by: Frederick Boucher [ ]
Kinetic 1/48 S-2E/G Tracker
Markings: USN VA-37
Decals printed by Cartograf
Length 10.8 in./276mm
Wingspan: 18.2 in./461mm
First PreflightIn April while visiting the Hobby Town I once worked at, a gentleman arrived to claim his special-order Kinetic S-2E/G Tracker. We struck up a conversation about it and his enthusiasm for Kinetic models led to him to crack open the box to show off his new treasure. I was very impressed with the model and his description of how good his other Kinetic models are. What first attracted my eye was the fine detail of the surface, landing gear, and antennas. That and the unique subject whet my appetite for the model. I trust you, too, will be impressed.
Grumman S-2 TrackerThe S-2 (S2F prior to 1962, nickname Stoof for “S-two-F”) Tracker is a carrier-based antisubmarine search and attack aircraft It was one of the first aircraft designed to combine the detection equipment and armament to hunt and destroy submarines while operating from aircraft carriers. The first flight of the prototype S-2 was 4 December 1952, and production deliveries started in 1953. A total of 1,342 aircraft were eventually built in 16 configurations. The major configurations included the S-2 Tracker, the C-1 Trader, and the E-1B Tracer. The last US Navy Fleet operational squadron (VS-37) flying Trackers was disestablished on 28 August 1976.
With a crew of four, when a Tracker found a sub it could attack with 4,800 lb (2,200 kg) of nuclear and conventional payload on under-wing hard points:
• Mk. 34, Mk. 41, Mk. 43, or Mk. 44 torpedoes
• Mk. 54 depth charges or naval mines
• Rocket launchers
• AGM-12 Bullpup Missiles
The S-2E entered service in 1962. It was 18 inches longer due to extensions fore and aft of the wings. The tips of the wings and vertical stabilizer were extended. With upgraded electronics and an enlarged weapons bay it became the S-2G. Trackers also served with other 14 navies:
• Argentina, aircraft carrier General Belgrano
• Australia, aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne
• Brazil, aircraft carrier NAeL Minas Gerais
• Canada, HMCS Bonaventure
• Japan (nicknamed Aotaka(あおたか, Blue Hawk)
• Netherlands, aircraft carrier Karel Doorman
• South Korea
In the 1990s, Argentina’s remaining airframes where refurbished by Israel Aerospace Industries with turboprop engines as S-2T Turbo Trackers. As of 2010, with the retirement of Argentina’s General Belgrano aircraft carrier, the Trackers are annually deployed on board Brazilian Navy NAe São Paulo during joint exercises ARAEX and TEMPEREX and with US Navy's aircraft carriers during Gringo-Gaucho maneuvers.
Kinetic TrackerKinetic packs this model in a sturdy two part box with a nice photograph of a flying Tracker. The kit consists of:
• Seven sprues
• 181 light plastic styrene parts
• 8 clear pieces
• 12-page booklet style instruction sheet
• Wax paper protected decal sheet
These are nicely protected in three sealed bags. The instruction sheet is clearly illustrated.
That’s nice but what about the model? It features high-quality molding: almostfree of flash, sink holes, visible ejector marks, and seam lines. The exception is the compound curve of the end of the Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD) “stinger”, which has a tiny bit of flash. The parts are held to the sprues by robust attachments that will need care to cleanly remove the parts from; this applies to the many molding overflow tabs attached to several pieces.
The clear parts are without distortion.
The exterior surface has an extremely fine texture that is almost unnoticeable. Fine recessed panel lines define major structural components and access panels; Kinetic does not cover the surface with a crazy quilt of meaningless detail. The exterior remains detailed without being cluttered.
Parts are molded with great finesse. The actuator arms for the main landing gear are fine. Separate antennas for the top of the fuselage are thin like stretched sprue. So are the separate tie-down clasps for the fuselage.
Attaching the wings to the fuselage should be easy. The wings have stout tabs to slide into slots reinforced with boxes inside the fuselage.
Kinetic has scaled the model well. The wingspan is right and the length is only a scale inch off.
Details, details…The Stoof was a big bird in flight and the model has an 18-inch wingspan. Or not. Kinetic engineered the model to be built with wings extended for flight, or folded for storage. The wing halves have hinge detail molded on. Detailed wing rib bulkheads detail the open ends of the wings at the fold. The wing leading edge slats are separate. A bulbous searchlight is attached to the right wing.
