AIR International is a British aviation magazine covering current defence aerospace and civil aviation topics. It has been in publication since 1971 and is published by Key Publishing Ltd; the magazine was first published in June 1971 with the name Air Enthusiast. In January 1974 its title was changed to Air Enthusiast International and to Air International in July 1974. Air International is published by Key Publishing Limited; the magazine has its headquarters in Lincolnshire. Sister publications include Airliner World, Airports International and FlyPast. List of Air International issues with article index
Grumman G-44 Widgeon
The Grumman G-44 Widgeon is a small, five-person, twin-engine amphibious aircraft. It was designated J4F by the United States Navy and Coast Guard and OA-14 by the United States Army Air Corps and United States Army Air Forces; the Widgeon was designed for the civil market. It is smaller but otherwise similar to Grumman's earlier G-21 Goose, was produced from 1941 to 1955; the aircraft was used during World War II as a small patrol and utility machine by the United States Navy, US Coast Guard and by the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm. The first prototype flew in 1940, the first production aircraft went to the United States Navy as an anti-submarine aircraft. In total, 276 were built including 176 for the military. During World War II, they served with the US Navy, Coast Guard, Civil Air Patrol and Army Air Force, as well as with the British Royal Navy, who gave it the service name Gosling. On August 1, 1942, a J4F-1 flown by US Coast Guard Patrol Squadron 212 based out of Houma and flown by Chief Aviation Pilot Henry White spotted and attacked a German U-boat off the coast of Louisiana.
White reported the submarine sunk, he was subsequently credited with sinking U-166 and awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. However, in June 2001 the wreck of U-166 was found sitting near the wreck of SS Robert E. Lee by an oil exploration team. White's Widgeon is now thought to have made an unsuccessful attack against U-171, a Type IXC U-boat identical to U-166 that reported an air attack coincident with White's attack. U-171 was undamaged by White's attack, but was sunk four months in the Bay of Biscay; the sinking of a German U-Boat by the Civil Air Patrol was claimed by one of their larger aircraft on 11 July 1942. The Grumman G-44 Widgeon, armed with two depth charges and crewed by Captain Johnny Haggins and Major Wynant Farr, was scrambled when another CAP patrol radioed that they had encountered an enemy submarine but were returning to base due to low fuel. After scanning the area, Farr spotted the U-boat cruising beneath the surface of the waves. Unable to determine the depth of the vessel and Ferr radioed the situation back to base and followed the enemy in hopes that it would rise to periscope depth.
For three hours, the crew shadowed the submarine. Just as Haggins was about to return to base, the U-boat rose to periscope depth, Haggins swung the aircraft around, aligned with the submarine and dove to 100 feet. Farr released one of the two depth charges; as it left an oil slick, Farr released the other charge. Debris appeared on the ocean's surface, confirming the U-boat's demise and the Civil Air Patrol's first kill. After the war, Grumman redesigned the aircraft to make it more suitable for civilian operations. A new hull improved its water handling, six seats were installed. A total of 76 of the new G-44A were built by Grumman, the last being delivered on January 13, 1949. Another 41 were produced under licence by the Societe de Construction Aero-Navale in La Rochelle, France as the SCAN-30. Most of these ended up in the United States. McKinnon Enterprises at Sandy, Oregon converted over 70 Widgeons to "Super Widgeons." The conversion features replacing the engines with 270 hp Avco Lycoming GO-480-B1D flat-six piston engines, various other modifications, including modern avionics, three-bladed propellers, larger windows, improved soundproofing, emergency exits, increased Maximum Takeoff Weight.
