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S-2A Tracker Kit

Kinetic 1/48 S-2A Tracker Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review June 2013 Manufacturer Kinetic
Subject S-2A Tracker Scale 1/48
Kit Number 48039 Primary Media Styrene
Pros First plastic kit of this aircraft in this scale Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $89.95

First Look

S-2A Tracker Kit
S-2A Tracker Kit
S-2A Tracker Kit
S-2A Tracker Kit
S-2A Tracker Kit

Grumman's S-2 Tracker was the first purpose-built carrier-based anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft in the world. Previous carrier-based ASW aircraft included the TBF Avenger (converted torpedo aircraft) and the AF Guardian which took two aircraft to perform the ASW mission - one with the sensors (hunter) and the other with the weapons (killer). Both of these types were also Grumman designs and based upon operational experience, the S-2 was built around the latest suite of ASW sensors includng radar, sonobouys, and a retractable magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) boom.

Powered by a pair of 1500 horsepower Wright Cyclone engines, this aircraft could loft 4800 pounds of weapons in its weapons bay and under the six hardpoints under the wings and operate quite effectively from the Essex-class aircraft carriers in service at that time.

Under the original USN aircraft designation system, this aircraft was designated S2F (routinely pronounced STOOF (S-two-F)) until 1962, when all US military aircraft were placed under a common designation system and S2F became S-2. Prior to 1962, different variants were designated by a dash number such as S2F-1 which later became S-2A. The S-2D (formerly S2F-3), S-2E (formerly S2F-3S), and S-2G were all based upon an enlarged airframe.

The S-2 airframe was not only a very effective ASW platform for the US Navy, it was also adopted by the air arms of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, Peru, Taiwan, Turkey, and Uruguay. In addition to ASW, the S-2 airframe was modified to serve other special missions such as the E-1 Tracer (early AWACS), C-1 Trader carrier onboard delivery (COD), RS-2 photo reconnaissance, and WF-2 weather observer. Even after a long and distinguished military career, the S-2 was also highly sought after as a fire bomber and fought fires in the US, Canada, France, and the Netherlands.

Two years ago, Kinetic released the first injection-molded S-2 Tracker kit to be produced in 1/48 scale. That was the S-2E (long fuselage) which saw service in a variety of air arms around the world. Despite that great kit, many modelers wanted the short-fuselaged variant as there are a variety of possibilities with that airframe. The wait is over, and here is the S-2A (S2F-1) from Kinetic. LIke the previous release, this kit is molded in light gray styrene and this time it has one additional parts tree bringing the total to eight parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts.

Among the features of the kit:

  • Nicely detailed cockpit
  • Positionable crew entry door
  • Positionable weapons bay doors with weapons bays
  • Positionable ventral radome
  • Extendable MAD boom
  • Positionable wings (folded or extended)
  • Nicely detailed landing gear
  • Positionable tailhook

Among the weapons and stores in this release:

  • 4 x torpedoes
  • 6 x rocket pods

As Fotios Rouch pointed out in his buid review of the S-2E, the kit cockpit does not have the center console between the pilot/copilot nor does it have the distinctive throttles on the overhead console. The crew seats also lack their distinctive arm rests. As he showed in his build article, these are easy enough to rectify.

This release has three marking options:

  • S2F-1, 136613, VS-32, AT/00, USS Lake Champlain, 1962
  • CS2F-1, 12189, Canadian Armed Forces, 1983
  • S2F-1, 136579, II FS, 4104, JMSDF, 1975

The decal sheet was produced for Kinetic by Fightertown Decals and this set provides walkways, propeller warning stripes, and lots of airframe stencils.

Kudos to Kinetic for this beautiful model. Straight out of the box, this should build into a beautiful model and I expect that we'll see some aftermarket options appear given that there are MANY colorful schemes worn by this aircraft from the USN as well as the services of other nations. STOOF lovers rejoice!

Check out Fotios' build review of the Kinetic S-2F kit here.

My sincere thanks to Lucky Model for this review sample!