Kinetic molded two different noses on sprue E. The intakes for cabin air, the taxi light hole, and placement for the intakes / exhaust ports for the heating system show these to be for the S2F-1/2 (S-2A/C) and for the S2F-3/3S (S-2D/E). It’s a good bet that Kinetic is planning an earlier variant.
Under the right wing the fuselage crew access hatch is molded open and the door is separate. The separate door handle is delicate, too. There is no interior detail inside the ASW EWO operators’ crew station. The tail hook is separately applied.
The landing gear well interiors have nice basic detail. So do the gear struts. The main landing gear is well detailed and has separate pieces combining the actuators, side brace and overcenter links. They feature molded trunnions where struts attach into the airframe. Torque links are molded on the struts. The nose gear is a four-part assembly sans wheels. The wheels are a single hub with good detail, sandwiched between two-piece tires. Gear door interiors feature fine rivet detail.
The Stoof’s pair of Wright R-1820-82WA 1525hp radial engines are well detailed but are molded as a single part. No provision is made to display the cowling panels open. The rear of the nacelles are open, sporting 13 and 16 raised features resembling the universal prohibition sign / circle-backslash symbol, these simulating air-launched sonobuoys.
In the cockpit the instrument panel is reasonably done with plain raised bezels. Under magnification the detail is a bit soft. The same does not apply for the center console and overhead console. The overhead has no detail, and the center console should extend back to the front edge of the seats. The small rudder pedals are molded to an otherwise featureless floor (The nose gear well is molded under it). A plain aft bulkhead with a rectangular passageway backs up the cockpit. Photos of the bulkhead show it to have some structural components and a circuit breaker panel, and the passageway is arched.
When I first looked at the cockpit detail, I thought Kinetic had dropped the ball – no sidewall detail to complement the seats and instrument panel. A bit of research found plenty of Tracker trivia. The big deep canopy and snug seat siting did not leave any room for visible sidewall appliances, so Kinetic did well. However, this model is the S2F-3 / S-2E, which had a redesigned cockpit layout: cockpit detail features the control columns extending out from the instrument panel per early Stoofs. This version should have the control columns mounted on the floor. With the -3 / E-model the bucket seats were changed from accommodating a seat-pack type parachute or conventional seat belts and shoulder harness type, to accommodate a back-pack type parachute and a restraint system requiring a torso harness. Kinetic’s seats represent the latter and have no detail.
The weapons bay is a featureless one-piece part and has no detail. The bay doors have fine rivet detail. Weapons include torpedoes for the bay and six rocket launchers for the underwing pylons.
Trackers sported many exterior dump pipes, scoops, vanes, antennas, fins, and other protuberances. I counted at least 26 separate pieces for the model, some of which are quite fine. Impressive.
Painting and DecalsOne aircraft is represented, aircraft 211, Navy S-2E BuNo 151684, of VS-37 Sawbucks during their March – July 1971 cruise on USS Ticonderoga. Some sources state that cruise was aboard USS Bennington. The camouflage is gull gray and white.
The excellent decals are designed by FighterTown Decals and printed by Cartograf. Need I say more? There are over 100 data stencils, and national and unit markings.
The only paints referenced are GSI Creos Aqueous Hobby Color, and GSI Mr. Color.
SummaryKinetic has filled an important void with this 1/48 NAVAIR Cold warrior. Overall the model is very good. Excellent surface detail, excellent molding, excellent choice of separate detail parts, and excellent decals. I did not find any interior shots of the weapons bay so I cannot say if it should have more detail. The big canopy makes the questionable cockpit detail a concern. Fortunately Kinetic makes a colored photo-etched cockpit detail fret. Overall the exterior is good enough to keep the eye focused.
I hope that extra nose means that we will have an earlier Stoof in the near future, preferably in the Navy’s glossy blue scheme, and hopefully with a retooled shorter fuselage and early wingtips and fin. Certainly recommended.
Please remember to tell manufacturers and retailers that you saw this model here--on Aeroscale!
 GRUMMAN S-2D TRACKER, Patuxent River
Naval Air Museum, Naval History & Heritage Command, http://www.history.navy.mil/museums/paxmuseum/s2/S2.htm
Tailhook Topics, by Tommy H. Thomason, http://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2010/08/stoof.html
Click here for additional images for this review.