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BR 57

Trumpeter 1/35 Panzerlok BR 57 Armored Locomotive Kit First Look

by Michael Benolkin

Date of Review June 2010 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject Panzerlok BR 57 Armored Locomotive Scale 1/35
Kit Number 0219 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros First kit of this subject in this scale; very nice detailing throughout Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $189.95

First Look

BR 57
BR 57
BR 57
BR 57
BR 57
BR 57
BR 57
BR 57

Armored trains had been around for some time prior to World War II as the road networks across Europe were not much better since the time of the Roman occupation. While truck traffic was possible in some conditions, and airlift and sealift were limited options, logistics on the battlefield fell heavily on the extensive rail network. As Germany pushed further east, rail lines became even more important to deliver much needed supplies to the front lines that were getting farther from home. Inevitably, partisans and periodic Soviet Army pushes into the German rear areas put these rail lines at risk.

Standard line engines like the BR52 had some degree of improvised or manufactured protection against small arms fire, these engines were vulnerable to heavy machine guns fired from the ground and from airborne strafing. The Germans quickly engineered their own family of armored trains, the BP42 in particular, to perform track cleaning duties near vulnerable operating areas, sweeping away partisan ambushes and engaging Soviet light armor attempting to interdict the rail lines.

While the main weapons of the BP42 were armored bunkers mounted on rolling chasses using a variety of surplus tank turrets and special purpose weapons, moving this heavy metal fell on a heavily modified BR57 0-10-0 steam engine. The BR57s that became the prime movers of the BP42 armored trains were literally encased with steel armor plate to protect the boiler and the crew from all but heavy caliber anti-armor guns. These locomotives were usually put in the middle of the armored train along with two tenders to provide adequate fuel and water for operating in the field. These BP42 armored trains became the German's quick reaction force to get heavy weapons into a hot zone quickly and efficiently.

These Trumpeter 1/35th scale armored train cars have been bringing out the model railroader in many folks (including me). These kits are the perfect follow-on to the Leopold and Karl Morser rail guns along with the BR52 and the alternative WR.360 diesel locomotives. If you've been following these releases from Trumpeter, we've already had the armored tank cars, command car, and several support cars. With this release, we have armored locomotive to move these land-locked battle wagons down the rails.

Molded in light gray styrene, this kit is presented on sixteen parts trees plus ten trees of gray styrene parts for the track and roadbed base (not pictured here). According to the specs, there are 602 parts in this kit, but there doesn't look like there are any serious challenges.

First the track, this is the same track that has been released with all of the previous 1/35 train kits from Trumpeter. You can build it as-is to display the model, or you can combine the tracks from multiple kits to be able to display multiple cars along with this locomotive.

Next comes the locomotive frame. This goes together much like the BR52, but this time there are five drive axles and ten driver wheels. As long as you take the time to ensure the frame is perfectly squared, assembly should be trouble free. Build up of the frame with all of the connecting rods and main cylinders is done just as nicely as the BR52, though much of this detail will be unseen with the armored shell unless you pick up the model and look from underneath. There is definitely lots of detail here.

Once the frame is completed, assembly gets much easier. Next comes a platform to mount on the frame, and onto this platform comes a number of bulkhead frames which the armor plate sections will mount and provide the model with strength for subsequent handling. The only area with some detail are the boiler front which can be seen through armored access doors that can be positioned open on the front of the locomotive. The side access doors are molded shut which is good given there is no locomotive inside the armored shell.

The cab's sliding armored windows can be positioned open, but that wouldn't be advised unless you have a crewman leaning out that window given that there is no detail inside the cab. With a parts count at over 600, adding more details that can't be seen would make this kit more of a challenge to build and more expensive as well.

With the engine complete, next comes the armored tender, and like the locomotive, the tender is also a box shell that is protected from the sides and above

No decals are provided nor needed with this kit given that its most distinctive markings were the seasonal camouflage applied in the field to somehow make this rolling battleship blend into the background.

This is a really nice looking kit and is just what is needed to round out the other members of the BP42 lash-up. Given the amount of detail in this box, I'm hoping the BR57 is released as a normal engine without the armored shell. Nevertheless, in 1/35th scale, I'm going to need some long shelves to display these beauties!

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!