Photo: Drew Naylor
Restored to flying condition
Designed by Grumman Aircraft of Long Island, NY the first TBF Avenger torpedo bomber was delivered to the Navy in January 1942. Later, in November of that same year, the Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors delivered its first TBM Avenger. One of the largest single engine aircraft of WWII, it was also the first of that type to carry an electrically operated gun turret. When production finally ended in 1945, a total of 9,836 Avengers had been built.
Despite a disastrous combat debut at the Battle of Midway, the Avenger went on to become the workhorse of U.S. naval aviation, dropping 32,737 tons of bombs, torpedoes, depth charges, and mines.
The TBM-3 on display was accepted into Navy inventory 24 May 1945 and assigned to Torpedo Squadron VT-36. While with VT-36 it served as a trainer and carrier qualification aircraft at Naval Air Stations in Livermore, CA; Sand Point, WA; Klamath Falls, OR, and Brown Field, CA. While at Brown Field, pilots of VT-36 used 53420 to qualify aboard the USS Matanikau. On 7 August 1945 it moved aboard the Escort Carrier USS Siboney (CVE-112) for a cruise to the Pacific and Leyte Gulf via NAS Pearl Harbor. CVE-112 arrived at Pearl Harbor just after hostilities with Japan ended. After various post-war stateside tours, 53420 was stricken from U.S. Navy records on 10 June 1949 and sold as surplus to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) in October of 1950.
After serving with the RCN for ten years this Avenger was sold to Skyways Air Services and was registered as Canadian CF-KCM. It then went to Conair, Ltd and later Forest Protection Ltd, where it served as a forest fire bomber working alongside a fleet of 5 other TBMs. Its firefighting career finished in 1994, 53420 was sold to Vintage Wings of Seattle, WA and then to Mr. Doug Rued of Minot, ND. Mr. Rued spent eight years restoring the aircraft back to original WWII configuration before selling it to the Tri-State Warbird Museum in 2004.
Bureau Number: 53420 | Tail: N420GP
Grumman / General Motors
August 7, 1941
Crew: Pilot, Bombardier/Radio Operator, Turret Gunner
Engine: Wright R-2600-20 Double Cyclone 14 cylinder air cooled twin-row radial engine
Max Speed: 267 mph at 16,000 ft
Offensive Armament: 2 wing mounted .50 caliber machine guns, 1 x 22-inch torpedo or 2,000 pounds of bombs/depth charges, 8 x 5-inch rockets
Defensive Armament: 1 turret mounted .50 caliber machine gun
Wingspan: 54 ft, 2 in
Length: 40 ft
Height: 16 ft, 5 in
Max Weight: 18,250 lbs
Service Ceiling: 23,400 ft
Max Range: 1,130 miles with torpedo; 1,900 miles as a scout
Fuel Capacity: 325 gallons (internal)