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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Mystery Grumman S2F Tracker in Guantanamo Bay

Below are photos taken of an S-2 Tracker that is sitting on the bottom of Guantanamo Bay at a depth of 130 feet and that has been identified as 133337 that went down on April 28, 1959.  Below is the story and underwater photos.

 

From.  Capt John L. Tarn, VS-30.

I believe I can answer the Gitmo Stoof question.  We were on a cruise aboard CVS-39, USS LAKE CHAMPLAIN in April 1959. This particular flight took place on the 28th.  It was a S2F-2, bureau #133337.  The carrier was in port and we had flown ashore on the 27th to a small north/south gravel runway (This is where the Gitmo detainees are lodged today!) We were getting ready to carqual and were assigned to get some stick time in preparation for this.  Lt. Al Chandler and myself Ltjg John L. Tarn were to fly a three hour flight with the left seat first pilot time split between us. We took off and just joy rided south of the base.  It was during this time that Ltjg Phil Schaffner "shot" us down. His airplane flew all around us "shooting" us with a 35mm camera.  At the completion of the camera shoot we headed back to base to land and change seats for my turn.  I called for landing clearance and we were cleared to report downwind with gear for a left hand approach to the south, runway 18.  I started over the landing checklist.  As we approached the downwind turning point at about 1100 feet things got REAL quiet with BOTH engines quitting!!  LT. Chandler set up a glide to the west with a right hand turn into the wind.  He made a textbook water landing with 6 foot waves as a runway.  We came to rest nose down.  My hatch came forward on touch down and with so many bubbles I could not see the pilot next to me.  I unbuckled my seat belt and headed for the rear of the aircraft where I could see light.  Climbing out the hatch and onto the wing I could see our two crewmen bobbing in the waves and Lt. Chandler riding the waves in the one man raft.  I joined them by jumping off the wing.  Al told me to get in the raft with him.  I was quite content in my maywest, but he insisted.  We were midway between our airfield and Leeward Point.  A HUP could be seen coming toward us as well as a crash rescue boat.


With the arrival of the HUP we signaled for him to pick up the crewmen first.  This turned out to be the hairiest part of the flight!  He moved over one of the crewmen who hooked up and when about 20 feet in the air the hook came undone dropping him into the water.  The HUP moved into position to repeat the pickup and the hook came undone AGAIN.  The HUP pilot moved into position again, but the crewman would Not hook up and waved him off.  The pilot then went to the other crewman and successfully got him into the chopper.  By this time  the crash  boat was circling us.  Unfortunately he was circling through our parachute lines.  The coxen (first class) managed to get the three of us in the boat. However, the lines were wrapped all around the propeller.  The first class got ahold of the lines and lifted them clear of the water and told his seaman to cut them with a machete.  The seaman wound up and MISSED and sliced the leg of the first class.  The seaman piloted the boat to the hospital while the two rescued pilots preformed first aid on the first classe's leg.  At the hospital it is customery to give the survivors a "shot" of whiskey.  The other pilot and I looked at each other an both of us gave our "shot" to the first class.

 
It is interesting that the plane was found in only 130 feet of water.  We thought it was in over 600 feet. It was not determined what caused the simultaneous failure of BOTH engines.  My guess was that it had to be some sort of failure in the master ignition switch?  Lt. Chandler lost his wings at least partly because of this.  All I know, is he made a hell'uva fine water landing.  Welcome to Naval Aviation, and thank god for Dilbert Dunkers!  

 


This and the map below was provided to me after a dive on the Tracker on August 8, 2010.


Unknown Tracker at the bottom of Guantanamo Bay.  This is the unedited photo provided a diver who has made several dives on the aircraft.  At 130 feet of depth and not much light he has taken some excellent photos of the site and the aircraft.  Due to the depth the dive team only has 5 minutes maximum on location.

The remaining photos have been lightened by the webmaster to try and give a better view of the detail. 


The prop looks like a pretzel.  The nose was either damaged on contact with the water or when it hit bottom. 


This photo shows the starboard wing looking from the the rear.  Engine nacelle and the ECM Direction Finder Dome (Football) AN/APA 69 Antenna over the cockpit are visible in this photo.  Note the flaps are down.  It also looks like the sonobouy rack at the rear of the engine nacelle has been removed. 


Starboard wing and engine, twisted prop and rocket tubes. 


Twisted prop.  It also looks like the engine has separated from the mounts or the mounts from the airframe as it seems to be down in front. 


 For some reason the leading edge inspection panel in the foreground has been opened.


We are looking at the rear of the outboard starboard wing.  It looks like the wing tip has been torn off. 


We are looking at the front of the outboard starboard wing.  Apparently it was carrying rockets of some sort although they look too small to have been the five inch rockets that were in use at during the Tracker's time of service.  To the left of the rockets is a hole where the searchlight would have been.  The Plexiglas covering is gone but the internal part such as the filament seem to be there yet. 


You are looking down at the Number Four Station which is the sonabuoy operator location.  In the upper right is his chair.  When the Tracker went in the water the operator would have opened the hatch directly above him and then exited the aircraft. 

 

 

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