The Grumman TF/ C-1 Trader was a Carrier On-Board Delivery transport that served with the US Navy from 1955 until 1988, carrying small but important cargoes between US aircraft carriers.
After the success of the S-2 Tracker, Grumman worked on a transport version of the aircraft, for the COD or Carrier On-board Delivery role. The first example was completed in 1955, and had the company designation G-96 and Navy designation TF-1. In the 1962 system it became the C-1A Trader.
The Trader used the same folding wings as the standard S-2, but it was given a new larger fuselage which had space for nine passengers. The seats could easily be removed to allow it to carry a small cargo. Windows were built into the side of the fuselage. None of the anti-submarine warfare equipment remained, and the sonobuoy tubes in the nacelles were fared over.
The first example flew on 19 January 1955. A total of eighty seven were built. The C-1A was used by Navy squadrons VR-21, VR-24 and VR-40 and remained in service into the late 1980s. The last of them was retired on 30 September 1988, by which time it was the last operational aircraft in the US Navy powered by reciprocating engines. The C-1A became known as the ‘Mailman of the Fleet’ for its role in bringing letters onto the carriers, especially appreciated during their service off Vietnam.
Four of the C-1As were converted into the EC-1A (originally TF-1Q), and were given electronic counter measure equipment. The passenger seats were removed and replaced with jamming transmitters, noise modulators, chaff dispensers and underwing ECM pods. The EC-1A was used to train aircrews in the use of jamming equipment.
One C-1A was used as the prototype for the Grumman WF-2/ E-1B Tracer airborne early warning aircraft.