and F4F's harassed the battleship. By sundown, the battered hulk was doomed, and Admiral Abe gave the order to scuttle her. The TBF's had scored their first major victory of the war.
GM Enters the Production Battle - 1943
Grumman's plants were fully committed to the F6F Hellcat. As part of the national wartime production effort, General Motors (GM) made available to the war effort five of its factories - Tarrytown, Trenton, Linden, Bloomfield, and Baltimore, together organized into the "Eastern Aircraft Division" of the big auto maker. Grumman delivered two completed TBF's, with special removable "PK" screws instead of ordinary rivets. These planes helped the GM workers see how the Avengers were put together. Under the Navy's aircraft designation scheme the GM Avengers were identified as TBM. While GM's production started slowly in 1943, by the end of the year, it was out-producing Grumman, which phased out Avenger production completely by the end of 1943.
Rosie the Riveter
The Avenger is connected with the famous "Rosie the Riveter" character, symbol of American women who worked in wartime factories. Various accounts of the genesis of the "Rosie" figure have appeared. Norman Rockwell created the most familiar "Rosie" image for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. Rockwell's image shows a muscular woman dressed in overalls, face mask and goggles on her head, eating a sandwich, her riveting tool in her lap, her feet resting on a copy of Mein Kampf. Two weeks after the cover illustration was published, stories appeared in the press extolling the achievement of Rose Hicker, a worker at GM's Eastern Aircraft Division in Tarrytown, who drove a record number of rivets into the wing of a TBM Avenger.
Check out Rosie the Riveter: Women Working on the Home Front in World War II by Penny Colman, at Amazon.com.
ModificationsAfter several hundred of the original TBF-1 were built, a few critical changes were made in the next variant, the TBF-1C. The pilot's single fuselage-mounted .30 caliber machine gun was replaced by two wing-mounted .50 caliber guns. The turret was also equipped with a .50 caliber weapon. And provisions for an internal fuel tank in the bomb bay plus two wing tanks more than doubled the Avenger's fuel capacity, from 335 to 726 gallons. The TBM-3 had these same features.
Starting in mid-1944, GM began building the TBM-3, with the more powerful (1900 hp) R-2600-20 engine and wing hard points for drop tanks or rockets. With over 4,600 TBM-3s built, they were the most numerous of the variants. However, even in February, 1945, most of the Avengers on the carriers in the Pacific were the Dash-1 versions. Only by V-J Day had the carrier TorpRons transitioned to the Dash-3.
Production of the Avenger stopped immediately after the end of hostilities.
O'Hare - Nov '43In late 1943, the US Navy began its first systematic night fighting teams. The great fighter pilot Ed O'Hare, then the CAG Enterprise, was deeply involved in developing night fighter tactics. As the primitive radars were very bulky, they were carried on the Enterprise, on the roomy TBF Avengers, but not on the smaller and faster Hellcats. The plan required the ship's Fighter Director Officer (FDO) to spot the incoming Bettys at a distance and send the Avengers and Hellcats toward them. The radar-equipped Avengers would then lead the Hellcats into position behind the incoming bombers, close enough for the Hellcat pilots to spot visually the Betty's blue exhaust flames. Finally, the Hellcats would close in and shoot down the bombers. All the planes on both sides would be flying at low level. The plan was experimental, complicated, and risky.
The night of November 26-27, 1943 was the first combat test of the plan, following an earlier mission that hadn't contacted the Japs. The 'Black Panthers', as the night fighters were dubbed, included two sections of three planes. Both included two Hellcats and one Avenger. Butch led his section from his F6F, Warren Skon flew on his wing; Lt. Cdr. Phillips piloted the TBF with radarman Hazen Rand and gunner Alvin Kernan crewing the plane. In the confusing night action, O'Hare went down, most likely the victim of a lucky shot from the Betty, but possibly due to friendly fire. Read more in my article about Ed O'Hare.
Alvin Kernan wrote one of the best WW2 memoirs I have read, Crossing the Line: A Bluejacket's World War II Odyssey. It's out-of print, but I intentionally left the link to Amazon. (Another coincidental personal note - I studied Shakespeare under Professor Alvin Kernan in the early 1970's, when I had never even heard of Butch O'Hare, and didn't know an Avenger from a Spitfire. - SS)
In late 1943 and early 1944, more of the new Essex-class carriers deployed to the Pacific, with Avengers in their VT squadrons. Avengers participated in the historic raid Feb. 16 raid on Truk.
