By Fabrizio Panico
All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.
Numbers 64 to 66.
This article features three more European buses, and two of them have already been seen in another form. As predicted we see more mould re-use. It’s logical, and thankfully Hachette has made an effort so that the models are not differentiated by the livery alone. All of them are from the Italian Hachette partwork “Autobus dal mondo”, a collection of eighty 1:43 scale bus models, very similar to the French one “Autobus et autocars du monde”, produced in Bangladesh for Ixo.
No. 64 (no. 87 in the French collection) AEC Regent III RT London Country 1947 – We have already seen the AEC history and its Regent III RT (see part one, no. 3) and Regal III (see part six, no. 16). Its origins can be traced to the LGOC (London General Omnibus Company) which started producing its own motor omnibuses in 1909, and in 1912 was reorganised and set up as a separate concern for bus manufacturing, named Associated Equipment Company. The AEC Regent III was a double-decker bus chassis, introduced in 1938, and usually fitted with AEC’s 9.6-litre diesel engine at the front delivering 115HP. It was fitted with ‘Wilson‘ preselective gearbox and air-pressure operated brakes, with bodies from Park Royal (this model), Metro Cammell Weymann and so on.
Better known in the classic red Central London livery, the RT started a second life in the dark green colours of Green Lines when the new Routemaster started its service in Central London. After a first positive test with eight lines, in 1930 LGOC started a regular service in the London suburbs with a separate company, Green Line Coaches, identified by the green livery. Its fleet was composed mainly of single decker buses, but after the Second World War many Regent III RT changed colours due to their replacement with the new Routemaster. In 1970 the Green Line Coaches came under the control of the London Country Bus Services until 1986 when the transport sector was privatised across UK.
The scale model is quite heavy, as already seen in the previous red London version, with a metal diecast body and a well detailed plastic chassis fitted with a separate silver exhaust. Aside from the livery and the lettering, the only significant difference seems to be the addition of two small turn signals under the front destination board, listing a few borough and small towns in the London commuter belt.
The front grille also appears slightly different. As usual many small separate parts are fitted like lights, rear mirrors, a single wiper, front grille, and a fuel cap. The interior is quite basic, and the presence of three metal supports doesn’t help at all. Their presence is not fully justified, the metal body should be strong enough without them. A few small ads on the rear side help to liven up the sober livery. No apparent differences to the French edition. A good reproduction, but a bit disappointing, many would have preferred a more common Green Lines single-decker bus.
No. 65 (no. 88 in the French collection) Mercedes Benz O 305 Frankfurt 1979 – We have met the German giant many times : the gargantuan 1938 O 10000 (see part one, no. 2), the midget 1936 Lo 3100 (see part four, no. 11) and the bright 1972 O 302 (see part eleven, no. 31), all of them more touring coaches than urban buses. But we have already met also the O 305, even if in the “French edition” by Heuliez (see part fifteen, no. 45), when the always very strong French nationalistic spirit pragmatically preferred the Mercedes O 305 to the Berliet and Saviem offers, but required that “all the buses exported to France to be bodied by Heuliez”. The Mercedes Benz O 305 was the product of the standardisation requested by the VoV (Verband Offentlicher Verkehrsbetriebe), the Association of German Public Transports, looking for a low floor 11 metres bus. Designed for use as a single-decker bus, it was later redesigned to accommodate double-decker bodies.
It was built as a complete bus or as a chassis only and more than 16,000 were made from 1969 to 1987, of which almost 4,800 were chassis only units. The engine was an horizontal six in-line diesel producing 210HP. This was positioned at the rear of the bus and was very reliable and almost noiseless. The body had a squared shape with large windows, round headlamps and only two doors, tickets being issued by the driver. Two interior platforms existed in the centre and to the rear. This allowed more than 100 passengers to be carried, of which 41 were seated. The O 305 was replaced in 1983 by the new O 405 to be followed in 1997 by the O 530 (Citaro), a real revolution.
The model is shaped accurately and the orange and light brown livery appears authentic and neatly printed. The body is plastic, as usual, with a metal baseplate with limited detail. A comparison with the Heuliez version identifies a different roof as well as different front and rear sections, though the sides are almost identical. Many small plastic separate parts are fitted, like wipers, mirrors, lights, and bumpers. It is fitted with accurate Frankfurt registration plates, while the destination board reads Monchhofstrasse. Monchhhof is a business park near the Frankfurt airport. There is only a basic interior, but a very detailed dashboard is fitted. On the sides ther are two large adverts for the “Deutscher Herold”, an insurance group whose origins can be traced to the 1922 German Burial Insurance Association of Berlin, an association of mutual insurance to allow the cost of burial as insurance benefits (useful, but a bit lugubrious). There is an added rear panel, simulating the access to the engine which is not reproduced. There are no apparent differences to the French edition. A nice reproduction of an emblematic German bus.
No. 66 (no. 89 in the French collection) Chausson APU/53 1953 – Obviously we have already met Chausson and its products : the 1950 APH (see part five, no. 14) and the 1956 ANG coach (see part eighteen, no. 53). Based in the Paris region from 1907, supplier of components for the automotive industry. In the 1930s Chausson started producing car and unitary bus bodies too. During the post war boom Chausson supplied thousands of buses to French cities, but in 1959 Saviem acquired all their buses activities and Chausson left that market. After the Second World War the RATP needed to replenish its fleet in a hurry and Chausson was among its main suppliers. Its APH, with unitary metal bodywork instead of the traditional use of a separate chassis, allowed a light and more efficient vehicle. Chausson developed from its first 1942 prototype the APE (petrol Panhard engine), followed by the APH (diesel Panhard engine) and the AH (petrol Hotchkiss engine). To accommodate the longer Hotchkiss engine it was necessary to extend its front cover, and to standardise it : so was born the ‘nez de cochon’ or ‘pig’s nose’. It was a success, but by 1952 the AP52 was updated with a new body style featuring a flat front, and windows added to the curved part of the roof to improve the brightness of the vehicle (the high floor limited the height of the roof).
The following APU/53 addressed another problem : the reduced size of the doors hindered the entry and exit of the passengers. A third central door was added, and the rear one enlarged. The engine was now a seven litres straight six diesel by Hispano-Hercules, developing 121HP. The roof height was improved in 1956 with the APVU, developed in five successive series, employed by the RATP mainly on suburban lines.
A plastic body and metal baseplate are used for the model sporting the classic RATP livery: dark green and cream. Unusually the baseplate doesn’t have any detail, only an added black exhaust. The nice side windows are well detailed. There is a basic interior, but the conductor and driver areas are well modelled. The added front lights, rear mirrors and the three wipers are all well done. Also well reproduced are the doors and the front Chausson logo. There are no registration plates which is normal for RATP vehicles. The destination board reads “Place du Pantheon”, which is near the Sorbonne University and the Luxembourg Gardens. The 84 line connects Place du Pantheon to the Porte de Champerret, on the north side of the Boulevard Périphérique. There are no apparent differences to the French edition. A model of a well known, and loved, Parisian bus.
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