Surviving Grumman S2F Tracker Information Repository
By David D Jackson

Focusing on Existing Grumman S2F / S-2 Tracker, TF-1 / C-1A Trader and WF-2 / E-1B Tracer Airframes

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History of Grumman Tracker S2F-1
Navy Bureau Number 136427
"The Iron Lady"

Grumman Tracker S2F-1, converted to US-2B, 136427, "The Iron Lady",  was owned by the Webmaster from 2000-2004 dba The Tracker Air Group.  Unfortunately I was not making the progress in getting the aircraft back in the air as I had originally hoped when I purchased it from the Museum of Wings and Things in 2000.  Therefore I thought it in the best interest of the aircraft sell it to someone who could make it airworthy again and get it back in the air.  This did happen and in September of 2005 136427 flew to her new home in Arlington, Washington.  

136427 "Iron Lady" Video - Anderson, IN 
This is the only video that I am aware of that demonstrates both the unfolding and folding of the wings of a Tracker.  Also at the end of the unfold sequence crew members are looking into the wing fold mechanism to make sure the locking pins have not engaged prematurely.  Also note that when holding the wings back up the pilot half way through the sequences opens weapons bay which robs the wing fold of pressure and momentarily stops it.  Normal hydraulic pressure was 1,500 psi while the wing fold used 3,000 psi.

Below is a photographic history of 136427 while in Anderson, IN and what we have been able to find before she arrived at Anderson Darlington Airport in 1996


This is what the 136427 like at her last duty station at NAS Lakehurst from 1973 to 1978.  Photo courtesy of Jim Bowen, Plane Captain for 136427.


136427 preparing to start at Pope AFB, NC.  Photo courtesy of Jim Bowen, Plane Captain for 136427.


136427 with another US-2B at Lakehurst.  Photo courtesy of Jim Bowen, Plane Captain for 136427.


This photo was taken by Gerard Helmer on October 11, 1986 at The Davis-Monthan Storage Area.  Photo courtesy and with permission of Gerard Helmer.


Bureau Number 136427 in 1995 at AMARC in Tucson, AZ.  Note the NAEC/Lakehurst tail markings.

This is how Bureau Number 136427 looked from 1978, when she entered the storage and disposal yard at Davis-Monthan AFB, just east of Tuscan, AZ,  until she was purchased and removed in 1995 by Airplane Sales International Corp.  Accepted by the US Navy on 21Dec55 as a S2F-1 Tracker from The Grumman Aircraft Company, she served with various commands until 1978, when she was flown to Davis-Monthan and placed in storage.  Aircraft that go to the Disposal Center are cocooned as shown above to protect the aircraft from the elements. 

Although the thousands of aircraft at the Storage Yard may have no further use to the US military, they are put in storage and not destroyed immediately for three main reasons.  They can be a source of spare parts for the same type still in service with the US or foreign nations, they may need to be put back in service if a national emergency results in the need for that type aircraft, or they can after a number of years be sold to foreign nations, other government agencies, or private individuals.  Trackers have been sold to the California Dept. of Forestry to be used as fire bombers, and have been sold to private companies, which then make the aircraft airworthy, and then resell to private individuals, and organizations, as was the case for "The Iron Lady".


136427 at Santa Monica Airport on May 1, 1996.  Rob Hanson Photo.


Note that the NAEC/Lakehurst tail markings have been replaced by Airplane Sales International when the prepped the Tracker for sale.  Rob Hanson Photo.


Rob Hanson Photo.


More of 136427 at Santa Monica Airport on May 1, 1996 with the webmaster standing in the aircraft.  The next day we would leave for Anderson, IN.  Rob Hanson Photo.


Rob Hanson Photo.


Myself on the left and my late cousin Carl Dominik from Victorville, CA.  The sun is getting ready to set.  Rob Hanson Photo.


136427 at a fuel stop in Albuquerque, NM on May 2, 1996.  David Jackson Photo.


136427 at a fuel stop in Albuquerque, NM on May 2, 1996.  David Jackson Photo.

