The Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm used the Grumman Avenger AS-4 as a stopgap measure
while another more modern aircraft was being developed for anti-submarine warfare. One
hundred aircraft were acquired and converted to meet British specifications and came
equipped with an AN/APS-4 radar pod fitted to the underside of the starboard wing. Some
were assigned to HMS Bulwark with Carrier Codes B or O applied in black or white on the
fin until in 1955 Fairey Gannets replaced them. The last Avenger was retired from British
service in 1962.
HA1203 Avenger AS Mk. IV HMS Bulwark
In 1953 the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm lacked a suitable anti-submarine aircraft so it
acquired 100 Grumman Avenger AS Mk.IV. Throughout the 1956 – 1957 Suez Crisis
these aircraft with AN/APS-4 radar were used as submarine hunter-killers. They were
equipped with a wide variety of weapons from rockets to torpedoes and bombs. Yellow
and black stripes were applied as a means of recognition and this aircraft was named
“Beryl the Peril”. Beryl was a 1953 comic strip version of a female “Dennis the Menace”.
HMS Bulwark was the 6th vessel to bare this name and was affectionately nicknamed
‘The Rusty B’, that was a word play from her motto ’Under Thy Wings I Will (T)rust’. She
was also known as ‘The Painted Lady’, referring to her numerous coats of paint!
Grumman Avenger AS Mk.IV / TBM-3S (post war designation)
Wingspan: 52 ft. 2 in.
Length: 40 ft.
Height: 16 ft. 5 in.
Empty Weight: 10,843 lbs.
Maximum Weight: 18,250 lbs.
Power-plant: one Wright R-2600-20 rated at 1,900 hp
Armament: two forward firing .50 caliber machine guns, one mounted in each wing
One .50 caliber machine gun in a Grumman 150SE power turret
8 x 5 inch HVAR (High Velocity Aerial Rockets)
4 x 500 lb. bombs or 1 x torpedo
Performance: 267 mph @ 16,000 ft.
Service Ceiling: 23,400 ft.