30 December 2018

Miscellaneous Ground & Carrier Deck Support Equipment Items

In this short article I am presenting another installment of my 1/72 models of miscellaneous ground support & carrier deck equipment items used by the U.S. Navy. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the Navy's GSE: I only model such items that I need for my present and future dioramas, and only those that I could collect sufficient historical information for.

Maintenance Platforms
Historical Information: These types of lightweight portable platforms were utilized for aircraft servicing and maintenance by all branches of the U.S. military.
Time period: 1940s-1950s.
Paint scheme: USN items typically ocean grey; sea blue and olive drab also possible.
Photographic proof: link
Model Details: Both items are scratch-built with the aid of custom-made photo-etched metal parts.

Tow Bar, Early Type
Historical Information: Employed to tow various types of U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aircraft on aircraft carriers as well as on shore stations.
Time period: Mid-1950s - 1960s.
Paint scheme: Orange yellow.
Photographic proof: link
Model Details: Scratch-built from plastic.

A-4 Skyhawk Tiller Bar
Historical Information: When taxiing, steering on the U.S. Navy carrier-based jets was initially achieved through differentially applied main wheel brakes, and later by means of nose-wheel power steering. However, on a carrier deck a tiller bar, handled by a deck crewman, was often employed for more precise steering, especially when lining up with the catapult track (see more details in an article by Tommy H. Thomason: link). Different tiller bars were needed for different aircraft types.
Time period: 1960s.
Paint scheme: Orange yellow.
Photographic proof: link
Model Details: Scratch-built from plastic and metal wire.

A-4 Skyhawk Starter Probe
Historical Information: Early models of the A-4 Skyhawks (specifically, the Wright J65-engined A-4A, A-4B and A-4C), unlike other U.S. Navy carrier-based jets of the period, utilized a very peculiar engine start arrangement: the engine had to be started mechanically by means of a rotating metal shaft inserted into a dedicated receptacle from the outside, and the shaft, in turn, was driven by compressed air obtained from a standard tractor-mounted jet start unit. The rather bulky but man-portable apparatus, made specifically for the early Skyhawks, was known as the "starter probe".
Time period: For as long as the said types remained in service (1955 - mid-1970s).
Paint scheme: Typically insignia red.
Photographic proof: link
Model Details: Scratch-built from plastic and custom-made photo-etched metal parts.

Wheel Chocks
Historical Information: Many different types of aircraft wheel chocks were used by the U.S. Navy throughout the years; what I present here is only a small selection.
Time period: (A) – 1920s - 1930s; (B) – 1930s - 1940s; (C) – 1940s; (D) – 1940 - 1960s.
Paint scheme: Light grey, insignia red or orange yellow.
Photographic proof: (B) - photo; (C) - photo; (D) - photo
Model Details: Scratch-built from metal wire and plastic.

Tie-Down Chains
Historical Information: All aircraft on the U.S. Navy aircraft carriers are secured to the deck when not taxiing, taking off or landing. Tying down was initially done with stout ropes, but in the early 1960s, with the aircraft weight constantly increasing, metal chains came into use.
Time period: 1960s - present time.
Paint scheme: Chain links - invariably rusted metal; hook assemblies - natural metal, insignia red or orange yellow.
Photographic proof: link
Model Details: A metal chain is not an easy object to model, and, from the accuracy perspective, the best way to imitate it would be to use a real chain. The chains I am showing here came from a company called Shipmodeling (Verf' na Stole), have 16 links per cm and are the smallest that I could find. However, these "real" chains are relatively expensive, and it is not easy to make such a chain tout, especially in a confined space under the wings or the belly of your 1/72 scale model. Photo-etched chains (mine came from a set by White Ensign Models #7209), while less realistic than the "real" chains, are therefore usable when you have to imitate an aircraft secured to the deck with multiple chains, or when the access is restricted.