World War II - USN #3
TBM-3 Avenger - Operational for the first time on June 4, 1942, during the battle of Midway, the Avenger began its career on a less than successful note. Of the six that were launched only one returned and that aircraft was an almost complete wreck. Despite this beginning, the aircraft became the Navy's standard torpedo-bomber throughout World War II and remained in operational service in a variety of roles until 1954.
When Grumman received the order for two Avenger prototypes in April 1940 it had no experience in producing an aircraft of this type, having specialized in fighters. It was to be a mid-wing monoplane which incorporated a weapons-bay big enough for a torpedo or a 2,000 lb bomb. Defensive armament in the -3 model consists of two fixed forward-firing forward firing 0.50-in guns, one 0.50-in gun in a dorsal turret and one rear-firing 0.30-in ventral gun. Carrying a crew of three - pilot, gunner and radio operator - it was powered by a 1,900 hp Wright R-2600-8 engine, had a top speed of 271 mph, and a range of 1,010 miles.
To meet growing production requirements, General Motors Corporation took over the building of the Avenger at its Eastern Aircraft Factory which was also building Wildcats under license to Grumman. At this time the designation was changed from TBF to TBM. Eastern built 4,664 TBM-3s.
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