A pristine example of the most famous torpedo bomber of World War Two is to join the throng of vintage warbirds appearing at the Australian International Airshow 2005 from March 15-20. A Grumman TBM Avenger, owned by Queensland-based warbird collector Randal McFarlane, is a rare example of this classic marque. The aircraft will take part in a special Airshow tribute to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the end of World War Two.
The Avenger story began in 1940, when the United States Government called for tenders for a new class of carrier-borne torpedo bomber. The Grumman Company won the business and immediately began work on the prototype. The then unnamed aircraft was due to make its first public flight on Sunday December 7th 1941. The events at Pearl Harbour that very day saw the display cancelled, but the Declaration of War gave the aircraft its name: Avenger.
The Avenger's baptism of fire came in the Battle of Midway, a significant turning point in the Pacific Theatre.
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It was the first major sea battle between opposing fleets of aircraft carriers and one that saw the beginning of the end of Japanese sea power. For most of the War, Avengers were the stock torpedo attack aircraft carried by the U.S. Navy.
They were later adapted to many configurations, some were armed with rapid-fire cannon and others with cameras and other reconnaissance equipment. The aircraft were also widely deployed by New Zealand and France.
Ironically, the last military group to use Avengers was the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force, which flew them until 1962. The Australian International Airshow 2005 will be staged at Avalon Airport, 20 minutes drive from Melbourne, between the 15th and 20th of March