Retractable wingtip floats are optional. G-44 Main production variant, 200 built including J4F series military variants listed below. G-44A Improved postwar production variant with redesigned hull, 76 built J4F-1 G-44 for the United States Coast Guard with three seats, 25 built. J4F-2 United States Navy version of the J4F-1 with 5-seat interior, 131 built. OA-14 Fifteen G-44s impressed into wartime service with the United States Army Air Forces. OA-14A One new aircraft for the Corps of Engineers. Gosling I Fifteen J4F-2s transferred to the Royal Navy renamed Widgeon I SCAN 30 G-44A Licence-built in France using Metric standards and not Anodized as were original Grumman-built aircraft, 41 built PACE Gannet Pacific Aerospace Engineering Corporation conversions of S. C. A. N. 30s, powered by 300 hp Lycoming R-680-13 radial engines. Known as the Gannet Super Widgeon Brazil Brazilian Air Force operated 14 from 1942 to 1958 Cuba Cuban Navy received four in 1952 IsraelIsraeli Air Force operated two from 1948 to 1949 Portugal Portuguese Navy operated 12 from 1942 to 1968 Thailand Royal Thai Navy operated five in 1951 Royal Thai Air Force operated five from 1951 to 1956 United KingdomRoyal Navy United StatesUnited States Army Air Corps United States Army Air Forces United States Coast Guard United States Navy Civil Air Patrol Uruguay Uruguayan Navy operated one example from 1943 to 1979 NorwayMørefly New ZealandMount Cook Airline Sea Bee Air Many Widgeons survive in private hands in various states of restoration or storage.
The aircraft continues to enjoy a considerable degree of popularity as a seaplane, with many still being flown though on the warbird circuit. J4F-1, USCG Aircraft Serial No. V212, National Naval Aviation Museum, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida SCAN 30 serial no. 28 was on display at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Mount Hope, Ontario until it was sold to a private owner in British Columbia in 2014. Two in Portugal, non-airworthy, both from Portuguese Navy. One on display at Museu do Ar, registration 129. Another on display at N
The Grumman F3F was the last American biplane fighter aircraft delivered to the United States Navy, served between the wars. Designed as an improvement on the single-seat F2F, it entered service in 1936, it was retired from front line squadrons at the end of 1941 before it could serve in World War II, was first replaced by the Brewster F2A Buffalo. The F3F which inherited the Leroy Grumman-designed retractable main landing gear configuration first used on the Grumman FF served as the basis for a biplane design developed into the much more successful F4F Wildcat; the Navy's experience with the F2F revealed issues with stability and unfavorable spin characteristics, prompting the 15 October 1934 contract for the improved XF3F-1, placed before F2F deliveries began. The contract required a capability for ground attack, in addition to the design's fighter role. Powered by the same Pratt & Whitney R-1535-72 Twin Wasp Junior engine as the F2F, the fuselage was lengthened and wing area increased over the earlier design.
A reduction in wheel diameter allowed greater fuselage streamlining, eliminating the prominent bulge behind the cowling of the F2F. The prototype, BuNo. 9727, was delivered and first flown on 20 March 1935 with company test pilot Jimmy Collins making three flights that day. Two days six dive-recovery flights took place; the aircraft broke up in midair, killing Collins. A second, strengthened prototype was built, but it crashed on 9 May of the same year following the pilot's bailout during an unsuccessful spin recovery; the second prototype was rebuilt in three weeks, flying on 20 June 1935. An order for 54 F3F-1 fighters was placed on 24 August of that year, following the conclusion of the flight test program; the first production F3F-1 was delivered on 29 January 1936 to the test group at Naval Air Station Anacostia, with squadron service beginning in March to VF-5B of Ranger and VF-6B of Saratoga. Marine squadron VF-4M received the last six in January 1937. Grumman, wanting to take advantage of the powerful new 950 hp Wright R-1820 supercharged radial engine, began work on the F3F-2 without a contract.
The engine's larger diameter changed the cowling's appearance, making the aircraft look more like a barrel, though top speed increased to 255 mph at 12,000 ft. The entire F3F-2 production series was delivered in between 1937 and 1938. Further aerodynamic improvements were made to an F3F-2 based on wind tunnel studies in the NACA Langley 30' x 60' full-scale wind tunnel and became the XF3F-3, it featured a larger-diameter propeller, a complete revision of the fuselage skinning forward of the aft cabane strut in order to improve aerodynamics and reduce carbon monoxide intrusion. On 21 June 1938, the Navy ordered 27 F3F-3s, as new monoplane fighters like the Brewster F2A and Grumman's own F4F Wildcat were taking longer to develop than had been planned. With the introduction of the Brewster F2A-1, the Navy's biplane fighter days were numbered. All F3Fs were withdrawn from squadron service by the end of 1941, though 117 were assigned to naval bases and used for training and utility duties until December 1943.
