Photo Credit: The St. Augustine Record, 2011 - The planes were demolished and sold as scrap metal.
Photo Credit: The St. Augustine Record, 2011 – The planes were demolished and sold as scrap metal.

Grumman designed the aircraft to be used for anti-submarine warfare(ASW), with a large high-wing monoplane with twin Wright Cyclone radial engines with the idea to combine the roles the Avenger and Guardian were providing at the time. It would also operate off of aircraft carriers which the bigger ASW aircrafts, The Lockheed Neptune and Orion, couldn’t do.

On December 4, 1952, the first prototype, XS2F-1, took flight and the production aircraft entered service in February 1954.

S-2 Trackers were equipped with Magnetic Anomaly Detector and SONAR devices along with a powerful searchlight to sense submarines in the waters below. Torpedoes, depth charges and rockets were used for offensive purposes, including a nuclear depth bomb which was common during the time.

The Tracker, though built and equipped for such purposes, never saw any real anti-submarine combat with the U.S Navy. Built during the Cold War, it was used as a strong deterrence, which was a strategy developed during the time in which governments threaten an immense retaliation if attacked and falls under the Mutually Assured Destruction doctrine.

During the war in Vietnam, the aircraft was used extensively during the early parts of the war in patrol duty for both submarines and surface vessels. One tracker was lost during that time, the only combat related loss during the aircraft’s life span.

The S-2 Tracker was eventually replaced for U.S. military use by the Lockheed S-3 Viking, and the last USN Tracker squadron was disestablished in 1976. The last Navy S-2 was withdrawn from service on August 29, 1976.

Known as the “airplane graveyard”, the trackers located on this one-acre lot near the St. Augustine airport, were placed there for storage. Chesapeake Airways, the Maryland-based company that owns the property, salvaged the airplanes and sold the hard-to-find aircraft parts around the world. In May 2011, the property was put up for sale and the airplanes were demolished.

Grumman S-2 Tracker Boneyard | Photo © 2009 Walter Arnold
Photo Credit: Walter Arnold, 2009


  1. The planes have been removed and demolished. A couple of the planes have been removed and moved to an unknown location. The rest were cut up for scrap metal.
    Now it’s just an empty lot….

  2. What a shame. Spent many hours in the air and onboard carriers during the 60’s…

    • Joiy Holder ADJ-3

      I was in VS-27 1965-1968. Worked on S-2E’s.

      Joiy Holder

      • Frank X. Acevedo

        Hi, Joiy,
        I was in VS-22. I was an AX2. We deployed on the Champ from 1964 to 1966. What ship did you deploy on? What was an ADJ doing with S2Es? Do you have any pictures of Quonset Point Naval Air Station? Frank

  3. Heartbreaking. What a shame… like every other type of aircraft, there should be at least one of every type still kept in flying condition and folks to fly them, so that we always know just how far we’ve come along the timeline of flying history. These ‘little birds’ did everything…

  4. Many good memories flying Radar-ECM-Mad/Julie

    Many good memories M

  5. You are an amazing photographer! I love following you on your blog and on facebook.

  6. There is an operational S-2 in Rexburg, Idaho

  7. During summer of 1969 I learned to start the S2F’s engines in the first USNR-R boot camp at Alvin Callendar field (Belle Chasse, La). I went on to active duty in VP-18 and reserve duty in P2V-7’s as Aviation Electronics tech and aircrew Flight Communicator. Later in P3A, B, and B-DIFAR FCO and basic aircrew instructor in each model aircraft.

  8. Frank X. Acevedo

    I was in VS-22 from March 1964 to June 1966 as an AX2 (Aviation Antisubmarine Warfare Technician. I loved working on the ASQ-8, -10 and the ARR-26, -52.

  9. I used to be the librarian/historian at the St. Augustine Historical Society in the early 1990s. I drove past this airplane graveyard everyday to go to work and wondered what I was looking at!