The Avenger first flew in August 1941. This was the first of two XTBF-1's ordered by the US Bureau of Aeronautics in April 1940. The first prototype (BuNo2539) crashed in November 1941, but the second (BuNo2540) began testing in December 1941. The aircraft went into production in 1942. 9839 Avengers were built (2293 by Grumman, and 7546 by General Motors Eastern Aircraft Division). Originally intended as a three seat torpedo-bomber, 24 variants of the aircraft (along with modifications) were eventually built before it was replaced in USN service by the Douglas Skyraider. The aircraft was adopted by a number of other Air Forces (FAA, Canada, France, Netherlands, New Zealand, Uruguay), and also had civil use (particularly as a water bomber).
The RNZAF operated 48 TBF-1 aircraft (NZ2501-2548) in the period 1943-1959. NZ2501-NZ2506 were TBF-1 models, and the remainder were TBF-1c's. The aircraft operated with No's 30 and 31 SQNs in a divebombing and spraying role, and as drogue-towers. In the post-war period they mainly operated as drogue-towers by No's 41 and 42SQN's, although they were also used in top-dressing trials. By the end of WWII the RNZAF had only 12 Avengers, the remainder having been passed to the USN (16 aircraft) and FAA (9 aircraft). Of the twelve, six were sold for scrap in 1948, and two lost in accidents (in 1949 &1956).
Four RNZAF Avengers survive:
One further Avenger has been based in New Zealand. The AFC imported a TBM-3E (BuNo91110, ex N6827C) previously operated by the OFMC, in 1992. This was registered ZK-TBM (pictured below) and operated from Wanaka until April 1999. The aircraft was sold to Randall MacFarlane and flown to Australia, departing on May 5 of that year for its new base at Toowoomba. More information on this aircraft can be found here.
Last Update:- 28 March, 2000
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