The G-32 and G-32A two-place aircraft were used by the U. S. Army Air Force as ferry-pilot trainers, under the designation UC-103/UC-103A. A civilian aerobatic two-seat variant, the G-22A "Gulfhawk II," was constructed in 1938 and flown by Major Alfred "Al" Williams, head of Gulf Oil's aviation department. Data from: Aerofiles - Grumman G-11 Company designation for F3F-1 carrier-borne fighters. XF3F-1 Three prototypes of the F3F, powered by a single 700 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1535-84 Twin Wasp Junior F3F-1 Initial production version for the US Navy, 54 built. G-19 Company designation for the F3F-2 and F3F-3. XF3F-2 A single prototype, powered by a single 850 hp Wright XR-1820-22 Cyclone G F3F-2 Second production model for the US Navy, powered by a single 950 hp Wright R-1820-22 Cyclone, 81 built. XF3F-3 A single prototype of the F3F-3 with curved windshield, a modified forward fuselage with a widened diameter and cowling with a single cowl flap on either side. F3F-3 Final production variant for the US Navy, 27 built.
Featured a redesigned forward fuselage forward of the aft cabane struts G-22 Gulfhawk II A single hybrid F2F/F3F, powered by a 1,000 hp Wright R-1820 Cyclone, for display pilot Al Williams, sponsored by the Gulf Oil Company for demonstration flights and aerobatic displays. The G-22 Gulfhawk II was retired to the National Air Museum in October 1948. G-32 / G-32A Gulfhawk III A civilian version of the F3F, powered by a 1,000 hp Wright R-1820 Cyclone. Two aircraft were built, one for Grumman Aircraft Company and the second, Red Ship, for Al Williams as the G-32A Gulfhawk III UC-103 Both G-32 aircraft were impressed into the USAAF in 1942. United StatesUnited States Army Air Forces United States Marine Corps VF-4M VF-9M VMF-1 VMF-2 VMF-211 United States Navy VF-2B VF-3B VF-5B VF-6B VF-2 VF-3 VF-4 VF-5 VF-6 VF-71 VF-72 Today, there are four flying aircraft, three F3F-2 models and the Gulf Oil G-32A, all which were restored by Herb Tischler's Texas Airplane Factory in Fort Worth; the restorations took four years and consisted of rebuilding the G-32A
Tucson is a city and the county seat of Pima County, United States, home to the University of Arizona. The 2010 United States Census put the population at 520,116, while the 2015 estimated population of the entire Tucson metropolitan statistical area was 980,263; the Tucson MSA forms part of the larger Tucson-Nogales combined statistical area, with a total population of 1,010,025 as of the 2010 Census. Tucson is the second-largest populated city in Arizona behind Phoenix, both of which anchor the Arizona Sun Corridor; the city is 108 miles southeast of Phoenix and 60 mi north of the U. S.–Mexico border. Tucson is the 58th largest metropolitan area in the United States. Major incorporated suburbs of Tucson include Oro Valley and Marana northwest of the city, Sahuarita south of the city, South Tucson in an enclave south of downtown. Communities in the vicinity of Tucson include Casas Adobes, Catalina Foothills, Flowing Wells, Midvale Park, Tanque Verde and Vail. Towns outside the Tucson metro area include Benson to the southeast and Oracle to the north, Green Valley to the south.
The Spanish name of the city, Tucsón, is derived from the O'odham Cuk Ṣon, meaning " base of the black ", a reference to a basalt-covered hill now known as Sentinel Peak known as "A" Mountain. Tucson is sometimes referred to as "The Old Pueblo". Tucson was first visited by Paleo-Indians, known to have been in southern Arizona about 12,000 years ago. Recent archaeological excavations near the Santa Cruz River found a village site dating from 2100 BC; the floodplain of the Santa Cruz River was extensively farmed during the Early Agricultural Period, circa 1200 BC to AD 150. These people constructed irrigation canals and grew corn and other crops while gathering wild plants and hunting; the Early Ceramic period occupation of Tucson saw the first extensive use of pottery vessels for cooking and storage. The groups designated as the Hohokam lived in the area from AD 600 to 1450 and are known for their vast irrigation canal systems and their red-on-brown pottery. Jesuit missionary Eusebio Francisco Kino visited the Santa Cruz River valley in 1692, founded the Mission San Xavier del Bac in 1700 about 7 mi upstream from the site of the settlement of Tucson.
