15 December 2023
Rapido Trains UK has announced the N gauge BR Class 44, and it's available to pre-order today.
The new model will be available in a variety of liveries covering the locomotive's history, from its origins in BR Green to the ever-popular BR Blue, including D4 Great Gable, in its BR Blue preserved livery.
A variety of details and variants seen across the working life of the locomotive will feature, including plated-over steps on the body side, removal of inner sandboxes and extra steps on the bogies. All versions will also be fitted with a radiator fan grill and separately fitted fan, directional lighting, a smooth-running mechanism, a factory-installed speaker, NEM Coupler pockets, and a Next18 Decoder Socket.
Currently in tooling stage, you can pre-order your DCC Ready (RRP £144.95) or DCC Sound Fitted (RRP £249.95) version directly from the Rapido Trains website or from any of its official retailers.
- D1 ‘Scafell Pike’ in BR Green (as built in 1959)
- D7 ‘Ingleborough’ in BR Green (as built in 1959)
- D2 ‘Helvellyn’ in BR Green with small yellow panel
- D5 ‘Cross Fell’ in BR Green with small yellow panel
- 6/D6 ‘Whernside’ in BR Green with full yellow ends
- 3 ‘Skiddaw’ in BR Blue
- 44007 ‘Ingleborough’ in BR Blue
- 44008/D8 ‘Penyghent’ in BR Blue with bodyside stripe
- D4 Great Gable in BR Blue
About the prototype
The Class 44 were conceived to fulfil an order of 10 new Co-Cos from Derby Works by British Railways as part of its appraisal of comparative locomotive designs (dubbed the ‘Pilot Scheme’). They were inspired by the LMS’ and Southern’s pioneer diesel designs and were outwardly similar to English Electric’s Type 4 (subsequently Class 40). Although fitted with a Sulzer 12LDA28 diesel engine capable of 2,300hp, the new BR Type 4s were heavy. Their 133-ton weight required a 1Co-Co1 wheel arrangement.
The first, D1, emerged from Derby in 1959 and was named Scafell Pike. The remaining nine locomotives were also named after English and Welsh peaks and the class soon gained the nickname ‘Peak’, which was also applied to the subsequent Class 45s and Class 46s.
Although a mixed traffic design, they were initially used on West Coast Main Line passenger services before being transferred en masse to the Midland Main Line. The subsequent arrival of the Sulver Type 4s (later Class 45) meant that the BR Type 4s (which would become Class 44 on TOPS) were allocated predominantly
to freight work radiating out from Toton. Consequently, they could be seen as far afield as York or Severn Tunnel Junction.
Any small class of locomotive was always under threat and the ‘44s’ were no exceptions. 44003 was withdrawn in July 1976 and all had gone by the end of 1980. Happily, two survive: D8 Penyghent is based at Peak Rail and D4 Great Gable is owned by the Peak Locomotive Company and is based at the Midland Railway-Butterley.
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