Skunkworks (Kinetic) Aircraft Carrier Deck Equipment
If like me your into building US Navy aircraft and want to go the extra mile and have you build as part of a diorama, aircraft carrier deck equipment has been a bit thin on the ground in recent years. Most examples that are available are resin and are becoming hard to find, with most only being sourced via internet auction sites.
So with Kinetic's recent US Navy kit (Hawkeye & Prowler) releases, their aftermarket arm, 'Skunkworks' have bought us a new injection moulded range of carrier deck support equipment to complement them. There are currently three separate kits that represent the various types of tractor tugs and one fire fighting vehicle.
Current Kits are:-
SW-48003 MD-3 Navy Tractor Short Type with three fiqures
SW-48005 MD-3 Navy Tractor Long & A/S32A-32 Tractor Combo - Review below
SW-48007 USN Fire Engine with three figures - Review below
MD-3 Navy Tractor (Long) & A/S32A-32 Tractor Combo SW-48005
The MD-3, also known as the A/S32A-31A Aircraft Towing Tractor is designed for towing aircraft aboard ship. The drive system consists of a three-cylinder diesel engine, automatic transmission, and rear wheel drive with dual wheels. Front wheel steering is power assisted and has seating for the driver only. Service brakes are hydraulic, power operated, wet disc type with a mechanical hand brake for the rear wheels. A 24-volt electrical system provides starting, lighting, and instrumentation. Front and rear mounted pintles are used for aircraft towing. A universal jet-engine start unit or fire fighting equipment can be mounted to the rear of the tractor.
The A/S47A-1 Jet Starter Unit is a tractor -mounted, self-contained, mobile aircraft turbine engine air start unit. The air start unit enclosure consists of a control panel, enclosure assembly, gas turbine air compressor (GTC), stowage rack for the air start hose, and turbine support and mounting assembly. Except for fuel and electrical power (supplied by the tractor), the enclosure contains all systems necessary for gas turbine engine operation. This unit is used aboard ship and on shore stations.
As well as the Jet engine start unit, a Firefighting unit can also be mounted on the rear of the MD-3. The Twinned Agent Unit (TAU-2H) extinguisher is a dual-agent apparatus that is designed primarily for extinguishing class B fires and is employed aboard ship and shore facilities normally located at hot refuelling sites, or it can be vehicle mounted. The TAU-2H is a self-contained unit with a framework with two agent tanks--one containing 86 gallons of AFFF premixed solution and the other containing 200 pounds of Halon 1211. The system permits use of the fire-fighting agents either separatly or simultaneously. The TAU-2H employs a non-collaspsible dual hose line encased in a fire-resistant cotton jacket. The twinned hose line is normally stowed in a rack or mounted on a reel. The fire-extinguishing agents are propelled by nitrogen, which is supplied by one 2700psi pressurized cylinder that is regulated to 200psi and mounted on the framework. The twinned nozzles on the handleline expel the fire-fighting agents. The Halon nozzle is equipped with a low-reaction discharge tip. The AFFF nozzle is equipped with an aspirating tip. Duel pistol grip handles and triggers operate the shut-off valves. Extinguishment is obtained by applying agents in a sweeping motion, using chemical agent Halon 1211 to gain initial extinguishment, followed by application of AFFF to blanket the combustible liquid and preclude reignition.
The A/S32A-32 Aircraft Towing Tractor, also called "The Spotting Dolly", is designed to tow, turn, and position aircraft within the confines of an aircraft carrier hanger deck. It is powered by a three-cylinder diesel engine, which drives two main hydraulic pumps. The hydraulic pumps supply fluid to drive motors that turn two open-chain reduction drives via two gearboxes at each main wheel, which operate independently. A mechanical wheel clutch handle is used to engage or disengage the drive wheels, enabling the tractor to pivot on a castor wheel around is centre within a zero turning radius. A joystick control, next to the operator's seat, is an electromechanical device used to control the speed and direction of the spotting dolly's movement. The lift cylinder, which raises and lowers the lifting arms, and two spread cylinders, which keep the arms pinned against the aircrafts nose gear, are powered by and auxiliary hydraulic pump. Several pairs of axle pins that engage both sides of the nosewheel are carried on the tractor and fit a variety of aircraft.
MD-3 Navy Tractor (Long)
Each kit comes in a open ended box that had managed to open itself whilst in the post, unfortunately the boxes are easily 'squashed' if stacked on top of each other, and this leads to the ends opening. A small sticker on each end would remedy this, or even better a box with a seperate lid. The box art however is very nice indeed, showing each tractor built and painted up.