A separate Convento settlement was founded downstream along the Santa Cruz River, near the base of what is now "A" mountain. Hugo O'Conor, the founding father of the city of Tucson, Arizona authorized the construction of a military fort in that location, Presidio San Agustín del Tucsón, on August 20, 1775. During the Spanish period of the presidio, attacks such as the Second Battle of Tucson were mounted by Apaches; the town came to be called "Tucson" and became a part of the state of Sonora after Mexico gained independence from the Kingdom of Spain and its Spanish Empire in 1821. Tucson was captured by Philip St. George Cooke with the Mormon Battalion during the Mexican–American War in 1846-1848, but it soon returned to Mexican control as Cooke continued his mission westward establishing Cooke's Wagon Road to California. Tucson was not included in the Mexican Cession and Cooke's road through Tucson became one of the important routes into California during the California Gold Rush of 1849. Arizona, south of the Gila River, was obtained via treaty from Mexico in the Gadsden Purchase on June 8, 1854.
Tucson became a part of the United States of America, although the American military did not formally take over control until March 1856. In 1857, Tucson became a stage station on the San Antonio-San Diego Mail Line and in 1858 became 3rd division headquarters of the Butterfield Overland Mail until the line shut down in March 1861; the Overland Mail Corporation attempted to continue running, following the Bascom Affair, devastating Apache attacks on the stations and coaches ended operations in August 1861. From August 1861 to mid-1862, Tucson was the western capital of the Confederate Arizona Territory, the eastern capital being Mesilla. In 1862, the California Column drove the Confederate forces out of Arizona. Tucson and all of what is now Arizona were part of New Mexico Territory until 1863, when they became part of the new Arizona Territory. From 1867 to 1877, Tucson was the capital of the Arizona Territory. Tucson was incorporated in 1877. From 1877 to 1878, the area suffered a rash of stagecoach robberies.
Most notable were the two holdups committed by masked road-agent William Whitney Brazelton. Brazelton held up two stages in the summer of 1878 near Point of Mountain Station 17 mi northwest of Tucson. John Clum, of Tombstone, Arizona fame was one of the passengers. Pima County Sheriff Charles A. Shibell and his citizen posse killed Brazelton on Monday August 19, 1878, in a mesquite bosque along the Santa Cruz River 3 miles south of Tucson. Brazelton had been suspected of highway robbery in the Tucson area, the Prescott region and Silver City, New Mexico area. Brazelton's crimes prompted John J. Valentine, Sr. of Wells, Fargo & Co. to send special agent and future Pima County sheriff Bob Paul to investigate. Fort Lowell east of Tucson, was established to help protect settlers from Apache attacks. In 1882, Frank Stilwell was implicated in the murder of Morgan Earp by Cowboy Pete Spence's wife, Marietta, at the coroner's inquest on Morgan Earp's shooting; the coroner's jury concluded Spence, Frederick Bode, Florentino "Indian Charlie" Cruz were the prime suspects in the assassination of Morgan Earp.
Deputy U. S. Marshal Wyatt Earp gathered a few trusted friends and accompanied
Grumman G-21 Goose
The Grumman G-21 Goose is an amphibious flying boat designed by Grumman to serve as an eight-seat "commuter" aircraft for businessmen in the Long Island area. The Goose was Grumman’s first monoplane to fly, its first twin-engined aircraft, its first aircraft to enter commercial airline service. During World War II, the Goose became an effective transport for the US military, as well as serving with many other air forces. During hostilities, the Goose took on an increasing number of training roles. In 1936, a group of wealthy residents of Long Island, including E. Roland Harriman, approached Grumman and commissioned an aircraft that they could use to fly to New York City. In response, the Grumman Model G-21 was designed as a light amphibious transport. Grumman produced a high-wing monoplane of all-metal construction—the trailing half of the main wing and all of the flight control surfaces except for the flaps were fabric-covered, it was powered by two 450 horsepower Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Junior nine-cylinder, air-cooled, radial engines mounted on the leading edges of the wings.
