RVHP 1/72 E-1B Tracer

KIT #: 7243
PRICE: $
DECALS: options
REVIEWER: Carmel J. Attard
NOTES: Resin short run conversion kit complete with instructions, scale plans and no decals.

HISTORY

The Tracer was a carrier Airborne Early Warning aircraft manufactured by Grumman. First flight took place on 17the December 1956 and went into service with the US Navy in 1958. When the E-1B joined the fleet during early 1961, it soon replaced the remaining Douglas AD-5W Skyraiders as the standard shipboard AEW aircraft. The E-1B was also used in sea search crew training role. 88 in number Tracers were built. The type was retired from service in 1977 when it was replaced by the more modern E-2 Hawkeye,

The E-1 was designated WFunder the old US Navy system; the designation earned it the nickname "Willy Fudd". Since the S-2 Tracker was known as S2F under the old system, that airplane was nicknamed "Stoof"; the WF/E-1 with its distinctive radome gained the nickname "Stoof with a Roof." The E-1 featured folding wings for compact storage aboard aircraft carriers. Unlike the S-2 and C-1 in which the wings folded upwards, the radome atop the fuselage necessitated the E-1 to fold its wings along the sides of the fuselage.

The Tracer was fitted with the  Hazeltine AN/APS-82 in its distinctive radome. The radar featured an Airborne Moving Target Indicator (AMTI), which analyzes the Doppler shift in reflected radar energy to distinguish a flying aircraft against the clutter produced by wave action at the ocean's surface. Separating a moving object from stationary background is accomplished by suitable hardware.

 

XTF-1W/XWF-1

aerodynamic prototype (BuNo 136792) without electronics, later rebuilt as a standard C-1A, retaining the twin tail.

WF-2

Airborne Early Warning version of the TF-1 Trader redesignated E-1B in 1962, 88 built.

E-1B

WF-2 redesignated in 1962. 

Also known as E-1B Tracer it carries a crew of 4, two pilots and two Radar /Intercept Controllers. It is powered by 2x Wright R-1820-82A Cyclone 9-cylinder radial piston engine, 1,525 hp take off power each. Giving a maximum speed of 283mph at 4,000ft  and a cruising speed of 163 mph and a range of 1,035 miles. An endurance of 4.63 hours on station at 150 nm1 at 5,000 ft.

 The Tracer featured a lengthened fuselage 18 inches longer than the C-1 Trader and a modified tail section to support the radome. The tail section consisted of twin outer fins with a short middle fin. The large middle fin served as the rear support of the massive APS Radome, mounted on the top of the fuselage by a series of three struts. The overhead wing folding arrangement of the S2 and C-1A was replaced on the Tracer with a rearward-folding wing similar to those used on F4F and F6F fighters. A steerable tailwheel was installed  to help maneuver the Tracer on the deck since the aircraft was tail heavy with the wings in the folded position.

 A known aircraft of the type on display is on the flight deck of USS Yorktown CV-10 at Patriotís Point Naval and MARITIME Museum in Mount Pleasant, SC. There is another at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City. (Editor's Note: There are also E-1s at the Pima Air and Space Museum as well as at the US Navy Aviation Museum in Pensacola. In addition, there are approximately 11 Tracers still in storage at United Aero Corporation in Tuscon. This facility is a subsidiary of Northrop/Grumman and not only supplies reclamation parts to keep current S-2/C-1/E-1 aircraft flying, but manufactures parts that are in high demand like wheels and struts and nose cones.)

The Tracer saw extensive service during the Viet Nam war, providing combat air patrol fighters with a target vectors, and controlling Alpha Strikes over North Vietnam.

When the E-1 Tracers were withdrawn from service 48 were sold to Consolidated Aeronautics in Tucson. Although all have suffered spare parts reclamation, they were offered for sale as potentially flyable. The Tracer were replaced by the E-2 Hawkeye.

THE KIT

 

The kit of the E-1B Tracer was released by RVHP some years ago and was a vacuum cast Polyurethane resin conversion set for the Hasegawa/Hobbycraft Grumman S-2A. The cream colored resin consisted of a 2 part radome, two outer fin and rudders. A two part main fuselage with the cockpit area have empty space to provide for the crew office seat and instrument arrangement and which was made in such a way so that the clear Hasegawa kit parts fit with little of effort. Two engine nacelle rear parts are also  provided which complete the set.

 

CONSTRUCTION

 

Using the drawings provided as a guide to parts location, each part was first cleaned from any excess resin located at the periphery of parts. Heavy resin runner was carefully parted using a fine saw. In doing so a face mask was worn as the fine powder emanating from the cutting can be a health hazard if ingested or inhaled.  The Tracker (Hasegawa kit) to Tracer conversion entails a new fuselage, tail section, rear engine nacelles and adding a radome. When all the components were all prepared for assembly , the main radome supports were made out of thick plastic card. The kit also contained a steel strip (extruded metal struts) in case it can be used for same radome supports. These were measured and fixed to upper wing decking. The secondary support stay location were marked on the radome low surface.

 

Turning to the wings, the folding lines on the Hasegawa kit were filed flush and new ones were scribed using a pointed scribing too. The wing parts were assembled according to the instructions and the search light fairing on the leading edge was filed flush. The Hasegawa engine nacelles were cut off at the vertical panel lines in line with the rear of the wheel wells and in place fitted the new conversion parts using super glue to join the parts together. The fuselage and wings were assembled. As the radome was going to offset the weight to result into a tail sitter I added lead pieces weight to the nose area. The horizontal tailplanes were then fitted and these were matched to vertical at right angle. A new radome antenna was made from plastic card. When all the assembly was in one piece the huge radome was brought to the fuselage. To simplify matters I made a dowel pin to the radome struts which inserted into a precisely measured locating drilled hole and this saved the day as the radome simply glued at the correct spots.

 

Reference to photos indicated the location of the single wireless that joins the tail plane to fuselage.

COLORS & MARKINGS

 

The underside of the radome was airbrushed  in semi gloss white before assembled on top of the fuselage. This was then joined to fuselage and the underside of the assembly was given coats of same Model Master white. With the undersides masked the rest of upper fuselage and wing areas were airbrushed in gull grey FS 36440. A coat of Johnsons Klear prepared the kit to receive the decals.

 

After making drawings for the correct size of decals that I was planning to apply to the Tracer I sent these to Phillip Weston of Auckland, New Zealand who made for me a perfect set of decals for which I am thankful. These were applied to the kit and the finally the Tracer model was given a coat of semi gloss clear MM varnish.

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

This was my second kit of the Tracer AKA Willy Fudd and was more a straight forward one since the conversion parts were readily available to me when compared to my previous build where the parts were curved out of wood..

 

Overall this is a very nice conversion kit which I thoroughly enjoyed building. Iíll be looking out for more conversion products from this manufacturer in the future.

REFERENCES

 

Wikipedia.com

 

Carmel J. Attard

November 2010

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