Included are parts to build one 'Spotted Dolly' and one MD-3 tractor, this can be build as a 'short' version or you can add either the Air Starter or Fire equipment to the rear. Also included are a set of aircraft chocks, and a US Navy type tow bar.
All the parts are in one clear plastic bag containing five detailed sprues, one for the 'Spotted Dolly', one for each of the air starter and fire fighting equipment, and finally two for the MD-3 tractor. Also in the box are two nicely printed decal sheets, a large sheet for the MD-3, and a small sheet for the 'Spotted Dolly' with instruction sheets for each, all are clear and precise and show paint call out colours for the Gunze range.
First on the build list is the MD-3 tractor, for this build i opted to have the fire fighting pack on the rear. You could always build the jet starter pack too and just tack each one in position, allowing you to change over for a different scenario. Using Tamiya thin cement, the kit went together very quickly, this example only taking around twenty minutes. The fit of the kit is very good indeed needing no filler at all.
Once all had cured, the entire model was painted with Tamiya Gloss Black, this was followed by Halford Appliance White out of a rattle can. The advantage of this is that you can apply the decals straight to the white finish. For the anti-slip black area's found on the top of tractors i used 400 grit wet & dry paper, i first made a template from tracing paper and transfered this to the wet & dry. After test fitting these were super-glued to the model.
The fire fighting unit (TAU-2H) was also painted Halfords White, the bumper was masked for the chevrons and was then painted Lifecolor Orange/Red. I'm not too sure as to what the correct colours are for this as pictures are hard to find, so i tried to get the red as close to what was on the box. This was then cemented to the rest of the tractor body.
Next up was decalling, the decals supplied are very well printed and are also very thin. They settled onto the model superbly needing no decal solution. For the large numbers on the bonnet of the tractor i first brushed on a coat of Johnson's Klear before adding them, fortunately no silvering was encountered. I left everything for a day before sealing the decals with Klear. The model was given a wash with Promodellers Dark Dirt and removed with a Q-tip, final weathering was with Tamiya powders.
The image below shows what the Jet starter unit looks like, this tractor is a resin example from the PMWP range.
A/S-32A-32 'Spotted Dolly'
Like the MD-3, the A/S32A-32 'Spotted Dolly' kit builds up in no time at all, there are a few smaller parts but nothing too difficult. The model was again painted Halfords Appliance white before Tamiya Gloss Black. The anti-slip area's took a little longer for this build, i used a punch for the filling cap positions. I could have painted these but i think the Wet & Dry gives it more of an authentic look, plus it's easier than masking!.
Overall this is my personal favourite of the three, i think it's a great little model and will complement any modern carrier deck diorama.
A/S32P-25 Shipboard Fire-Fighting Vehicle
The P-25 shipboard fire-fighting vehicle is a four-wheel (two-wheel drive) six cylinder, turbocharged, liquid-cooled, 24-volt, diesel-powered vehicle with a hydrostatic drive system that transmits power to the rear wheels. Steering is performed by a single hydraulic cylinder and tie rod assembly that controls the front wheels. Dynamic vehicle braking is provided by the hydrostatic drive system. When the accelerator is released, the brakes automatically engage. Seperate tanks within the vehicle chassis carry 750 gallons of water and 55 gallons of AFFF (Aqueous Film Forming Foam). Three 20-pound fire extinguishers containing Halon 1211 (Halogenated Extinguishing Agent) are stored on the right side of the vehicle. One Nursing line connection on each side of the vehicle provide AFFF mixture from the ship's system directly to the vehicle's water pump.
The vehicle has seating for a crew of two. The driver compartment is located at the left forward end of the vehicle and contains the main control panel for activating the fire-fighting systems. AFFF can be sprayed from both the forward turret nozzle and handline hose reel nozzle. These nozzles operate independently and can be used simultansneously to make this vehicle ready for fire fighting.
The box contains two light grey sprues for the vehicle and another small sprues, each containing parts for three deck personnel. Again the decals are nicely printed, included are all the stencil data needed and also the red stripes that run along the sides of the vehicle.
The build starts with the main body. Four sides, and a top & bottom are all that make up the vehicle, the seat cushions, steering wheel and main wheels were left off until the model was painted. Like the tractor's the same painting sequence was followed, and again wet & dry was used for the anti-slip area's. Weathering was a wash with Promodellers Dark Dirt followed by Tamiya powders. For extra detailling you could always add more fire hoses on the top of the vehicle.
Kinetic have produced some great little kits here, they go together real easy and can be built and painted in next to no time. They will look great sitting amongst your US Navy builds and certainly give the diorama that 'busy' look.