Hasegawa 1/72 S2F-1 Tracker "JMSDF 51 Squadron"
KIT #: 02266
PRICE: 2800 yen SRP
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2018 Limited Edition

HISTORY

ThThe 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.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force received 60 S2F-1s in 1957 from U.S. stocks, and were operated until 1984. After being received, six S2F-1s were reconfigured into four S2F-U and two S2F-C variants. The S2F-1 was nicknamed Aotaka(あおたか, Blue Hawk). They were replaced by the Lockheed P-3 Orion. Many Japanese airframes were converted to fire bombers or used as spares.

THE KIT

Initially released in 1975, this venerable kit has held up very well over the years. This example has a few sink areas, almost no flash, and has the raised panel line detailing that was in vogue at the time. It is a fairly simple kit consisting of two grey and a single clear sprue. The clear plastic is fairly thick by modern standards, but there is little to see in the cockpit anyway. That part of the kit is simply a floor on which one puts two seats, a couple of generic crew figures and some decals. It sits atop the nose gear well. There is no cabin detail.

This assembly is trapped between the two fuselage halves along with the belly mounted radome. Good luck finding room for weight to keep this from tail sitting. However, the S-2 had a tail wheel and was so balanced that if the plane was light on fuel, simply walking on the upper fuselage towards to tail would cause it to tail sit.

Engines are nicely molded as a front half on a plat that fits into a full cowling. The prop is then installed along with the piece to keep it from falling out. If you don't want the prop to spin, you can simply glue it on at the end of the build. Nacelles are a right and left half into which you trap the main gear. Main gear well is non-existent. If you are careful and don't install the forward strut, you can rotate the gear into the well until after the model is painted.

The wing is a single upper piece with separate lower halves. The nacelles fit onto this along with the search light. All the gear doors are molded as a single piece and must be cut. A separate insert is provided for the tail hook well and hook. The tail gear fits into this. Nose gear is sturdy and all the wheels are separate.
Tailplanes are upper and lower halves as well. One then builds and installs the upper radome and the clear canopy piece. There are small 'fences' that fit on either side of the upper wing engine exhaust. These need to be made of card and a template is provided. There are also a few holes to fill in the nose section. Missing is the heater exhaust and intake so you may want to add that if you are fussy.

Instructions are standard new Hasegawa with Gunze paint. There are two offerings, both in light gull grey over white. One is the bo art plane from 51 Squadron JMSDF. The other is a USN Reserve plane from VS-935 with large areas of what are listed as international orange areas on the airframe. The builder will also need to paint all the deicer boots and the anti-glare panels on the inside of the engines and on the nose. The upper fuselage walk areas are provided as decals.
CONCLUSIONS

Hasegawa is the only company to produce an S-2 in this scale. The Hobbycraft/Academy kit is a copy and the kit has also been reboxed by Minicraft and Revell over the years. Despite its age, it does build up into a nice early S-2 and I have seen conversion kits available to make later versions, though I don't know if they are still extant. It is not a fussy kit to build, but painting will be a bit of a challenge.

REFERENCES

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grumman_S-2_Tracker

August 2019

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Thanks to me for picking this one up when it was on sale.

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