Grumman S2F Tracker - TF - 1 Trader & WF - 2 Tracer

By Charles Stafrace

The emergence of the aircraft carrier after the Second World War as the key fleet unit dictated different methods on how to conduct naval air warfare. The experience gained by the US Navy in the Pacific designated the way how future carrier task forces were to be supported by dedicated anti-submarine warfare aircraft, airborne early warning platforms and effective shore-to-ship aerial communication facilities. Grumman, a traditional supplier of naval aircraft, was quick to respond to this fresh way of thinking, and developed a successful line of three shipboard, twin-engined, unpretentious-looking aircraft. In 1952 the prototype of the S2F Tracker made its first flight for the US Navy, solving once and for all the long-standing problem of uniting in one airframe the 'hunter' and 'killer' pair of anti-submarine aircraft. Among them these three Grumman products gave the US Navy the lead over all other navies in terms of flexibility, fleet protection and battle management which today's modern navies have taken for granted. The effectiveness of these three aircraft, and later by their successors, was proved time and again during the various conflicts in which the United States has been involved since the Vietnam War.