Kinetic’s second release of their S-2 Tracker series is the "A" version. This was a redesignation of the S2F-1, occurring in 1961. The early Trackers also had some differences in the horizontal stabs and the nacelles. This kit has all that on eight nicely made gray sprues with a clear sprue and a large decals sheet.
The first note I want to make is follow the directions and watch your part numbers. There are multiple noses, nacelles, and other parts. You also have the options to fold the wings, which I did to save shelf space. There are also a couple areas to address. The cockpit is very bland and although you can see a lot, it could use a little love. Also, the very prominent spotlight on the wing is not there at all, and you can purchase an aftermarket set or scratchbuild one, but it needs to be addressed.
The cockpit was built first and I added seat belts. There is also a console between the seats and it was added from spare parts. The overhead control panel is flat and has no levers or instruments. These were added from spares and the levers from strip. The rest was OOB.
I elected not to open the bomb bay. I added the inserts and closed the fuselage. Fit was pretty good with some seam work needed. A quick note here: add weight everywhere – in back of the instrument panels, around the wheel wells, behind the bulkhead (and even in the nacelles. I did all that and still ended up cutting a hole in the nose to add even more weight, and it is barely balanced). Closing the bomb bay door was tough as fit was marginal and took some super glue and sanding. There is also an option to open the side access door, but I closed it as there is no detail inside.
The wings and nacelles are built next and follow the same build process as the original kit. Several things to note – there are depressions for the exhausts but no exhausts. I used the Quickboost set I reviewed. You could do the same with tubing also, but the Quickboost set is easy. I also added the Quickboost engine and fabricated push rods. They look great and are very obvious in the large cowlings. You will have to drill out the shaft to hold the propellers. I added the nacelles to the inner wing halves, then glued the wings to the fuselage and they fit very well.
The outer wings were prepared by first drilling out the holes for the pylons. To build the searchlight, I took a Dremel and milled the area out, as it was just a flat solid face. Looking online, I thought the searchlight looks like a radar dish with a prominent filament in the middle. I found a cupped piece from the spares box and thinned the edges. I added a tube in the middle and sprayed it gloss black, then Alclad Chrome. I mount it on a pole and secured in the opening. Total time was about 20 minutes and it makes a huge difference. The rest of the wing was assembled per instructions with no issues. One note here – if you are not folding the wings, the assembly is almost the same but the fold parts are replaced with a connector and the wings are glued together.
Seams were filled and the landing gear doors were prepared and it was time to paint. I wanted a different scheme, so I went with the Caracal decal set for an overall gloss sea blue color. Painting was without issues. Once the blue was on, you need to mask the de-icer boots and spray them a rubber color, then mask the anti-glare panel and paint it black. The wheel wells were painted gloss white. The inner surfaces of the slats were painted red.
The Caracal decals are reviewed at http://web.ipmsusa3.org/content/s2f-1-tracker-decals. I can tell you that they apply perfectly well. Once done, I washed the plane with light gray. I flat-coated, weathered lightly with pastels, and flat coated again. I assembled the wing folds; they are fiddly and not too strong. I hope someone comes out with a metal set. The props under the wings help a lot with strength. A quick coat of flat and I was done.
I know that I pointed out several things I felt are shortcomings to the kit, and they do need to be addressed, but please don't misunderstand, I do love the kit. It is a highly wanted subject, well designed overall, and the fit is pretty good. I do think having a few kits under your belt would help in building this one, so some experience may be required. My thanks go to Kinetic, Stevens International, and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review this kit...how about a Tracer next?
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