The TBM-3 in Aces High II
When you see a TBM coming it will most likely be very near the water, and thus most likely have taken off from a nearby CV group. It is a reasonable combination of bomber and attack plane carrying a fair load of rockets and bombs though it is far from a heavy bomber. Being weakly defended, the TBM is not very survivable without at least some friendly fighter support. When you need some firepower from a CV and don't feel like bringing a jabo bird, or if you want to try and torpedo something, the TBM might be the right plane for you. The TBM tends to be reasonably popular as an attack plane taking off from a carrier group but it is very rare to see them over land (or at least very far from water). It is pretty flexible though and can be used as a level bomber, a dive-bomber, or even to strafe targets on the ground. The TBM is also very effective against ground vehicles. Unfortunately, it tends to not be very survivable though and usually has a very tough time dealing with almost any fighter opposition. Even though the TBM can take a pretty good hit, it is only marginally better at absorbing damage than something like a P-47.
The TBM is is pretty slow and can only pull 252mph at sea-level on cruise. It does have WEP, though rather short lived, that can help bump up the speed a bit though it isn't going to win any speed records. Climb rate is equally unimpressive though grabbing lots of altitude in the TBM is usually only for survival purposes since speed increases aren't great. You can get to cruise at about 270mph if you spend the time to get to 15K. Fuel range is good with 50 minutes of fuel at cruise settings. It is unlikely you need full fuel to reach the type of nearby targets usually associated with TBM attacks.
Aces High II Performance Charts
Firepower on the TBM is interesting, if there is any way to describe it. Twin .50's mounted in the wings provide a reasonable forward firepower though it's only really good for strafing ground targets or scaring enemy fighters a bit. In the rear are mounted, above and below the fuselage, a .30 cal and a .50 cal rear-gun. The combination of the two is somewhat effective although not many people really fear them since they are in single mounts. About the best you can expect is to damage someone's engine, pissing them off in the process. It is unlikely you will have enough firepower to actually shoot anyone down.
Maneuverability isn't too bad, especially if you can retain a little speed. The plane is large and heavy though still handles pretty well. If you are carrying rockets on the wings I'd ditch them in defense since they tend to sap performance (speed and maneuverability) a bit. You certainly can't turn with fighters though, so don't try.
Fighting in the TBM-3
Offensively, the TBM is well used as a level-bomber or dive-bomber from lower altitudes. Once free of the bomb/rockets it can head for home, or stay briefly to add some strafing to the offense. You don't want to get caught all alone in a TBM against enemy fighters though as they can quickly cut you to pieces. The TBM carries a reasonable offensive punch and is pretty easy to launch from a CV. Other CV planes may carry as much, or more, ordinance than the TBM in the attack role but these tend to be difficult to launch from the CV at heavy loads.
Defensively, the TBM is not very good. The rear gunners aren't going to frighten people very much and most likely they will simply bore right through your return fire until they get close enough to tear you up at close range. If you can, maneuver enough to make yourself a harder target for simple attacks, side-slipping or rolling, while trying to get your tail guns on target. The .50 in the rear has enough power to hurt someone, it just needs enough time to work at it. Look to drag any enemies towards friendly help if at all possible and hope they realize that a single TBM kill is not worth them getting shot down 2 seconds later. There is a reasonable overshoot possibility too, you are slow and can take a brief hit, so try and plan to cause an overshoot. Once out in front of you your .50's might be able to take enough of a piece out of an enemy plane to scare them off or force them away.
Fighting against the TBM-3
The TBM is really just another plane where you are more likely to shoot yourself down because of killshooter than actually get taken down by defensive measures the TBM can make. The TBM is just like the Val and SBD in that it attracts attention from almost every friendly pilot within icon range who will dive in huge swarms to try and knock down an easy target. At least the TBM has some sort of rear defense though most people can't use it effectively anyway.
Attacking a TBM is simple, come in from almost any angle and open fire at close range. The rear fuselage tends to be pretty weak and breaks off quickly to any sort of sustained hits. The same goes for the tail which appears to break easily. Attacks from any angle are fine though you can avoid all defensive fire by not approaching from the nose (because of the forward .50's) or directly from the 6. The rear is defended by two guns, remember that, one on the dorsal and one on the ventral surface, so low 6 attacks don't put you out of gun firing arc. High approaches, or high off-angle attacks (almost beam attacks) are totally undefended. The rear guns don't have fantastic arcs of fire to the sides, top, or bottom, so it should be possible to get into blind spots if the TBM doesn't maneuver. It's actually pretty rare to have a TBM maneuver defensively either, they tend to rely on their guns and fly totally straight and level. The main problem you may have is with overshoots, or collisions. The TBM is slow and large, so if you get in too close you may actually collide with one, or may overshoot while avoiding a collision. Overshoots can be a problem because at short ranges the TBM can actually hurt you with it's forward mounted .50s.
Defending against a TBM is barely worth mentioning. All the cards should be in your court unless you are flying something equally slow and unmaneuverable. I don't know that there is a fighter in the game that shouldn't completely own a TBM. If you find a TBM diving on you, turn out of it's way and then finish it off. The TBM is not a fighter and is vastly out-classed when it comes in contact with one.
Soda's Aircraft Evaluations