19 Jun 2016

U.S. Navy Air-Transportable Aircraft Start Unit Model

The purpose of this item of ground support equipment is to provide compressed air for starting aircraft jet engines. Specially designed by Douglas for the U.S. Navy as an air-transportable unit, it was intended to be carried by fighter or attack aircraft on a standard ordnance pylon, thus allowing them to self-deploy. Inside the teardrop-shaped pod was a small gas turbine, and everything needed for operating the cart was stowed in internal compartments. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s this start unit was frequently seen on Naval Air Stations and Marine Corps Air Stations. It remained in service, albeit in very small numbers, into the early 1970s, with the Blue Angels team using such items even in the 1980s until it has phased out its Skyhawks.

This type of start unit was employed to pre-flight such aircraft types as the A3D Skywarrior, A4D Skyhawk, F4D Skyray, F3H Demon, F11F Tiger, F-8 Crusader and F-4 Phantom II.

The 1:72 scale model kit, produced by F4Models (cat. # 7019), contains resin and photo etched parts to assemble two compete start units.

Here are some photographs of the real thing in action: link, link, link.