Accurascale ACC2209 Class 50 D423 BR Blue Diesel Locomotive

Class 50 D423 BR Blue Diesel Locomotive
Class 50 D423 BR Blue Diesel Locomotive
Class 50 D423 BR Blue Diesel Locomotive
Class 50 D423 BR Blue Diesel Locomotive
Class 50 D423 BR Blue Diesel Locomotive
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Expected Delivery Q4 2024 (Subject to change at Manufacturer's Discretion).

Newly Announced: Accurascale OO Gauge Class 50 D423 BR Blue Diesel Locomotive

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Accurascale announces the Class 50, the third and final member of their iconic English Electric (EE) six-axle trio that began with the Class 55 in 2018 and the Class 37 in 2019. With their award-winning ‘Deltic’ now in customers’ hands and the first of the much anticipated Type 3s due to leave our factory in the coming weeks, it is now time to reveal the full details of the next classic main line locomotive to join their growing roster.

Prototype History

The class developed a huge following towards the end of the 1980s as older locomotives fell by the wayside and the ‘Hoovers’ were lined up to be the next major victim of ‘Sprinterisation’. With just 50 examples built and all – initially – wearing evocative names drawn from Royal Navy warships that were applied from the late 1970s, many enthusiasts developed intense bonds with individual Class 50s that rivalled even the last days of the ‘Deltics’. Although the final withdrawals came in 1994, this passion for the class was happily translated into preservation and 18 examples are still extant with five currently main line registered.

Delivered from Vulcan Foundry, Newton-le-Willows, between September 1967 and December 1968, the new 100mph diesel-electrics were developed from EE’s successful DP2 prototype with the intention of speeding up services north of Crewe to complement the accelerated electric timetable on the southern section of the West Coast Main Line. They were numbered D400-449, later 50001-50050 under TOPS, and were initially allocated to Crewe, albeit leased to British Rail as part of an innovative deal that made their approval much more palatable to government officials.

The 2,700hp locomotives were the first class to be entirely delivered in BR corporate blue and later gained the ‘Hoover’ nickname due to the intense sucking sound created by the twin inertial filters at the No.2 end. The fleet was initially deployed on passenger and parcels services between Crewe and Glasgow, with forays north as far as Inverness, as well as trains to Blackpool, Liverpool and Manchester. Notably they were also fitted with rheostatic braking – already common on electric locos – that was particularly useful on the long down grades from the summits at Beattock and Shap. As the wires began to march north again from 1970, multiple working equipment was installed fleet wide while freight work became a greater part of their remit, their slow speed control kit proving particularly useful for MGR coal operations to Ironbridge and other power stations.

Although EE had hoped to deliver what would have essentially been a fleet of ultra-reliable DP2s in a restyled carbody – courtesy of the Design Panel – BR eventually settled on a substantially revised specification that was packed with electronics and would prove to be the Achilles heel of the class, especially when they began to move to the Western Region from October 1972, initially just 400 (the ‘D’ prefix having been dropped from the late 1960s) spending seven months at Bristol Bath Road for training purposes.

In 1973, the lease deal ended with the fleet becoming BR property and by the end of the following year – which had seen the introduction of the full Euston-Glasgow electric timetable as well as the new TOPS numbers – almost three quarters of the class had transferred south, with Bath Road, Old Oak Common and Plymouth Laira taking over maintenance. They replaced the ‘Westerns’ on Paddington-Bristol and Penzance workings, as well as other West of England services and parcels duties.

The whole fleet was reunited on the WR by the end of 1976, which also saw a nadir in performance; just 38% of the class being active, a far cry from the 84% that EE had promised in its original availability guarantee, or the 75% achieved during their last year of LMR service. The problems were not easily solved. While routine maintenance issues could be mostly overcome as the former diesel hydraulic depots became used to their new charges, their complicated mixed traffic design was susceptible to spares shortages and frustrated WR bosses that were looking for a more thoroughbred passenger loco, while the internal electrical equipment was plagued by the ingress of dirt and oil via the inertial filters.

Although HSTs were starting to take over on the principle expresses in 1976, retiring the Class 50s was not a serious option. The result was an extensive refurbishment that would strip superfluous kit to a minimum and resolve contamination issues, as well as introduce several cosmetic improvements and bring forward various upgrades that would have typically come due during half-life overhauls a few years later. No. 50006 was the first to enter BREL Doncaster in September 1977, but it would be November 1979 before it would be released. By the time No. 50014 – the last to be refurbished – arrived in South Yorkshire in May 1983, the time had been slashed to just over six months, and Warspite returned to traffic in December of the same year. Notably, all but the first six locos in the programme were released in the new ‘large logo’ livery.

By the early 1980s class was mostly employed on secondary services, such as Paddington to Birmingham, Cheltenham, Hereford, Gloucester, Oxford, Worcester and South Wales destinations, Waterloo-Exeter, inter-regionals (South West to Gloucester or Birmingham, and Bournemouth or Poole to Reading) and South West locals, like Penzance to Plymouth. 

The run-up to the Great Western 150 celebrations in 1985 included No. 50007, which was repainted in lined brunswick green with cast numbers and double arrow in February 1984, controversially losing its Hercules name to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of the compo