Grumman CS2F/CP 121 Tracker
The Shearwater Aviation Museum has two CS2F/CP-121 Tracker aircraft on display, which initially bore Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) serial numbers 1501 and 1557 .
Tracker number 1501 is especially noteworthy because it is the first Tracker built for the RCN. It actually started as a US Navy Grumman-built S2F-1 purchased by deHavilland Canada to verify the fidelity of the production jigs and tooling supplied by Grumman. Following its pattern verification role the aircraft received the serial number X-500, the “X” indicating its test function and “500” being a contraction of its interim RCN serial number 1500. The X-500 was accepted for the RCN on 13 December 1954 and was used for testing a wide variety of avionics and anti-submarine systems both at deHavilland (Toronto) and the National Aeronautical Establishment at Uplands (Ottawa). X-500 was also used to evaluate a stream of Engineering Change Proposals from Grumman's own evolving Tracker evaluation program. As Canadian production progressed, deHavilland used X-500 to verify the installation of subcontractor-built assemblies and fabrication details.
By October 1956 the RCN had re-serialled X-500 as 1501. DeHavilland brought the aircraft closer to Canadian CS2F-1 standards during the final month of 1956 and first flew in this configuration on 8 January 1957. The RCN allocated 1501 to the Naval Air Maintenance School (NAMS) on 26 April 1957 where it became instructional airframe A706 used to train maintenance personnel. This was the only American airframe acquired by the Canadian government and no Grumman-built assemblies were used in the production of the following 99 Canadian Trackers. Tracker 1501 is currently being refurbished by the Shearwater Aviation Museum.
1501 RCN Employment Record
Taken on Strength: 18 Dec 55
VX 10: 18 Dec 55, 27 Sep 56, 8 Jan 57
NAMS: 29 Jan 57, 29 Mar 68
Struck Off Strength: 17 Jan 72
Tracker 1557, which is still in airworthy condition, is currently on display in hangar #2 and represents the latest version of the Tracker flown by the Canadian Forces. After building 42 CS2F-1's, deHavilland switched production to the CS2F-2 with improved Magnetic Anomaly Detection (MAD) and radar systems and minor airframe refinements. The first of 57 CS2F-2's entered service with the RCN in January 1960 and gradually replaced the older CS2F-1's. The RCN developed further improvements to the Tracker, which resulted in Fairey Aviation substantially modifying 45, CS2F-2's that were designated CS2F-3's, the first of which was delivered to the RCN in July 1966. The CS2F-3 featured a new Tactical Navigation System, doppler radar, improved Jezebel and Julie submarine detection systems and an analogue computer to automatically integrate information from the Tracker's anti-submarine sensors.
With integration of the Armed Forces in 1968 and the subsequent demise of HMCS Bonaventure , the Tracker was re-rolled for shore based coastal patrols. The subsequent modification program removed of all of the anti-submarine sensors and installed new radar and communications equipment, the CS2F-3 was redesignated a CP-121 Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft. Tracker operations ceased at CFB Shearwater in the summer of 1981. The Tracker was finally retired in 1990, 34 years after the first flight of the Canadian built CS2F-1.
Tracker, number1557, was modified from a CS2F-2 to a CS2F-3. After service integration in 1968 Tracker 1557 was re-rolled as a Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft and redesignated from CS2F-3 to CP-121. Consequently, in keeping with the Canadian Forces (CF) practice of incorporating the digits from the aircraft designation into the serial number 1557 became 12157.
12157 RCN/ CF Employment Record
Taken on Strength: 29 Sep 59
VS 880/MR 880: 24 Feb 60, 19 Dec 65, 31 Aug 72
VU 32: 18 Jun 65, 13 Jun 73
VT 406: 11 May 76
420 ARS: 6 Jun 76, 30 Jan 79 (ARS=Air Reserve Squadron)
VX 10: 29 Sep 59, 23 Nov 59, 5 Feb 60
AMD: 5 Feb 60 (AMD=Aircraft Maintenance Depot)
Struck off Strength: April 95