POWER PLANT: One Wright R-2600-20 “Twin Cyclone” radial engine, rated at 1,900 hp
PERFORMANCE: 276 mph at 16,500 ft
COMMENT: By 1943, Grumman began to slowly phase out production of the TBF “Avenger” to produce Grumman F6F “Hellcat” fighters, and the Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors took over production, with these aircraft being designated TBM. The Eastern Aircraft plant was located in Ewing, NJ. Grumman delivered a TBF-1, held together with sheet metal screws, so that the automotive engineers could disassemble it, a part at a time, and redesign the aircraft for automotive style production. This aircraft was known as the “P-K Avenger” (P-K = Parker-Kalon, manufacturer of sheet metal screws). Starting in mid-1944, the TBM-3 began production with a more powerful power plant and wing hard points for drop tanks and rockets. The dash-3 was the most numerous of the “Avengers” with about 4,664 produced. However, most of the “Avengers” in service were dash-1s until near the end of the war in 1945.
Besides the traditional surface role (torpedoing surface ships), “Avengers” claimed about 30 submarine kills. They were one of the most effective sub-killers in the Pacific theatre, as well as in the Atlantic, when escort carriers were finally available to escort Allied convoys. There, the “Avengers” contributed to the warding off of German submarines while providing air cover for the convoys (Ref.: 24).
POWER PLANT: One Wright R-2600-20 Cyclone radial engine, rated at 1,900 hp
PERFORMANCE: 275 mph
COMMENT: The Grumman TBF “Avenger” was an American torpedo bomber developed initially for the United States Nay and the Marine Corps. 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. 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. 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, rapid production continued. The TBF-1 “Avenger” was the heaviest single-engined aircraft of World War II, and only the USAAF’s P-47 “Thunderbolt” came close to equalling it in maximum loaded weight among all single-engined fighters, being only some 181 kg lighter than the TBF, by the end of World War II. The Avenger was the first design to feature a new “compound angle” wing-folding mechanism created by Grumman, intended to maximize storage space on an aircraft carrier; the Grumman F4F-4 “Wildcat” and later variants received a similar folding wing and the Grumman F6F “Hellcat” employed this mechanism as well. There were three crew members: pilot, turret gunner and radioman/bombardier/ventral gunner. In total, 9,839 Avengers and including special-purpose versions are built, such as TBF-1C for reconnaissance, TBF-1E with radar, TBF-1J for bad-weather flying, TBF-1L with searchlight in the bomb-bay and post-war development TBM-3W with APS-20 radar in a large ventral radome. Many “Avengers” saw action with other national air and naval aviation services around the world. (Ref.: 23, 24).
POWER PLANT: Two Wright R-3350-8 Cyclone 18radial engines, rated at 2,300 hp each
PERFORMANCE: 247 mph at 13,600 ft
COMMENT: The Consolidated XP4Y-1 shore-based patrol, torpedo-bomber and minelayer flying boat, unofficially dubbed “Corregidor”, was a military version of the Consolidated “Model 31”. The prototype of the Model 31 was completed in 1939, and was intended for both civil and military roles. It was intensively modified during its prolonged period of testing, eventually emerging in April 1942 as the XP4Y-1. The rear fuselage was redesigned to provide for the installation of a tail turret, the modified fuselage raised the tail assembly considerably, and, subsequently, the bow of the hull was extensively redesigned, a form of cuff being added, the retractable stabilizing floats were redesigned, and dummy gun turrets were fitted. An order for 200 aircraft was placed and a special plant was established at New Orleans for quantity production of the P4Y-1. But Wright R-3350 Cyclone power plant employed by the flying boat were needed more urgently for the Boeing B-29 “Superfortress” and, in consequence, during summer of 1943 production contracts for the P4Y-1 were cancelled, the New Orleans plant subsequently building the PBY “Catalina” (Ref.: 14).
POWER PLANT: One Pratt & Whitney XR-4360-10, rated at 3,000 hp
PERFORMANCE: 432 mph
COMMENT: From the logistical point of view the US Navy was most interested to have only one type of aircraft on board its carriers for all operational tasks. An excellent design for all these duties was the Boeing XF8B, a new class of “five-in-one fighter” (fighter, interceptor, dive bomber, torpedo bomber, or level bomber). Designed around a new designed “power egg”, the Pratt & Whitney XR-4360 with 3,000hp this aircraft embodied a number of innovative features in order to accomplish the various roles. Three prototypes were ordered, but despite its formidable capabilities, with the end of the hostilities in the Pacific area the XF8B-1 was fated to never enter series production.
POWER PLANT: One Pratt & Whitney R-4360-4 Wasp Major, rated at 3,000 hp
PERFORMANCE: 334 mph at 11,600 ft
COMMENT: Throughout the WW II the US Navy used a variety of carrier-based aircraft for attack duties. They were designated “SB” for scout/dive bombers and “TB” for torpedo-bombers. In 1943/44 a change in military tactics required a new role for an attack aircraft. So the US Navy invited proposals for a new multi-purpose bomber and selected four designs in September 1943: the Curtiss XBTC, Douglas XBT2D Skyraider, Kaiser-Fleetwings XBTK and the Martin XBTM. Two prototypes of the Martin design were ordered. The first flight was made in August 1944 and in January 1945 a production order for 750 aircraft was placed. With the end of WW II only 131 production aircraft, now named AM-1 “Mauler”, were delivered, another 651 aircraft were cancelled.
POWER PLANT: One Wright R-3350 Cyclone 18, rated at 2,500 hp
PERFORMANCE: 322 mph at 18,00 ft
COMMENT: The piston-engined Douglas BT2D-1 Skyraider, originally named “Destroyer II”, was designed during World War II to meet US Navy requirements for a carrier-based single-seat, long-range, high performance dive/torpedo bomber, to follow-on from earlier types such as the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver and Grumman TBF-1 Avenger. Several prototypes were ordered on 6. July 1944 as the XBT2D-1. The XBT2D-1 made its first flight on 18 March 1945 and was too late for service in WW II. A month later the Navy ordered 548 production examples to be designated AD-1 Skyraider in the new “attack” category. A total of 3,180 aircraft have been produced.
POWER PLANT: One Pratt & Whitney R-4360-8 Wasp Major, rated at 3.000 hp
PERFORMANCE: 360 mph. at 24,500 ft
COMMENT: In the early 1940’s the Douglas Company began work on a VTB Proposal to replace the TBD “Devastator” torpedo bomber, then in service on US carriers. In 1942 began work on a new project named the “Devastator II”. On 31 October 1943, just after the new “Midway” class aircraft carriers were ordered into production, Douglas received a contract for two prototypes, designated TB2D and receiving the official name: “Skypirate”. Very large for a single-engined aircraft, the TB2D would have been the largest carrier-borne aircraft at the time. Flight trials began in early 1945 and 23 pre-production aircraft were ordered. But with the end of WW II orders were subsequently cancelled.