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The Airport Fuel Truck

All the airports I worked at had the ubiquitous fuel truck roaming the ramp areas.

In fact I drove a fuel truck at the very beginning of my aviation career and at various later times in pursuit of airborne happiness.

This particular fuel truck represents a war surplus GMC “deuce and half” converted to civil use, something I have seen more than once in real life. Tamiya’s WWII rendition is of course the only animal of its kind in 1/48 scale and so it is a natural for the diorama. While I drove the stake-bed version in the Marines, I never drove the fueler version.

One thing that always impressed me about military equipment is the utilitarian nature of the equipment, No frills or add on packages, just what is required for the job. Better yet, one can specify any color they want – as long as its green.

This truck is painted and marked in the old “Flying A Service” style, again a natural for the diorama. Conveniently, someone was thoughtful enough to produce a set of 1/72 gas station decals that worked perfectly on the truck, proclaiming available flight servicing for passing aircraft, just what is needed at the airport diorama.

Note the fuel metering gages mounted in the hose storage area, the usual spot for these gages.

The grill was interesting as it was part of the “Hauler Models” PE upgrade set I purchased.

I gave up on it after making the outline in brass and went looking for an alternative to the plastic grill. I found a beautiful version of the asymmetrical grill for the Tamiya truck from a Polish concern specializing in paper models. The grill was about $7 American, but shipping was another seven, making this a fourteen dollar purchase for an item as big as one’s thumb made of paper!

I promptly returned to the already purchased brass version tossed in the model recycle bin and began work again. The most difficult part is the headlight grill work and those even had to be made in the paper version. Since I had cut the brass light guards incorrectly, I resorted to injection needles to make the light guards. It looks a bit beat, but then it’s war surplus.

There is a figure included that I made into a hose handler.

The guy on the wing filling the fuel tanks was modified from another set of figures.

36 additional images. Click to enlarge.


8 responses to The Airport Fuel Truck

  1. G, that Gooney bird is waaaaay too shiny…. I think we all drove one of those at one time or another. The joys of inching up to an airplane in a truck with a duff clutch.

    My favorite fuel truck ever belonged to an outfit called BAAC in Brownsville, TX back in the early 80’s. I have no idea what make or model it was, but it was enormous, so much so that I called it “The Dinosaur”. It was operated by a gent named “Tiny”, who was anything but. He was the only person on the airport who understood the mechanical vagaries of The Dinosaur, and it was amazing to see him work his magic with it. The Dinosaur produced noises the likes of which have never been heard before or since, none of which seemed to be associated with anything that actually worked. Its arrival was heralded by an entire symphony of said noises, as well a copious amounts of smoke coming from just about every orifice in the vehicle, including out the window from the cigarette that always hung from Tiny’s mouth. Lettering on the tank advertised Jet A on one side and 100LL avgas on the other, so I was never quite sure what got dispensed into the sons a Beeches, but the airplanes always ran, so whatever alchemy went on within the Dinosaur worked just fine. The truck was dark blue, BTW…

  2. The venerable C-47 will always be shining in my memories. It’s a chrome finish I buffed out with a cotton cloth. Our birds actually were fairly shiny, having had their paint recently stripped and then having their naked skins buffed out. Note the fabric flying surfaces are aluminum paint and not buffed metal. Ahhhh, for those old days of aluminum dope – mix it up and slap it on ’till pinholes cannot be seen through it.

    I was there in the early eighties, (Rangerville, just up the road) but never encountered “Tiny” or the BAAC. There are always some unusual characters to be found around airports. We got our gas from Mexico. We would cross the border go tell the guy we wanted a load of fuel (thirty cents a gallon) and he would drive his truck across and deliver the old 80/87 – or something akin to it. The Prats guzzled down it just fine at fifty feet.

    Ever been to the “Iron Horse Saloon” in Olmito? Drive your scooter into and right up to the bar where one could sit in the saddle (as if your butt hadn’t already been there long enough) and quaff cold Long Necks.

    The memories of a man in his old age are the deeds of a man in his prime . . .

  3. Nice job on the fuel truck. I drove them for a few years after the service. You nailed it. I have 2 questions. How did a 1/72 decal set work fine on a 1/48 model? Wouldn’t they be out of scale? Also, the picture of the fuel truck on the box shows the grill rack. Why did you have to make one? I only wish the DC-3’s engines and nacelles were as easy to replace as yours! It would have been a dream, other then the real life mess associated with an engine change on the real bird. Yuck! But they were an amazing aircraft. Thanks for a remember when moment. : )

  4. You can see for yourself how the scale worked out. Had they been any bigger, they would not have fit. The plastic grill was too thick and did not have the appearance I wanted in the model. Engine changes were always a b***h, at least those I did were. I will soon be doing an article on the cargo loading of the C-47.

  5. Great fuel truck, Mr. Ley! Great detailing & painting – and that’s just a start. Well done, My Friend!

    Jaime, great story about the “little” old fuel truck and the “Tiny” guy who made it work!

  6. very fine…always loved flying A

  7. Great de-militarized truck!

  8. Hello G. Ley,
    This model shows very clearly, what can be achieved with “civy” decals and still usable in all kinds of diorama’s. I really enjoyed your contribution.
    Regards, Dirk / The Netherlands.

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