Sunday, January 17, 2010

What and where

One day not long ago, as I drove down Highway A1A into St. Augustine, Florida, I saw this field of planes on the west side of the highway, just north of the St. John's County Criminal Justice Complex. Of course Lagniappe the Dog and I had to stop and see them.
As I pulled up to the fence, I saw another man coming out through a hole in the gate with his camera. Obviously none of the neighbors who were all in plain view had a problem with him being in there, so we ducked in. And this is what we saw--Vintage Grumman S-2 Trackers, Aircraft designed to hunt, track and destroy Soviet submarines during the Cold War. As I walked among these airframes, I wondered how many carrier take-offs and landings these aircraft had made over the course of their lives, and what far corners of the world they'd seen. How many Russian submarines had these noble aircraft shadowed? What else had they done? Who'd flown them, and how'd they get here? So many questions...and no answers as of yet.

So I'm posting their photos here, along with their serial numbers and as much information as I could find on them. Maybe someone who knows the history of one or more of these aircraft will see them and help fill in the blanks.

#151. BuNo. 149260. 1S218

149260 S-2E, RAW72/7V, 19-02-70 MASDC 1S218, 1985 Western Int AZ, 05-86 stored St. Augustine Fl.

#156. BuNo. 149261. 1S227

Remains of the MAD boom. This Magnetic Anomaly Detector used to be able to distinguish submarines from the earth's natural magnetic field.

149261 S-2E, RAW77/7L156, 26-06-70 MASDC 1S227, 1985 Western Int AZ, 05-86 stored St. Augustine.

#153. BuNo. 149860. 1S249

Hello--what's that on top of the vertical stabilizer? Anyone recognize this squadron insignia?

149860 S-2E, VS81/NW153, 02-09-70 MASDC 1S249, 1985 Wes-tern Int AZ, s02-97 stored St.Augustine

Another 153. BuNo 149856. 1S222

149856 S-2E, DETROIT, RAW73/7Y153, 10-04-70 MASDC 1S222, 1985 Western Int AZ, s02-97 stored St.Augus-tine FL.

#154. BuNo. 149888. 1S238

149888 S-2E, VS-25/NU-40RAW89/7T-154, 24-07-70 MASDC 1S238, 10-86 St Augustine FL, s02-97 stored St.Augustine FL.

#175. BuNo. 149270. 1S226

149270 S-2E, RAW87/6G175, 23-06-70 MASDC 1S226, 1985 Western Int AZ, 05-86 stored St.Augustine FL.

No number. BuNo. 149876. 1S216

149876 S-2E, 18-02-70 MASDC 1S216, 1985 Western Int AZ, 05-86 stored St.Augustine FL.

No number. BuNo. 152804. 1S594

I screwed up. Need more pictures of this one. If anyone happens to be in the area and can get some, please let me know.

152804 S-2E VS31/AU35 USS Intrepid CVSG 56, S-2G, 1972 VS31/AU335 USS Intrepid TE Portsmouth, VS37/NH706, 27-01-76 MASDC 1S594, 10-90 St.Augustine stored N6194L

#706. BuNo. unknown

This one's probably in the best shape of the batch. It still has both engines and one propeller and sits on a complete set of landing gear.

Carrier Air Wing 11, USS Kitty Hawk. CVW 11 is based at Naval Air Station Lemoor, California. It deployed with the USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) from 1965 to 1977. This aircraft probably saw much use protecting the Carrier Group when it was on station off Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.

And if anyone can get it, I'd love the BuNo. of this one!

#715. BuNo 152335. 1S513

This one is also in great shape (compared to the rest of them). It was apparently once assigned to VS 38, and appears to have been flown by LCDR J.L. Durbin, Jr. and Lt. DC Allen. It was also apparently maintained until at least 29 October, 1980, much longer than many of the others here. It also has two engines and one propeller left.

Close-up of the remains of the spotlight this aircraft used to use to hunt Russian subs at night.

152335 S-2G, s30-06-65 VS29/NS-31, VS37/NH715, 07-04-75 MASDC 1S0513 /705, 10-86 stored St Augustine, s1998 St.Augustine.