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C-1 Trader

The C-1 Trader was a carrier-based transport (Carrier-Onboard-Delivery - COD) aircraft used by the United States Navy from the 1950s into the 1980s. The term Trader can refer to: Merchant, retailer or one who attempts to generally buy wholesale and sell later at a profit Trader (finance), someone who buys and sells financial instruments such as stocks, bonds, derivatives, etc. The first flight of the prototype (G-96) held in January 1955. Serial production started in October 1955. From January 1955 to December 1958 there were 84 aircraft TF-1 Traders produced. Until 1962, the aircraft carried the designation of TF-1. In 1988, withdrawn from service and replaced with C-2 aircraft. The C-1 Trader entered service in 1955 and operated from the Navy's flattops for the ensuing thirty-three years, the last one retiring from its duties on board the training carrier Lexington (AVT-16) on 27 September 1988.

An aircraft carrier is often called a 'city at sea,' and keeping a floating city that is in constant motion supplied with everything from food to ordnance is a logistical challenge. As part of this effort, during the Korean War the Navy developed the Carrier On-board Delivery (COD) concept, modifying World War II-era TBM Avenger torpedo-bombers to carry mail, passengers, and other cargo between ship and shore. The U.S. Navy's COD operations using the single-engine Grumman TBM-3R COD aircraft pointed up the need for increased load carrying capabilities to deliver high-priority cargo, not to mention the need for additional safety for passengers, to ships at sea. The answer was the Trader, a variant of the Grumman S2F "Tracker", developed as a replacement for both the TBM Avenger and Grumman's AF "Guardian", yet another single engine ASW aircraft.

The origins of the Trader stemmed from a United States Navy requirement for a modern anti-submarine carrier-based warplane. In 1950, Grumman delivered on the response with their Model G89 product, a rather compact, twin-engine, propeller-driven design. The United States Navy assigned the prototype designation of XS2F-1 to the Grumman model and first flight was achieved on December 4th, 1952. Developmental models carried the designation of YS2F-1 up until 1962. Two prototypes were produced and these were followed by fifteen developmental airframes. However, while this program went on to produce the Anti-Submarine Warfare-minded "S2F-1 Tracker", the "TF-1 Trader" was born from the S2F Tracker (as was the "WF-2 Tracer").

The successful introduction of the S2F Tracker anti-submarine warfare aircraft triggered the idea to convert the airframe for additional use as a COD aircraft. The S-2 Tracker was used on land and on aircraft carriers. This antisubmarine aircraft was first flown in 1953 and more than 1,000 were produced. First flown in January, 1955, the TF-1, which would be redesignated "C1A" in 1962, was very similar to the Tracker. Deliveries commenced in 1954. In comparison, the Trader saw production totals peak at only 87 examples while the Tracker went on to be produced in some 1,284 total examples.

The passenger version is the C-1 Trader. The TF-1 (later C-1) had a deeper fuselage than the S2F-1 but shared its wing and vertical fin/rudder. The C-1 Trader was capable of transporting nine passengers and even a small nuclear weapon. It had the same horizontal tail as the S2F-2 and -3, and the same wings and Wright R-1820 powerplants. The WF-2 (E-1B) fuselage was based on the TF's but was stretched 18 inches between the wing and the cockpit. The Trader's fuselage was deepened to provide addional space below the plane's wing spar, which passed through the top of the fuselage. The added space allowed for seating of up to nine passengers and/or a mix of cargo, passengers, and mail. Large doors on the left side of the fuselage aft of the wing made loading bulky cargo and/or mail much easier than had been the case with the TBM. The TF-1 featured a cabin area that could be setup to ferry up to up to nine adult passengers or up to 3,500lbs of goods. The aircraft was originally calculated to transport nine passengers or 1588 kg of cargo, but the need for transportation of large and heavy loads made to increase this figure to 3856 kg.

The Trader featured a conventional exterior design. The cockpit was fitted to the extreme forward portion of the fuselage just behind a short snub-nose assembly. The pilots maintained views out of side, forward and above window panels with clear views of the engines. The cabin area was afforded a series of side-mounted viewports all their own. Wings were high mounted along the fuselage sides and could be folded (just outboard of each engine nacelle) for improved carrier storage.

Each wing fitted an engine nacelle and the high wing mounting helped to provide adequate clearance for the large-diameter propeller blades. The engine nacelles ran ahead and behind the leading and trailing wing edges respectively. Engines were a pair of Wright R-1820-82WA Cyclone 9 cylinder radial piston engines each delivering 1,525 horsepower and spinning a large three-blade propeller. Performance included a top speed of 287 miles per hour with a range of nearly 1,300 miles. The Trader maintained an empty weight of 18,750lbs and a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) nearing 29,150lbs.

The wings sported some noticeable dihedral in their design. The fuselage tapered off towards amidships and collapsed down to form the base of the empennage. The tail section was dominated by a single large vertical tail fin with a swept leading edge surface and a rounded/clipped tip. Horizontal planes were affixed to either fin side and showcased strong dihedral, completing a "Y" shape at the rear. The undercarriage was of a conventional tricycle arrangement made up of two main landing gear legs (single wheeled) and a nose landing gear leg (double wheeled). The main legs retracted rearwards into each respective engine nacelle underside while the nose landing gear leg - this fitted to the extreme forward portion of the fuselage - retracted rearwards under the flight deck floor. There was a tail hook fitted to the base of the tail as well as a diminutive tail wheel - both could be retracted. A standard crew was made up of the two pilots, seated side-by-side in the cockpit.

The C-1, itself, was developed into two distinct roles all her own (the TF-1/C-1A transport and the TF-1Q/EC-1A ECM platform) and shared the same airframe design with the similar Grumman "Tracker" and "Tracer" products. She branched off into an Electronic CounterMeasures variant in the converted "TF-1Q", of which only four existed (as part of the 87 production total). The Trader program was further developed to include a modified Airborne Early Warning (AEW) platform originally known as the "TF-1W" and this project became the radome-mounting "WF-2 Tracer" (itself ultimately to become the "E-1 Tracer" after the 1962 redesignation). The yer 1962 saw a restructuring in the way the United States Military designated their aircraft, resulting in an all-new designation for the Trader series. She gave up her original TF-1 designation to become the "C-1A". Similarly, the TF-1Q became the "EC-1A" that same year. Other aircraft in the USAF, USN, USMC and US Army inventories followed suit.

The C-1 Trader fulfilled its vital mission of transfering personnel and materials from land-based locations to her awaiting carriers. Throughout the 1950-1987s -decades of the Cold War - she was used to deliver that all-important personal mail to Navy sailors as well as goods to awaiting American carriers around the world. Her role was made particularly important during America's involvement in the Vietnam War where her mail deliveries were sometimes the sole bright spots on these USN ships stationed offshore Southeast Asia. To extend her usefulness, the Trader was also put into action as an all-weather trainer and helped USN aviators get their first taste of carrier operations in all conditions. For all her service, the Trader went on to become an oft-forgotten portion of USN aviation lore.

While fewer than 100 examples were ultimately produced, the airframe was part of further useful and dedicated roles for the USN during her tenure. Service with the USN ended rather quietly in 1988, leaving the US Navy as her sole operator during the whole of her tenure. The C-1 Trader was ultimately replaced by the Grumman C-2 Greyhound, a derivative of the Grumman E-2 Hawkeye.



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