The deep fuselage served as a hull and was equipped with hand-cranked retractable landing gear. First flight of the prototype took place on May 29, 1937; the fuselage proved versatile, as it provided generous interior space that allowed fitting for either a transport or luxury airliner role. Having an amphibious configuration allowed the G-21 to go just about anywhere, plans were made to market it as an amphibian airliner. A number of modifications were made for the Goose, but the most numerous are those by McKinnon Enterprises of Sandy, which holds 21 supplemental type certificates for modifying G-21-series aircraft and which manufactured four different conversions that were recertified under a separate FAA type certificate as brand-new "McKinnon" airplanes; the first was the McKinnon model G-21C which involved replacing the original R-985 radial engines with four Lycoming GSO-480-B2D6 piston engines. It was approved under TC 4A24 on November 7, 1958, two examples were built in 1958–1959; the second McKinnon conversion was the model G-21D, which differed from the G-21C only by the insertion of a 36-inch extension in the nose section of the aircraft in front of the cockpit, 12-inch extensions that were added to the horizontal stabilizers and elevators.
The extended nose of the G-21D was distinguishable by the addition of two new windows on each side, it housed four additional passenger seats. Only one G-21D was built and it was reconverted from the first G-21C; when further converted to turbine engines, it was nicknamed "Turboprop Goose". After the turbine conversion of the G-21D, McKinnon developed an STC to install the same 550-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-20 engines on Grumman G-21A aircraft that were still certified under the original TC no. 654. Two G-21A aircraft were modified as “Hybrid” turbine conversions, one by Marshall of Cambridge in the UK and one belonging to the Bureau of Land Management being modified by McKinnon in 1967; because they had many other McKinnon features installed on them using some of its STCs, these aircraft were confused with similar but subsequent McKinnon turbine conversions and model G-21E aircraft, but they remained “Grumman G-21A” aircraft under TC no. 654. In addition to the two G-21A “Hybrid” turbine conversions, McKinnon converted two other G-21A aircraft in 1968 to a turbine configuration, claiming they were recertified as models G-21C under TC 4A24, Section I, as turbines per STC SA1320WE.
However, they lacked some of the internal structural reinforcements that were part of the model G-21C design and were unrelated to the turbine engine transplant from the four Lycoming GSO-480-series piston engines, as a result of which, they were certified to operate up to a maximum gross weight of only 10,500 lb. McKinnon dubbed these aircraft model G-21C “Hybrids”, but one year after they were built, their configuration was approved by the FAA as a whole new model under TC 4A24; the third McKinnon model, the G-21E, is based on the previous G-21C “Hybrid” conversions. It was certified with the same two 550-shp PT6A-20 turboprops used on the G-21D turbine conversion, but after approval of the model G-21G, 680-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-27 engines were approved as an option on the G-21E. Only one example was actually built and recertified as a model G-21E, it was, in fact, equipped with the more powerful PT6A-27 engines; the final McKinnon variant is the G-21G, approved by the FAA on August 29, 1969, under Section IV of TC no.
4A24. The G-21G combines all of the structural reinforcements and 12,500-lb gross weight of the earlier G-21C and D models, as well as their other features such as the “radar” nose, the “wraparound” windshield, retractable wingtip floats, “picture” cabin windows, with the more powerful PT6A-27 turbine engines and other minor details to produce the ultimate McKinnon Goose conversion. In November 2007, Antilles Seaplanes of Gibsonville, North Carolina, announced it was restarting production of the turbine-powered McKinnon G-21G Turbo Goose variant, now identified as the Antilles G-21G Super Goose. Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-34 turboprops flat-rated to 680 shp would have replaced the original PT6A-27 engines, the airframe systems and the avionics would have been updated with state-of-the-art “glass panel” instrumentation an
Naval Air Station Patuxent River
Naval Air Station Patuxent River known as NAS Pax River, is a United States naval air station located in St. Mary's County, Maryland, on the Chesapeake Bay near the mouth of the Patuxent River, it is home to Headquarters, Naval Air Systems Command, the U. S. Naval Test Pilot School, the Atlantic Test Range, serves as a center for test and evaluation and systems acquisition relating to naval aviation. Commissioned on April 1, 1943, on land acquired through eminent domain, the air station grew in response to World War II and continued to evolve through the Cold War to the present. Situated on a peninsula between the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay at the mouth of the Patuxent River, NAS Patuxent River is located on 6,400 acres of what was once prime farmland, consisting of several large plantations, Mattapony and Cedar Point, as well as numerous tenant and sharecropper properties and a few clusters of vacation homes; the Cedar Point community included several churches, a post office, a gas station.
