by: Kevin Brant [ ]
First flown in 1952, the Grumman S-2 Tracker was designed as a submarine hunter. Powered by two Wright Cyclone R-1820 engines, the Tracker entered service with the U.S. Navy in 1954. The aircraft could be armed with two torpedoes in its internal bay and had six underwing hard points for mounting depth charges and/or rockets. Through its life the Tracker carried many types of surveillance equipment that were changed as technology changed.
The S-2A version was the S2F-1 redesignated in 1962. With over 1100 Tracker aircraft built, including 99 built under license by de Havilland for Canada, the Tracker served with many countries, some serving into the 1990’s in military use, and some continuing to find homes in civilian use and in smaller country militaries.
This is the second Tracker kit released by Kinetic Model Kits in 1/48 scale. Having not seen the first kit, I cannot compare the differences, but this kit contains parts and marking to not only build a U.S. Navy variant, but also a Canadian and Japanese variant. New is in this kit as well are the parts for folding wings and shorter engine nacelles. The Japanese version would be very close to the U.S version, as Japan received their aircraft from U.S. stocks.
The kit contains:
9 – Grey plastic sprues
1 – Clear plastic sprue
1 – Large sheet of decals
1 – Instruction booklet
The kit is finely molded in grey plastic. The panel lines are fully engraved, and there is some great looking detail. A look at the sprues shows no visible flash, with only molding seams that will need to be cleaned up, also from first look there are no ejector marks that will show after completion. Some nice detail includes raised rivet details on the inside of the internal bay and landing gear doors. The clear plastic for canopy and lights are very well done, no visible bubbles, with great raised detail on main canopy.
Looking at the instructions, building the kit starts with the cockpit, and this is a little bit of a letdown. The cockpit is a bit sparse, with seats with no real detail on them, the overhead panel has no detail, and while the main flight panel has raised detail, it is not the greatest. The entire cockpit screams for a good aftermarket replacement, hopefully we will see one soon.
The front landing gear bay is molded to the bottom of the cockpit floor, and does contain some nice detail. It should be noted that there does not look like there will be a lot of room to add weight to keep the nose gear on the ground.
Assembly then moves onto the fuselage, which looks to be a pretty standard assembly. The kit provides the option of leaving the internal weapons bay open with the addition of two torpedoes. Unfortunately there is no surface detail with in the internal bay. During assembly you will have to watch for some optional parts for the Canadian version on the fuselage, including the radar component over the cockpit.
With this kit, there is an option to assemble the wings folded, and the internal wing detail is very well done for the ends that will show if the wings are built folded. The wings included molded on control surfaces, which may not appeal to all modellers. But overall the surface detail of the wings is well done. The external hard points are included, with rocket launcher pods, but you will have to drill out the holes in the lower wing halves, which the steps seems to be omitted within the instructions.
The engine nacelles build from two halves, enclosing the main landing gear, again with decent looking detail in the bays. Another disappointment is the flat molded engines, while the detail on the cylinders is decent, it would have been nice to have a full molded engine. Again, this is another section of the model that would benefit from a good aftermarket replacement. The landing gear struts to look to have some decent detail, with the wheels built in multiple parts.
The instructions do contain some paint callouts during construction, referring to colors with no paint manufacture recommendations. The instructions include paint schemes and markings for three aircraft:
- S2F-1 US Navy, VF-32 – 1962
- CS2F-1 Canadian Armed Forces – 1984
- S2F-1 JMSDF II FS – 1975
Again with no paint manufacture recommendation, but some colors do have a FS paint numbers to reference.
The large decal sheet contains markings for all three aircraft and looks to be very well printed. The artwork is by FighterTown Decals, while they are printed by Cartograph. The color on the decals looks great, and all look to be within register.
The S-2A Tracker from Kinetic Model Kits looks to be a decent model on the exterior, the engraved panel lines and appropriate raised detail looks good. Unfortunately Kinetic missed the mark on some of the internal detail, poor cockpit detail, no bay detail in internal weapons bays, and engines flat molded to bulkhead. The addition of the markings for both Canadian and Japanese versions is a great plus. Overall, this does look to be a decent kit from Kinetic, but hopefully we will see some aftermarket parts soon for the weak areas. I would recommend this kit, especially for Canadian aircraft fans, as this is the first decent model of the Canadian Tracker.