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BR 52

CMK 1/35 BR 52 Kriegslokomotive Wannentender Armoured Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review June 2005 Manufacturer Czech Model
Subject BR 52 Kriegslokomotive - Wannentender Armoured Scale 1/35
Kit Number RA031 Primary Media Resin/Photo-Etch
Pros Astounding detail Cons
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $650.00

First Look

BR 52
BR 52
BR 52
BR 52
BR 52
BR 52
BR 52
BR 52

As the war in Europe progressed, planners knew that they had to move supplies around the continent in an expanding radius from Berlin. Since the autobahn as we know it today didn't exist, roads were limited, and airlift was still in its infancy, the bulk of the logistics movement fell on the railroad. German engineers ensured that the rail lines from Russia to Italy were kept in order to move the supply trains.

One thing became apparent as the German lines pushed outward, more locomotives will be needed - the assets of the German railway and the confiscated assets of other state railways were already reaching their limits. A heavy freight locomotive was needed that could carry sufficient water and fuel to move supplies across the vastness of the eastern front. The BR 52's 2-10-0 design was selected to maximize traction. This new engine must be easier to build and maintain than the BR 50 with a significantly reduced parts count and a service life of 5-8 years. The parts count was indeed reduced by 20% over the BR 50, while the service life (of those that survived the war) turned into decades to serve across post-war Europe.

By the time the war ended, over 6,100 of these engines had been built. Many survived the war and continued as freight engines well into the 1980s. I saw several BR 52 engines with the special condenser tenders (which extracted moisture out of the air to extend the water supply) operating around East Germany in the early 1980s. Even today, several countries around Europe have restored a few BR 52s with several more undergoing restoration.

CMK has released two versions of the BR 52 in 1/35 scale. This features the Wannentender (similar to a Vanderbilt tender) that has armor plating welded to its sides and the locomotive is armored along the boiler sides with stacked wooden beams. The other BR 52 release doesn't have the supplemental armor plating and the tender is the 'Wiener Steifrahmentender' type (rigid box structure).

The kit is cast in light tan resin, and I don't believe I've ever seen so many resin parts in one box before. You'll note that I didn't remove the parts from the protective bags. This is because the instructions have labeled each bag with a letter and the parts within the bag are numbered, similar to the styrene parts on a sprue tree. This allows you to open only the bags you need to minimize the number of small parts that are loose at any given moment. Nevertheless, you can see what I mean in these photos about the quantity of resin parts you receive for your money!

The boiler is two sections of resin tube shape with a third section for the hot box that protrudes into the cab. The boiler sits on an interesting mix of resin and photo-etch frames that attach it to the main frame/chassis. The five axles for the drivers mount through the frame. The instructions do a nice job of illustrating how and where parts go, but you'll still need to study and dry-fit parts just to make sure your project doesn't go awry.

The cab is a beautifully engineered (no pun intended) affair that even feature resin gauges with photo-etched frames and printed acetate dials. This part is troubling as the cab doors are molded shut and acetate windows may obstruct all of those nice details. I am planning to cut away the cast-on doors and scratchbuild replacements that will be positioned open. The cab roof is supposed to be glued to the top of the cab, but you can modify it to be removable (though you'll want to ensure that it won't slide off and shatter during movement).

The engine is rounded out with lots of details, right down to the sand pipes that go on each side of every drive wheel. I can only imagine how heavy this kit locomotive will be when completed. In addition to the stacked wooden beams that extend over the length of the boiler, the kit also includes supplemental armor plate to be fitted over the cab (making visibility inside the cab even more challenging!).

The Wannentender is assembled and mounted onto its own frame/chassis. It too is nicely detailed and fitted with supplemental armor plate. The tender is designed to be close-coupled to the engine so that the coal/wood chips (or whatever fuel was available) could be accessed from inside the cab without letting the cold winter get inside.

Markings are provided for a single example, BR 52 number 2316. The instructions depict the engine with a three-color camouflage of yellow, gray, and red-brown.

This is a breath-taking model that railroad fans and armor builders alike will love. At the suggested retail price listed above, this will limit the appeal somewhat, but there is some good news. I picked this kit up from Hannants after receiving one of their periodic email flyers listing this kit on close-out for a killer price. After a brief search on the internet, I've noted other retailers offering similar sales. A prudent shopper might be able to find a bargain for either this release or the unarmored BR 52 mentioned earlier.

I wish that there were a few other marking options available including the Deutsche Reichsbahn eagles with different engine numbers, as well as parts options for the Witte or other style smoke deflectors. Nevertheless, this kit is highly recommended and will look great hauling your Trumpeter Leopold or Karl Morser.

Speaking of Trumpeter, they announced in Germany that they will be releasing the BR 52 as a styrene kit in 1/35 scale sometime in the future. The version being released will be with box-tender version similar to the kit previously by CMK. For a look at what Trumpeter will be releasing, here is a build-up version of the CMK kit with scratch-built smoke deflectors added.

If you're wanting the Wannentender version, this is still the only game in town...