Avenger down der periscope

Paintings of Naval Aviation during World War II: Abbott Collection. #98: “The Kill” Artwork by Robert Benney.

“In this dramatic presentation of sea-sky battle, a Grumman Avenger torpedo bomber, bomb bay doors open, leaves death in its wake as it zooms away from a conclusive attack on a surfaced enemy submarine. All the vivid action in this scene has been repeated many times in actual combat by U.S. Naval airmen. Naval planes from escort aircraft carriers wreaked havoc on submarine wolf packs attacking Atlantic convoys, and they virtually blasted them from the ocean for many months. Bombers were fitted with depth charges, one of which is pictured exploding off the U-boat’s beam here. In the attack, the plane’s rear ‘stinger’ gun splits death at the gun crews attempting to ward off these lethal hawks from the sky.” National Museum of the U.S. Navy Lot 3124-14

While the Grumman TBF Avenger was a war baby– the first production TBF-1 was completed on 3 January 1942– and saw its best use in the Pacific from Midway (where it saw its inaugural action) to Tokoyo Bay, chalking up a long list of layups in delivering torpedos against Japan’s surface ships and Marus of all types, it also did its work in the Atlantic.

Tapped to make up the sub-busting part of the composite air wings on escort carriers, Avengers would tally no less than 35 U-boat “kills” during the Battle for the Atlantic, running from U-569 (Oblt. Hans Johannsen)– scuttled on 22 May 1943 in the North Atlantic east of Newfoundland after being badly damaged by depth charges from two Avenger aircraft (VC-9 USN/T-6 & T-7) of the escort carrier USS Bogue— to U-711 (Kptlt. Hans-Günther Lange), sunk on 4 May 1945 at Kilbotn, near Harstad, Norway by bombs from Avenger and Wildcat aircraft (846, 853 and 882 Sqn FAA) of the British escort carriers HMS Searcher, HMS Trumpeter, and HMS Queen.

The crew of German submarine U-664 prepares to go over the side of the ship during an attack by two Avenger aircraft from USS Card (CVE 11), August 9, 1943. Note, the laughing sawfish insignia on the conning tower of the 9th U-boat Flotilla. 80-G-43638

Attack on German U-boats, 1943. Aerial attack on U-378, Incident #4786, October 20, 1943. The U-boat was sunk by Fido homing torpedo and depth charges from Avenger and Wildcat aircraft from Composite Squadron Thirteen (VC-13) based on USS Core (CVE-13). 80-G-207651

Air Attacks on German U-boats, WWII. U-801 was sunk on March 17, 1944, by a Fido homing torpedo by two Avengers and one Wildcat aircraft (VC-6) from USS Block Island (CVE-21), along with depth charges and gunfire from USS Corry (DD-463) and USS Bronstein (DE-189). Note, Lieutenant Junior Grade Paul Sorenson strafed and Lieutenant Junior Grade Charles Woodell depth charged U-801. 80-G-222854

2 comments

  • I loved the combant painting of an Avenger dropping a depth charge on a submarine. There are liberties one can take with painting that photography cannot accomplish. Though little seen now days, combat paintings give a feel that a photograph cannot.

    I follow your blog daily by E Mail. It is the first thing I open in the morning. I appreciate your dedication to research to put out your blog. It is great (though the guns don’t do a thing for me.)

    I have been following your blog for years. Keep up the good work!!!

    David LIvingston

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