The BR57 Armored Locomotive was literally the centerpiece of a BP42 or BP44 armored train. The history of these trains is covered very well in two books which I reviewed here
. These trains were symmetrical in configuration, with the engine in the middle. Working out from the engine, on each side, was:
• Tender – yes two, one on each side of the engine to extend range.
• Artillery car/Geschutzwagen
(Trumpeter kit #01509)
• Command Car/ Kommandowagen
( Trumpeter #01510)
• Artillery and Anti-Aircraft Car/Kanonen und Flakwagen
• Tank Carrier Car/ Panzerträgerwagen
• Pusher Car (BP42) – Flatbed car (Trumpeter #01518)
• Tank car (BP44)/Panzerjägerwagen (Trumpeter #00369)
Trumpeter has now released all the kits required to build either train— with one minor exception: a standalone tender. I expect this will be released soon, as it has the detail needed to be on its own (see pictures). Without it, you really can’t build a complete train— as if anyone has the space (or budget) to do that. In addition, they have released one “paper tiger” in the Panzerjäger Triebwagen (01516). There is photo evidence this car existed, but it was never used.
The kit comes well-packed in a typical Trumpeter cardboard box. It kit consists of thirteen unique sprues, with three duplicated. Eight of these make up the locomotive, and five are for the smaller tender used on this locomotive. The sprues consist of:
• A and B (two each) containing wheels & suspension parts for the locomotive
• C, D and E have the side panels and some drive train parts
• F has more suspension bits, and parts of the cab
• G has the front and rear panels plus an interior baffle
• H is mostly drive train details
• Jx2 and L have the suspension for the tender
• K, M and N have the base and side panels for the tender
In addition, there are several roadbed pieces in the typical trumpeter style. This makes up into almost a yard of track (see picture).
There are no decals or etched parts.
The instruction book is 26 pages with a one-sheet painting guide.
Based on pictures from the books mentioned above, this appears to be a very accurate depiction of the BR57 locomotive and tender – from an exterior perspective.
I have assembled the model to the point that it demonstrates the “exterior” view comment. The drive train, for example, is very well-detailed along the lines of the older BR52 kit. However, this is only that which can be viewed from the side. Turning the model over, the brakes and other undercarriage parts are only given modest detail. If you were to assemble the kit as directed, the drive train detail would be mostly hidden (what a waste). Therefore, I plan to do one side with the access doors open. This is readily seen in the pictures.
As one photo shows, there is literally no detail inside the cab. Not that any is needed: with the tender attached, the cab interior is entirely hidden. I was struck, though, by the fact that the tender’s end panel is detailed, even though it, too, is hidden when attached to the locomotive. This is what leads me to believe that the tender will be released as a standalone kit. Positioned in front of the locomotive, its detail would be quite visible.
Another odd bit of detail is the front of the engine. The very front of the boiler is provided, and then hidden by the armor. There is no other interior detail, and again none is needed. So why provide this boiler bit? There are doors on the front that could be positioned open, to see this, but you’d also be able to see there’s nothing else!
Construction of the drive train and under carriage is a bit tricky, and includes lot of small bits that get lost behind the armor. The armored sides go together easily, and align quite well. This is due to the use of interior baffles that have what amount to “snap together” alignment lugs.
For a train buff (which I have been since my HO days in my youth) or a lover of WWII history, this is a very appealing kit. However, you need to consider the cost ($150) of not only this kit, but the entire train. I think you will get hooked, and need it all.
Overall, I think this makes into a nice model, despite the lack of detail in some areas. I am planning on building the entire train (one half that is), and plan to do reviews of each car as it comes up. I will do them in their sequence working out from the engine. Maybe I’ll move these pictures to a build log, and include all of the cars.