22 Oct 2013

U.S. Navy MD-1 Flight Deck Tractor Model

MD-1 flight deck tractors entered service with the U.S. Navy in the mid 1950s. Apart from the aircraft towing and positioning, they were employed to start up aircraft jet engines. For this purpose many were fitted with gas turbine start units mounted on the platform in the rear. MD-1 tractors served on Essex / Oriskany class, Midway class and Forrestal / Kitty Hawk class carriers of the U.S. Navy until mid 1960s. They have also been employed on the Royal Canadian Navy's HMCS Bonaventure and on the Brazilian Navy's Minas Gerais aircraft carriers.

This 1:72 scale model kit is from F4Models (cat. # 7001). The kit contains resin and photo etched metal parts with options to build the tractor in several configurations, e.g. with or without the air start unit, with two types of the front grille and various arrangements of the ballast weights. Decal and instruction sheet are included.

A model of this tractor will fit nicely into a U.S. Navy carrier deck diorama. In particular, when such aircraft as the F3H Demon, F4D Skyray, FJ-4 Fury, F9F-8 Cougar, F11F Tiger and early variants of the A4D  Skyhawk and A3D Skywarrior were in service, the MD-1 was the only type of tow tractor on the carrier decks.
Here are some photographs of this type of flight deck tractor in action: linklinklinklinklinklinklink.