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I came across this photo showing a tug attached in a way I have never seen before. I assume it was used to allow the aircraft closer to the terminal.

Did this require special equipment or modifications to the aircraft?

Was it a common practice before terminals were redesigned to accommodate large aircraft and large tugs.

enter image description here
Source: wikipedia.org

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    $\begingroup$ Man that pic of dear departed Canadian Pacific Airlines a/c is old. Mid 70s. $\endgroup$ – John K Mar 11 at 1:16
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Yes, this is a perfectly normal practice, still used, especially for tight spaces, as seen in this video moving a 747 into the hangar for service. And no, it doesn't require any special equipment - the nose gear attachment is designed to be used either way.

A still from the video:
enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Are all nose gear designed to be used that way? Is it just a B747 specificity? $\endgroup$ – Manu H Mar 10 at 13:10
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While it's uncommon, it appears that many pushback tugs are specifically designed to fit underneath an aircraft like this. This wiki notes that (emphasis mine)

Pushback tractors use a low profile design to fit under the aircraft nose. For sufficient traction, the tractor must be heavy, and most models can have extra ballast added. A typical tractor for large aircraft weighs up to 54 t (120,000 lb) and has a drawbar pull of 334 kN (75,000 lbf).1 Often, the driver's cabin can be raised for increased visibility when reversing, and lowered to fit under aircraft.

This modern aircraft tug is shown next to a 747

Pushback Tug

You can see it fits underneath entirely once the cab is lowered. Since many aircraft have a clearance height similar to the 747, it likely can fit under most large-body aircraft.

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    $\begingroup$ Often, the driver's cabin can be raised for increased visibility when reversing, and lowered to fit under aircraft - that sounds risky, have there ever been any cases where that caused damage to the plane when the operator forgot to lower it before moving under the plane, or accidentally raised it while under the plane? $\endgroup$ – Johnny Mar 11 at 22:05

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