Close this search box.

Grumman Avenger

The Grumman Avenger is an American torpedo bomber. 

The Avenger entered U.S. service in 1942, and first saw action during the Battle of Midway.

Despite the loss of five of the six Avengers on its combat debut, it survived in service to become the most effective and widely used torpedo bomber of World War II, sharing credit for sinking the super-battleships Yamato and Musashi and being credited for sinking 30 submarines.

Greatly modified after the war, it remained in use until the 1960s.

The Douglas TBD Devastator, the U.S. Navy’s main torpedo bomber introduced in 1935, was obsolescent by 1939.

Bids were accepted from several companies, but Grumman’s TBF design was selected as the replacement for the TBD and in April 1940 two prototypes were ordered by the Navy.

Designed by Leroy Grumman, the first prototype was called the XTBF-1.

It was first flown on 7 August 1941.

Although one of the first two prototypes crashed near Brentwood, New York, rapid production continued.

The Avenger was the heaviest single-engined aircraft of World War II, and only the USAAF’s P-47 Thunderbolt came close to equalling it in maximum loaded weight among all single-engined fighters, being only some 400 pounds (180 kg) lighter than the TBF, by the end of World War II.

To ease carrier storage concerns, simultaneously with the F4F-4 model of its Wildcat carrier fighter, Grumman designed the Avenger to also use the new Sto-Wing patented “compound angle” wing-folding mechanism, intended to maximize storage space on an aircraft carrier; the Wildcat’s replacement, the F6F Hellcat, also employed this mechanism.

The engine used was the twin-row Wright R-2600-20 Twin Cyclone fourteen-cylinder radial engine, which produced 1,900 horsepower (1,420 kW).

There were three crew members: pilot, turret gunner and radioman/bombardier/ventral gunner.

A single synchronized .30 calibre (7.62 mm) machine gun was mounted in the nose, a .50 calibre (12.7 mm) gun was mounted right next to the turret gunner’s head in a rear-facing electrically powered turret, and a single 0.30 calibre (7.62 mm) hand-fired machine gun flexibly mounted ventrally (under the tail), which was used to defend against enemy fighters attacking from below and to the rear.

This gun was fired by the radioman/bombardier while standing up and bending over in the belly of the tail section, though he usually sat on a folding bench facing forward to operate the radio and to sight in bombing runs.

Later models of the TBF/TBM omitted the cowl-mount synchronized 0.30 calibre (7.62 mm) gun and replaced it with twin Browning AN/M2 0.50 calibre (12.7 mm) light-barrel guns, one in each wing outboard of the propeller arc, per pilots’ requests for better forward firepower and increased strafing ability.

There was only one set of controls on the aircraft, and no direct access to the pilot’s position existed from the rest of the aircraft’s interior.

The radio equipment was massive, especially by today’s standards, and filled the length of the well-framed “greenhouse” canopy to the rear of the pilot.

The radios were accessible for repair through a “tunnel” along the right-hand side.

Any Avengers that are still flying today usually have an additional rear-mounted seat in place of the radios, allowing for a fourth passenger.

The Avenger had a large bomb bay, allowing for one Bliss-Leavitt Mark 13 torpedo, a single 2,000-pound (907 kg) bomb, or up to four 500-pound (227 kg) bombs.

The aircraft had overall ruggedness and stability, and pilots say it flew like a truck, for better or worse.

With its good radio facilities, docile handling, and long range, the Grumman Avenger also made an ideal command aircraft for Commanders, Air Group (CAGs).

With a 30,000 ft (9,000 m) ceiling and a fully loaded range of 1,000 miles (1,600 km), it was better than any previous American torpedo bomber, and better than its Japanese counterpart, the obsolete Nakajima B5N “Kate”.

Later Avenger models carried radar equipment for the ASW and AEW roles.

Escort carrier sailors referred to the TBF as the “turkey” because of its size and manoeuvrability in comparison to the F4F Wildcat fighters in same air groups.


Grumman TBF


Prototypes each powered by a 1,700 hp (1,300 kW) R-2600-8 engine, second aircraft introduced the large dorsal fin. 


Initial production model based on the second prototype. 


TBF-1 with provision for two 0.5 in (12.7 mm) wing guns and fuel capacity increased to 726 US gal (2,748 l).


Paper designation for the Avenger I for the Royal Navy.


TBF-1 conversions with centimetric radar in radome on right wing leading edge.


TBF-1C conversions with centimetric radar in radome on right wing leading edge.


TBF-1 conversions with additional electronic equipment.


