Photo by Max Haynes -
History: In the late 1940s, the US Navy
decided it needed a new aircraft for its anti-submarine missions. Previously, the task had
been accomplished by teams of two airplanes, one performing the "hunter" role
with its radar, and the other acting as the torpedo-equipped "killer."
Logistical problems and advancing technology soon negated the advantages of these
two-aircraft attacks, and a single aircraft became the ideal. Grumman responded to this
need with a twin-engine, high-wing prototype called the G-89.
It featured a large payload capacity for sensors and weapons, a retractable search radar,
a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) boom, searchlights, and other much-needed features.
Folding wings and a tailhook made it aircraft-carrier capable.
The prototype aircraft first flew on 4 December 1952, under
the US Navy designation XS2F-1. Three major variants appeared
almost immediately, and their designations were finalized in 1962 as the S-2
Tracker, the E-1 Tracer, and the C-1
Trader. The S-2A, the first production version of
the Tracker, entered anti-submarine service in February 154, and more than 500 were
delivered to the US Navy and several other nations. Several of these were delivered as
trainers and were called TS-2As.
Other variants included the S-2C
(enlarged weapons-bay, larger tail to compensate for higher gross weight); US-2A/B/C
(S-2s converted for utility use such as target towing and light transport); RS-2C
(photo-reconnaissance); S-2D (increased wing span, larger tail,
four-man crew in widened / lengthened fuselage, larger sonobouy payload); S-2E
(modified with more advanced search equipment); S-2F (S-2Bs
modified with this same equipment); CS-2F/CP-121
(deHavilland-built Trackers for the Royal Canadian Navy); and S-2G
(the final advanced version of the Tracker, which served into the 1970s.)
The C-1 Trader, meanwhile, was
delivered as a nine-seat transport for use as a Carrier On-board Delivery (COD) aircraft,
and the E-1 (WF-2) Tracer was equipped with a large overhead
radome containing a powerful APS-82 early-warning search radar. Even after the design was
replaced in the US Navy by the jet-powered S-3 Viking, it lives on in several
reincarnations. Taiwan purchased at least 32 S-2T Turbo Trackers,
which are Grumman-modified S-2s powered by Garrett TPE-331 turboprop engines. Also, the
S-2 has become a popular airplane for use as a firefighting water bomber, in the US and
Finally, several S-2s and C-1s are privately owned and flown
as warbirds. They are well-loved for their toughness, reliability, and huge load-hauling
capability. (What better way to attend an airshow or fly-in than by taking along six or
eight friends and all the supplies you'd ever need?)
Nicknames: Stoof (S-2F variant); Stoof
with a Roof / Willie Fudd (WF-2/E-1 Tracer variant)
Engines: Two 1,525-hp Wright R-1820-82WA Cyclone 9-cylinder radial piston engines.
Weight: Empty 18,750 lbs., Max
Takeoff 29,150 lbs.
Wing Span: 72ft. 7in.
Length: 43ft. 6in.
Height: 16ft. 7in.
Maximum Speed at
Sea Level: 265 mph
Patrol Speed at
1,500 ft: 150 mph
One Mk 57 or Mk
101 nuclear depth bomb or similar in bomb bay.
60 depth charges
32 sonobuoys in
hardpoints for bombs, rockets, or torpedoes.
Number Built: 1,181 Trackers/Traders
Number Still Airworthy: Approximately 10
flown as warbirds; Unknown number in active military service worldwide, and as
"Clark's S-2 Tracker Museum"
Conair, Abbotsford, BC, Canada -- S-2
"The World's First Grumman
S-2 Tracker Website"
Tracker Air Group ("The Iron
Trader Air -- Privately-owned C-1 Trader in
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Doublestar Group, unless otherwise noted.
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