The U-Boat WarIn the struggle for the North Atlantic, Avengers were credited with destroying 30 submarines, including the unique sinking of the Japanese cargo sub I-52. Flying from escort carriers (CVEs), TBFs were well-suited to the sub-killer role: long endurance, stable, large weapons capacity. They became the key strike aircraft in the hunter-killer groups that ranged the Atlantic: CVE's flying Avengers and Wildcats with destroyers in support.
Sinking of I-52
In an extraordinary engagement, Avengers from USS Bogue CVE-9, the top sub-killing CVE of the Atlantic, sank the Japanese transport submarine, I-52. In 1943 the Japanese and Germans worked out a plan to exchange critical materials via specialized cargo submarines: opium, rubber, quinine, tungsten, and molybdenum from the Japanese for German radar, bombsights, vacuum tubes, optical glass, ball bearings, etc.. In March, 1944, I-52 departed Kure, picked up cargo in Singapore and headed through the Indian Ocean, all monitored by U.S. intelligence. It rendezvoused with a German sub U-530 on June 23, in the mid-Atlantic, and picked up a German pilot who would guide I-52 into port at Lorient. There the exchange was planned to take place.
But Allied "Ultra" intercepts had pinpointed I-52's movements and even its cargo. Within hours of I-52's meeting with U-530, this information had been relayed to Bogue. The commander of its Composite Squadron 69 (VC-69), Lt. Cdr. Jesse Taylor, immediately took off in his TBF in pursuit of the Jap sub. As Taylor patrolled in the darkness, his radarman, Chief Ed Whitlock, picked up a blip. They went after it and dropped flares, lighting up the 350-foot long cargo sub. Taylor closed in, dropping two depth bombs. I-52 dived and the TBF dropped a sonobuoy into the water. The newly-developed sonobuoys picked up long-carrying underwater noises and transmitted these back to the carrier. Following the sonobuoy's signal, Taylor dropped a Mark 24 "Fido" acoustic torpedo. The sonobuoy transmitted the crunching sound of explosions back to Bogue. While Taylor thought he had sunk the sub, other Avengers soon picked up propeller beats. Bogue's CO, Captain A. B. Vosseller, ordered a second attack; William "Flash" Gordon flew his TBF to the site and dropped another torpedo. The I-52 swiftly went to the bottom, with a huge hole in her hull. Next morning, U.S. destroyers found I-52's flotsam: a ton of raw rubber, bit of silk, and even human flesh.
For over 50 years, I-52 lay at the bottom of the Atlantic. In 1998, the National Geographic Society sponsored a deep-sea submersible mission which found the I-52's remains. The October, 1999 issue featured this dramatic story, but I could not find any web links to it.
For more info on the submarine war in the Atlantic, check out the superlative article on the Avenger's role in the fight against the U-boats at uboat.net, a site which at this writing, boasts of over 12,700(!) pages.
But the TBFs' influence far exceeded the destruction of 30 subs. By their presence and activity, many more convoys arrived safely, an undramatic, but vital, result.
Into the Night - June 20, 1944
After the U.S. Navy's Hellcats destroyed over 350 Japanese planes in the "Marianas Turkey Shoot," Admiral Marc Mitscher wanted to follow up the aerial victory and sink the Japanese carriers as well. All day, and into the afternoon, Task Force 58's search planes, probed westward for the fleeing, defenseless enemy ships. Eventually, at 3:40 PM, Avenger pilot Lt. R.S. Nelson, from Enterprise, found Ozawa's force 275 miles to the west. Mitscher ordered an immediate strike; by 4:10 the planes were launched. Nonetheless, the risk to pilots was grave; there just wasn't enough daylight left for them to reach their quarry, hit them, and return. Mitscher's gamble reflected the cold and brutal calculus of war - he hoped his air crew losses would cost his side less than the damage they could do to the other side's ships. A couple hours later, at the extreme end of their range, the TBFs, Hellcats, and dive bombers caught the Japanese fleet.
Avengers from CVL-24 Belleau Wood sank the light carrier Hiyo. Belleau Wood's Air Group 24 launched 12 planes, including a division of four Avengers piloted by Lt.(jg) George P. Brown in the lead, Lt. Warren Omark, Benjamin C. Tate, and W.D. Luton. All four Avengers were armed with torpedoes. When they spotted the Jap carrier, Brown ordered the planes to fan out and approach from different angles. They dove through intense anti-aircraft fire, which struck Brown's TBF. George Platz and Ellis Babcock, the two crewmen in Brown's plane, realized their plane was afire and unable to reach Brown on the intercom, they parachuted and witnessed the attack from the water.
