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Trumpeter 1/35 German Railway Gondola (High Sides) Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2009 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject German Railway Gondola (High Sides) Scale 1/35
Kit Number 1517 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Excellent detailing Cons
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $59.95

First Look


Years ago, 1/35 scale modelers were treated to a glimpse into a new category of subjects - railroading. More specifically, World War II German railway subjects. Plastic kits of railroad subjects have been around for decades in a variety of scales and eras from US steam locomotives in HO scale to Japanese steam and electric locomotives in scales near 1/48. DML came along and broached the 1/35 scale arena with two types of rolling stock followed by a few of the Eastern Front armored train cars.

CMK stepped up a few years later with a few installments of their own, most notably with their magnificent resin and photo-etch BR 52 Kriegslokomotive. Several versions of these engine followed with different tenders and then they released the WR 360 diesel engine.

Three years ago, Trumpeter entered the 1/35 German Railway arena with their styrene release of the 1/35 BR 52 and more recently the 1/35 WR 360 diesel engine. Each of these brought more closet model railroaders out of the shadows as the CMK resin kits were only good for the hardcore multimedia kit builders who could afford a $600+ kit. These styrene kits are even more detailed and don't require special multimedia assembly skills needed for resin models.

With the availability of several wartime locomotives, Trumpeter has turned its attention to rolling stock and here we have their first installment, a high-sided gondola.

The kit is molded in standard light gray styrene and presented on seven parts trees, plus two bags of gray styrene roadbed sections.

The gondola itself is six of these parts trees and despite the fact that there are 220 parts in the box, assembly is really simple. Trumpeter has made this gondola modular so that we'll be seeing low-sided gondolas and probably small box cars out of these modules as well.

Construction starts with the roadbed and the rail ties are molded integral with the roadbed. DML molded their ties separately which makes painting the ties and roadbed a little easier. Both have you slip the rails onto the ties when you've got everything painted and weathered to your satisfaction. I haven't tried to match up the DML roadbed with the Trumpeter roadbed, but I am assuming that they won't mix well.

The key to mixing DML, CMK and Trumpeter 1/35 railroad kits together is the gauge - the distance between the rails. While these kits are all 1/35, there are likely minor variations in each manufacturer's gauge, but to their credit, the wheels can be adjusted (if you haven't permanently glued them to the axles already). If you standardize on Trumpeter rails, for example, you can adjust the gauge of your locomotive and rolling stock wheels to fit Trumpeter gauge and therefore be able to rearrange locomotives and cars between different displays at will and have each of the engines and cars sitting right on the rails.

The frame of the gondola is next, and once again, don't glue the wheels to the axle until you have placed the completed car onto the completed track section and adjusted the gauge of the wheels to where the flanges rest snugly against the inboard edges of the rails. If you are a model railroader, you already understand all of this, if not, you'll get the hang of it the first time you sit the car on the rails and eyeball the wheels.

The platform/base goes onto the completed frame and the sides of the gondola slip into their flanges. The cargo doors on the sides of the gondola are shown to be closed in the assembly diagrams, but the doors are molded separately should you want to pose the car being loaded or unloaded as depicted in the box art. You'll need your own loading ramp, work crew, and cargo.

Markings are provided for one German Reichsbahn example, but you'll want to find some compatible numbers and have your own car number on there, especially if you're going to build more than one of these.

Kudos to Trumpeter for producing some rolling stock to go with their beautiful locomotive kits, and double that for not duplicating the two cars already produced by DML.

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!