Hard on the heels of a superb 7mm-scale 61XX Large Prairie tank from the renowned Danish modelling firm comes a model of one of the Great Western Railway’s 43XX 2-6-0 mixed traffic locomotives – and it’s a real beauty, writes Nigel Burkin.
There was a feeling of déjà vu when taking the beautifully appointed Heljan Churchward 43XX Class 2-6-0 from its box with its varnished transportation plinth, for it was only a month or so since a similarly finished model from Heljan, covered with a multitude of fine details, graced the studio.
On first impressions, there is no doubt that this second GWR steam locomotive model by the Danish company will set the hearts of GWR and BR Western Region enthusiasts racing, particularly given its very attractive price for a 7mm scale model. It clearly enjoys the same high standard of detailing and finishing as the 61XX Class locomotive.
As a choice of prototype, the 43XX Class will have wider appeal than the 61XX Class because they were powerful mixed-traffic locomotives with a relatively low weight restriction (blue disc) allowing them to be operated over most GWR routes.
A total of 342 were built at Swindon Works between 1911 and 1932, with a near-continuous production run between 1911 and 1923, and this will further add to the appeal of the model. In common with locomotives constructed over a long time period and in small batches, small differences crept in as improvements were implemented.
The class was a very successful one from the outset, having been designed to use existing components that had been tried, tested and found to be reliable. Consequently, a prototype was not deemed necessary, and the class was a capable mixed-traffic design, performing well on both goods and passenger trains.
Despite this, withdrawals started early with 100 locomotives dismantled between 1936 and 1939 for the recovery of components, including wheels and motion, for updated locomotives classes such as the Grange and Manor.
War brought an end to that programme, and the 43XX Class survived to see BR ownership. Withdrawals restarted in 1948, with six locomotives surviving until 1964. Two are preserved, including No. 5322, which saw service in France and is based at the Didcot Railway Centre.
A second locomotive survives on the Severn Valley Railway. No. 9303 is one of the last to be built and incorporates modifications applied to the last batch of 20 locomotives, included extended frame, modified cab and some technical features.
For the full article and to view more images, see the January 2019 edition of Modelling – available now!
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