MiniWings 1/144 S-2E Tracker
KIT #: Mini 017
PRICE: $35.00 from www.nostalgicplastic.com
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Resin with vacuformed clear bits

HISTORY

The Grumman S-2 Tracker (previously S2F) was the first purpose-built, single airframe anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft to enter service with the US Navy.

Its predecessor, the AF-2 Guardian was the first purpose-built aircraft system for ASW, using two airframes, one with the detection gear, and the other with the weapons.

Grumman produced 1,185 Trackers. Another 99 aircraft carrying the CS2F designation were manufactured in Canada under license by de Havilland Canada. U.S.-built versions of the Tracker were sold to various nations, including Australia, Japan and Taiwan.

The Tracker was eventually superseded for U.S. military use by the S-3 Viking  the last USN Tracker squadron (VS-37 with S-2G models) was disestablished in 1976, but a number live on as firefighting aircraft and many have been up-engined with turbo-props. Trackers continued to provide excellent service with the naval forces of other countries for years after the U.S. discontinued them. For example, the Royal Australian Navy continued to use Trackers as front line ASW assets until the mid 1980s. Argentina still uses turbo-Trackers.

THE KIT

This MiniWings kit is very nicely molded with a one-piece fuselage and one piece wings with engine nacelles molded in place. There is a small cockpit piece with seats and control sticks to glue in place so that the cockpit won't look bare. As one who has spent some of his military time around S-2s, I can tell you that there is room for improvement, but I do appreciate having something in there. The landing gear and  wheels are quite nicely done as well. I can tell you that there are a lot of small pieces and It makes one wonder why some of these could not have been molded in place. For instance the prop hub tips are separate as are the flap hinges and the small tip of the MAD boom. The kit also has under wing bomb racks.

All the gear doors are molded in one piece for you to cut. This also allows you to build it on a stand if you so desire. Some of the very small parts (antennas and small gear struts) will need to be cut from the piece of rod that is supplied. You'll also have to fashion a balance rod to fit to the horizontal stabs. It is not called out in the instructions, but all Trackers had them. One may be wondering about where to put nose weight as the fuselage is solid resin. Well, the Tracker was not exactly front heavy, one of the reasons it has a tail wheel. If one got two people working on the tail section, the plane would settle back on the tail wheel quite easily. The distance from the deck to the tail wheel was about 6 inches so it wasn't like it was a hard crash when it settled back. MiniWings also provides two sets of vacuformed cockpit clear bits and searchlight cover, something that is always appreciated.

Instructions are a half sheet of paper with a couple of exploded views for construction on one side, and a color markings placement guide on the other. The options are VS-37 in 1969 or an Australian Navy version (probably VS-831). Both are in the light gull grey over white scheme and the US version would have the light gull grey in a matte or semi-matte. Decals are quite nicely printed and are covered by a single clear carrier so each individual marking will need to be cut from the sheet.

CONCLUSIONS

Another great 1/144 kit for the fan. This scale seems to be growing in popularity and I'm pleased to see it. Hard to believe that less than 10 years or so ago, the military modeler in this scale had very few choices and most of them more like toys than real replicas. How things are changing.

REFERENCES

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S-2_Tracker

August 2009

Thanks to www.nostalgicplastic.com for the preview kit. Get yours today while they are still in stock.

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