Hobby Master HA1201 USN Grumman Avenger TBM-1C Torpedo-Bomber - George H. W. Bush, VT51, USS San Jacinto (CVL-30), 1944 (1:72 Scale)
"Why should we have a navy at all? There are no enemies for it to fight except apparently the Army Air Force."
- General Carl Spaatz, Commander of the US 8th Army Air Force, after WWII
The Grumman TBF Avenger (designated TBM for aircraft manufactured by General Motors) was an American torpedo bomber, developed initially for the United States Navy and Marine Corps and used by a large number of air forces around the world. It entered service in 1942, and began major use during the Battle of Midway.
The Avenger had a large bomb bay, allowing for one Bliss-Leavitt Mark 13 torpedo, a single 2000 lb (900 kg) bomb, or up to four 500 lb (230 kg) bombs. Torpedoes were generally abandoned after Midway and were not carried again regularly until after June of 1944, when improvements mandated their use again. By that time, it was rare for American aircraft to encounter enemy shipping at sea and the Avenger was primarily employed as a ground support weapon. The plane had overall ruggedness and stability, and pilots say it flew like a truck, for better or worse. With a 30,000 foot (10,000 m) ceiling and a fully-loaded range of 1,000 miles (1,600 km), it was better than any previous American torpedo plane, and better than its chief opponent, the then obsolete Japanese Nakajima B5N "Kate".
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a TBM-1C Avenger which was piloted by former President George Herbert Walker Bush, then attached to VT51 embarked upon the USS Jacinto.
Wingspan: 10 inches
Length: 8 inches
Release Date: March 2007
Historical Account: "The Man Who Would be King" - Chichi Jima ("Father Island"), formerly known as "Peel Island", is the largest island of the Ogasawara Islands (also known as the Bonins or Volcano Islands).
The island was the site of a Japanese Army radio station during World War II, and a frequent target of US attacks. Japanese troops and resources from Chichi Jima were used in reinforcing the strategic point of Iwo Jima before the battle of Iwo Jima. The island also served as a major point for Japanese radio communication and surveillance operations in the Pacific, with two radio stations atop its two mountains being the primary goal of multiple bombing attempts by the US Navy.
Chichi Jima was also the subject of a book by James Bradley entitled Flyboys: A True Story of Courage, a factual account of the lives of a group of World War II fighter pilots including George H. W. Bush. In the book, it tells the story of United States Navy pilots who bombed the island's two radio stations. The book details the stories of the pilots that were captured, tortured, killed, and in some cases, partially eaten.
The island was never captured and surrendered with the Japanese Empire. After the surrender some of the senior officers were court-martialled and punished according to the class "B" war crimes standard.
In June 1943, future-President George H.W. Bush became the youngest naval aviator at the time. While flying a TBM with VT-51 (from the USS San Jacinto), his plane was shot down on September 2, 1944 over the Pacific island of Chichi Jima. Both of his crewmates died; however, because he released his payload and hit the target before being forced to bail out, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross.