The Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum (AZCAF) has 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 and as the type of airplane flown by President George H.W. Bush when he was shot down in the Pacific. AZCAF volunteers flew to Rhode Island to disassemble the Avenger and load it onto a trailer for transport to Mesa, Arizona. It will be lifted by crane onto its official new home at the AZCAF ramp on Thursday morning, August 24, at 10 a.m. The media is invited to attend the ceremony.
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. After the Avenger is reassembled, it will be 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.
The Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum, a top-rated Trip Advisor attraction, has 55,000 sq. ft. of historical airplanes, relics, and educational exhibits, in addition to a working mechanics hangar. Its mission is to restore and preserve airplanes that have served throughout the history of combat aviation and to educate visitors about the sacrifices of our veterans. Knowledgeable docents are available to guide people through the exhibits or patrons may explore unguided. A museum store is onsite (and available online) with military aviation-related art, books, clothing, toys and collectibles. The organization is 99% run by dedicated volunteers and is a non-profit 501(c)3.