Merchant Navy 35024 ‘East Asiatic Company’ in BR Blue livery with early emblem form @hornby finally arrives.

It was back in February 2015 when Hornby announced that they were to produce an original air smoothed Bulleid Merchant Pacific as part of their 2016 range, however they were then moved into the 2017 range. These first three R3434 21c1 ‘Channel Packet’, R3435 21c3 ‘Royal Mail’ and R3436 35028 ‘Clan line’ arrived in March 2017, see my review of 21c1 here.

Since then the high seas between China and the UK have been devoid of Hornby ‘Merchant Navys’ despite further versions being announced in the following years.

The right hand side view etched plates fitted

In 2018 R3632 35024  ‘East Asiatic Company’ in BR Blue was announced (the subject of this post as she has now arrived) followed in 2019 by three more versions: R3649 3502 ‘Ellerman Lines’ in BR Green, R3716 35022 ‘Holland America Line’ in BR Green and R3717 21c7 ‘Aberdeen Commonwealth’  in SR Wartime Black. Included in the 2021 range is R386135017 ‘Belgian Marine’

Hornby advised in January 2020 that the delay was due to one of factories that they use being unexpectedly at very short notice closed, due to a compulsory purchase of the land by the Chinese government! This impacted the production of the new Merchant Navy pacifics, versions of the Peckett industrial tanks, the Class 800 Azuma units and the GWR 61xx large Prairie tanks locomotives. Work to move the tooling to another factory appeared to take longer than had been hoped, however the backlog is slowly being cleared and 35024 should hopefully now be the first of the overdue excellent Merchant Navys to arrive.

Rear RH 3/4 view, the lamp lens are yet to be toned down at the rear

35024 ‘East Asiatic Company’ was the first Merchant Navy to appear in the Express Passenger Engine Blue for the newly formed British Railways. Whilst in Eastleigh works in March 1949 for Minor ‘D’ examination she was first painted in a dark blue (note: not recorded as being the experimental purple seen on some other non SR loco classes, including the wheels with three horizontal crimson bands and a hand painted early emblem on the tender. She however re-entered service in what was to become standard express passenger blue with two horizontal black bands with white lining, following inspection of the livery by members of the Railway Executive at Brighton Works.
The blue paint of the time wasn’t very practical in practice, due to the elements and the heat from the engine causing the paint to discolour and fade quite quickly hence the change to BR Green for all Passenger Locos only a couple years later.

Hornby have released 35025 in the condition in which she first ran for a while in this livery from Exmouth Junction, as she does not carry the later BR shedplate (72A) it would have been fitted sometime before May 1949 when she was also fitted with the battens on the smoke deflectors to carry the ‘Devon Belle’ wing plates.

The left hand side view, although I’ve painted out the silver lamp lenses I might make the lens itself gloss.

I wont repeat my full review of 21c1, as that can be read here, and all the positives are also on this model such as: the powerful 5 pole motor with large flywheel, all wheel pick up, the excellent coupling rods, the loco and tender brake rodding being factory fitted. Included with the loco is an accessory pack that contains a pair of front steps for the loco buffers (which might like the wheel tyres benefit from being toned down from the bright steel) and rear steps for the bufferbeam on the tender, cylinder drain cocks and also steam and vacuum pipes.
As with previous Hornby Bulleid pacifics the front steps in particular require glue to affix and is a little tricky.
The fixed rear pony truck has flangeless wheels as is Hornby’s current way for pacific wheel arrangements allowing for a better representation of the ashpan etc. It may be possible if your curves allow to fit a flanged wheelset if you wish.

Rear LH 3/4 view

The paint finish, whilst a slightly different hue to the printed box not that it maters, I think captures the drabness of the BR Passenger Blue well.
If the carpet crawler YouTube reviewer is to be believed this should along with the flat casing top be a stain finish just because another manufacturer has done so on a totally unrelated model, he also claims the nameplates are etched but printed, and that the brass cab side window frames are wood (to be fair they are wooden on the Light Pacifics). For the record whilst the blue could perhaps be only slightly more satin for an ex works condition, the casing tops should be matt black.

The excellently detailed cab interior, even down the the gauge dials, has been supplemented by some crew by Masterpiece Figures.

I only have two niggles are firstly the nameplates, whilst separately applied plastic parts are printed with none of the casting relief and I have already replaced these with etched plates from Fox Transfers.
Secondly the characteristic electric lamps that in reality are hung from the underside of the swan neck style lamp iron and also had electric conduit attached. However, on the model the lamp is attached via a perpendicular lug on their back into holes on the sloping front casing them to point upwards slightly and the very fragile plastic lamp irons to lean backwards.
I have replaced these three lamp irons with etched brass versions so they are stronger and correctly face forwards, this in itself helps trick the eye away from the lamp angle. The lamps are correctly black (the lamp casing were black painted brass on the front and body livery colour painted steal casings on the tender). Each lamp has a silver blob to represent the lens, however in reality these lens appear black unless the lamp is actually lit. I have touched away the sliver and again it helps disguise the incorrect angle of the lamps.

