Thomas the Tank Engine locomotive (Hornby R351)
A bright blue Hornby electric 00-gauge "Thomas the Tank Engine" locomotive with a smiley face and bearing a large number "1", based on the character from the Railway Series books, written by the Reverend W. Awdry.
The original locomotive
Thomas was closely modelled on a real tank engine produced at Brighton Works, the Billinton E2 Class second series tank engine designed by Lawson Billinton, which operated from 1913 to 1963. The E2, like Thomas, was "a really useful engine", and the first batch of five E2 locos was later joined by a second run of five. "Thomas"' distinctive forward-jutting upper sidetanks appeared as a modification to the design on the second series of E2 locos, after it had been found that the locomotive's original water-tank design didn't have quite enough capacity for the type of work that the engine was being used for.
R351 vs R353
Compared to the Hornby model Billinton E2 first-series (which the Thomas model was adapted from), the Thomas shows a few changes, some of which are due to the second-series modifications.
Other than the bright blue paintwork and red trim (and big smiley face!), the E2/Thomas has:
- A higher back grille, and
- Protruding extensions for the upper portion of the watertank(s)
These seem to be real E2(2nd) modifications, but the pictures that we've seen so far of the E2(2nd) don't seem to have Thomas' arched splashguards over the front wheels.
Thomas' chimney is also thinner than the E2 first series model, and again, this doesn't seem to be the case in the E2(2nd) pictures we've looked at so far ... but we'd have to check more photos in case there was some further variation between the original locomotives.