Airbus A320 vs Grumman Avenger

6 Dec 19 19 Comments

I was offered the opportunity of a free week in Berlin, which is fabulous but I’ve been travelling so much, I haven’t had the time to write something new. What I did write, for reasons that are difficult to explain, was a comparison of the Grumman TBF Avenger and the Airbus A320.

Grumman Avenger

Airbus A320
Airbus A320

These two planes are not something I ever thought anyone would want to compare but I have to admit, I found it interesting. It made me look at both aircraft in a very different way.

Here’s what I found:

  • The number of aircraft produced is surprisingly similar: 8,074 Airbus A320s compared to 9,835 Grumman Avenger TBFs (including TBMs).
  • Airbus has never designed a torpedo bomber and Grumman has never designed a passenger airliner (to be the best of my knowledge, anyway).
  • The A320 is pretty gorgeous. The Avenger isn’t the best looking of planes and probably doesn’t even have a good sense of humour.
  • There are two flight crew in the A320 and a variable number of cabin crew. Meanwhile, the Avenger has three crew (pilot, bombardier, rear gunner).
  • You can take up to a max of 180 passengers in an A320. You can take one passenger in the Avenger, in the middle cockpit seat, if it hasn’t been removed. However, I suspect that if you do, you’ll need to leave one of the crew behind for weight and balance.
  • The Mystery Of The Middle Seat is an interesting article about why that middle seat exists. I don’t think anyone has written about middle seats in the A320, other than to complain about getting stuck in one.
  • The A320 has a side stick and a million switches, knobs and instrument gauges, the Avenger has a really flimsy looking centre stick and half a dozen instruments, a number of which probably don’t work.
  • The A320 has adjustable pedals but it doesn’t matter because the Avenger is one of few single-engine aircraft where I can reach the rudder pedals without needing a pillow behind me.
  • Having said that, I couldn’t fly the Avenger anyway as the autopilot consists of holding the stick in place with elastic cords that you attach to the back of your seat. The autopilot in the A320 is… a bit more advanced.
  • The A320 is huge in comparison (six times the size); it is three times the length and twice the width of the Avenger.
  • The A320 has two turbofan engines. The Avenger has one three-bladed propeller engine.
  • The Avenger weighs just 4,527 kilos in the nude while the A320 weighs 42,600 kg — almost ten times as much.
  • Despite the weight, the A320 is quite a bit faster, cruising at 870 kph as opposed to the Avenger at 436 kph.
  • The A320’s manoeuvrability sucks.
  • The Avenger was colloquially known as The Turkey because it was so big and lumbering compared to the Grumman F6F Wildcat. But it’s still more manoeuvrable than an A320.
  • The range of the A320 is about 5,700 km while the Avenger has a range of 1,955 km.
  • The Avenger can carry up to 1000 kg of bombs. A320 does not have a bomb bay.
  • The Avenger originally had a machine gun mounted to the nose, along with one rear-facing ventral gun (under the tail), and another rear-facing gun in an electrically powered turret. The A320 does not, as standard, have a turret nor does it come pre-supplied with machine guns.
  • Later the Avenger dropped the nose-mounted machine gun, replacing it with machine guns on each wing. The A320 has never had anything but engines mounted to its wings.
  • Airbus have A320 simulators where I could recreate the experience of flying one. Grumman are experimenting with military training using virtual reality but I don’t think they’d accept my application to join the testing team.
  • Not that anyone would ever allow me to have an aircraft with the ability to strafe the parking lot anyway… but a girl can dream, can’t she?

I’m sure there are other obvious differences that I missed. Leave them in the comments!

Category: Fun Stuff,

19 Comments

  • How does the A320 perform as a torpedo bomber? I bet you could fit a _lot_ of torpedoes in an A320, although launching them might be a challenge.

  • “The A319 MPA is fitted with anti-submarine and anti-surface weapon systems. The aircraft can carry a variety of weapons internally and on wing-pylons. The internal bomb-bay can house eight weapon stations for torpedoes, depth charges, mines and other ASW weaponry. Four under-wing points can hold missiles to attack naval or land-based targets.” Source: https://www.naval-technology.com/projects/a319mpa/
    Note that it can carry torpedoes!

    “The A319 is a shortened-fuselage variant of the Airbus A320” (wikipedia)

  • Differences:
    * “Glass Cockpit” has very different meanings for the Avenger and the Airbus (the view is much better in the Avenger)
    * 5 Avenger lost in the Bermuda triangle (Flight 19), no A320 lost there
    * Service ceiling altitude of A320 twice as high as the avenger
    * A320 can load more fuel than the Avenger weighs (and could load two Avengers by weight as freight)
    * A320 would win a tug-of-war
    * The Avenger is designed to withstand landing at 1000 ft/min. A320 passengers complain above 250 ft/min.
    * Grumman Avenger can land on an aircraft carrier. Airbus A320 can overfly an aircraft carrier.
    * The Avenger has foldable wins. A320 wings are always in the way.
    * An Avenger pilot has become President of the United States.

    • Great list! I disregarded the ceiling as I was originally trying to explain (seriously) differences between the A320 and a 1945 Avenger and as they weren’t pressurised, I’m not sure a ceiling of 22,000 feet helps.

      I didn’t think of any of the others though. My favourite is the weight of the fuel.

  • This is a fun entry. Sylvia, I am sure, has surprised everyone with her very original entry.
    Mendel, you have just added a few more, thanks; the A320/319 is not the only airliner that has been converted for military purposes. It was very observant to point out that airliners can be versatile.
    But the so-called “Bermuda triangle” has been extensively debunked. The lead aircraft of flight 19 lost it’s way, perhaps due to a compass failure and the other – trainee – pilots followed until they ran out of fuel.
    But to be fair: this was a very well-put addition to Sylvia’s playful article, I am sure that most everyone enjoyed this diversion on the “bright side”.

    • My A319 comment is intended to contrast Sylvia’s guess that “Airbus has never designed a torpedo bomber”. While the A319 MPA probably does not strictly fit that designation, it comes close.
      I probably should’ve pointed out that no A320 has been lost at sea anywhere. Those few that did crash into the ocean have all been found.

  • The Fokker F27 has seen service for maritime patrol duties with the Dutch navy. Cabin windows had been englarged outwards, like “bubbles” to give observers a greater field of vision. It also has been used by the Dutch air force and was called “Troopship”. But I am not sure if any had been armed. The Fokker 50 had been fitted with an extended fuselage and a cargo door, if was called the “Fokker 60”. I beleive than only 4 were built.
    But no, none would fit into this quirky narrative.
    Nice comments, Mendel.

  • Mendel — I hadn’t remembered that Bush Sr. flew an Avenger. I see that Wikipedia says he was the only survivor when his plane went down; Sylvia’s link about the Middle Seat reports that this was common in the Avenger, because the crew seats didn’t have room for people wearing parachutes. That’s two more contrasts; I suspect that nobody has parachuted from an A320, and that A320 crew either all lived or all died in most crashes. Or possibly three contrasts — any guess whether any retired A320 pilot has subsequently parachuted? When I was skydiving I knew of an informal group called “Skydivers Over Sixty”, but from what I heard it was pretty small; Bush did have assistance, but he did a few jumps after leaving the White House.

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