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, manufactured by F4Models (cat. # 7002), contains resin and photo etched metal parts, decals and instruction sheet. Parts are provided to assemble the tractor with or without the air start unit (two variants of the air start 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 air start unit, as indicated on this diagram: