TFLM’s TBM-3E Avenger has an impressive history between sinking two Japanese ships during the summer of 1945, flying off of the aircraft carrier USS Wasp, flying over the official Japanese surrender on the USS Missouri, being flown as an aerial fire bomber for several decades after the war, being flown as an aerial crop sprayer and is in fact the last TBM used as a crop sprayer. Today it is seen at airshows all over the country as it continues it’s long flying career. To add to this list is its use a trainer.
After the plane’s delivery to Trenton, NJ, it went to CASU 6 (Carrier Aircraft Service Unit) at NAS Alameda, CA. In May of 1945 it was assigned to VT-86 (Torpedo Squadron) on the USS Wasp. It served with VT-86 on board the carrier from June until October but that was enough time to sink two Japanese ships. After the war ended the plane returned stateside and went to CASU 22 at NAS Quonset Point, RI. It was then assigned to VT-43, a rather unknown Torpedo Squadron, for two months before going to NAS New York in March 1946. It was at New York that the plane was used in the Naval Air Reserve Training Unit (NART). In February 1947 it went to Norfolk, VA and then onto NART Los Alamitos, CA in June 1947. The TBM remained at Los Alamitos until August of 1948 where it was deemed surplus and is believed to have gone to Litchfield Park, AZ until 1957 when it was bought by the Sonora Flying Service as a tanker. The time this plane flew in the war was short but was needed. TFLM is grateful to be able to fly a warbird with such an impressive heritage.