29 August 2019
Hornby's Class 43 is refreshed with Scotrail's InterCity livery. Howard Smith believes it's time for a review.
In 2006, the Class 43 HST topped the Wish List Poll - a means for model railway enthusiasts to vote for models they'd most like to see produced by manufacturers. It was still the most-wanted diesel locomotive the following year and in 2008, Hornby responded by re-tooling a model to super-detail standards. It has a centrally-mounted 5-pole skew-wound motor, connected to both bogies and is fitted with lights, roof fans, see-through side grilles and a DCC decoder socket. From 2008, we've seen the power car/dummy car duo produced in Intercity 125, Intercity Executive, Network Rail yellow, GNER navy, Virgin red and black, Virgin Cross Country, GWR, GWR Old Oak Common celebratory livery, East Coast silver and white, First Great Western purple, Grand Central black, East Midlands violet, LNER red and grey and Cross Country purple and grey. The tooling has served the manufacturer well.
The HSTs emerged in 1976, constructed at B.R.E. L’s Crewe Works and over their 43-year service have seen the application of many liveries. The most recent came on October 10, 2018, when 43033 and 43183 powered the inaugural 12:55 Aberdeen to Edinburgh press launch of Inter7City - the introduction of a new rail service seeking to better link Scotland's seven major cities. Represented by Hornby in this latest pack (R3698) the duo sees an application of the dark blue and light blue grey combination, accentuated with tonal colours representing Scottish landmarks, differing on both sides. The Scottish Saltire sits either side above the front bogie. Re-engineering having taken place at Brush Traction in the mid-2000s, it seems unlikely that the locomotives will be withdrawn from front-line service soon, making their future transfer to other operators plausible, offering more potential livery opportunities to Hornby.
An attractive livery - far less 'in your face' than many other recent creations.
Shades of black
The number of decoration processes required on this model are as complex as its livery and the model is very attractive for it. At first glance, the most obvious feature is the sheen to its nose and roof, something rarely seen on scale models. Many modellers often feel a satin colour is the correct approach, but I disagree. A look at the trains emerging today with a new 'paint job' from works sees the application of a long-lasting high gloss finish with vinyls covering more complex areas of design. If a more satin approach is your goal, a little weathering is advised, as per reality where the accumulation of dirt and grime dulls the finish of a painted surface. This is particularly evident to the roof of this model, though a gloss black has been chosen for the duo over the dark grey colour used. As the locomotives approach a year of service in the new livery, the rooves are accumulating dirt quickly, hence a spray with the airbrush and some roof dirt could be used to disguise the colour used.
The underframe of the cars is more in-keeping with tradition, its satin black appearance easy on the eye, though when the prototype locomotives cascaded, not all of this area was repainted. Hornby's model lacks the yellow lines on the battery boxes and the white and red dials to the fuel tank gauge. Filler pipes, connector cables haven't been picked out in orange and bogie signs and battery box warning labels aren't depicted. It's a shame these were overlooked because inside the cab, the detailed nature of the controls, seats, and dials is quite the opposite, though you'll need to peer through the glazing carefully to see these. I think I'd have proffered to see the painted exterior detail prioritised over the more hidden nature of the cab if this was an exercise to make the models friendlier on the wallet. The mask used to apply the black around the luggage compartment window area could have been sharper, though it's only obvious when studying the model at close quarters.
Roof detail is pin-sharp and plentiful.
Hornby's Superb Tooling
Hornby's HST is still a great model more than a decade after its introduction. The shape of the body is captured to perfection and its underframe detail remains just as satisfying as the day the first mould left the factory. The bogies of this model are a true highlight where detail is concerned. The designers and CAD engineers responsible should still be congratulated on their work. A personal highlight is the roof grille, behind which peer the twin fans, painted red on this model. This etched part is still a visible area of finesse on the model and combined with the etched roof scoop it elevates detail to a new level. The side grilles get a mention, too - equally accurate and tactile.
Bodyside vinyls are miniature replicas of the original artwork.
Models of Hornby's HST from 2016-onwards became DCC ready. Instructions are provided which outline the removal of the four chassis screws to release the body shell, after which, a decoder can be easily installed. Hornby TTS sound decoders are available for the Paxman Valenta engine, but you'll need to choose the twin-pack (R8120) suitable for the more recent MTU engines for this model.
In summary, Hornby's Class 43 HST remains an excellent model and this new livery suits the shape of the prototype and this model very well. If you can live with the roof colour, everything else about the way this model has been executed is pleasing. Highly-recommended as a weathering project.