Early Postwar ASW Aircraft of the US Navy

S2F / S-2 Tracker

Even as the Grumman Guardian ASW aircraft was entering service, the company was already working on a much more capable successor, one that could carry out both the hunter and killer roles simultaneously. The Grumman Model 89 was a high-wing design powered by twin R-1820s, with a large internal weapons bay and the ability to carry additional stores underwing.

The prototype XS2F-1 prototype flew in December 1952, and led to the first production model, the S2F-1 (S-2A from 1962) which would also be the most numerous of the Tracker family, with some 755 being built. Some were later refitted with Julie/Jezebel as S2F-1S (later S-2Bs) while others were relegated to secondary roles as US-2A target tugs and TS-2A trainers.

The S2F-2 (S-2C) had a larger tail and enlarged weapons bay, while the S2F-3/S-2D was thoroughly redesigned, with a larger sonobouy dispenser, more fuel, and a stretched fuselage; 100 examples were built. The S2F-3S/S-2E incorporated the Julie/Jezebel from the outset from the outset, with some aircraft later being refitted with AQA-7 as S-2Fs

S-2G: The last tracker variant to serve with USN VS squadrons, the S-2G was a rebuild of S-2Es, and intended to hold the line until the S-3 Viking entered service. S-2Gs became a part of multipurpose CV air wings in the early 1970s, as former attack carriers gained ASW aircraft and the Essex class CVS support carriers were retired. The last US Tracker carrier deployments took place in 1975, although TS-2As remained until 1979, and a solitary ES-2D range support aircraft flew until 1986.

Scale Models:

Italeri makes a 1/48 scale Tracker buildable as an S-2E/F/G.

S2F Bibliography

"Submarine Killers - NATO Countries get First Look at S2F - US Navy's All-in-One Sub Killer Plane" Naval Aviation News September 1955. VS-26 aboard Antietam during first Tracker deployment to the Med. Numerous photos, including loading underwing rockets and torpedo into weapons bay.

Ad for Reynolds Aluminum, showing a frontal in-flight view of an S2F-2   Aviation Week December 5, 1955  rear cover

Photo: De Havilland Delivers CS2Fs" Aviation Week  December 17, 1956  p.65

"S2F-3 reaches Pacific Fleet - Delivered to VS-41 at North Island". Naval Aviation News May 1961 p.2

"S2F-3 Weapons Trainer - ASW Simulator Pays for Itself" Naval Aviation News July 1962

Photo: S-2 BuNo 133279 flying past a surfaced diesel-electric submarine. All Hands July 1965 p.22

"Fortune Favors the BRave" Photo feature showing VS-33 Trackers at NAS North Island. Naval Aviation News May 1970

"S-2G introduced" Naval Aviation News September 1972 p.43 1 photo.

Douglas Leisy "Stoof" Scale Modeler April 1983 Finishing the Minicraft / Hasegawa 1/72 scale S2F-1 as an aircraft of VS-37.

Bill Cummings "Thirty Years and Still Counting - Grumman Trackers in Canadian Service"   Air International April 1988. Includes an S2F-1 cutaway, photo of #12195 in special 880 Squadron colors.

Photo: Brazilian S-2 reengined with turboprops during catapult tests at Lakehurst. Naval Aviation News May-June 1991 p.9

Photo: CS2F-2 #1577 with wings removed   FlyPast February 1998 p.19

"Tracker in Transition"  S2F BuNo 144725  FlyPast August 1998  1 photo

Photo: S2F-1 of VS-837 in storage.  Warbirds International  October 2000  p.36

Photo (small)" Grounded Turkish Navy S-2Es   Air Forces Monthly September 2001 p.35

Workbench Reviews: S2F-1 Tracker (Hasegawa/Dragon reissue)  FineScale Modeler  April 2007  p.63

Pual Janicki "Canadian Tracker"  Scale Aviation Modeller International December 2013 p.1140-1141 Building the 1/48 Kinetic S-2A kit.

John M. Andrade Latin-American Military Aviation  Midland Counties Publications  p.38: photo of an Argentinian S-2A

Bill Gunston, editor   The Encyclopedia of World Airpower  Aerospace Publishing, 1980  p.198: color profiles of a Japanese TS-2A, VS-21 S2F-1 and S-2E, VT-28 TS-2A, and a Thai S-2A

S-2D BuNo 149240 formerly used by the NRL, now on display at Pax River.

Report on the crash of a VS-31 Stoof aboard USS Wasp in the early '60s

Photo report and serials for RoCAF S-2T Turbo Trackers  Very attractive paint scheme on these birds.

Walk around of a French Turbo Firecat. Includes cockpit photos

Tracker firebomber model for Flight Simulator X

Modeling Magazines and Books in our Online Store

P2V / P-2 Neptune

P-2 Neptune photo
P2V Neptune at Allegheny County Airport, late 1980s. Note the submarine marking just foward of the "9"

P-2 Neptune nose photo

Not long before the US entered WWII, Lockheed was planning a larger successor to its PV-1 Ventura and PV-2 Harpoon patrol bombers; specifically, this new type would be optimized for long-range operations over the Pacific. The XP2V design made use of the company's Harpoon experience, but was completely new, with twin R-3350 Cyclone engines, a single tail, and a large internal weapons bay, in addition to guns in nose, dorsal, and tail turrets.

Progress on the P2V was slowed by wartime priorities, and it was not until May 1945 that the prototype XP2V-1 flew for the first time. One example, BuNo 89082, nicknamed The Turtle, was modified with extra fuel and longer nose for use in an epic record flight; in September 1946 the Turtle took off from Perth, Australia and did not land until it had reached Columbus Ohio, having covered 11.235 miles in over 55 hours of flight.

