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)
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.