The Grumman TBF/TBM Avenger was the most successful torpedo bomber of WWII. Almost 10,000 Avengers were built by Grumman (TBF) and General Motors (TBM), but fewer than 40 fly today. And unfortunately, at the moment, one of the most famous of those is grounded with an engine issue. We need YOUR help to fix it.
Pieces of a bronze spacer bushing were discovered in the crankcase of her 14-cylinder 1,900-HP radial engine during a routine maintenance check. We won't know the full extent of any damage this may have caused until the engine is disassembled and inspected, but it looks like it will cost upwards of $40,000 to repair. Clearly, not the best news in a 2020 when most of our airshows and fundraising appearances have already been canceled, so we need YOUR help to get her flying again by the end of the year!
Our TBM 309 (N53503) has such an interesting history that it earned a listing on the Colorado State and National Registers of Historic Places! She served for a short time just after the end of the War on the Carrier USS Leyte, and was then transferred on Lend-Lease to the Royal Canadian Navy where she flew ASW missions from the Carrier HMS Magnificent through 1958. She earned her first claim to fame during a port stop in England in June of 1953, where she was chosen to lead a multi-plane flyover of Queen Elizabeth's coronation celebration!
After she retired from military service, she was configured as a fire bomber and flew for a Canadian company until she was retired (again) and acquired by the CAF in the '60's. She was in pretty rough shape, but still running. That made her perfect for her second claim to fame - a starring role in Steven Spielberg's 1977 classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
She was assigned to the CAF Rocky Mountain Wing (Grand Junction CO) in 1981. RMW members spent 4-years restoring her to her original configuration in 1985. We have been caring for her and exhibiting her around the Southwest ever since. She received her third claim to fame in 2017 as the only aircraft ever listed on the Colorado Register. Her most recent claim to fame is her National Registry Listing in 2018, putting her in seriously rarified air. Only six other aircraft have earned this honor, and only one of the others is still flying!
She is the focal point of all Rocky Mountain Wing operations. We have cared for her and exhibited her at airshows and aviation events around the US for 35 years. And we intend to keep her flying for another 35 years, despite the current financial impact of COVID-19. Please help us keep this beautiful piece of history in the air. Your one-time donation or monthly pledge will help us continue our support of the CAF's Mission to Educate, Inspire, Honor ... Lest we forget.
TBM Donation incentive levels
$100 donation - Deck Hand
Receive an RMW/TBM Patch
$250 donation - Radioman
Receive a patch and a TBM t-shirt
$500 donation - Gunner
Receive an RMW/TBM patch, a TBM t-shirt and TBM ball hat
$1500 donation - Crew Chief
Receive an RMW/TBM Patch, a TBM t-shirt, and a limited-edition TBM Crew Chief hat.
$2500 donation – Restoration Sponsor
Receive an RMW/TBM Patch, a TBM t-shirt, a (very) limited-edition TBM Restoration Sponsor Hat, and a CAF Restoration Sponsor Plaque.
$5000 donation – TBM Sponsor
Receive a1/16th scale model of the RMW TBM, a brass replica of the TBM’s National Historic Register Plaque, a TBM Living History Flight Experience, a (very) limited-edition TBM Sponsor ball cap, and a CAF TBM Sponsor Plaque.