Grumman TBM Avenger Color Photographs Part 2

An atmospheric color photograph of an Avenger making an arrested landing aboard an escort carrier as plane handlers rush to release the arresting wire and move the aircraft forward.  The large yellow “buzz numbers” indicate a training aircraft.  The national insignia carry the red border which was only authorized from 28JUN43 to 14AUG43.
A similar photograph showing the buzz number carried on the starboard wing.  Also note where the national insignia further outboard on the wing has been painted over in accordance with directives.  On the yardarm the ship is displaying the two black ball dayshapes which indicate that she is restricted in her ability to maneuver while conducting flight operations.   Escorting ships quickly learn to keep a close watch on aircraft carriers as they will often alter course to steer into the wind with little or no notice.
As American wartime production became sufficient to meet the needs of the front-line units, older aircraft were rotated back to the States, often to be used in training commands.  This Avenger shows heavy fading and wear to the Blue Gray over Light Gray camouflage along with areas where the paint has been touched up.
This perspective shows details of the wing fold and landing gear.  The interior of the wing fold is finished in the upper surface color Blue Gray, the landing gear is finished in the under surface color Light Gray.
Carrier aircraft often displayed small numbers in various locations to help crews in identifying specific airframes when the side numbers were not easily visible.  This aircraft carries the number “7” on the cowl sides and wing leading edges.  Interestingly, this does not appear to correspond to the aircraft’s buzz number on the wing upper surface.
A sailor ties off an Avenger at the landing gear attachment point.  The decks of U.S. aircraft carriers were provided with slotted steel strips to anchor the lines, one of which is faintly visible in the lower left-hand corner of this photograph.  As soon as the aircraft was spotted on the deck the wheels were chocked and it was secured with lines or chains – aircraft could easily roll of the deck of a ship underway.
A fine view of the Avenger’s Wright R-2600-8 powerplant.  The engine was rated at 1,700 horse power.  The Avenger was the heaviest single-engine aircraft to serve during WWII with a maximum weight of 13,667 pounds – just 400 pounds more than the P-47 Thunderbolt.  (NASM, Rudy Arnold Collection)
The Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm was a major user of the Avenger, taking over one thousand aircraft into service.  In FAA service it was called the Tarpon until 01JAN44 when the American name was adopted.  These 846 Squadron Tarpon are shown on a training flight in the U.S. in late 1943, they would be assigned to the escort carrier HMS Ravager.
The FAA also operated the Avenger in the Pacific.  This obviously staged photograph gives us a good look at the uniforms of both the flight and ground crews which differ little from their American counterparts.  Note the upper wing roundel which has minimized the white area and eliminated the red altogether to reduce the possibility of confusion with Japanese markings.
A yellow-nosed torpedo is wheeled into position.  Red has also been removed from the Avenger’s fin flash.  Friendly fire incidents remain a problem to this day in spite of precautions to minimize their likelihood.

Part I here:

Grumman TBM Avenger Color Photographs Part 1

As a result of several friendly fire incidents during and following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, on 23DEC41 CinC Pacific issued a directive that all US aircraft in the Hawaiian area were to carry national markings in six locations (upper and lower surfaces of both wings, both sides of the fuselage) and red and white tail stripes on the rudder.  By early January various other commands had followed suit, and the changes became official.  Here is a beautiful color shot of a factory fresh Avenger in the standard Blue Gray over Light Gray camouflage and the specified markings in effect from 23DEC41 to 06MAY42.  (NASM, Rudy Arnold Collection)
Leroy Grumman designed the wing fold mechanism which was applied to the F4F-4 Wildcat, TBM Avenger, and F6F Hellcat, and is still in use on the C-2 Greyhound today.  Called the STO-wing, it allows the wing to pivot as it is rotated along the fuselage.  Adoption of the folding wing allowed an increase of approximately 50% to the aircraft capacity of U.S. Navy carriers.  This is a relatively rare view of the wing in mid-fold.  (NASM, Rudy Arnold Collection)
With the wing completely folded the space savings is obvious.  Modelers should note that the inside of the wing is finished in the upper surface Blue Gray color, not in primer.  Also note the landing gear leg, wheel hub, and gear cover are in the underside Light Gray color.  (NASM, Rudy Arnold Collection)
To eliminate any confusion with the Japanese Hinomaru, the red centers of the US national insignia were ordered to be removed by ALNAV97 on 06MAY42.  Rudder stripes were also painted out at this time, preferably with blue gray to match the upper surface camouflage, but many units made do with whatever paint was available.   This is a factory-fresh Avenger in the specified markings, which the first Avengers to see combat wore during the Battle of Midway.  (NASM, Rudy Arnold Collection)
There were several variations in the size and location of the insignia, modelers are well advised to seek photographs of the specific subjects they wish to portray whenever possible.  This Avenger has an unusually-small fuselage insignia.  (NASM, Rudy Arnold Collection)
1943 was a confusing year for US Navy aircraft markings, with many changes being made and some only partially adopted in the field.  Effective 01FEB43, SR-2c directed that naval aircraft revert back to four national insignia, upper port wing, lower starboard wing, and both fuselage sides.  Photographic evidence suggests that many field units did not eliminate the extra wing insignia.  On 28JUN43 ALNAV 12 directed that the national insignia be modified to incorporate a white bar on either side of the star, and the entire insignia was to be outlined in red.  This directive generated considerable opposition in the Pacific Theater, commanders fearing any red might lead to confusion with the Japanese Hinomaru.  On 31JUL43 Third Fleet issued a directive for its subordinate units NOT to outline the national insignia in red, and AN-I-9b of 14AUG43 made the change official by changing the outline color to Insignia Blue.  This Avenger sports the short-lived red border to the national insignia.   (NASM, Rudy Arnold Collection)
A major camouflage change came about when SR-2C of 05JAN43 introduced a graded scheme consisting of Non-Specular Sea Blue, Semi-Gloss Sea Blue, and Intermediate Blue over white.  This began showing up at the front in the summer of 1943 and was in effect until the scheme was changed to glossy Sea Blue overall by SR-2c, effective 07OCT44.  (LIFE photograph)
An interesting photograph of the underside of an Avenger with its bomb bay doors open.  Note how the white underside color extends down the fuselage sides under the wings and horizontal tail plane. (LIFE photograph)
This rocket-armed Avenger aboard the USS Cape Glouchester (CVE-109), a Commencement Bay-class Escort Carrier.  It wears the overall Sea Blue scheme authorized 07OCT44.
The range and internal volume of the Avenger lent itself well to auxiliary roles, keeping  variants in service after the war ended.  This is a TBM-3R, modified for Carrier Onboard Delivery (COD) transport duties.  The rear gun turret was removed and faired over and seating was provided for seven passengers.  In addition, a special basket was designed to allow cargo to be carried inside the bomb bay.  The basket could be raised and lowered using the Avenger’s internal bomb hoists facilitating a rapid exchange of the pre-loaded baskets.  This Avenger carries the post-war red barred insignia authorized on 14JAN47.

