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Grumman E-1B Tracer

by Fotios Rouch

 

Grumman E-1B Tracer

 


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Introduction

 

The Grumman Tracer was a great and competent plane that was replaced by the Hawkeye.

The WF-1 Tracer (AEW) first flew in March 1957. It went into operational service in February 1958 with VAW-11 and VAW-12. It was known as "Willie Fudd" and as "Stoof With A Roof".

The Tracer featured a large fiberglass saucer radome (20 by 30 feet) to accommodate the Hazeltine APS-82 search radar antenna. It got a new tail with three fins to compensate for the aerodynamic interference of the radome. The Tracer had a crew of four (pilot, copilot and two radar operators).

89 Tracers were built in total.

 

 

Collect-Aire's 1/48 Scale Tracer

 

At the risk of becoming repetitive I will say again that this is another classic design by my favorite Russian maker. Did I say before that Collect-Aire has struck gold with this guy? I guess I have.

One more time I will say that the US resin shop did a splendid job with my example. These things do matter and I will keep repeating myself. It does make a difference to me that I get a nice resin copy. It bugs me a lot when I have to dig out of resin over-pours or bubbles or pits an otherwise good model. Heavy work does not bother me but unnecessary work caused by prehistoric resin casting methods and careless casting bothers me plenty. Having said that, I know that nothing will change so let's get on with the Tracer.

The resin is of the traditional and "aromatic" variety favored by the US resin shop.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


The fidelity to scale and shape is great. Ed B helped me in this project by supplying great Grumman maintenance drawings and plans. The kit matches them very nicely.

 

Radome

The shape is great but needs a little work to make the top and bottom fit good. It is hollow and this is great because it would be very heavy otherwise. I hope Collect-Aire does the same with their Hawkeye.

 

 

The supports (two central and two over the wings) look good but need a lot of fiddling to get them to correspond to the radome and the plane. I never managed to get the rear radome support to go to the hole in the radome. I glued it about 1~2 millimeters off.


 

Fuselage

Easy to get the cockpit parts to go in and everything to close together. Do not bother with the side windows until the end. They will not fit from the inside anyway. You will white glue them at the end of the assembly process.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

My problem was with the vac canopy. The maker had it made out of some material of higher thickness than the vac plastic. The maker provides a "step" so the vac part rests securely on the fuselage for gluing. The problem is that the vac part seats a little lower due to its smaller thickness creating a visible step.

 

 

I added thin styrene strip to help with the problem. Also make sure that you test fit the canopy at least a hundred times before gluing!


 

Wings.

No problems at all. Very straight on my kit. Add the little missing trim tabs on the elerons. The blow through slats are cool but you might want to add the little fillets that are seating between the slat and the wing. Not too visible so you can skip it.


 

Landing Gear

Good detail on the gear. You need to add your own inside the nacelle structures. Front landing gear needs a little extra stuff on the front door area. Use my pictures if you wish for the added detail.\

 

 

Do not even think about adding wait to keep the Tracer from tail siting. Not enough weight in the world would do this! I just used the tail wheel for the job. I have a few pictures where the Tracer is seen on all its four points.


 

Decals

I am a little confused here. I could not find color pictures of the plane depicted in the decals sheet and the instructions. US Navy planes get painted different ways for different events I guess. Collect-Aire told me that the decal art is based on pictures showing a bigger bat and black radome trim. I did mine based on pictures from KokuFan provided by Ed B.

 

 

I like to do my models and having at least one picture of the real thing to see what I am doing. This means that I had to reduce the Bat by 20%. I also redid the tail numbers by changing the font to Long Beach Navy and increasing them by 20% so they would fit right in their paint scheme per the KokuFan pictures.

I practically had to finish the model, decals and weathering before adding the radome so I would not mess any of the paintwork up. I enjoyed having the very complex walkways done for me by Collect-Aire.

Careful with the decals, they are very sensitive due to thinness but they look like they are painted on after drying. Dig up an extra Rescue arrow from your spares for your escape hatch because all the ones included in the decal sheet are facing one way.

 

 

Conclusion

 

All in all a very entertaining resin kit that fills a huge void in my NAVAIR collection. Too bad we will not see a Trader. Alright Collect-Aire, on to the Hawkeye and Greyhound because nobody else cares!
 

 

 

Additional Images

 

Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:


Model, Images and Text Copyright 2002 by Fotios Rouch
Page Created 21 August, 2002
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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