|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The 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.
This is a somewhat early release by Kinetic. As such the tooling, while nicely done, isn't quite a crisp as later offerings or those from other, more well-established model companies. The kit provides an adequate cockpit section and does not use decals for the instrument panels. There is no cabin detail so I'm not sure why there is a separate entrance door. One thing I can tell you from experience is that the cabin in the real deal is jam packed with equipment. There are a few holes to open up in the fuselage so pay attention to those. You also have a bomb bay to stick in there. You can install the radome either up or down with a couple of slots provided for that. While no info is provided on nose weight, you will need 80grams to keep it from tail sitting. No way are you going to get that into the nose, but there is a lot of room behind the cockpit section so pack it in. Conversely, you could have it sit on the tail wheel. The real deal will tail sit with two or three people in the far back of the plane with no one in the front.
With the fuselage halves closed, the three piece canopy section and the nose piece can be installed. There is also a separate MAD boom, though this is rarely extended on the ground unless it is undergoing maintenance. Construction then turns to building up the engines and nacelles. To handle the folding wing option, there are inner wing sections that get completely built up before slotting into the fuselage. One then takes care of the tail hook and other underside bits like the bomb bays, for which there are torpedoes. It appears that the bay doors are supposed to be modeled open so if you want to close them, some trimming will be needed. The landing gear and doors are next before assembling the outer wings and the pylons. For the pylons you have rocket pods that can be mounted. A searchlight pod also fits on one wing.
Then you decide if you want the wings straight or folded. If you want them folded, there are hinges to install on the plugs you glued in place during the build. If you want your wings extended, then you leave out the inside wing pieces and install a thick section that accommodates both wings. The last item you glue in place are the props and the horizontal stabilizers.
Instructions are quite well done and provide lots of detail images where needed. Color references are with Gunze paints. There is but a single decal option and that is for the box art plane from VS-37, which was the last fleet squadron to operate the type. It is in matte light gull grey over gloss white. Decals are nicely printed and include a full stencil suite along with a decal for the upper wing walk area and prop stripes.
Probably the most challenging part of this build will be finding room for all the weight. Next would be painting it as you certainly won't be able to paint the completed airframe in one piece. Most of us will build subassemblies like the fuselage and the wing parts and paint them prior to attaching all the bits. I've seen this kit built and it looks great when done well.
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