The Avenger returns
to Classic Fighters

Plonky’s back!

Grumman initially developed the Avenger torpedo bomber for the US Navy and Marine Corps. The aircraft entered service in 1942 and first saw action during the Battle of Midway. It soon became one of the most successful torpedo bombers of WWII. Almost 10,000 Avengers were built during the war years. They continued to serve with numerous countries' forces until the 1960s.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) received 48 examples from 1943-44 to equip two torpedo bomber squadrons, which flew operational tours in the Pacific Theatre. Post-war, the RNZAF employed the aircraft to tow targets for air-to-air gunnery. The Avenger would also be instrumental in introducing aerial top dressing in New Zealand, with a hopper fitted to the bomb bay, in trials conducted at Ohakea in 1945.

Image:  Avenger - Gavin Conroy

In 1993, an Avenger triumphantly returned to Kiwi skies thanks to the efforts of Sir Tim Wallis. He purchased one from the UK and had it repainted as a tribute to Fred Ladd's wartime aircraft, 'Plonky.'  Fred, an aviation legend in New Zealand, started several airlines in Fiji and New Zealand and famously flew under the Auckland Harbour Bridge. In 1999, 'Plonky' found a new home in Australia, where it was once again painted in US Navy colours and flown regularly.

However, Brendon Deere was waiting in the wings when the aircraft became available for sale again. He jumped at the chance to bring the Avenger back to New Zealand. The Avenger was flown back across the Tasman, arriving at Ohakea in early 2012. Out came the paint stripper, and on went Ladd's colours once again. Today, 'Plonky' the Avenger is the only air-worthy example of this impressive machine in New Zealand and has been delighting crowds at airshows ever since!

Image:  Avenger - still image from video by Peter Thompson


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About Marlborough Lines Classic Fighters Omaka:
The airshow is the main fundraising event for the Omaka Aviation Heritage Museum, located in Blenheim, Marlborough NZ.