Aircraft History

Grumman Avenger

Grumman AvengerA total of 125 US Navy Grumman TBM-3E Avenger's were taken on strength with the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) in two batches: 75 in the spring of 1950 and the remainder in the summer of 1952; making the Avenger the most numerous aircraft to serve in the RCN. The Avenger was selected to replace the British Fairey Firefly and marked the change in RCN policy of procuring American vice British aircraft. The Avenger was selected for its long range, heavy load carrying capability and rugged construction, however, the biggest advantage of the change in policy was easy procurement of spare parts. Additionally, the RCN was developing closer ties with the US Navy in North American defence, therefore, operating the same aircraft as the Americans facilitated interoperability through joint training and exercises with US Navy squadrons and aircraft carriers.

When the RCN took delivery of their TBM-3E Avengers they were painted overall in US Navy Dark Blue with Canadian markings and featured a ball turret at the rear of the glass canopy. The Avengers in their original Dark Blue colour scheme were flown from the air station HMCS Shearwater and the aircraft carrier HMCS Magnificent by 825 and 826 Squadrons.

Only several months after taking delivery of their TBM-3E Avengers in May 1950, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) embarked on a program to modify the aircraft for the specialized anti-submarine role that the RCN had assumed under the 1949 NATO accord. A total of 98 Avengers were modified to the anti-submarine version, designated as AS 3's, making it the most numerous variant. The most obvious change incorporated in the modification program was the removal of the TBM-3E's ball turret and the rearward extension of the glass canopy. The modified Avenger AS 3's were also repainted in the current official RCN paint scheme, the last and most common being Gloss Dark Gray over the upper third of the fuselage and upper surfaces of the wings and tailplanes while the remainder of the aircraft was painted Gloss Light Gray. In addition to the Pilot, the AS 3's were crewed by an Observer and an Observer's Mate who operated the submarine detection equipment which included radar, electronic counter measure and sonobuoy systems; a later version, the Avenger AS 3M, added a Magnetic Anomaly Detection (MAD) system.

The Avenger AS 3's and their subsequent variants were flown from the air station HMCS Shearwater and the aircraft carrier HMCS Magnificent until officially retired in July 1960.


Type: Three seat, carrier based maritime reconnaissance and strike aircraft
Wing Span:
16.51 m (54 ft 2 in)
12.19 m (40 ft)
5.0 m (16 ft 5 in)
Max. Speed:
430 kph (267 mph)
Service Ceiling:
7130 m (23,400 ft)
1819 km (1130 mi)
Max. Weight:
8278 kg (18,250 lb)
Empty Weight:
4853 kg (10,700 lb)
Power Plant:
One 1305 kW (1750 hp) Wright R-2600-20 Cyclone 14, 14 cylinder radial piston engine
Four depth charges; and
One homing torpedo; plus
16 sonobuoys for submarine detection