After the return of some aircraft to the US Navy and the British fleet (NZ2508-2511; NZ2513, NZ2514, NZ2517, NZ2520, NZ2522 - NZ2525;  NZ2528, NZ2529, NZ2531, NZ2532, NZ2534, NZ2535, NZ2537, NZ2538, NZ2540, NZ2543, NZ2545 - NZ2547)  the RNZAF had ended the war with 12 Avengers.This number was further reduced in 1948 when six were sold for scrap. The remaining six aircraft continued target towing duties with the Central Fighter Establishment and 42 Squadron.

NZ2503 was ditched in the Waitemata Harbour off Whenuapai on 17th March 1956 after an engine failure while drogue towing with 42 Squadron. 

By 1957 only two TBFs (NZ2527 and 2504) remained active and served with 42 Squadron at Ohakea until May, 1959. 



NZ 2504 'Popeye' at an airshow in the late 1940's.  Repainted in probably (NZ)  Blue Sea Grey upper surfaces with a Matt Yellow tail section. RNZAF Blue/White/Blue roundels.
Note: Turret was removed and faired over with alloy sheet. The gun mounting remained in place under this.

(Via Peter Dingwall) 




NZ2504  in the 'Silver' scheme, Wigram, Christchurch.  Gloss Black bands on Gloss Yellow lower wing
and lower fuselage  - Gloss Yellow band around rear fuselage and upper wing. 
Underwing serial in Black, reversed under port wing.     (Via Dave Stewart)

Aerial Topdressing:

During 1948-49, the RNZAF was entrusted with investigations into aerial topdressing, and trials were held, using an Avenger (once again NZ2504) at Ohakea,  and on a farm near Masterton with the detachment based at Hood Aerodrome.  A long range bomb bay ferry tank had been modified to carry the fertiliser, and had to be removed between each flight for refilling. 



NZ 2504 photographed during the aerial top dressing trials from Hood Aerodrome, Masterton, 9th September 1949. 


These trials, and others using a modified C-47,  proved the feasibility of using this method, and paved the way to open up large areas of hitherto unproductive land in New Zealand for growing clovers and grasses for sheep grazing.




Three of the surviving TBF's in formation - NZ2527,  NZ2504 and NZ2503.   Note subtle colour and marking differences. Black aerial masts on 03 and 27, and Silver on 04.  Position of underside Black bands,   the Red rudder on 03, and the Black prop hubs on 03 and 04.



Note the differences between NZ2504 closest to the camera, and NZ2527.



Unlike the Mosquito, the Avenger is relatively well represented in the preservation stakes in New Zealand, with NZ2504 at the RNZAF Museum, Wigram, and three others (NZ2505, NZ2527 and NZ2539) with preservationists.


TBF colours and markings