The Grumman TBF Avenger (designated TBM for aircraft manufactured by General Motors) is an American torpedo bomber developed initially for the United States Navy and Marine Corps, and eventually used by several air and naval aviation services around the world.
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 one of the outstanding torpedo bombers of World War II. Greatly modified after the war, it remained in use until the 1960s.
The Avenger was also used by the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm, where it was initially known as the "Tarpon". However, this name was later discontinued and the Avenger name used instead, as part of the process of the Fleet Air Arm universally adopting the U.S. Navy's names for American naval aircraft. The first 402 aircraft were known as Avenger Mk 1, 334 TBM-1s from Grumman were the Avenger Mk II and 334 TBM-3 the Mark III. An interesting kill by a Royal Navy Avenger was the destruction of a V-1 flying bomb on 9 July 1944. The much faster V-1 was overtaking the Avenger when the Telegraphist Air Gunner in the dorsal turret, Leading Aircraftman Fred Shirmer, fired at it from 700 yards. For this achievement, Shirmer was Mentioned in Dispatches, later being awarded the DSM for the 1945 Operation Meridian action at Palembang. In the January 1945 British carrier raid on the Soengei Gerong oil refinery during Operation Meridian, a Fleet Air Arm Avenger shot down a Nakajima Ki-44 in a low level combat over the jungle.
Many Avengers have survived into the 21st century working as spray-applicators and water-bombers throughout North America, particularly in the Canadian province of New Brunswick. There are several other Avengers, usually flying as warbirds in private collections around the world today. They are a popular airshow fixture in both flying and static displays. The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) flies a TBM Avenger with their Missouri Wing at St Charles Smartt Field.