UNBOXING: Dapol N gauge Class 50

21 October 2019
This second generation model from the Chirk manufacturer is an excellent effort, as Howard Smith discovers.

Having recently celebrated their fiftieth anniversary, the Class 50s were the last significant order of diesel-electric locomotive to emerge from the doors of English Electric’s (EE) Vulcan Works between 1967 and 1968. Based around a heavily-modified design of DP2, extra gadgetry was installed to satisfy a BR specification brief for its new Type 4 locomotives. Fifty locomotives were constructed at Newton-le-Willows at a pace of five units a month, though owing to the financial situation at Vulcan, production slowed at the end, and it took two months for the last five to be delivered, EE paying £213,142 in damages – the cost of two locomotives!

EE offered a lease of the locomotives to BR so it could benefit from tax relief on the capital expenditure that it would not otherwise receive as a nationalised industry. English Electric Leasing Ltd was created as a subsidiary from the parent company as a response to The Treasury which wasn’t satisfied with the arrangement.

In service

The locomotives hauled express-passenger trains along the non-electrified West Coast Main Line between Crewe and Scotland, being bought seven years later by BR in 1973. Following electrification of the WCML, the locomotives were cascaded to the Western Region, working from London Paddington to the South West, Oxford and from Birmingham to Bristol. The fleet would be refurbished in the late-1970s with simpler wiring, a high-intensity headlight and the new BR blue large logo livery. The Class would work from Paddington and Waterloo to Salisbury and the South West until 1994.

Kindly sent for review by Dapol is its model of 50040 Leviathan in BR large logo livery, as refurbished. As with the rest of the class following refurbishment, the locomotive was named after a warship. However, the ship Leviathan was never built, hence the name was dropped from the locomotive in June of 1987, it gaining the name Centurion on July 8, 1987, previously carried by 50011. The locomotive carrying the Network SouthEast logo above the cab marker lights keeps its operational window restricted to around a year, starting with the creation of the brand in 1986. 

Dapol Class 50 review N gauge

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Solid construction

The model feels sturdy in the hand. Air pipes were fitted on our sample and have a degree of flex, ensuring they remain in-situ. The buffer steps fitted are strong yet fine and these, combined with the thin wire handrails, each individually-applied really help elevate front-end detail. The connectors for multiple-unit operation are well-observed, though the one to the right isn’t of the correct appearance. It’s a quick modification for budding modellers and won’t require much skill to alter to the boxier type.

The cab proportions are correct, the taper to its front and low-slung body are excellent. Some have criticised the roof for having an overly large cab-shore radio pod, though our sample wasn’t fitted with one. It’s pleasing to see that the distance between body and bogies has been respected – a compromise often made on other models of this prototype. Fuel tank, battery box and air compressor detail is ample, the battery isolation switch being picked out in yellow.

Dapol has a reputation for innovation in the model industry and this latest model is no exception. The new generation of motor and light access design is excellent and a welcome step forward. Modellers can still enhance the model, if desired, but from the box it’s an excellent effort.

Watch the unboxing video, below:


Read the full review in the December 2019 issue of BRM, on-sale November 7 in print, or download from www.pocketmags.com/brm from October 31.