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In-Box Review
Giant Swiss Crocodile
Swiss Federal Railway (SBB) Series Be 6/8 Crocodile
  • Swiss Crocodile

by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

Twelfth of Rosebud Kitmaster's 1959 releases was their spectacular “Giant Swiss Crocodile”, engineered to the United Kingdom’s standard OO (1/76) scale. This model of the Swiss Federal Railway (SBB) Series Be 6/8 Crocodile was quite impressive, the third of Kitmaster’s initial series of ‘foreign’ engines, and their only electric subject. Short-lived, but critically acclaimed, Rosebud Kitmaster kits of predominately British and European prototypes were, and still are, esteemed by countless model railroaders. The Kitmaster Giant Swiss Crocodile was, in its day, an outstanding model, as were all the Kitmasters.

Swiss Federal Railway Series Be 6/8 Crocodile

Fifty-five Crocodiles were built for the SBB between 1919 and 1927. Of these, 33 were the Be 6/8, the rest being series Ce 6/8 II and III. The Crocodile was developed to haul heavy tonnage along the Gotthardbahn rail line between Lucerne, Switzerland, and Chiasso, Italy, a grueling mountain route of steep grades and sharp curves. The a 15 kilometer long Gotthard Tunnel was on this route. Current steam locomotives were overtaxed trying to keep up with the increasing traffic, and Gotthard Tunnel was inhospitable to larger steam locos.

The electric motors available at the time were large and had to be body-mounted, but flexibility was required to negotiate the tight curves on the Alpine routes and tunnels. An articulated design, with two powered nose units bridged with a pivoting center section containing cabs and the heavy transformer, met both requirements and gave excellent visibility from driving cabs mounted safely away from any collision. These locomotives, sometimes called the Swiss Crocodile or SBB Crocodile, were highly successful and served until the 1980s. Several are still in operation as preserved historical locomotives.**

Length: 63' 6" to 65' 8" (19.4 and 20.5m)
Power: 2,210hp to 3,600 hp (1,650 and 2,700 kW) at 22 mph (35.6 Km/h)
Power Supply: 15,000-volt 16-2/3 Hz catenary system
Maximum Speed: 46.5 mph (74 Km/h)
the kit

Kitmaster engineered the Crocodile with 104 heavy black plastic parts and 14 clear parts. The molding is mainly sharp, but ejection and mold marks abound. Small amounts of thin flash is present. Stanchions, catenaries, wheel flanges and railings are oversized.

The handrails along the nose units are molded on. Rivet and hinge detail is lacking. So is the obvious extensive wiring and insulator detail atop the cab.

While the model is built to articulate, it is not designed to roll. The overlapping rods are cast together. A man in Australia built one powered and running, but you would need some clever reworking. Nor does the catenary move. With the generous windows, the vacant center crew and transformer cab begs for some interior.

I received mine secondhand, with the cab and one of the nose sections partially assembled. Fit is not up to today’s standards, and gap filling products will be required.

The decals consist of the engine numbers, and only a single paint scheme is provided.

The assembled model is over 10 inches long. Despite its shortcomings, it makes an impressive static model. Unfortunately, this is one of Kitmaster’s lost kits. They can be found if one looks hard enough, but be prepared to pay. If you want a modern model of the Be 6/8, you will have to look at European electric train models.


Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Unique European prototype.
Lows: Molding and ejection marks, some flash, lack of interior and exterior detail, fit could be better, single livery choice. Uncommon scale for most railroad modelers outside of England.
Verdict: For a model four decades old, this kit holds up well. The hand railings and piping will take an effort to remove if you choose to. Many mold marks will need to be removed. Still, this kit can build into a good-looking model with great display potential.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:76
  Mfg. ID: No.12
  Suggested Retail: $40+/-
  Related Link: Kitmaster.org/Crocodile
  PUBLISHED: Oct 26, 2008
  NATIONALITY: Switzerland

Click image to enlarge
  • Swiss Crocodile
  • Swiss Crocodile
  • Swiss Crocodile
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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