Tracker is Both Strike and Search Aircraft (1957)
All-Weather, Twin-Engine To Operate Against Subs
The Ottawa Citizen, 21 January 1957
The Royal Canadian Navy's new anti-submarine aircraft, the Tracker, is an all-weather, twin-engine high-wing monoplane designed specifically for carrier-borne operations against submarines.
Successor to the Grumman Avenger, which has been in service with the RCN since 1950, the new aircraft, designated the CS2F-1, and to be known as the Tracker, is being built in Canada. Prime contractor for the initial order of 100 aircraft is The de Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited, Toronto, operating under license from the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, Beth-Page, N.Y.
First in Canada
These are the first naval aircraft for the RCN to be manufactured in Canada, and the largest ever built by de Havilland of Canada.
The Tracker is both a search and strike aircraft, combining in one machine the full capabilities of hunter and killer. It is designed and equipped to search out, identify, attack and destroy enemy submarines, whether surfaced or submerged. It is highly manoeuverable, has a short take-off run and low landing speed, making it admirably suited for operation from an aircraft carrier. Its versatility permits its use in a number of roles in addition to its primary anti-submarine duties. It may be used for deck-landing training target towing, aircrew training, instrument flying training and carrier-to-shore transport.
Because of the relatively small number of aircraft required, it was considered uneconomical to design and build a Canadian aircraft to meet the RCN's requirements. Of aircraft already in production, the Grumman S2F best met all requirements.
The Canadian version has undergone only minor modifications, although Canadian Navy requirements have resulted in installation of some equipment different from that of its United States counterpart.
Some features of the new aircraft follow:
Cockpit—To carry out its hunter-killer function the Tracker has accommodation for a crew of four. The pilot and co-pilot have a wide range of vision. The radio and radar men are seated aft of the cockpit which features a folding control console giving ready accessibility to the seats. Each member of the crew has an escape hatch fitted directly above his seat. A control lock has been provided. When this is in operation the engines cannot be revved up sufficiently to raise the aircraft into the air. Also included is the new hydraulic "Rudder boost," which eliminates strain on the pilot during single engine flying. It is one of the first production aircraft to incorporate this new feature.
Instruments—Included in the standard instrument layout is a "safe speed indicator," the first military installation of the device in Canada. The indicator incorporates a dial which shows the pilot the approximate approach speed of the aircraft on landing, whether it is too fast, too slow or just right. Autopilot is fitted.
Anti-Submarine Equipment and Weapons—The latest equipment for the detection of submarines and the most modern anti-submarine weapons are carried. This has been achieved without any sacrifice of speed or endurance. The aircraft is equipped with sonobuoys housed in a special compartment aft of each engine, rockets, homing type torpedoes released through fast opening and closing bomb bay doors, and a powerful searchlight controlled from the cockpit.
During anti-submarine opertions the spun glass radar dome is telescoped down from the inside automatically. The magnetic airborne detection boom is fitted below the tail. The sonobuoys, listening devices which are dropped into the water in the area of a submarine and by radio transmissions reveal the submarine's position to the aircraft, are released by controls located at the pilot's and co-pilot's seats.
Performance—The aircraft has a range of approximately 1,000 miles and can remain airborne for about eight hours. Its maximum speed is more than 300 miles per hour. Landing speed is 86 miles per hour.
Dimensions—Wing span is 69 feet, eight inches, and length 42 feet. The all-up weight is more than 23,000 pounds.
One of the most interesting features of the Tracker is the method of folding the wings. A cross-fold system is used with one wing folding in front of the other. Purpose of the folding wings is to permit close stowage of the aircraft on the flight deck, in the hangar and on the elevators.