As radial engine parts for the S-2 Tracker became scarce, Marsh Aviation of Arizona began retrofitting the S-2 with Garrett turboprop engines, increasing the payload, economy and airspeed. Tanker 180 was the prototype that entered service in 1989. The design was based on the S-2A model.
The new Turbo Trackers, based on the S-2E model entered service with the CDFFP under contract in 1999. Tanker 82 was the first Turbo Tracker to enter service at Columbia Air Attack Base. Grass Valley and Ramona Air Attack Bases were the next to receive the new Trackers, because of the higher density altitude. In the following years and to date, Ukiah and Hemet Air Attack Bases have also received the Turbo Tracker. The Turbo Tracker is expected to replace all of the older S-2A models by the summer of 2004.
This Turbo Tracker just rolled out of the Marsh Aviation Conversion line as of July 30 2001. Entering service as Tanker 73, this aircraft will be based at the Hemet-Ryan Air Attack Base. Note the changes in the paint scheme, where red has been added to the tail for visibility and black is painted on the nacelle near the exhaust.
Tankers 72 and 73 with the older and newer paint schemes at the Hemet Air Attack Base. These were shot in August, 2003 in Southern California by photographer Craig M. Happ.
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(Photos by Clark Cook and Associated Airtanker Pilots)