Project: TBF/TBM Avenger (San Diego, CA — 255 fsw)


The TBM Avenger in San Diego is an iconic dive.

It is deep (255 feet) and is very rarely dived. The airplane itself is relatively intact. One of the crew died during the accident so it is also really important to respect the dive site. The plan is to dive the wreck with Ben Lair & Justin Judd next week. The conditions can be tough (mainly currents) so we’ll get on-site and make a judgement call. The backup site will likely be to dive the Cape Charles which is in the same general area.

The wreck was first found by the UB88 team in 2007.

The Airplane

The TBM is a “Torpedo Bomber” used in WWII. In the standard configuration, there were three crew: pilot, radioman/bombardier/ventral gunner, turret gunner. It was the largest single-engine carrier-based aircraft of WW II. President Bush flew an Avenger and was shot down over Chichi Jima and parachuted safely and was rescued at sea.

It sank more submarines than any other carrier-based plane and also sank the most heavily defended carrier the world had seen, the Yamoto.

Ray Wagner, San Diego Aerospace Museum

The airplane had a large, single bomb/torpedo bay and was able to carry either one Mark 13 torpedo, a single 2,000 pound bomb, or up to four 500 pound bombs. It was powered by a 1,700 horsepower Wright R-2600-8 engine which is a 14-cylinder double row radial engine. The Avenger was Grumman’s first torpedo bomber. More than 9,800 were produced of which 7500 were the GM version (TBM) and the rest by Grumman.

According to Tyler, this specific aircraft is a “TBM-3S2” which was a converted aircraft designed as an anti-submarine strike version nicknamed the “Striker.”

Photography Plan

The general plan is to try to get enough photographs to build a good photogrammetry model. Ben will focus on getting video & stills. We will have about 20 minutes on the wreck depending upon conditions. If I have time, I will also get some specific pictures:

  • Cockpit
    • Instrument panel
  • 50 cal machine gun on starboard wing
  • NAVY lettering & star (starboard side)
    • bureau number after under the tail
    • TBM-3S2


Below are various pictures and diagrams of the Avenger.


UB88 Site

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