Mesa museum receives new piece of WWII aviation history
- Lead Mesa's Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum (AZCAF) has acquired a rare Grumman TBM-3E Avenger World War II aircraft that will be restored and placed on display.
A new piece of history will arrive in Mesa this week! The Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum (AZCAF) has acquired a Grumman TBM-3E Avenger from the Quonset Air Museum, Rhode Island. AZCAF volunteers flew to Rhode Island to disassemble the aircraft and load it onto a trailer for transport to Mesa. It will be lifted by crane onto its official new home at the AZCAF ramp at 10 a.m. Thursday, August 24.
This is the first arrival of a new AZCAF-assigned warbird in over three years and brings the total number of combat-related aircraft at the museum to more than 30. Volunteers will restore the aircraft for its fleet that includes seven flying warbirds providing living history rides to the public. Museum visitors can see the progress of restoration efforts first-hand, and after the Avenger is reassembled, it will be on display at the museum.
“We are thrilled to welcome this warbird to our fold,” said Dennis Fennessey, Airbase Leader, Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum. “It’s an impressive addition to our fleet of rare WWII bombers and combat airplanes, and we’re honored and excited to begin restoring it.”
The TBM-3E Avenger is a rare aircraft. Approximately 40 are currently airworthy in the world, 27 are on display, and 14 are in storage or undergoing restoration from a total of 9,389 manufactured for WWII. The Avenger is best known as the premier Navy carrier-based torpedo attack bomber of World War II and as the type of airplane flown by President George H.W. Bush when he was shot down in the Pacific.
Avengers participated in all major engagements of the U.S. Navy starting with the Battle of Midway. It was utilized in anti-submarine patrol, search and rescue, and airborne early warning. A large, heavy but versatile and easy-to-fly aircraft, it can attain 267 mph and 1900 horsepower. While primarily designed as a torpedo bomber, its large weapons bay and capability to handle ordnance on its wings allowed it to perform level bombing, dive bombing, and rocket attacks.
The Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum, a top-rated Trip Advisor attraction, has 55,000 square feet of historical airplanes, relics, and educational exhibits, in addition to a working mechanics hangar. Its mission is to restore and preserve airplanes that have served throughout the history of combat aviation and to educate visitors about the sacrifices of our veterans. Knowledgeable docents are available to guide visitors through the exhibits, or patrons may explore unguided. A museum store is on site (and available online) with military aviation-related art, books, clothing, toys and collectibles. The organization is a non-profit 501(c)3 and is operated primarily by a dedicated staff of volunteers.
Contact: Kimberly Ring
Business Development and Public Information
Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum