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Grumman E-1B (WF-2) 'Tracer'
Courtesy of the National Museum of Naval Aviation
Yes, this plane actually could fly! The "Tracer" was the first purpose built airborne early warning aircraft used by the U.S. Navy and could operate from an aircraft carrier. It was originally designated a "WF-2" which led to the affectionate nickname "Willie Fudd." In 1962, military aircraft designations were changed and the Tracer became the E-1B. The piggyback 20' X 30' umbrella houses long-range search radar to detect targets beyond the line-of-sight of surface vessels.
The plane's first flight was in late 1956 and was introduced into service in 1958. It was retired in 1977 and was replaced by the more modern Grumman E-2 "Hawkeye."
A rare aircraft now, the Tracer represents one of the Grumman special purpose aircaft family that also included the C-1 "Trader," C-2 "Greyhound," E-2 "Hawkeye," OV-1 "Mohawk," and S-1 "Tracker." The Museum's aircraft was the last one to leave Navy service, and was one of 88 manufactured.