by: Russ Amott [ ]
Tow Tractor for US Air Force & Missile CartSkunkModels Workshop has released a new tow tractor set to accompany aircraft for dioramas.
The modelThe model kit, which includes two tow tractors and one missile cart, comes in the standard end opening box that SkunkModels uses. The box top shows the assembled model in a diorama setting and on the rear of the box is a simple painting guide with multiple side views of both the tractor with draw bar and the missile cart.
The tow tractor is not identified specifically by model number, but the name "Harlan" is prominent on the front. It appears to be the Harlan Classic HTA 30-60 series tow tractor. The prefix of this series-30, 40, 50, 60-indicates the weight the tractor is able to tow in thousands of pounds.
The contents of the box consist of six sprues, four in light gray and two in dark gray styrene.
The light gray plastic is brittle and soft and there was some flash present. Molding of some parts is very good with nice small details, but on other parts the detail is much softer.
SpruesThe A sprue (X2) has the tractor floor, rear deck and engine cover, grille and rear plate, seat, steering wheel and front rims. The only ejector pin marks I saw that needed attention were in the front wheel wells.
Sprue B (X2) has the tractor sides, firewall and instrument panel, rear wheels and two piece tires for the front and rear. It also has the towing boom, with separate wheel section. There are four tire chocks included.
In the dark gray styrene, there are also A and B sprues, with the parts to make one missile cart. This is from the previous "Missile Cart for USAF/NATO" set 48004. Quality of the molding on these sprues is much better and the styrene appears to be of better quality. I had a couple of parts that were broken off the parts tree but were undamaged. There were a few minor ejector pin marks but they appear to be on hidden surfaces.
The kit tractor is very similar in appearance to this actual vehicle in use by the ROCAF. http://blair-military.blogspot.com/2010/12/hta-40.html and also very much like a previous resin release from KASL of the Harlan HTA-40 with tow bar for the Mirage 5000. Differences between the SkunkModels Workshop Harlan tractor and that used by the ROCAF show that the "HARLAN" logo on the front plate has the center of the A and R cut out and the name should appear on the side panels on the engine. The kit tires only have tread detail on the side walls. The "T" handles on the engine access panels on the kit are just bumps.
AssemblyI assembled one of the tractors. Fit was generally good although some filler will be needed to give a one piece appearance to the sides. There were no real issues and it only took a short time to assemble. I did not complete the tires as I wanted to paint the rims with the tractor. When completed the kit looks like a Harlan tow tractor, minus the missing name cutouts on the side panels.
There are no decals for the kit so you will have to go through any spares you have to add the instrument dial faces and any other serial numbers or markings you would like to see.
SummaryIn addition to the ROCAF, I found online images of this tractor in use by the air force of Singapore, in a dark green paint scheme, and references to its use in France. While it is used in many commercial airports around the United States and internationally, I could find no references to use of the Harlan tractor in the USAF, but others with better base access may know of its use, either currently or in the past.
This kit is listed at LuckyModel, the parent company of SkunkModels Workshop, for $13.99. It will arrive at your doorstep for $18.90 US or just over 13 Euros. The detail is simplified, but it is easy to build. There aren't a lot of this type of model kit available. It should be a suitable fill in for a diorama at an affordable price.