While this boxy, twin-engine workhorse wasn’t built for dogfights or the thrill of high-altitude intercepts, the Grumman C-1 Trader was an unsung hero of the skies, conducting a crucial mission: keeping the US Navy’s aircraft carriers stocked and operational at sea.

Dive in and discover the fascinating story of the C-1 Trader, the “grocery getter” that kept Uncle Sam’s carriers on top of their game!

From Anti-Submarine Origins to Cargo Carrier

The C-1 Trader’s story begins with the Grumman S-2 Tracker, an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft.

In response to the Navy’s need for a new carrier-based transport plane, Grumman adapted the S-2’s design.

S-2 Tracker
A Grumman S-2A Tracker of anti-submarine squadron VS-29 Tromboners, 1960. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

The resulting TF-1 (later C-1A) featured a wider and deeper fuselage to accommodate cargo and passengers, while retaining the S-2’s folding wings for efficient hangar storage.

The wider fuselage also allowed for a reconfigurable cabin interior.

Depending on mission needs, the C-1A could be outfitted with seating for nine passengers, cargo tie-downs, or even roller conveyor systems for faster loading and unloading.

This adaptability proved crucial for the Trader’s diverse tasks.