In 1996, Bureau Number 136427, now registered as civilian aircraft N8112A was purchased by The Museum of Wings & Things in Santa Monica, CA on April 29.  From 1996 until July of 1999 The Tracker was able to fly out to the air shows listed below to represent Naval Aviation history to the spectators at these events.  The Aircraft was then sold to David Jackson dba as The Tracker Air Group, who then sold her to Abbatare of Arlington, WA in 2004.

Anderson, IN:  Photos of the Iron Lady for the short period she was at Anderson.  Photos are from 1996-1999.  Some of the photos below are courtesy of Brian Gwaltney.


Anderson Runway 18 in 1998.  Courtesy of Brian Gwaltney.

 

Below is the Iron Lady at Arlington, WA in May of 2012:

In 2009 Abbatare sold "The Iron Lady" to Air Station, Inc, which is apparently dba The Arlington Naval Air Museum from the name painted on aircraft.  At one time the organization had a web site but that is no longer in existence.  The receptionist at the airport was unaware the museum even existed and was under the impression that Abbatare was still the owner.  In any event for the past 8 years "The Iron Lady" has sat outside compared to the previous 8 in Anderson when she was in a hangar.  I was able to note the degradation in the paint from the last time I saw her.  I hope this all works out for her.


There are several changes since I owned her.  Both the searchlight and "football" with the ADF Antenna have been added.  Sometime since 2010 the number two engine has been removed.  I could see the prop through the windows in the building behind The Iron Lady, which is owned by Abbatare.

 

The interior is in the US-2B configuration which provides considerably more room for the crew members going to air shows and other events.  From the military history shown below, "The Iron Lady"  was converted in 1966 to a US-2B, which removed the anti-submarine warfare equipment.  The interior electronic gear was replaced the with seating for five passengers, making her into a utility aircraft.
 

Iron Lady” History

Navy Bureau # 136427
Year built: December 1955
FAA Registry N8112A, after 1995

Military and civilian record of “The Iron Lady”
Accepted     21 Dec 1955 as an S2F-1(To learn more about size, performance, weapons, and mission of the the S2F-1, go to Tracker Basics)
VS-30 Naval Air Station Norfolk, VA     20 Jan 1956
 Aboard Wasp (CVS-18)      09 Aug 1957
VS-30 Naval Air Station Norfolk, VA     28 Feb 1958
Naval Air Reserve Training, Naval Air Station Willow Grove, PA  21 Aug 1959
VS-935 Naval Air Station Willow Grove, PA    06 Oct 1961
Naval Air Reserve Training, Naval Air Station Willow Grove, PA  02 Jul 1962
Naval Air Station Willow Grove, PA      01 Jul 1965
Converted to US-2B @ NAS Pensacola, FL     29 Mar 1966
Naval Air Station Norfolk, VA      20 Jun 1966
Naval Air Facility Washington, Andrews Air Force Base, MD  27 Jul 1971
Naval Air Station Lakehurst, NJ      14 May 1973
NAEC Naval Air Station Lakehurst, NJ     06 Jul 1977
MASDC Davis Monthan Air Force Base Tucson, AZ   21 Jul 1978
Stricken         18 Apr 1982

Purchased by Airplane Sales International Corp. in Beverly Hills, CA.   13 Oct 1988
- 136427 was sold by the US Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL.  The sale was not filed with the FAA until 3-28-1995 and then recorded by the FAA until 4-19-1995.  Best we can tell is that on or about May 25, 1995 it was then flown out of Davis-Monthan AFB.  In between that time it apparently was moved on May 18, 1989 to Dross Metals, now DMI Aviation, which is a scrapper to the west of Davis-Monthan along with 8 other Trackers and put in storage.  For the nine Trackers to fly out of Tucson they would have then had to be towed back to Davis-Monthan for their "Freedom (from the scrapper) Flights" to Santa Monica, CA for restoration for selling.  Thank you to Steve Williams for providing much of this information.

Purchased by The Museum of Wings & Things    29 Apr 1996
Purchased by David Jackson dba
The Tracker Air Group
25 Jul 2000
Purchased by Abbatare 4 Jun 2004
Purchased by The Air Station Museum 2009.
 

 

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