The C-1 Trader grew out of a need by the United States Navy for a new anti submarine airplane. In response to this Grumman began development on a prototype twin-engine, high-wing aircraft which it designated the G-89. In 1952 the Navy designated this aircraft the XS2F-1 and flew it for the first time on December 4 that year. During the rest of the 1950s three major variants emerged, the C-1 Trader being one of them. The C-1 (originally the TF-1) was outfitted to carry nine passengers or 3,500 pounds (1,600 kg) of cargo and first flew in January 1955.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the C-1 Trader carried mail and supplies to aircraft carriers on station in the Pacific Ocean during the Vietnam War and also served as a trainer for all-weather carrier operations. Over its production life 83 C-1 Traders were built, of which four were converted into EC-1A Tracerelectronic countermeasures aircraft. The last C-1 was retired from USN service in 1988; it was the last radial engine aircraft in U.S military service. As of 2010, approximately ten were still airworthy in civil hands, operating as warbirds.
C-1A, BuNo 136792, on static display at the Quonset Air Museum, (former NAS Quonset Point), North Kingston, Rhode Island. This aircraft was modified with the Grumman E-1 Tracer type radome assembly (but no radar) and twin tails and served (under the designation XTF-1W) as the aerodynamic prototype for the E-1. After testing, it reverted to the transport role, (as C-1A) with radome removed but retaining the twin tails. Throughout, this aircraft retained the S-2/C-1 upward folding wings, not the E-1 wing fold which were necessitated (by the radome atop the fuselage) to fold wings back along the sides of the fuselage.