For anyone wanting to renumber and rename to one of other the third series Merchant Navys in blue (for details of the differences between the third series read my first ever Talking Stock post here) then the candidates to choose from are 35021/2 and 35025 to 35030, as 35025 is one of the three members of the class along with 35014 and 35011 (currently being restored back to original condition) not to gain the Blue livery.

Little niggles aside, I stand by my earlier review these models have raised the bar, capturing splendidly the front face and overall look and details that Bulleid intended. Along with the excellent smooth running powerful drive system and chassis we can look forward happily to adding other versions to the fleet when then arrive, with hopefully more versions from the tooling suit that Hornby have produced to cover most of the potential variations.




23 thoughts on “Merchant Navy 35024 ‘East Asiatic Company’ in BR Blue livery with early emblem form @hornby finally arrives.

  1. Hi Graham: haven’t Hornby also announced 35017 “Belgian Marine” with a Series 2 tender and sound? Or am I just hallucinating?


    Jeremy English

  2. Thanks Graham. I now see 35017 doesn’t have sound and that 35029 has a series 2 tender – what chance is there of them ever doing the coal-weighing tender!

  3. Although a little early for my modelling period now I’ve received my model and am so pleased I purchased one – even with your observations it looks superb.

    It has been running on Ewhurst Green this weekend although not had time to see how it handles a full-length Devon Belle!

    Well done Hornby!

    It isn’t my first blue Merchant Navy as I’ve a very old but modified Graham Farish 35017 – this will be retired to the ‘collection cabinet’ when Hornby’s version appears.

  4. I’m very pleased with my loco which arrived a week ago. I can confirm it is a very good runner straight out of the box and I am also very pleased with the overall appearance. It’s been on display on the shelf over my PC ever since. I agree the name plates do let it down, the extensive lettering does not stand out at certain angles however you do need a magnifying glass to actually read it.

  5. Ordered a pair of these from Kernow (I’m bound to rename one!) but only one turned up, so I was straight on the blower to the chaps in Cornwall and my other 35024 arrived pronto the next day – most impressed with the service.

    As for 35024, I have seen some photos of MNs in BR blue and the livery sits equally well on the model. There are a few niggles but it’s minor stuff, very impressed Hornby have captured the look of the loco very well. I look forward to hanging some of the latest Bulleid coaches behind it when the blue box team release them.

    ‘the carpet crawler YouTube reviewer’ – now, now Graham, we rise above such people they are not worthy of mention.


    1. I only mentioned his review as he was factually incorrect in a number of areas within his review and I had already been asked to clarify by others.

  6. Very much with a pedantic tongue-in-cheek, Graham has identified 35025 as being modelled before May 1949 (no shed plate) which is about the time Lancing first started applying CLC livery.

    Accordingly I’ll order up a 72A shedplate quick! 🙂

    The Bachmann Bulleid CLC set 847 was introduced 28th April 1950 in CLC livery which it carried to September 1957.

  7. Graham—like you I will apply etched nameplates (Ellerman Lines).
    Question please–
    Black or red backed plate as supplied (1955-58 period)?
    Do you glue over the existing plate and with what glue?
    thanks ,
    Ed Plant

    1. Hi Ed

      I remove the Hornby plastic nameplates, a careful twist with a scalpel blade is enough to lift them off. I use a very small amount of superglue to affix the etched plates, applied to the back of the plate with a cocktail stick.

      Regarding the plate colour it is likely to have been black during that period, you would need to refer to pictures to be certain.

  8. Graham–thank you–I,ll order black backed plates from Fox and follow your method.
    best regards,Ed
    PS the question was posed ref. accurate positioning–permanency(easy to “ping “the plates when the loco is handled) and finally looks.

  9. Thanks. I have a spare 72A shedplate so I can run it with my “Devon Belle” set.
    do you know what was the size of the battens fitted to the locos to hold the wings?

  10. Please can you advise on the correct coaches to run with this Blue livery? And would one of the Hornby BR red luggage vans (R60021) be appropriate too? Thanks.

    1. Maunsell or Bulleid coaches either still in SR green, some having gained S prefixes to their numbers, or in crimson and cream. The crimson luggage van will just about be ok.

  11. Mine arrived yesterday and they are impressive models. Very smooth and quiet runners thanks to the 5 pole motor and large flywheel. And those brake rods are a pain and fall off if you breathe too hard on them. I glued them on with super glue. You mentioned painting the front lenses black but what about those on the tender? Finally any idea when Hornby might be releasing another run? I’d really like to get one in the original malachite green livery like the Channel Packet.

  12. I have been painting some Modulu crew figures for the cabs of Channel Packet and East Asiatic and just noticed that the Channel Packet cab has a seat for the driver whereas the East Asiatic does not. So did the first of the Merchant Navy locos have the driver seat and then in later locos the seats were left out and the driver expected to do his work standing?

    1. The original two had a self supporting drivers seat and a tip up seat for the fireman. The later builds had tip up seats for both driver and fireman.
      I hadn’t noticed that the Hornby later series models do not include the tip up seat.

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