Hobby Master HA1216 USN Grumman TBM-3 Avenger Torpedo Plane - VT-84 "Wolf Pack", USS Bunker Hill (CV-17), April 1945 (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 USN TBM-3 Avenger torpedo plane that was attached to VT-84, then embarked upon the USS Bunker Hill during April 1945. Sold Out!
Wingspan: 10 inches
Length: 8 inches
Release Date: June 2011
Historical Account: "Wolf Pack" - On April 7th, 1945, the Imperial Japanese Navy set out to inflict as much damage as possible on the American invasion force at Okinawa. Included in the flotilla were the giant battleship Yamato, one light cruiser and eight destroyers. Aircraft from Task Force 58 had located the armada and tracked it until it came within range of the TBMs from VT-84 'the Wolf Pack' onboard the USS Bunker Hill as well as TBMs and Helldivers from other squadrons. The bombers departed but because of poor visibility were only able to attack a destroyer which they sank. On board the USS Bunker Hill VT-84 was led by veteran pilot Lt. Cdr. Chandler Swanson who instructed his pilots that they were to go after the Yamato, nothing else mattered.
Swanson had arranged for eight of his TBM's to attack from the port and the remaining six to attack from starboard. On the run-in one TBM was shot down and one was badly damaged but continued on his mission. VT-84 had unloaded their torpedoes and claimed 7 torpedoes slammed into the port side and two into the starboard. Other groups stood by waiting their turn to attack the 64,000-ton monster. When it was over there had been 19 torpedo hits but when VT-84 returned to USS Bunker Hill they reported the number of hits but that the Yamato and three destroyers were still afloat. At 1600 hours word finally came that the Yamato had capsized and exploded.