The wounded Brown grimly held his Avenger on track. He, Omark, and Tate launched their improved torpedos at the carrier. They struck home and the two aircrewmen in the water saw Hiyo sink 30 minutes later.
Brown and his plane disappeared. Omark flew back and made a nighttime landing on Lexington. Tate and Luton also flew back, had to ditch, and were recovered safely. American search planes rescued Platz and Babcock the next day.
The TBF's sinking of Hiyo was the only serious damage done to Japanese fighting ships by the 227 planes of the "mission beyond darkness." The Avengers' experience was typical of the day: 54 planes successfully launched, 29 of these were lost, plus 8 more operational losses. From these 37 planes, about 111 men went into the water - 67 were rescued. But a lot of brave young aviators died that day. Mitscher's gamble was probably correct, it just didn't pay off as well as all had hoped.
Undoubtedly, the most famous man to fly an Avenger was George H.W. Bush, later the 41st President of the United States. He joined the Navy in 1942, and became the youngest naval aviator ever in June, 1943. He flew Avengers with VT-51, from USS San Jacinto. On September 2, 1944 he was shot down over Chichi Jima. While Bush parachuted safely and was rescued, neither of his crewmen survived. Bush earned a DFC for delivering his bombload after his TBF had been hit.
Read more about George Bush in WWII at the Naval Historical Center web site.
October, 1944Avengers played a key role in sinking the Japanese super-battleship Musashi in the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea and in the next day's related action, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, CVE-based Avengers helped stave off the Japanese surface ships. TBF's also helped to sink Zuikaku and three light carriers on the 26th.
Lt. Cdr. Edward Huxtable, CO of Gambier Bay's VC-10, directed the Avengers and Wildcats in their attacks on the heavy Japanese ships. When Admiral Kurita's 4 battleships and 8 cruisers appeared off Samar on the morning of Oct.25, Gambier Bay and the other CVE's of Task Force 3 were cruelly exposed. Huxtable's TBM only had 100 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition, but he and other pilots made dummy runs on the Japanese fleet. After sinking Gambier Bay and three destroyers, the Japanese concluded that they were facing Essex-class carriers and they steamed back through San Bernardino Strait.
The End - 1945
Grumman's torpedo bombers sank the Yamato, in its last desperate run for Okinawa on April 7, 1945.
At the 1997 ceremonies for the Enlisted Combat Aircrew Roll of Honor, Yorktown veteran, Charles G. Fries, Jr. ARM2/C, a TBM tail gunner, described the attack.
In April 1945, we went after the last remnants of the Japanese Fleet, which comprised the battleship Yamato, the cruiser Yahagi, and two screen destroyers. When we went to look for them it was overcast, and the TBF crews had to find them, which we did. When we came into range, the squadrons split into two sections. The admirals wanted very badly to bring down the battleship, and if necessary every airplane would hit it. It turned out, that was not necessary. The first TBM's got the wagon, and she was severely damaged, ready to sink.
So we went after the cruiser, whose armor plating was at a different depth. In consequence we had to change the depth setting on the torpedo so it wouldn't go under the cruiser, so it would hit Yahagi at the appropriate point and put a hole in her.
It was a little hairy because you couldn't see what you were doing. You could only get in there up to your armpit, so you were feeling your way. The wrench that turned the indicator changed the depth setting. This was right next to the arming wires that ran from the bulkhead to the torpedo's fuse. If you pulled the wrong wire, we were told the air stream coming through could actually arm the torpedo. If it were hit in any way it could have been a problem to us.
We changed the depth setting and went after the cruiser. Both big ships and the destroyers put up a lot of flak. After firing our torpedo, we were pleased to see the cruiser go down. Later another destroyer went down too. One pilot's torpedo hung up and he had to make two more runs. He got the torpedo off, so we sank three of the four Japanese ships. As far as we were concerned, the Japanese fleet was no more.
As young kids, we were so elated to see those ships go down. The wagon rolled over on her side and eventually went under. The cruiser slipped up into the air, bow first and then slid back down into the water like a toy. My first feeling of elation recalled the Pearl Harbor attack. We felt like we were getting even. However that was soon followed by a great feeling of sadness.