TBF-1 equipped for bad weather operations


TBF-1 equipped with retractable searchlight in bomb bay.


TBF-1 conversion for photoreconnaissance


TBF-1C conversion for photoreconnaissance


TBF-1 re-engine with a 1,900 hp (1,400 kW) XR-2600-10 engine.


TBF-1 re-engine with 1,900 hp (1,400 kW) R-2600-20 engines.


Planned production version of the XTBF-3, cancelled

General Motors TBM


as TBF-1. 


as TBF-1C. 


TBM-1 conversions with centimetric radar in radome on right wing leading edge.


TBM-1 conversions with additional electronic equipment.


TBM-1 equipped for all weather operations


TBM-1 equipped with retractable searchlight in bomb bay.


TBM-1 conversion for photoreconnaissance


TBM-1C conversion for photoreconnaissance


One TBM-1 re-engine with a 1,900 hp (1,400 kW) XR-2600-10 engine.


Four TBM-1C aircraft with 1,900 hp (1,400 kW) R-2600-20 engines.


as TBM-1C, double cooling intakes, engine upgrade, minor changes. (4,011 built)


TBM-3 conversion with centimetric radar in radome on right wing leading edge.


as TBM-3, stronger airframe, search radar, ventral gun deleted. (646 built).


TBM-3 conversion with surface search radar.


TBM-3 equipped for all weather operations


TBM-3 equipped with retractable searchlight in bomb bay.


TBM-3 conversion as a Tiny Tim rocket launcher.


TBM-3 conversion for night attack.


TBM-3 conversion for photoreconnaissance.


TBM-3 conversion for electronic countermeasures, retained gun turret.


TBM-3 conversions as seven-passenger, Carrier onboard delivery transport.


TBM-3 conversion as an anti-submarine strike version.


TBM-3 conversion as a general utility and target version.


TBM-3 conversion as the first ship based airborne early warning control and relay platform with AN/APS-20 radar in ventral radome.


Prototypes based on TBM-3E with modified wing incorporating a reinforced centre section and a different folding mechanism.


Production version of XTBM-4, 2141 on order were cancelled.

Royal Navy Avenger

Tarpon GR.I

RN designation of the TBF-1.

Avenger Mk.II

RN designation of the TBM-1/TBM-1C.

Avenger Mk.III

RN designation of the TBM-3.

Avenger Mk.IV

RN designation of the TBM-3S.

Avenger AS4

RN designation of the TBM-3S, 100 delivered post-war

Royal Canadian Navy Avengers

Avenger AS3

Modified by RCN for anti-submarine duty, dorsal gun turret removed.

Avenger AS3M

AS3 with magnetic anomaly detector boom added to rear fuselage

Avenger Mk.3W2

Similar to TBM-3W, with large ventral radome.





40 ft 1⁄8 in (12.195 m)


54 ft 2 in (16.51 m)


19 ft (5.8 m) folded


16 ft 5 in (5.00 m)

Wing area

490 sq ft (46 m2)



NACA 23015


NACA 23009

Gross weight

15,536 lb (7,047 kg)

Fuel capacity

Fuel 330 US gal (275 imp gal; 1,249 l) in three centre-section integral tanks


2x 58 US gal (48 imp gal; 220 l) droppable slipper tanks under outer wings, with provision for a jettisonable 275 US gal (229 imp gal; 1,041 l) bomb-bay ferry tank.

Oil 32 US gal (27 imp gal; 121 l)


1 × Wright R-2600-8 Twin Cyclone,

14-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine,

1,700 hp (1,300 kW)


3-bladed Hamilton Standard constant-speed propeller


Maximum speed

278 mph (447 km/h, 242 kn)

Cruise speed

215 mph (346 km/h, 187 kn)


905 mi (1,456 km, 786 nmi) at cruise speed

Service ceiling

22,600 ft (6,900 m)

Rate of climb

1,075 ft/min (5.46 m/s)


0.11 hp/lb (0.18 kW/kg)



1 × 0.30 in (7.62 mm) nose mounted M1919 Browning machine gun

(On early models)


2 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) wing mounted M2 Browning machine guns

1 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) dorsal-mounted M2 Browning machine gun

1 × 0.30 in (7.62 mm) ventral mounted M1919 Browning machine gun


Up to eight 3.5-Inch Forward Firing Aircraft Rockets,

5-Inch Forward Firing Aircraft Rockets


High Velocity Aerial Rockets


Up to 2,000 lb (907 kg) of bombs


1 × 2,000 lb (907 kg) Mark 13 torpedo.




Share on facebook