Some of the old homes now serve. In 1937, the Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics sought to consolidate aviation test programs being conducted at several stations, including Dahlgren and Norfolk, the Washington Navy Yard, Naval Air Station Anacostia in Washington, D. C. and the Naval Aircraft Factory in Pennsylvania. Cedar Point was selected due to its remote location on the coastline, well removed from air traffic congestion, with ample space for weapons testing; the onset of American involvement in World War II spurred establishment of the new air station. Rear Admiral John Henry Towers, Chief of Bureau of Aeronautics, requested approval and authorization to begin construction on December 22, 1941. Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox, gave approval on 7 January 1942 and construction began on 4 April 1942; the original civilian residents had about a month, until 1 March 1942, to relocate as the federal government purchased all the land at a cost of $712,287 for 6,412 acres, which in 2013 dollars would be the equivalent of being paid $1,261 per acre.
Many residents were forced to sell land, in their families for generations. Some families had roots in the area going back 300 years; these included traditional farming and fishing families and there were protests. National wartime urgency was however felt in Washington at the time to take precedence, the process of eminent domain went through. A lack of transportation in Saint Mary's County led the Navy to acquire and revitalize a branchline called the Washington and Point Lookout Railroad from Brandywine to Mechanicsville, Maryland, in June 1942 and build an extension south from Mechanicsville to the air station. Known as the U. S. Government Railroad, the rail line was steam-powered and operated south of Brandywine for exclusive official use until 1954, when the Pennsylvania Railroad assumed operation of the line. Rail service ended in 1965, the line was subsequently scrapped, although the right-of-way is still visible. A highway extension to the new air station was required by the project—250,000 tons of material were transported by either truck or water routes during a year of construction.
Employing some 7,000 at its peak of construction, the area had a Gold Rush "boom town" feel as local residents were joined by workers from all over the country, eager to get on the high-paying jobs on station. On 20 October 1942, U. S. Marines first took over security. Today, the station utilizes Navy Masters-At-Arms and Navy Civilian Police Department of Defense Police for standard local law enforcement and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service for high-profile criminal investigations. During construction, housing needs far outstripped supply, barracks were built for workers on the station. Several housing areas were erected off station for workers and their families in Lexington Park Jarboesville, named in honor of the USS Lexington, the Navy's second aircraft carrier, lost during the Battle of the Coral Sea on 8 May 1942; the town's expansion had begun. The station was formally commissioned "U. S. Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Maryland" on 1 April 1943. In a ceremony presided over by RADM John S. McCain, Sr. chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics, Patuxent River was referred to as "the most needed station in the Navy."
The unofficial name had been Cedar Point or the Naval Air Station at Cedar Point, but officials were concerned about possible confusion with the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, so the new facility was named for the adjacent river. In 1945 the Test Pilot School was established with the Navy's Flight Test Group transferred from Naval Air Station Anacostia, Washington, DC to NAS Patuxent River; the base became a centre for testing as several facilities were constructed throughout the 1950s and 1960s. The base served as the testing facility for the V-22 Osprey. In addition to its role in testing naval aircraft, during the 1950s to 1970s Patuxent River served as an operational base for a Transport Squadron - VR-1, a TACAMO squadron - VQ-4, Airborne Training Unit Atlantic - AEWTULANT, VW-11, VW-13 AN VW-15 and a number of Patrol Squadrons including VP-8, VP-44, VP-49, VP-24, VP-30 and VP-68. By 1965, reconnaissance Squadron VQ-4, based at NAS Patuxent River, began using Lockheed C-130s equipped with special communications equipment to perform their around-the-clock Take Charge and Move Out mission.
