Ginter Books Naval Fighter #101 Grumman Tracker - Part 1
Thank you to Ginter Books for providing a review copy of their new release, Naval Fighters Number 10, the first of a three volume set covering the Grumman S2F/S-2 Tracker and the WF-2/E - 1 B Tracer. I also appreciate all of those in the IPMS Reviewer Corps, who do the heavy lifting to get the reviews done, from start to finish.
The Tracker holds a special interest for me beyond my personal enthusiasm for USN aviation, an interest honed after hearing two Navy veterans argue about how effective the aircraft was. Naturally, one was a submarine officer, and the other an S2F aviator. This volume is the first of three projected volumes covering the Tracker, with development, testing, variants and foreign users described.
The inside of the cover has all the background information for the publication:publisher’s note, authors’ biographies, and contributor acknowledgments, with many familiar names.The additional contributions add greatly to the depth of the aircraft history and operations.
From the introduction on page 1 through p. 95, the reader is treated to an engaging narrative of ASW concept development, partly successful adaptations of existing aircraft designs, and new competing proposals.Many ASW aircraft photos and data, including TBM variants, the AF-2S/W pairing and early helicopter platforms, make this volume a bonus for all modelers and historians interested in subsea warfare.An extraordinary number of tweaks and modifications to the aircraft are described, from acceptance of the XS2F-1 through subsequent versions.The success of the S2F can be summed up by author Kowalski on p. 95, including a quote from ADM John McCain, “The name Grumman on a plane or part is like Sterling on silver.”
Following the overall narrative, thoroughly documented details of the S2F and many variants are found on pages 96 through 167.These pages are a wealth of material for the naval aviation fan/avgeek (no name calling, I am one too), with information taken from Grumman, USN, and NATOPS sources.I took the perspective of a scratch builder going through this part of the book, and found few areas lacking for information. I could effectively construct a replica of a Tracker with this material, and be ready to attempt super-detailing.I certainly am no expert on the Tracker, but am much better informed about the aircraft after reading this section.
A modeler’s chapter is present from page 168 through page 181.All known kits, aftermarket parts and decals for Trackers are listed.Many of the kit reviews have beautiful associated buildups.The recent Kinetic 1/48 scale releases and Eduard aftermarket detail sets are also included in these reviews, along with a rare conversion set for a WF-2 Tracer.One additional aftermarket part not listed is a 1/72 S2F retardant tank from Lone Star Models (LSM 70254).I bought some additional parts as a direct result of this chapter!
The volume is rounded out with a description of the foreign operators on pages 182 through 198. Non-military fire-suppression aircraft are documented on pages 199 and 200, and the inside of the back cover.Ownership and other civilian service histories are included.
The extensive history and volume of details make for fascinating reading and viewing.I believe it would be very helpful to have a table of contents and an index.The material is presented in chronological order.There is no supporting references or source list for additional research.However, I think it is important to consider that this volume is part 1 of a projected three-volume series.I expect that all three volumes together will provide an excellent and thorough perspective of the Tracker and Tracer history and lineage.
I absolutely recommend this volume, from both the scale-model and historical perspectives. I found Naval Fighters Number 101 to be very well-worth the reading time, allowing me a more thorough understanding of the S2F. The role of other aircraft in the Tracker concept and design history is an excellent extra.
Thanks again to Ginter Books, your work helps keep history alive. Thank you again to the stalwart Reviewer Corps for your hard work in making these review opportunities happen.
Now on to a new Tracker kit project!