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Conair Turbo Firecat

The Grumman S-2 Tracker was the first bespoke anti-submarine warfare aircraft developed to operated from US Navy aircraft carriers. Over 1,200 Trackers were eventually built in various versions for both anti-submarine warfare and utility work, the type was also developed into the C-1 Trader transport and E-1 Tracer AWACs aircraft. Originally powered by a pair of radial engines, some were updated with turbo props to be called the Turbo Tracker and some of these are still in service with the Argentine Navy. The Tracker was replaced in US Navy service by the S-3 Viking and many ex-US and Canadian aircraft found a use in civilian life converted to firebombers by Conair where the type was renamed as the Firecat.

The Firecat was developed in Canada by fitting a fire-retardant tank in to the torpedo bay under the fuselage and making the aircraft lighter by removing all military equipment. The first Firecat entered service with Canadian authorities in 1978 and a further 14 were delivered to France in 1982 as firefighters operated by the Sécurité Civile. Later, France chose to upgrade their Firecats through the installation of turboprop engines, fitting underwing fuel tanks and a larger fire-retardant tank – these Firecats were rechristened the Turbo Firecat. France retired their fleet of Turbo Firecats in 2020.

A civilian group called the Amicale Alençonnaise des Avions Anciens (known as A3A) has recently completed a restoration of an ex-French Turbo Firecat numbered T15, itself a ex-US Navy S-2F-1 Tracker. The aircraft performed its first post restoration flight on 10th October 2023 at Nîmes-Alès-Camargue-Cévennes Airport and we are pleased to announce that the A3A Turbo Firecat will be making its post-restoration UK debut at RIAT 2024 where it will appear as part of our static display.

Photo Credit: Peter Reoch

On display

Role Friday Saturday Sunday
Static Not decided Yes Yes