Grumman Avenger Flying with Bomb Doors Open

Side view of Avenger banking left 20 degrees.

The Avenger's first experience of war was in June of 1942 at the Battle of Midway, and it was truly horrific.   Of the six Avengers which took off to attack the Japanese fleet, only one returned.

The only surviving Avenger from the Battle of Midway.

This is a photograph of the surviving Avenger, which was piloted by Bert Earnest.  Before they could get to the Japanese fleet, the Avengers were attacked by more than 20 Zeroes.   As a result, the plane was left with 70 bullet holes, the hydraulic system and elevator wires were shot out, and the bomb bay doors and tail wheel both hung down.

The pilot was hit on the cheek by a shell fragment, the lower gunner, Harry Ferrier, was knocked unconscious when he was hit by a bullet, and the top gunner was killed.

They managed to drop their torpedo toward a Japanese cruiser, but missed.

Because the Avenger's compass was shot up, they had trouble finding Midway Island again, and in the end only spotted it because of the thick black smoke caused by the Japanese attack.

Rear view of Avenger banking left 20 degrees.

Much of the blame for the Avenger's vulnerability lies with the torpedoes which it was designed to use, which were far inferior to the Japanese "Long Lance" torpedoes.

They could only be dropped from a low height and slow speed, and they frequently failed to detonate when they hit their target.

Under view of Avenger banking left 80 degrees.
Front under view of Avenger banking left 30 degrees.
Rear view of Avenger banking left 30 degrees.
Silhouette of Avenger diving 15 degrees.

Perhaps the most famous Avenger pilot was former American President George Bush, who was shot down over Chichi Jima and rescued by an American submarine called the Finback.

George Bush sitting in the cockpit of his Avenger during WW 2.

This is a wartime photo of Bush in an Avenger cockpit.   At one time he was the navy's youngest bomber pilot.

Side view of Avenger diving 15 degrees.