HMCS Bonaventure, was Canada’s last aircraft carrier in service. The ship had a complement of 1,370 officers and ratings. The aircraft carrier’s initial air group was composed of sixteen McDonnell F2H BAnshee jet fighters and eight Grumman CS2F Tracker, anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft. Bonaventure was decommissioned at Halifax on 3 July 1970.
It (Canada) was assumed the Bonaventure would operate the US – built Grumman Tracker, but that aircraft was about 11 ¾ inches too long to be accommodated by the deck elevators used to take aircraft from the deck to maintenance hangars below deck.
So, De Havilland Canada in its Toronto factory built a shorter Canadian version that fit the elevators. There were other uniquely Canadian changes.
The military function of the Tracker was anti-submarine warfare. The Tracker dropped Sonobuoys into the water and Sonar (under-water radar) sent location information back to the aircraft weapons officer, who could program and drop depth charges or torpedoes and destroy an enemy submarine. The tracker could also drop bombs on surface vessels.
In the search and rescue role the Tracker located ships in distress and dropped lifesaving equipment to survivors and alerted rescue teams.
When the Bonaventure was retired, the aircraft went ashore on Canada’s east and west coasts and finished their careers working from land bases.
When the Trackers were fully retired, many were converted to Fire Fighting aircraft.
The Saskatchewan Aviation Museum and Learning Centre Tracker is the only Tracker in flying condition in Canada.
Occasionally the museum starts the engines to keep them in good condition. Hearing and seeing large radial engines starting and running is quite a treat. Most people are unfamiliar with large radial engines.