The Grumman Avenger was the British version of the American TBF-1 Avenger. Under the World War II USA’s lend-lease agreement just over 400 were given to the British Government, following which most were deployed by the Fleet Air Arm for use during the conflict. The aircraft was a single engine monoplane with capacity for up to a four-man crew. It was classed as a naval aircraft torpedo bomber although it could be deployed as an ordinary bomber when necessary. Its offensive forward armament comprised two forward facing Browning machine guns plus a further rear-facing defensive Browning machine gun in the turret. The aircraft protection was quite substantial with steel plating and bulletproof glass where it mattered. The pilot, engine, controls and fuel were all located at the front of the aircraft and there were more fuel tanks located in the wings adjacent to the fuselage.
855 Naval Air Squadron was part of the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm stationed at Hawkinge in Kent. From its base it carried out ‘Channel Stop’ missions designed to stop enemy shipping entering the English Channel. The Squadron also escorted assault convoys and took part in night raids on German E boats (fast attack craft) and minesweepers that could prejudice the Allies’ Operation Overlord.
The Oxford 1:72 scale model of the Grumman Avenger Mk II is decorated in camouflage slate grey and sea grey on the upper wings and fuselage and light grey undersides. It wears the black and white invasion banding round the middle of the wings and also round the rear fuselage. The FAA roundels feature on the upper and underwings along with red, white and blue vertical stripes to the rudder fin. Note the nod to the American Grumman ‘Topcat’ attack squadron of the cartoon cat with a torpedo in its mouth, printed on the port fuselage in front of the wing.