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Built Review
Cattle Car
Cattle Wagon
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

Cattle Wagon is an OO scale (1/76) model of a British Railway Standard 8-Ton livestock car, created by Airfix (the original company). Airfix entered the model railroad world with a July 1960 announcement in Airfix Magazine. At the time, the acclaimed Rosebud Kitmaster line of OO (and HO, and TT) railway models (please see Click here for additional images for this review, below) was the dominant line of static OO plastic model trains in England. At the time, Kitmaster offered passenger cars but no freight rolling stock. Airfix remedied that by introducing seven freight cars in the line they designated Series 1. A couple of years later, Kitmaster failed and Airfix bought their tooling. The story of what happened to the Kitmaster molds and tooling is complicated but Airfix issued some of the models under their banner, and when Airfix failed, dozens of the models were fortunately acquired by Dapol. (There is another story there.)

Models of Series 1 are:
    R1 BR Tank Wagon, Esso
    R2 Presflo Cement Wagon
    R3 Mineral Wagon 10 Ton
    R4 Brake Van, BR, 20 Ton
    R5 Cattle Wagon
    R6 24 Standard Couplings
    R7 Drewry Shunter
    R8 Meat Van, 10 Ton
    R9 Saddle Tank "Pug" Locomotive
    R10 Preswin Silo Wagon
    R11 Stephenson's Rocket

I decided to acquire and build this Airfix freight car - "goods wagon" to our British friends - and offer my experience and thoughts for you.

The Kit
For the day (early 1960s), this kit was very well sculpted. Airfix put a lot of effort into it as the detailed chassis shows. The parts are thick and they suffer from many ejector marks, flash, and some minor molding flaw depression "sink marks."

Despite those flaws, Airfix engineered the model to assemble well, and put quite a bit of detail into it.

The model consists of 40 parts on seven sprues. All except for the wheels are brown. Not all will be used, depending upon whether the modeler wants the assembled kit to be a static model or a rolling one for a train layout. Typical of the era, there are toyish working features, in this case the loading gates and doors snap into hinges molded into the walls, to be opened and closed.

Alignment of parts is mainly achieved by slots and butt joints, and very few pins and holes. In spite of that, most of the parts align and set well. The upper parts of the sides are thin and susceptible to damage, as are the hinges molded for the upper doors.

A one-piece floor/underframe is the linchpin of assembly. Excluding the four wheel pieces, nine parts make up the busy looking chassis. Although the parts are thick, they create a good looking assembly. Fourteen parts build up the superstructure. A moveable compartment divider is a 15th piece. Four buffers and four parts for the brake system round out the cattle wagon. No piping for the brake system is provided.

The wooden body reveals fine wood grain, structural iron posts, brackets, and straps. Rivet detail is cast where appropriate.

The main loading gates swing down and are held by inserting their pins into holes molded into the four wall parts. The four upper doors snap into "C"-shaped "hinges" that are much too fragile; attempt No.1 yielded a working door but the three subsequent attempts ending with the hinges breaking and the doors requiring glue.

Two types of couplers are provided, horn hooks for model trains, and a prototypical type for static models. Pulling the model on a train layout will be difficult as it has no weights and otherwise very light.

Instructions and Decals
You can see the decals have yellowed over the decades. Airfix reproduced basic serial numbers and data decals. They are yellowed and I did not try them.

The instruction sheet presents and exploded view of the model, supported with 28 textual steps. It is clearly illustrated. Painting guidance is basic. A brief history of the wagon type is provided.

Assembly went along well. If you build one of these, the difficult part is aligning and steadying the ends. They simply set atop the buffer beams although two very delicate vertical posts extend from the base and fit into slots on each beam. This arrangement is not sturdy and I buttressed the ends with machinist squares while the glue dried.

Make certain the ends are glued and set solid because they are anchors for the side walls. They both set upon the floor and mate to the ends. Airfix did a good job of making simple male/female ridge/slot guides to help align the parts, but you should clamp the pieces while the glue sets. The floor has a shallow extension on each side to help align the four side wall parts. Either cut it back slightly, or trim back the "hinge" on each wall, or the walls will bow outward away from the floor.

Finally, the roof attaches to the top of the ends and sides via gutters. Clean and smooth these parts carefully as the side parts are delicate and you may have to clamp the roof to avoid a gap.

After the glue cures and the parts are solid, you should have a two-axle cattle car with three doors per side that can be positioned.

Almost 60 years ago Airfix designed and cut tooling for their railroad cars, Cattle Wagon makes a smart looking model. Molding is crisp and detailed although the parts are thick and marred with flash and visible ejector marks. Fit needs a little work.

Detail is high and some parts are moveable. Two types of couplers allow one to build it for operations, and for static display.

Airfix's Cattle Wagon can build up to an impressive OO (1/76) British prototype livestock car. Dapol has acquired some of the molds and whether you build an Airfix release or a Dapol repop, you can have a satisfying model. Recommended.


Brighton Toy and Model Museum. Airfix Railway Construction Kits. [Web.] 1 December 2018, at 17:50.

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Detail is high and some parts are moveable. Two types of couplers allow one to build it for operations, and for static display.
Lows: The parts are thick and they suffer from many ejector marks, some flash, and some minor sink marks.
Verdict: This kit can build up to an impressive British prototype livestock car.
  Scale: OO Gauge
  Mfg. ID: R5
  Related Link: Airfix Railway Kits
  PUBLISHED: Dec 27, 2019
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright 2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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