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The Old School Navy Stoofs and Helos Mercilessly Dogged Russian Submarines 24/7

“The Hunter Killers” Takes You Deep Inside Golden Age Antisubmarine Warfare

Official US Navy Photograph

The United States Navy (USN) color training film “The Hunter Killers” was released in 1967 and was produced to familiarize personnel with the aircraft and techniques used to localize and prosecute submarine contacts. The film features Grumman S-2E Trackers (or “Stoofs”) of Sea Control Squadron Twenty Four (VS-24) Scouts and VS-27 Pelicans and Sikorsky SH-3A Sea King helos of HS-3 Tridents from Carrier Antisubmarine Warfare Group Fifty Six (CVSG-56) aboard USS Randolph (CVS-15).

During the mid-1960s the Navy was using a mixture of relatively new technology like the SH-3A and older technology like the S-2E. The next generation of dedicated antisubmarine hunter-killer aircraft was years away at the time.

Also featured in the film are S-2Es of VS-28 Gamblers and VS-31 Topcats and SH-3As of HS-11 Sub Seekers from CVSG-52 aboard USS Wasp (CVS-18). Other footage of S-2Es of VS-22 Checkmates and VS-32 Maulers and SH-3As of HS-5 Nightdippers from CVSG-54 aboard USS Essex (CVS-9) is also used in the film. Grumman C-1A Trader carrier onboard delivery (COD) aircraft and Grumman E-1B Tracer airborne early warning radar aircraft of various VAW-33 Nighthawks detachments also appear in the film. The US Navy destroyer USS Newman K Perry (DD-883) is the only identifiable escort in the film but several DDs are shown from a distance.

Official US Navy Photograph

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Written by Bill Walton

Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a life-long aviation enthusiast and expert in aircraft recognition. As a teenager Bill helped his engineer father build an award-winning T-18 homebuilt airplane in their Wisconsin basement. Bill is a freelance writer, an avid sailor, engineer, announcer, husband, father, uncle, mentor, coach, and Navy veteran. Bill lives north of Houston TX with his wife and son under the approach path to KDWH runway 17R, which means they get to look up at a lot of airplanes. A very good thing.