Airbase Arizona - Commemorative Air Force

Acquisition of the Grumman TBM-3E Avenger

The Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum (AZCAF) recently acquired a Grumman TBM-3E Avenger from the Quonset Air Museum, Rhode Island. The Avenger is best known as the premier Navy carrier-based torpedo attack bomber of World War II. AZCAF volunteers flew to Rhode Island to disassemble the Avenger and load it onto a trailer for transport to Mesa, Arizona.

This is the first arrival of a new AZCAF-assigned warbird in over three years and brings the total number of combat-related aircraft at the museum to over 30. Volunteers are ready to employ on a mission of restoring the aircraft to join its fleet that includes seven flying warbirds that provide living history rides to the public. The Avenger is on display at the museum and the public can see the progress of the restoration efforts first-hand.

“We are thrilled to welcome this warbird to our fold,” comments Dennis Fennessey, Airbase Leader, Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum. “It’s an impressive addition to our fleet of rare WWII bombers and combat airplanes and we’re honored and excited to begin restoring it.”

The TBM-3E Avenger is a rare aircraft. Approximately 40 are currently airworthy in the world, 27 are on display, and 14 are in storage or undergoing restoration from a total of 9,389 manufactured for WWII. Avengers participated in all major engagements of the U.S. Navy starting with the Battle of Midway. It was utilized in anti-submarine patrol, search and rescue, and airborne early warning. A large, heavy but versatile and easy-to-fly aircraft, it can attain 267 mph and 1900 horsepower. While primarily designed as a torpedo bomber, its large weapons bay and capability to handle ordnance on its wings allowed it to perform level bombing, dive bombing, and rocket attacks.


Among the better-known Avenger pilots was George H. W. Bush, who was elected President of the U.S. in 1988. During Bush’s campaign and presidency, several restored avengers were painted in the markings of Bush’s aircraft, and the type enjoyed even greater popularity with airshow audiences.

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