Part II here:

Grumman TBM Avenger Mishaps

An Avenger in the water after a landing mishap.  The pilot has stepped out onto the wing but the other two crewmen are not visible.  The damage to the port wing is extensive.

This Avenger has spun into the island of the USS Hornet (CV-12), which is crowded with onlookers.  The areas where off duty personnel would congregate to observe flight operations was referred to a “vultures row” on most ships.

ENS Bye put his Avenger into the port catwalk aboard the USS Enterprise (CV-6).  Crewmen climb onto the starboard wing where their weight will help to right the aircraft while others standby to manhandle it back onto the deck.

Another of Enterprise’s Avengers, this one reportedly damaged by friendly fire from a Hellcat.  In addition to the missing port elevator, close examination of the photograph shows numerous holes in the fuselage and wings plus damage to the turret perspex.  Proper aircraft (and ship) identification is a problem, and more difficult than it might first appear.

A TBM-3 in the grass at Leyte has attracted a crowd after over shooting the runway.  Note the painted out number on the cowling.

This Avenger with an impressive mission tally has suffered a landing gear collapse and is being manhandled forward to clear the flight deck aboard the USS Hoggart Bay (CVE-75), a Casablanca class escort carrier.

A bad day aboard the USS Cabot (CVL-28).  This Avenger not only has missed the wires but has wandered wide of the flight deck and is headed towards the aircraft spotted forward.  Crewmen in the catwalk have already ducked and those among the planes on deck are seeking cover.

One of the USS Card’s (CVE-11) Avengers has come to rest atop a 40mm gun tub.  Her arresting hook has been secured to the deck pending recovery.  Card was very active in the Atlantic, successfully operating against German U-boats.  Reactivated for the Viet Nam War as an aircraft transport, Card was sunk pierside in Saigon Harbor by an explosive charge placed by a Viet Cong swimmer.  She was quickly repaired and returned to service.

Aircrew exit an Avenger which has gone over the side of the USS Bataan (CVL-29).  All three crewmen are visible in this view.  Among its’ other qualities, the TBM appears to have been quite buoyant, at least in the short term.

A bad day for this TBM aboard an unidentified CVE.  The fuselage has broken just aft of the turret gunner’s position.

Interstate TDR US Navy Assault Drone

The Interstate TDR was an unmanned “assault drone” developed for the U.S. Navy during World War II.  Like the parallel TDN drone, the TDR was designed to carry an aerial torpedo or a 2,000 pound bomb, the ordnance could either be dropped conventionally or carried directly to the target by the drone.  Here is an early TDR in flight carrying a torpedo.  Markings are standard for early 1942.
Although it was equipped with a conventional cockpit for ferrying and testing, the drone was designed to be piloted by a remote operator flying in a TBM Avenger.  The operator controlled the drone using a television camera mounted in the nose.  The drone was gyro stabilized and carried a radar altimeter.  Effective range of the electronics was eight miles.
The aircraft was constructed of non-strategic materials.  The airframe was made of steel tube by the Schwinn Bicycle Company.  The outer skin was formed plywood fabricated by Wurlitzer Musical Instrument Company.
The production TDR-1 was powered by two Lycoming O-435 engines of 230 hp each giving a top speed of 140 mph.  450 hp Wright R-975 radial engines were also tested on the XTD3R-1 version shown here.  Three prototypes of this version were produced.
The drones were deployed to the Pacific with Special Air Task Group One (STAG-1).  On 30JUL44 they were tested in the Solomon Islands under operational conditions against a beached Japanese freighter, the Yamazuki Maru at Cape Esperance, Guadalcanal.  Video of these tests can be seen here:
The Interstate TDRs saw operational use in the Bougainville area and Rabaul where they were used against Japanese shipping and ground targets.  Of the 50 drones used in combat, 31 hit their intended targets.  The Japanese assumed these were manned aircraft and American pilots were deliberately crashing into their targets.
STAG-1 used TDRs in combat from 27SEP44 to 27OCT44. While somewhat successful, the drones were still experiencing technical difficulties and the decision was made to terminate the program in favor of more conventional aircraft.   A total of 189 were produced.
One Interstate TDR has been restored and is on display at the National Naval Aviation Museum at Pensacola Florida.

TDN assault drone here: