Goldhofer AST-1 airport tug

Rapid prototyping is a very interesting technology gaining ground for general public applications recently.

Being fascinated with the ability to create a physical, touchable object just by providing a non-physical set of data, I had to give it a try.

Now, with these unlimited possibilites at my hand, one question quickly arose:

What am I going to do now?

For my first test I had to come up with a rather small (=affordable) item to produce.
Rapid prototyping might be fast and versatile, but it is also expensive.
As I imagined the learning curve to be steep, I had to take account of a complete failure for the first test. Thus a model of an airport tug in 1/200 scale was chosen.

The tug itself is smaller than a matchbox, so the disappointment and costs would be limited.

Some basic research was mandatory at first of course!

The world wide web provides informations about almost everything and of course I was not disappointed this time either.

I chose an airport tug manufactured by Goldhofer, the AST-1. They offer a wide range of airport tugs, so I decided to pick an average vehicle.
Research turned up basic dimensions, pictures and even a three sided view of the unit. Awesome!

I started to model the vehicle right away:

Goldhofer Airport Tug Render, front view
Goldhofer Airport Tug Render, rear view

■ Goldhofer AST-1 render
First CAD data of the airport tug. Note the detailed frontguard. As this was too detailed to be reproduced in 1/200 scale, it was revised later.


Here is the first picture of the printed model! The item is still encased in some sort if wax-like resin and has to be cleaned later.
Yet, it is already looking good despite its small size (46 mm length):

Goldhofer Airport Tug, prototype
■ First view of the finished model
Still in need of a clean-up, this shot shows the actual size of the model. Compare the size of the coin and model: Despite its small size, the airport tug sports some nice details.


The model started to look really good after removing the excess coating. After washing the parts in a solution made out water and mild dish-washing detergent it was time for another photo shooting:

Goldhofer Airport Tug, prototype
■ Cleaned model of the airport tug in 1/200 scale.
Crystal-like appearance of the model after a thorough clean-up.


A first set-up with a Boeing 747 jumbo made sure the dimensions were correct and the nose gear would neatly snug in the vehicle’s arrestor:

Goldhofer Airport Tug, prototype


A basic coat of grey color and subsequent painting dramatically improves the look. Details on the airport tug are now visible.

Goldhofer Airport Tug, painted prototype
Goldhofer Airport Tug, painted prototype

■ Painted Goldhofer airport tug
With fresh paint, everything starts to look good!


I designed decals to go with the vehicle and printed them on a color laser printer. After applying the decals carefully (and ruining the first batch), I was satisfied with the outcome:

Goldhofer AST-1 airport tug, painted with all decals applied
■ Finished model
Painted model with decals applied. A good looking vehicle despite the small scale!



Possible revision with better front guard (not printed yet):

Goldhofer AST-1 airport tug with re-done front


Pictures of the finished model in action:

Generations! Boeing B474-200 vs. B747-400 Qantas Airways Limited (both Inflight200) with custom-built Goldhofer AST-1.
Boeing B747-400 Qantas Airways Limited (Inflight200)
Boeing B474-400 Qantas Airways Limited (Inflight200)

More pictures showing another tug expertly built by fellow modeler and
airplane collector C. M. Laspa:

Finished Goldhofer AST-1 airport tug model (courtesy of C. M. Laspa)
Finished Goldhofer AST-1 airport tug model (courtesy of C. M. Laspa)
Finished Goldhofer AST-1 airport tug model (courtesy of C. M. Laspa)

For placement of decals see here (right click, save as):

Front/rear view

Top view 

Side views 

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