The P2V-2 model differed in a number of respects, with uprated R-3350-25W engines, swinging three-bladed propellers, a Turtle-type nose with six 20mm cannon, and the ability to be fitted with JATO bottles. Additionally, most aircraft had 20mm cannon in the tail turret.

The Neptune's large bomb bay and impressive range made it, if not ideal, then the only real way for the USN to field a nuclear deterrent in the very early 1950s, prior to the arrival of North American's AJ Savage nuclear bomber. Stripped of all defensive armament save for the tail turret, the P2V-3C could make JATO takeoffs from Midway-class carriers, although carrier landings were not possible. Given their size, and nonfolding wings, the -3Cs did not spend much time at sea, as they could not be taken below to hangars to clear flight decks for other operations.

The P2V-4, first flown in November 1949, was a long-range model with external tanks under the wing tips, the starboard unit also having a searchlight to help spot surfaced submarines at night. The -4s also had the APS-20 radar to a large ventral radome. In order to cope with the increased weight, most -4s had the more powerful R-3350-30W Turbo-Compound engines.

The most produced version of the Neptune, the P2V-5/P-2E was much altered from the -4, with an Emerson nose turret with twin 20mm cannon, and new external tanks, with an APS-8 radar being fitted to the port unit. Later all aircraft lost all gun armament save the dorsal turret, with the nose unit giving way to an observation blister, and an ASQ-8 MAD "stinger" replacing the tail turret.

The P2V-5F restored some of the -5's lost speed performance by fitting J34 turbojets in underwing pods, while the P2V-5FS/SP-2E also had the Julie/Jezebel system fitted. Jet equipped aircraft could carry only four rockets per wing in place of the previous eight. The P2V-5FD/DP-2E was an unarmed converion of -5FS models for launching Firebee target drones.

P2V Bibliography

"Neptune" Naval Aviation News June 1948. A very good article on early Neptune operations, with photos of the nose and tail turrets, bomb bay, and aircraft interior.

Photo: "Sub Killer P2V-4 Neptune"  
Aviation Week  March 13, 1950  p.17

"VP-46 Trains In Neptunes - P2V's To Replace Marlin Seaplanes"  Naval Aviation News June 1961.

"Neptunes probe Arctic Basin" Naval Aviation News November 1961 Survey work over the north Polar region by P2Vs.

"Neptune Crew Finds Astronaut Carpenter". VP-18 P2V locates Scott Carpenter and Aurora 7 Mercury capsule after off-course splash down. Naval Aviation News July 1962

Photo: Keflavik-based P-2 BuNo 131449. All Hands July 1965 p.16

Photo: P-2 BuNo 135596 of VP-11 passing Mount Etna. All Hands July 1965 p.37

Photo: P-2 BuNo 140151 participating in Operation Market Time. All Hands July 1966 p.16.

Photo: RAAF SP-2H A89-277   Air Pictorial March 1970 p.79

Photo (small): EP-2E BuNo 124904/N126Z   Air Pictorial November 1970  p.414

Photo: Kawasaki P-2J #4707  Air Pictorial October 1971  front cover

Peter J. Howard  "The Lockheed Neptune in RAF Service, Pt.2"  Air Pictorial  September 1972  p.356-360. A well written look at British Neptune operations. Includes a list of serial numbers.

Frank A. Tinker  "Old Warbirds Fight On"  Former military aircraft serving as retardant tankers for the US Forestry Service. Includes several photos of Neptune N128Z in USFS markings with belly tank.  Air Classics May 1973

Color profiles, including a p2V-2 of VP-8, RAF Neptune MR.1, Argentinian SP-2H, AP-2H, RAAF P-2H, Kawasaki P-2J.   Air International December 1984  p.312

Photo: P2V-3W BuNo 124359 "Cina Lake" at Griffith Park. Warbirds International Summer 1987 p.72

"The Turtle Moves" Naval Aviation News June 1977 p.17. Covers the dissambly of P2V The Turtle at NAS Norfolk for shipment by barge to Pensacola for museum display.

"P-2s at Roosevelt Roads" Naval Aviation News June 1977 p.22

Wally Potts "Lovin Eleven Neptune"  Scale Modeler April 1986. Building the Minicraft/Hasegawa 1/72 scale Neptune as P2V-7 BuNo 140155 of VP-11.

Photo: P2V-5F BuNo 128393 at NAS Moffett Field. Warbirds International Summer 1987 p.70

Photo: P-2 BuNo 128337 in storage Warbirds International  October 2000  p.39

Pete Hogdon  "Doomed Neptune" Disposal of P2V-3 BuNo 122944  Warbirds International  October 2000 p.40-41

Photo: AP-2H in post-operational storage  Warbirds International  November 2000 p.47

Photos: P-2 air tankers N96278 and N703AU  Warbirds International  November 2000 p.61

"Eagles Neptune has secret history" Aeroplane September 2004 p.9 1 photo. P2V-3W BuNo 124359, possibly the only surviving AEW Neptune, in dismantled state.

"Neptune Gets Its Turrets Back"   Aeroplane September 2006 p.8  P2V-5 BuNo 131463


Martin Streetly "World Electronic Warfare Aircraftpage 74: side-view drawings of an OP-2E and AP-2E

Jim Winchester   American Military Aircraft: A History of Innovation   p.241 color profile of an SP-2H of VP-1

Web Resources:

Konmarine P-2 for Flight Simulator X

Preserved Brazilian P2V-5

Photos of an RB-69 Neptune of the USAF

P2V-5 Neptune  aircraft characteristics, from the Naval Historical center, including a 3-view (PDF format)  There is also a sheet for -4 Neptunes on the site.

   US Naval Aviation

Aircraft Walk Arounds and other References