In the post war years of the 1940s The U.S. Navy wanted a new missions aircraft to replace the AF2 and secure a single platform aircraft. The Grumman “iron works” aircraft company always catering to the needs of the Navy introduced the G-89 a twin-engine high wing prototype. The prototype was all navy she featured folding wings, large payload capacity, searchlights and a tail-hook. Also a magnetic anomaly detector boom and a retractable belly search radar. The first prototype ‘XS2F-1’ flew on December 4th1952. Entering service in 1954 the S-2s were the first single ship aircraft to carry out anti-submarine warfare (ASW) which previously required 2 aircraft. The Trackers and her cousins served faithfully during the cold war keeping track of Russian submarines for many years by 1976 over 1,000 Trackers have been retired from the Navy.
The S-2E (S-2F-3S) was the fourth variant and the last version of the Tracker built by Grumman. All the following versions were modified S-2s. The S-2E had a few more external features not found on earlier S-2s Most notable was a long retractable antenna and a extra radome located behind the larger belly search radar. 252 S-2Es were built and 238 served with the Navy.
- Length: 43 ft 6 in
- Wingspan: 72 ft 7 in
- Height: 17 ft 6 in
- Wing area: 485 ft
- Empty weight: 18,315 lb
- Loaded Weight: 23,435 lb
- 2x Wright R-1820-82WA radial engines, 1,525 hp each
- Max speed: 280 mph
- Cruise: 150 mph
- Range: 1,350 mi
- Ceiling: 22,000 ft.
When I first opened up the box mailed from IPMS fellow Dave Morriset I was pleased to see an actual photograph instead of artwork on the box top. The large sturdy box contained 1 instruction booklet 12 pages long, 1 set of decals from Fightertown Decals printed by Cartograf, 1 page decal placement sheet, 173 gray plastic parts and 8 more clear pieces. The sprues were well protected in poly bags and my copy arrived undamaged. Featuring recessed panel lines and somewhat restrained rivets and fasteners. The surface has a slight texture giving the plastic a flat finish look.
Checking the detail against drawings you will find a few missing panel line most notable are a couple missing from the top of the wing. The fuselage halves also sport a few sink marks and the searchlight is just a clear blister missing the light itself.
Looking over the options we see folded or unfolded wings, open or closed torpedo-bay, 2 ASW Torpedoes, 6 rocket launchers, under wing hard points for torpedoes or Bullpup missiles, the crew hatch door is also molded separately and can be posed to your desire.
Following the instruction sheet I started with the cockpit I found this area to be sparse and wanting to be detailed. After I added the other bits needed and what seemed to be a ton of lead for ballast. I then closed up the fuselage halves with out any note worthy problems except for the rudder fit it could have been designed with a little more finesse. I then moved on to the next steps of canopy glazing the two-part windscreen appeared to fit ok but once the primer coat was applied it revealed problems that required filling. Moving forward the next few steps went without any construction problems other than a few missing details that need attention. These being filling in sink marks and scribing missing panel lines. I went online and found a few close ups of the searchlight and fashioned one from a beer can and stretch sprue.
When I came to the point of wings folded or unfolded I decided to go with folded. It was here that I took my build to the paint booth and did all the major painting and decaling leaving only the wings and finishing bits to be added or so I thought. I do not recommend folding the wings. The wing fold hinges are way to weak making tedious work and a very fragile display. Another problem is the inherit nature of this beast being a tail sitter. I added so much weight that I was worried the landing gear would suffer and it was still not enough. My last recourse was to make a wire stand to hold up the tail end.
The Bottom Line:
The kit when finished makes a very impressive display model. Look to the aftermarket people for stronger (white metal) wing fold parts and landing gear. Searchlight, cockpit, nose weight and decal options would also be nice. All in all the kit has a few warts and reminded me of building an older Monogram kit; I found it at times to be somewhat enjoyable and frustrating.
I would like to thank IPMS/USA, Kinetic Model Kits and LuckyModel.com Ltd for the opportunity of building this rare subject. I recommend it to intermediate and experienced modelers.