H0 scale “SU-29 018” (OnRail DH 1504, ex Deutsche Bundesbahn BR 216) in Polskie Koleje Państwowe (PKP; Polish State Railways) service, 2016 (Whif/modified Märklin 3075) - WiP
The kit and its assembly:
Well, this is a rather unusual what-if “build”, since this not a model kit as such but rather the conversion of a readymade H0 gauge model railway locomotive for the “Back into service” group build at whatifmodelers.com in late 2019.
The inspiration was not original, though: some time ago I stumbled across a gift set from the former East-German manufacturer Piko, apparently for the Polish market. It contained a set of double deck passenger wagons, and a (highly simplified, toy-like) German BR 216 in PKP markings. It was called SU-29 and carried a very crude and garish green livery with yellow front ends – inspired by real world PKP diesel locomotives, but… wrong. I found this so bizarre that it stuck in my mind. When I dug a little further, my surprise even grew when I found out that there were other national adaptations of this simple Piko BR 216 (e .g. for Denmark) and that Piko’s competitor Roco offered a similar BR 215 in PKP colors, too! This time, the fictional locomotive was designated SU-47 (which cannot be since this would indicate a locomotive with electric power transmission – poor job!), and it also wore a bright green livery with yellow front markings. Bizarre… And the PKP does NOT operate any BR 216 at all?!
However, with the GB topic in mind, I decided to create my own interpretation of this interesting topic – apparently, there’s a market for whiffy model locomotives? The basis became a 2nd hand Märklin 3075 (a BR 216 in the original red DB livery), not a big investment since this is a very common item.
In order to easy painting, the locomotive was disassembled into its major sections and the body stripped of any paint in a one-week bath in oven cleaner foam, a very mild and effective method.
The heavy metal chassis was not modified, it just received a visual update (see below).
The upper body underwent some cosmetic surgery, though, but nothing dramatic or structural, since the DH 1504 described above only differs in minor external details from the original BR 216. I decided to modify the front ends, especially the lights: Locomotives in PKP service tend to have VERY large lamps, and I tried to incorporate this characteristic feature through masks that were added over the original light conductors, scratched from styrene tube material.
In the course of this facial surgery, the molded handles at the lower front corners were lost. They were later replaced with three-dimensional silver wire, mounted into small holes that were drilled into the hull at the appropriate positions. Fiddly stuff, but I think the effort was worth it.
The original vent grills between the lower lamps were sanded away and covers for the multiple working cable adapters on the front ends added – scratched with small styrene profile bits.
For a cleaner, modern look, I removed the original decorative aluminum profile frame around the upper row of cooling louvers. The roof was modified, too: beyond the bigger headlight fairing, the exhaust for the auxiliary diesel engine was removed, as well as the chimney for the old steam heating system. The diesel engine’s exhaust pipes were lengthened (inspired by similar devices carried by DB BR 218), so that the fumes would be deviated away from the locomotive’s hull and the following wagons. Horns and a blade antenna for each driver’s cabin were added, too.
Painting and markings:
Both Piko and Roco V 160s in PKP markings look garish – righteously, though, since PKP locomotives used to carry for many years very striking colors, primarily a dark green body with a light green/teal contrast area on the flanks and yellow quick recognition front markings. However, I did not find any of the two model designs convincing, since they rather looked like a simple toy (Piko) or just wrong (Roco, with a surreal grass green contrast tone instead of the pale teal).
I rather went for something inspired by real world locomotives, like the PKP’s SU- and SP-45s. The basic design is an upper body with a dark green base (Humbrol 76, Uniform Green) and a pale green-grey area around the upper row of louvres (an individual mix of Humbrol 96 and 78). The kink under the front windows was used for waterline reference, the front section under the windows (in the dark green base) was painted in bright yellow (Humbrol 69) as a high-viz contrast, a typical feature of PKP locomotives. The chassis received a grey-green frame (somewhat visually stretching the locomotive) with bright red (Humbrol 19) headstocks, a nice color contrast to the green body and the yellow bib.
Silver 1.5mm decal stripes (TL Modellbau) were used to create a thin cheatline along and around the whole lower section. At some time I considered another cheatline between the light and dark green, but eventually ignored this idea because it would have looked too retro. The locomotive’s roof became medium grey (Revell 47).
The running gear and the tanks between the bogies were painted in very dark grey (Humbrol 67, similar to the original DB livery in RAL 7021) and weathered with a light black ink wash, some thinned Burnt Umbra (simulating dust and rust) plus some light dry-brushing with dark grey that emphasized the surface details. This used look was also taken to the upper body of the locomotive with watercolours (Grey, Black and some Sienna and Burnt Umbra) for a more natural look of daily service – rather subtle, and I emphasized the louvres, esp. on the light background, where they tended to disappear.
Individual markings consist of single decal letters in silver and white in various sizes (also TL Modellbau) for the locomotive’s registration code as well as of H0 scale catenary warnings from Nothaft Hobbybedarf, plus some generic stencils from various model decal sheets (incl. Cyrillic stencils from an 1:72 MiG-21 decal sheet…).
For a uniform finish I gave the locomotive an overall coat of matt acrylic varnish from the rattle can – it still has a slightly sheen finish and matches well the look of Märklin’s standard rolling stock.