by Tommy H. Thomason

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Not a Jeep

David Collier provided me with a correction to a caption in Air Superiority. On page 49, there was a picture of an early F6U with an NC-1. I had written "The yellow low-slung jeep-like cart carries the array of batteries need to start these early jets." It turns out that this was the replacement for the jeep that lugged eight batteries around the deck and it didn't provide electrical power from batteries.

The new three-wheel NC-1 was equipped with a gasoline-powered generator to provide 24-volt current and also alternating current. It supplemented the fixed power stations at the catapults so the jets could be started elsewhere. The new starter jeep was modified from a standard jeep by O.E. Szekely & Associates of Philadelphia. The two wheels in the front were turned by the engine (i.e. front wheel drive) and did not turn for steering. The steering wheel (now mounted straight up and down) was connected to a third wheel under the back of the cart, allowing it to be turned in its own length. Deliveries began in late 1949 or early 1950.
The configuration changed over time. The one above may be an NC-1A, the suffix possibly added with the wedge in the hood covering an engine modification. The one wheel in back was apparently replaced by two and "training wheels" or "roll bars" were added at the rear corners to eliminate tip-over incidents. David provided the picture above as well as the following to illustrate the different configurations.

No anti-tip provisions, no wedge on the hood.

Wedge on the hood, training wheels:
No wedge on the hood, skids on the rear corners:

The NC-1/1A can be created from a jeep kit with some work. Alexsandr Survorov aka Phantom wrote about it here:

This is a picture from that article of his conversion of an 1/72nd scale Hasegawa kit:
The NC-1A was replaced in the 1960s by larger, low-slung vehicles with turboshaft jet engines turning the generators. They could also be employed to tow aircraft. For more on flight deck tractors and start carts over the years, see

For more on the later tow tractors and power supply vehicles, see

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