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Grumman (WF-2) E-1 Tracer

Intrepid, Sea, Air & Space Museum - Joy of Museums 17

The Grumman E-1 Tracer was the first purpose built airborne early warning aircraft used by the US Navy. Tracers were deployed on the “Intrepid” for operations off the coast of Vietnam.

Flying above a carrier task force, the Tracer and its crew of four provided an electronic bird’s eye view of the airspace. The radar capability of the Tracer extended the view of the task force many hundreds of miles over the horizon.

Intrepid, Sea, Air & Space Museum - Joy of Museums 18

The Tracer served aboard the “Intrepid” until the ships retirement in 1974. The most distinctive feature of this airplane was the radome, the aerodynamic structure over the plane. The radome covered a dish-type radar system which had a search radius of 250 miles  or 402 km.

Essential Facts:

  • Name:                     Grumman (WF-2) E-1 Tracer
  • Role:                        Carrier Airborne early warning
  • National origin:    United States
  • Manufacturer:      Grumman
  • First flight:             1956
  • Introduction:         1958
  • Retired:                   1977
  • Primary user:        United States Navy
  • Number built:        88
  • Museum:                Intrepid, Sea, Air & Space Museum


“We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
― Benjamin Franklin



Photo Credit: By GordonMakryllos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons