Designed to replace the aging Douglas Devastator Torpedo bomber of the mid 1930's the Avenger was the 1st non fighter aircraft designed by Grumman for the Navy. A design team headed up by Bill Schwendler worked from the Navy contract date of April 1940 through 41 before a prototype XTBF-1 flew in August 1941. The mid wing design allowed for a very large armaments bay that could hold the largest US torpedo or 2,000 lbs of bombs. Grumman stayed with their unique folding wing design which when folded allowed the wings to rest parallel to the fuselage which made for more compact storage of the aircraft allowing more of them to be carried in the hanger deck area of the US Carrier fleet. The Grumman TBF Avenger finished its Navy testing in December of 1941 and went into full production early January 1942. The first TBF's were delivered in time for 6 of them to take part in the battle of Midway in June of 1942.
Because the Grumman factory was busy building the F6F-3 Hellcat fighter aircraft, General Motors was contracted to produce Avengers in September 1942 at their Eastern Aircraft division. The TBM 1-c built by GM had 2 forward facing wing mounted 50 cal browning machine guns instead of the single .30 cal in the earlier TBF-1 models. It had an operational range of 1,105 miles
The Avenger had fully replaced the aging Douglas Devastator torpedo bomber and by August 1942 the Avenger was the only torpedo bomber in service aboard the US aircraft carrier fleet.
Torpedo Squadron 31 (VT-31) was flying the TBM-1c Avenger through out their tour of duty.
Because of the problems with the aerial drop Bliss-Leavitt Mark XIII torpedo most Avengers carried four 500 lb bombs until September of 1944 when improvements to the US torpedo made them more reliable.
Over 9,836 TBF/TBM Avengers were produced. Of this number 5,746 were built by General Motors and were designated TBM.