Grumman TF-1Q

TF-1Qs 13785 (background) and 13788 (foreground) assigned to VAW-33 "Firebirds."
TF-1Qs 13785 (background) and 13788 (foreground) assigned to VAW-33 “Firebirds.” Note the dorsal antennae for the ECM equipment.

Grumman’s Model G-96, known as the TF-1Q (later designated EC-1A Trader), is a little known variant of the C-1 Trader carrier onboard delivery (COD) aircraft (which itself is a version of the ubiqitious S-2 Tracker carrierborne antisubmarine aircraft. The TF-1Q was the first dedicated electonic warfare (EW) training platform.

The first TF-1Q was delivered in 1957 to VAW-33 in San Diego. The TF-1Q carried a crew of 5 total, including 2 pilots and 3 ECM operators. The TF-1Q shared the same airframe as the C-1A Trader and therefore a volumoius fuselage in which to carry a wide variety of ECM (electronic countermeasure) equipment including:

Recievers for train operators on how to conduct electronic intelligence (ELINT) included:

  • ALQ-2 radar warning reciever (E through I bands, with the antenna for the equipment mounted in the tail)
  • AAR-5 ECM receiver (covering the A band)
  • ALR-8 ECM recieving units, comprising of the APR-13 (covering the A and B bands) and the APR-9 (covering the B through I bands)
  • APA–69A ECM direction finder
  • APA-74 Pulse Analyzer


An APA-74 Pulse Analyzer
An APA-74 Pulse Analyzer

The TF-1Q differed from the C-1 Trader in many ways. The compartive greater weight meant the TF-1Q did not operate from aircraft carriers. Also the TF-1Q was limited in range and altitude.

There were 4 total TF-1Qs. Provding bi-coastal EW training, coverage  2 TF-1Qs each were assigned to VAW-33 (later redesignated VAQ-33 “Firebirds”) then based at NAS Quonset Point, RI and the other 2 went to VAW-13 (later redesignated VAQ-130 “Zappers”) at then at NAS Alameda, CA. Additional tasking of these squadrons included providing EW “Red Air” for both east and west coast squadrons. These aircraft privided valuable realistic EW training for crews aboard ships.

As mentioned there were 4 TF-1Qs (listed bureau numbers follow):

  • 136783: TF-1Q to EC-1A 1962. Was stored at Western International Aviation in Tuscon, AZ. Airframe scrapped.
  • 136785: (fate unknown, probably scrapped.
  • 136788: TF-1Q to EC-1A in 1962. She was converted back to C-1A Trader at some point. She was lost 2 April 1982 while on a COD flight from the USS Dwight D Eisenhower (CVN-69). All 11 aboard were killed.
  • 13688: was FAA registered N788RR which was cancelled (and now belongs to a 2000 SOCATA SOCATA-TBM700) and reregisted as N6788 which expired June 2013.

Here are a few photos I found of some of the TF-1Qs 13788:

13788-2 136788 136788-2


The History of U.S. Electronic Warfare Volume 2.

11 thoughts on “Grumman TF-1Q”

  1. Art- Nice piece; a couple of additions. The west coast aircraft (136783, 136787) started at North Island with night attack AD unit VAAW-35 in 1957. They moved to AEW squadron VAW-11 in 1960 and then to Alameda-based VAW-13 in 1961, when it became AirPac’s sole AD-5Q outfit. The Zappers kept them through 1967. One ended up working with the Lemoore A-7 RAG, VA-122 through 1969, although I’m not sure if it was used for training or just as a hack. VAW-33, the Night Hawks, had them on the east coast, as you state. All four were modified back to C-1A configuration with the one (“Mamie”) being lost off IKE.
    Rick Morgan

    1. Thanks for the info Rick. Being that their were only 4 aircraft information on the interwebs and books is hard to come by.

  2. Why was an N number given for the last on in the list? Retired from mil, entering civilian service is all I can think of.

  3. Great piece. How much fun would it be to have a C-1 for a civilian airframe of your own? I gotta learn how to print twenties…

  4. Sad for me to hear about the loss of Mamie (BuNo 136788) off the Eisenhower. I spent some time in a squadron that deployed on the Ike when she first went operational. When I left the squadron in 1979 during Ike’s first Med deployment, Mamie took me on the first leg home, accompanied by some other guys, some equipment, and a few bags of mail. May God grant eternal rest to the souls of those lost in 1982.

    On another note, there is no sound made by reciprocating engines that is cooler than an S-2 airframe of any type when it’s taxiing. That ba-da-lup ba-da-lup the two radials make beats anything else.

  5. In the ancient days on P-3A’s and B’s old Sensor-3’s (AW’s) used the ALD-2 for bearing strobe, and the 5-trace ULD-2 as our (crude by today’s standards no doubt) “ESM.” The top trace allowed us to measure (and observe the shape of) the pulse-width, the fifth trace the modulation, and traces in-between the PRF. Artificial audio let us “hear” the scan. A good operator could learn a lot from just listening and visually-viscerally experiencing the parametrics from the ancient gear. Later when we went digital, I found that we lost as much as we gained. That’s because instead of having our computer a priori tables simply match the parameters (more often than not, badly) old timers had learned to recognize the sounds and shapes of radar types, not just names and parameters, so that even when an unknown made its debut, a good operator could more often that not at least correctly surmise the type of radar and its purpose, ergo potential threat. Also, hearing the rhythm of an n-bar palmer-raster going full palmer resulted in instant recognition and physical reaction, as the “alert” wasn’t a computer generated alarm, but pure biological as the heart instantly began to race and the beat became visible straight through the old flight suit. Computer software can be a good thing, not knocking it, but the relative merits of good old wetware should not be underestimated…also–hey, get off my lawn!

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