Hasegawa 1/72 US-2B Tracker 'VC-10'
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||2004 Limited Edition. Resin parts|
WThe Grumman S-2 Tracker (S2F prior to 1962) was the first purpose-built, single airframe anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft to enter service with the United States Navy. Designed and initially built by Grumman, the Tracker was of conventional design — propeller-driven with twin radial engines, a high wing that could be folded for storage on aircraft carriers, and tricycle undercarriage. The type was exported to a number of navies around the world. Introduced in 1952, the Tracker and its E-1 Tracer derivative saw service in the U.S. Navy until the mid-1970s, and its C-1 Trader derivative until the mid-1980s, with a few aircraft remaining in service with other air arms into the 21st century. Argentina and Brazil are the last countries to still use the Tracker.
Many S-2A/B airframes were converted to target towing, trainer or utility aircraft. Target tugs and utility types were US-2B. In these cases, all of the mission avionics were removed from the airframes and the various openings for radars, sonobouy chutes and search lights were covered over. The interiors were often equipped with seats and a cargo floor.
Hasegawa's Tracker was initially released in 1975 and has been reissued several times since then, most recently in 2018. It was also released in the late 70's by Minicraft and is the basis for the Hobbycraft kit. Typical fairly hard plastic with very nice raided panel line detailing. The kit allows the adventurous who want to scratch-build the wingfold mechanism the opportunity to do that with scored areas on the inside of the wings.
The cockpit is very Spartan with seat shapes and crew members that fit on the floor. This, in turn, attaches to the nose gear well. One then builds up the engine/nacelle/prop assemblies in preparation for attaching them to the nacelles. Since this is a US-2 boxing, Hasegawa has provided a resin sprue that pretty much contains plugs. Some of these fit inside the fuselage opposite the large side scoops. One then sands off the scoops and fills in any seams. There is another plug for the upper radome and another for the MAD boom. The S-2 family has a tail wheel as it so easily tail sits. This means a LOT of weight will need to be fitted in the nose and behind the cockpit to prevent tail sitting.
The engine nacelles trap the main landing gear legs so you'll need to protect those from handling accidents. There is no main gear well to speak of. Resin plugs are provided for the back of the nacelles as well. There is also a plug for the large ventral radome. Wings are a single upper piece and two lower sections. There is a plug for the tail wheel and hook assembly. You will probably want to sand off the weapons racks under the wing. There is also a plug for the searchlight pieces. You then attach the nacelles and glue the wings to the fuselage.
Gear doors will have to be cut as they are molded closed. The canopy includes part of the airframe and it may be a good idea to attach this before the wings to give room to deal with the seam. You'll need liquid mask for the bulged side windows. The kit does not include the small fences on either side of the exhaust, but does include a template for these. Attach the tail planes and the nose gear and hope you put enough weight in it so it does not tail sit.
Typical Hasegawa instructions with Gunze paint references. Both options are white over light gull grey. Most of the unique markings are for the VC-10 plane. The other option is the station plane from NAF Misawa. The aircraft was so widely used it is surprising that there haven't been a lot of aftermarket sheets for this kit. Decals are nicely done but are old school with the off white whites.
Thanks to the resin, the US-2 boxings often command a fairly high price. Indeed, even when new, they were 30-40% more expensive than the standard boxing. This one has a bit of flash on a few parts, but nothing really major. It does make into a very nice model when done, despite its age. I'd be surprised if anyone did a replacement any time soon, but you never know.
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