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TBM & Harvard Photos

TBM & Harvard

Lake Erie Warbirds

WWII Grumman TBM Avenger

Lake Erie Warbirds TBM Avenger Flying Over the Lake Erie Islands

This aircraft has been restored by Charlie Cartledge and a team of volunteers at Wadsworth, Ohio. It is operated by Lake Erie Warbirds, and is available for for public fly-by, formation, static display and PR events. To inquire, either call 330. 607. 7697 or email at

This aircraft is a World War II vintage torpedo bomber. The type was designed by the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation of Bethpage, New York, and designated TBF (Torpedo Bomber, Grumman.) Eastern Aircraft Division, General Motors Corporation was brought in by the U.S. Navy just six weeks after Pearl Harbor, as a second contractor to builld the now appropriately named Avenger, re-designated TBM (Torpedo Bomber, General Motors.)

The TBF/TBM Avenger was crewed by a pilot, turret gunner, and radioman/bombardier. The prototype made its maiden flight on August 1, 1941 and TBFs saw combat with Torpedo Squadron 8 (VT-8) during the Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942. Former President George H. W. Bush was an Avenger pilot with VT-51 on the aircraft carrier USS San Jacinto. On September 2, 1944, Bush was shot down near Chichi-jima Island, near Japan, and safely parachuted into the Pacific Ocean where he was later rescued by the USN submarine USS Finback. Neither his turret gunner nor radioman survived.

This particular plane is a General Motors TBM-3E Avenger, Bureau Number 91436, built by Eastern Aircraft in Trenton, New Jersey. It was accepted by the U.S. Navy n August 3, 1945, and did not fly combat missions during WWII. Postwar, it was based at Atlanta, San Diego, and Seattle, then retired after 600 hours total time. Later stored at Litchfield Park, Arizona, it was stricken from the Navy on May 31, 1956.

TBM Avenger Flying

91436 was sold by the USN at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, California, to the Selk Company of North Hollywood for $2,600 on January 25, 1957, and assigned the civil registration N9569Z. Subsequent owners included Aerial Services of Chino, California, Zack Monroe of Lancaster, California, and Cisco Aircraft Inc., also of of Lancaster. Cisco fitted the aircraft with tanks for aerial spraying or fire fighting. In 1963, N9569Z was acquired by Desert Aviation Services of Phoenix, Arizona, who is believed to have operated it for a couple of seasons.

Sometime during the 1960s, the outer wing panels were removed and the aircraft was towed to downtown Phoenix, where it was operated by Desert Aviation Service for the Buehner Window Company as a wind machine for product testing. Desert Aviation Service became Aircraft Specialties, Inc. who continued to operate the wind machine for Buehner until the mid 1970s when the plane was towed to Falcon Field in Mesa, Arizona, for storage and to use as a spare parts source. Aircraft Specialties became Globe Air, Inc. in 1980. This aircraft was sold at the auction of Globe Air assets that was held on October 23, 1985 at Falcon Field. Subsequently, N9569Z was trucked to Tom Reilly Vintage Aircraft in Kissimmee, Florida, where restoration to flying condition started.

TBM Avengers Flying in WWII
Engine 1900 hp R-2600 14
cylinder radial engine
Weight 10,500 lbs. empty
17,895 lbs. maximum take off
Wing Span 54 ft.
Length 40 ft. 5 in.
Height 15 ft. 5 in.
Crew 3
Maximum Speed 276 mph at 16,500 ft.
Climb Rate 2,060 fpm
Ceiling 30,100 ft.
Range 1,000 miles
Guns 2x 50 caliber forward firing machine guns
1x 50 caliber turret gun
Bombs Up to 2,000 lbs. of bombs in bomb bay
  Wing Mounted rockets/drop-tanks/radar pod, etc.
Number Built 9836 (7546 by General Motor)
Airworthy Examples: Approximately 42

Harvard IV

Canadian Car & Foundry
Harvard IV

Designed by North American Aviation, this is one of the last AT-6 series produced. ("AT designates "Advanced Trainer.")

This plane is operated by Lake Erie Warbirds and is available for public fly-by, formation, static display and PR events. Contact Lake Erie Warbirds for details at:

This particular aircraft was produced under license by Canadian Car & Foundry for the RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force.) After WWII the aircraft was in used by the Italian Air Force until retired in the 1970s.

In 1987 the aircraft was purchased by Charlie & Doug Cartledge and completely restored to its original WWII RCAF configuration. Over 5000 man hours went into the rebuild.

Powerplant Pratt & Whitney R-1340 radial engine (600hp)
Cruise Speed 150 mph
Max. Speed 208 mph at 5,000 ft
Range 730 miles
Wingspan 42 ft.
Length 29 ft.
Weight 4,158 lbs
Variants USAF: AT-6 Texan
  US Navy: SNJ4 (equipped with tail hook)
  RCAF & RAF: Harvard
  Australia: Wirraway