VQ-4 provided long-range, very-low-frequen
Grumman TBF Avenger
The Grumman TBF Avenger is an American torpedo bomber developed for the United States Navy and Marine Corps, used by several air and naval aviation services around the world. The Avenger entered U. S. service in 1942, 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. Modified after the war, it remained in use until the 1960s; the Douglas' TBD Devastator, the U. S. Navy's main torpedo bomber introduced in 1935, was obsolete by 1939. Bids were accepted from several companies, but Grumman's TBF design was selected as the replacement for the TBD and in April 1940 two prototypes were ordered by the Navy. Designed by Leroy Grumman, the first prototype was called the XTBF-1, it was first flown on 7 August 1941. Although one of the first two prototypes crashed near Brentwood, New York, rapid production continued. Grumman's first torpedo bomber was the heaviest single-engined aircraft of World War II, only the USAAF's P-47 Thunderbolt came close to equalling it in maximum loaded weight among all single-engined fighters, being only some 400 lb lighter than the TBF, by the end of World War II.
To ease carrier storage concerns with the F4F-4 model of its Wildcat carrier fighter, Grumman designed the Avenger to use the new Sto-Wing patented "compound angle" wing-folding mechanism, intended to maximize storage space on an aircraft carrier. The engine used was the powerful, twin-row Wright R-2600-20 Twin Cyclone fourteen-cylinder radial engine, which produced 1,900 hp/1,417 kW. There were three crew members: turret gunner and radioman/bombardier/ventral gunner. A single synchronized 7.62 mm caliber machine gun was mounted in the nose, a.50 caliber gun was mounted right next to the turret gunner's head in a rear-facing electrically powered turret, a single 7.62 mm caliber hand-fired machine gun flexibly-mounted ventrally, used to defend against enemy fighters attacking from below and to the rear. This gun was fired by the radioman/bombardier while standing up and bending over in the belly of the tail section, though he sat on a folding bench facing forward to operate the radio and to sight in bombing runs.
Models of the TBF/TBM omitted the cowl-mount synchronized 7.62 mm -calibre gun. There was only one set of controls on the aircraft, no direct access to the pilot's position existed from the rest of the aircraft's interior; the radio equipment was massive by today's standards, filled the length of the well-framed "greenhouse" canopy to the rear of the pilot. The radios were accessible for repair through a "tunnel" along the right hand side. Any Avengers that are still flying today have an additional rear-mounted seat in place of the radios, allowing for a fourth passenger; the Avenger had a large bomb bay, allowing for one Bliss-Leavitt Mark 13 torpedo, a single 2,000 pound bomb, or up to four 500 pound bombs. The aircraft had overall ruggedness and stability, pilots say it flew like a truck, for better or worse. With its good radio facilities, docile handling, long range, the Grumman Avenger made an ideal command aircraft for Commanders, Air Group. With a 30,000 ft ceiling and a loaded range of 1,000 mi, it was better than any previous American torpedo bomber, better than its Japanese counterpart, the obsolete Nakajima B5N "Kate".
Avenger models carried radar equipment for the ASW and AEW roles. Escort carrier sailors referred to the TBF as the "turkey" because of its size and maneuverability in comparison to the F4F Wildcat fighters in CVE airgroups. On the afternoon of 7 December 1941, Grumman held a ceremony to open a new manufacturing plant and display the new TBF to the public. Coincidentally, on that day, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor, as Grumman soon found out. After the ceremony was over, the plant was sealed off to guard against possible sabotage. By early June 1942, a shipment of more than 100 aircraft was sent to the Navy, arriving only a few hours after the three carriers departed from Pearl Harbor, so most of them were too late to participate in the pivotal Battle of Midway. Six TBF-1s were present on Midway Island – as part of VT-8 – while the rest of the squadron flew Devastators from the aircraft carrier Hornet. Both types of torpedo bombers suffered heavy casualties. Out of the six Avengers, five were shot down and the other returned damaged with one of its gunners killed, the other gunner and the pilot injured.
Nonetheless, the US torpedo bombers were credited with drawing away the Japanese combat air patrols so the American dive bombers could hit the Japanese carriers. Author Gordon Prange posited in Miracle at Midway that the outdated Devastators contributed somewhat to the lack of a complete victory at Midway. Others pointed out that the inexperienced American pilots and lack of fighter cover were responsible for poor showing of US torpedo bombers, regardless of type. In the war, with growing American air superiority, better attack coordination and more veteran pilots, Avengers were able to play vital roles in the subsequent battles against Japanese surf