POWER PLANT: One Wright R-2600-20, rated at 1,900 hp
PERFORMANCE: 276 mph at 16,500 ft
COMMENT: To meet the growing production requirements, General Motors Corporation was asked to establish a second source for Grumman TBF-1 “Avengers” at its Eastern Aircraft division, already building the Grumman F4F “Wildcats”. The first contract was placed on March 1942, and deliveries began in November of the same year, this version being designated TBM-1. Grumman production continued until early 1944, with a total of 2,290. These were primarily of the TBF-1 or TBF-1C version. Eastern produced 2,882 TBM-1 and later went on to build 4,664 more powerful and improved TBM-3s (Ref.: 1).
The escort aircraft carrier CVE-106 “Block Island II” was laid down and launched as CVE-106 “Sunset Bay”. On July 1944 she was renamed “Block Island II” in honor of CVE-21 “Block Island I”, sunk by German submarine in June 1944.
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: One Wright R-2600-20, rated at 1,900 hp
PERFORMANCE: 250 mph at 16,500 ft
COMMENT: During the closing stage of the hostilities in the Pacific area the Grumman Company resp. General Motors converted some TBF and TBM Avengers, respectively, into anti-submarine search and strike aircraft. The rear turret was removed and faired over and a large ventral radome, carrying a APS-20 radar, was mounted under the fuselage. By that the TBM-3 conversion as the first ship based airborne early warning control and relay platform. These search aircraft operated together with TBM-3S or TBM-3S-2 submarine-strike Avengers. These search-and-strike aircraft remained in operational service after the war until 1954. From 1950 onwards these Avengers were replaced by Grumman AF-2W “hunter” and Grumman AF-2S “killer” Guardians (Ref.:1)
POWER PLANT: One Wright R-3350-14 Cyclone 18, rated at 2,300 hp
PERFORMANCE: 334 mph at 16,100 ft
COMMENT: In 1942 the US Navy planned to replace both the Douglas SBD Dauntless and the new Curtiss SB2C Helldiver and the Douglas Company was commissioned for two prototypes of a new two-seat dive bomber, designated XSB2D-1. The design was a large single-engined mid-winged monoplane with two remote-controlled turrets as defensive armament and a tricycle undercarriage, very unusual for a carrier-based aircraft of the time. The first prototype flew on April 1943, demonstrating an excellent performance and being much faster and carrying nearly double the bombload of the Helldiver. Orders for 358 SB2D-1s quickly followed. In the meantime Douglas reworked the SB2D design by removing the turrets and second crewman, while adding more fuel and armor, producing by that the BTD-1 Destroyer. The orders for SB2Ds were converted to BTD-1s, but only 28 aircraft had been delivered at the end of the WWII. Before the end the war, based on that design, Douglas developed the single-seat BT2D-1, later well known as Douglas AD-1 Skyraider.
POWER PLANT: Pratt & Whitney R-2800-48W Double Wasp, rated at 2,400 h.p.
PERFORMANCE: 350 m.p.h. at 15,000ft
COMMENT: In contrast to the radar equipped AF-2W, the Grumman AF-2S was armed with one torpedo or two bombs or two depth-charges in weapons bay. The AF-2S carried a smaller wing mounted APS-30 radar and a search light. Both, the AF-2W and the AF-2S operated in a “hunter” and “killer” role. A total of 193 AF-2S were produced
POWER PLANT: Pratt & Whitney R.2800-48W Double Wasp, rated at 2,400 h.p.
PERFORMANCE: 317 m.p.h. at 16,000 ft
COMMENT: Originally designed as a replacement of the highly successful Grumman TBF Avenger anti-submarine search aircraft. In place of defensive armament the new torpedo-bomber had a Westinghouse 19XB turbojet in the tail to give it a high escape speed. Later the the design was revised and a large ventral radar set was built in. In that configuration the aircraft was used as a hunter in cooperation with the Grumman AF-2S as a killer. A total of 153 AF-2W were built.