General Motors TBM-3E Avenger Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum

Plane Details

Plane: TBM-3E Avenger
Manufacturer: General Motors
Tail Code: **

TBM-3E History:

Airframe History (BuNo 53726)
This aircraft was accepted by the U.S. Navy on 16 June, 1945. On 1 June, 1946 it was assigned to the aircraft pool at NAS San Diego CA. In September 1946 it was transferred to the island of O’ahu, Territory of Hawaii, and assigned to the aircraft pool at NAS Ford Island, and then NAS Barbers Point. After an overhaul period in San Diego it was assigned to NAS Norfolk and then the Naval Aviation Reserve Training Unit (NARTU) at NAF Anacostia, Washington DC.

In late 1949 it operated out of the pool at NAS Corpus Christi, TX. It spent the next two years in storage at Litchfield Park, AZ. It was pulled out of storage to support the surge in pilot training during the Korean War. In 1952 it served at the Naval Aviation Reserve Training Unit at NAS Birmingham, AL before heading to Carrier Qualification Training Unit FOUR (CQTU-4) and Basic Training Unit THREE (BTU-3) at Naval Air Auxiliary Field Barin Field, AL. In April of 1962 this aircraft returned to Litchfield Park and was stricken from Navy inventory. It was purchased by Marsh Aviation in 1963 and converted to an air tanker. In 1965 it was sold to Reeder Aviation and was used for the Spruce Budworm aerial spray program in Newfoundland and New Brunswick Canada. In 1987 this aircraft was purchased by Northwest Warbirds Inc. in Twin Falls, Idaho. In 1988 it was purchased by the National Museum of the Marine Corps and displayed at MCAS El Toro.

In 1999 it moved to its current location at MCAS Miramar. It is painted in the colors of VMBT-132 when in July 1945 it was deployed in the escort carrier USS Cape Gloucester (CVE-109) and participated in the battle of Okinawa. This aircraft is on loan from the National Museum of the Marine Corps.


TB – Type (Torpedo Bomber); M – Manufacturer (General Motors); 3 – Version or Variant; E –
Modification Version

Model Notes

The Grumman Avenger is truly an unsung hero of World War II. Designed in 1939 in response to a Navy request to replace the obsolete TBD Devastator the first production Avenger rolled off Grumman’s assembly line in January 1942. By June, Grumman was producing 60 Avengers per month but the Navy & Marine Corps needed more. Grumman contracted with General Motors to put several idle auto
manufacturing plants to work building Avengers so they could concentrate on production of the F6F

Grumman ended construction of the TBF in December 1943 producing 2,291 aircraft. By the end of the
war General Motors produced 7,546 Avengers (including 646 TBM-3E’s).

The Avenger was finally retired from military service in the 1960’s.

Notable crew of the TBM were President George H. W. Bush (pilot) and actor Paul Newman (gunner).
Airframe Notes (TBM-3E)

In an effort to improve the performance to the TBM-3, General Motors began a program to both lighten
and strengthen the Avenger airframe. An improved search radar was installed, the retractable tailhook
was replaced with a fixed hook attached under the tail and the bottom aft “stinger” .50 caliber machine
gun was removed.


Manufacturer: Eastern Aircraft Division, General Motors Corporation, Trenton, New Jersey
Type: Carrier-based torpedo-bomber
Accommodations: Pilot, gunner and radar operator
Power Plant: One 1,900 hp Wright R-2600- 20 14 cylinder air-cooled twin-row radial engine
Span: 54 ft 2 in
Length: 40 ft
Height: 16 ft 5 in
Empty: 10,545 lb
Combat: 17,895 lb
Gross: 18,250 lb
Max speed: 240 kn (276 mph) at 16,500 ft
Initial rate of climb: 2,060 fpm; Ceiling: 30,100 ft
Range (combat): 1,010 mi (internal fuel only)
Armament: Two wing mounted fixed forward-firing 0.50-in machine guns; one dorsal 0.50-in MG; one ventral 0.30-in MG. Up to 2,000 lb of ordnance carried internally in bomb-bay and externally on six wing- mounted bomb-racks

General Motors TBM-3E Avenger Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum San Diego