3 Nov 2013

U.S. Navy A/S32A-31A Flight Deck Tractor Model

The A/S-32A-31A flight deck tractor was in service on all U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and amphibious ships between the mid-1990s and mid-2010s, including Kitty Hawk, Enterprise and Nimitz class carriers as well as Whidbey Island, Harpers Ferry, Austin, Tarawa, Wasp and San Antonio class amphibious ships. On aircraft carriers this type of tractor was typically equipped with a gas turbine unit for starting jet aircraft engines. 

This 1:72 scale model kit representing the current A/S32A-31A tractor is from F4Models (cat. # 7002). The kit contains resin and photo etched parts, decals and instruction sheet. Parts are provided to assemble the tractor with or without the starter unit (two variants of the starter unit are offered).
Note that the assembled kit on the photographs above contains an inaccuracy: in reality the driver's cutout should be slightly narrower. The resin parts have been corrected since, and the kit content photograph (see below) shows the correct driver seat layout.
Here are some photographs of this type of tractor in action: linklinklinklink.

Externally the A/S-32A-31A tractor differs from the older MD-3 (in use since the 1960s through the 1990s) by wider rear fenders, slightly raised rear deck, different wheels and, starting from the mid-2000s, a totally new start unit.
Apart from the U.S. Navy carriers and amphibious ships, the older MD-3 tractors have been in services on the Royal Canadian Navy's HMCS Bonaventure and on the Argentine Navy's Veinticinco de Mayo.