It was strange to see all the Japanese sailors in the water, and wondering to this day if there was any survivors. If there were I would truly like to talk to them and get their side of the story. At this point in our lives, in our middle seventies, we are more reflective. We realize that it's young kids who go to war. I don't know who starts them, but it is not a pleasant to consider all those fellows that didn't make it were somebody's son. They were only kids doing what they were told, the same as we were.
So in this point of one's life, there isn't any malice left.
Read more Aircrews' War Stories at this website.
After the war, Avengers continued flying in the U.S. Navy, primarily in anti-submarine, Electronic Counter-Measures (ECM), as missile platforms, and for training. Large numbers of Avengers found postwar roles with Canada, France, Japan and the Netherlands, some still serving in 1960. Some were converted to civilian use as fire-fighters.
Survivors/Museums42 still airworthy, according to Warbird Alley. A TBM Avenger is on display at New York City's USS Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum.
XTBF-1: two prototypes, R-2600-8 engine
TBF-1: initial production version similar to second prototype; total 2,291 excluding prototypes but including -1Bs and -1Cs
TBF-1B: variant for British with minor differences:
initially designated Tarpon TR.Mk 1; 395 conversions
TBF-1C: as TBF-1 but maximum fuel capacity increased from 335 to 726 gallons with two wing drop tanks and bomb bay ferry tank, two 0.5-inch wing guns
TBF-1CP: conversions of TBF-1C with trimetrogen reconnaissance cameras in fan to give wide coverage
TBF-1D: conversion with RT-5/APS-4 radar in wing pod: TBF-1CD similar conversion of TBF-1C
TBF-IE conversion with special radar and additional avionics
TBF-1J: conversion for Arctic operations, including a high-capacity cockpit heater, bad weather avionics and lighting, and special ice protection
TBF-1L: searchlight on retractable mount extending from bomb bay. Quickly dropped as the searchlight made the plane a fine target for submarine anti-aircraft fire.
TBF-1P: TBF-1 conversion, as TBF-1CP
XTBF-2: conversion of TBF-1 No. 00393 with 1,900 hp
XTBF-3: two TBF-1s completed with engine installation of TBF-3
General Motors TBM's
TBM-1: similar to TBF-1: total 550
TBM-IC: similar to TBF-1C: total 2,336
TBM-1D/E/J/L/P: similar to corresponding TBFs
TBM-2: conversion of TBM-1 No, 24580 with XR-2600-10 engine
XTBM-3: conversions of four TBM-1Cs with R-2600-20
TBM-3: major production model with R-2600-20 engine and outer wing drop tanks or rockets: total 4,657
TBM-3D: conversion with APS-4 radar on right
TBM-3E: conversions with strengthened structure and RT-5/APS-4 radar in pod under right wing
TBM-3E2: updated TBM-3E with extra avionics
TBM-3H: conversions with surface-search radar
TBM-3J: conversions as TBF-1J
TBM-3L: conversions as TBF-1L
TBM-3P: photo-reconnaissance conversions, differing from TBF-1P
TBM-3U: conversions for utility and target towing
XTBM-4: three new-build aircraft with redesigned wing with different fold system and re-stressed to 5g maneuvers, production of 2,141 TBM-4 cancelled at VJ-Day
Post War Variants
TBM-3M: conversions for missile launching
TBM-3M2: updates with extra equipment
TBM-3N: conversions (1945/46) for special night attack missions
TBM-3Q: various rebuilds for post-war ECM and EW research and combat duty with prominent additions on belly, cockpit, fin and in some cases wings for reception and/or jamming
TBM-3R: conversions for seven passenger or cargo transport in at least three configurations, all without guns and with door on right
TBM-3S: major post-war conversion program for ASW strike, most being further updated as TBM-3S2 with TBM 3E2 avionics
TBM-3W: major post-war conversion program for AEW (radar picket) duty with APS-20 radar, no armament and extra fins; most updated as TBM-3W2 with upgraded displays for two rear operators and other changes
Avenger Mk 1: TBF-1B: total 402
Avenger Mk II: TBM-1; total 334
Avenger Mk III: TBM-3; total 222
Avenger AS.Mk 4: post-war TBM-3S: total 100
Recommended Books (from Amazon.com)P-51 Mustang: Production Line to Front Line - first of a new series from Osprey
Kelly: More Than My Share of It All - Kelly Johnson's autobiography
Aerofiles - excellent aviation reference site