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In-Box Review
German Class 23 Locomotive
Deutsche Bundesbahn Baureihe 23
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

Rosebud Kitmaster's 19th locomotive model was the high-drivered Baureihe 23 of the DB (German Deutsche Bundesbahn, the German Federal Railways), engineered to the United Kingdom’s standard OO (4 mm, or 1/76) scale. Released in 1960, this model of the rakish modern postwar 2-6-2 passenger lokomotiv was a sensation. Short-lived, but critically acclaimed, Rosebud Kitmaster kits of predominately British and European prototypes were, and still are, esteemed by countless model railroaders. In its day the Baureihe 23 was an outstanding model, as were all the Kitmasters.

history of the DB Baureihe (Class) 23

The steam locomotives of Class 23 were German passenger train locomotives developed in the 1950s for the Deutsche Bundesbahn. They had a 2-6-2 wheel arrangement and were equipped with Class 2'2' T 31 tenders. They were designed to replace the once ubiquitous Prussian P 8 engines that had been built between 1908 and 1924 and, in their day, were the most numerous postwar replacement class.[1]

One hundred and five Baureihe 23 were built from 1950 through 1959. The last was retired in 1976. Locomotive number 23 105 was the last Dampflokomotiv (steam locomotive) built in West Germany. Welding was an important part in the building of the locomotive frame, the boiler, and the tender, which contributed significantly to their reduction in weight. This construction trait the Class 23 shared with England’s “Battle of Britain” Class. The engine and tender were 70 feet long, weighted some 143 tons. Working at a boiler pressure of 277 pounds per square inch, two 21.6" diameter cylinders with a 26" stroke powered the 5 foot, 9 inch drivers, creating a tractive effort of 33,870 pounds. This allowed the Class 23 to handle its train at 68 mph (110 km/h).

the Kitmaster Baureihe 23

Kitmaster’s Baureihe 23 is built with 95 black plastic parts. Each is joined to the heavy sprues with stout attachment points. The molding is sharp with neither flash, ejection nor mold marks visible. A few pieces have seam lines along edges that can be easily removed. A couple of the driving wheels have shallow sinkholes in the middle.

The model is designed to roll. The rods and valve gear partially work.

The detail on the boiler and tender is elaborate. While not as sharp as modern tooling allows, it is not “soft,” either. Both boiler feedwater check valves are separately applied. Unfortunately the piping, ladders, springs, brackets, etc., are molded on. Still, that is the standard for many high-end plastic steam models even today. Casting separate scale piping is just not feasible in styrene. Today, model companies use ABS or vinyl to mold piping and railing.

Sadly, no clear parts are provided for the windows, classification lights nor headlamps. The cab interior is bare apart from the backhead. The couplers/drawbars are toy-like.

Test fitting the boiler promises a tight model, as the assembled Class 2'2' T 31 tender illustrates. Assembled, the model is slightly more than 11 inches long.

Tragically, this is one of the kits Airfix discarded after acquiring Kitmaster.

Livery, decals, and instructions

Livery of the DB was eye-catching: a utilitarian black superstructure embellished with red boiler bands and footplate edges, with red chassis and running gear. This was a common practice amongst nordic and Eastern European railroads, and other countries equipped by them. The red running gear was not necessarily for looks. It was a common practice worldwide in the early days of steam locomotion. A German train historian told the author that red was used both as a warning color, and because it was bright and could reveal cracks in the metal.

The only decals are the engine number 23 014. DB lokos bore several stenciled information markings but none were printed by Kitmaster.

Kitmaster instruction sheets tend to be huge, probably to hold all the information. It is a 24-inch by 14-inch multifold. Kitmaster had an international distribution vision and printed the directions in Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, and Swedish. Assembly is directed through text and an easy to read exploded diagram, with a parts list, history, and illustrated range of models available.

Humbrol is the only paint referenced.


This model came to me secondhand. The frame was assembled with gearing and with a motor installed on the footplate; this is an unidentified aftermarket set. Kitmaster planned three motorizing kits for two scales:
1. No. KM 1, Electric Motor Bogie (OO & HO)
2. No. KM 2, Electric Motor Box Wagon (OO & HO)
3. No. KM 3, Electric Motor Bogie (T.T.3)

All are advertised in the instruction sheet but apparently only the OO/HO sizes were released. Due to the large size of the motor bogie precluding fitting inside the locomotives, Kitmaster made it to power the train instead of the engine; the Electric Motor Box Wagon powered freight trains while the motor bogies were designed to fit into the passenger coaches. The T.T.3 kit was for Kitmaster’s Royal Scott set. Some aftermarket motorizing kits were also produced for Kitmaster trains.


The assembled model is a pleasing 11 1/16 inches long. With the bright running gear, it makes an eye-catching static model. Properly weighted and motorized, it could be a unique addition to your motive power. Kitmaster even issued a DB B4yge Coach (kit No. 27) to accompany this loko. These models would make a great centerpiece in any Cold War German diorama.

[1] ^ Wikipedia

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Eye-catching livery and workable running gear. Clean molding with good detail.
Lows: Uncommon scale for most railroad modelers outside of England. Single decal choice.
Verdict: For a model four decades old, this kit holds up well. This kit can build into a fascinating model with great display potential.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:76
  Mfg. ID: No. 19
  Suggested Retail: Varies
  Related Link: Kitmaster Model Railways
  PUBLISHED: Feb 27, 2010

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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