By Fabrizio Panico
All photographs by the Author except for the picture of three buses below which is from Hachette’s web site.
Since February 2016 Hachette Fascicoli Srl, the Italian arm of Lagardère Publishing, has presented a new partwork available at Italian newsstands : “Autobus dal mondo”, a collection of sixty 1:43 scale bus models, very similar to the French partwork “Autobus et autocars du monde”. Models are presented fortnightly in a transparent plastic bubble, with a release order which differs from the French one. Price is set at 19,99 Euro from the third issue. The French collection has already reached more than fifty models and has recently been extended to eighty. It is likely that it will later include the Italian specific models seen in the Italian series.
The first model in the Italian series (#20 in the French collection) is a Fiat 306/3 Cansa of 1962: A true national icon, for over twenty years it dominated medium and long distance coach travel in Italy.
Produced from 1956 by Fiat Veicoli Industriali (Iveco from 1975) to replace the 682RN, it was the first Fiat bus designed from scratch and not derived from a truck chassis. With a length of 11 meters, its main novelty was the flat engine, a diesel straight six, placed centrally under the floor. This was of 10.7 to 11.6 litres and 140 to 173 HP depending on the year of production.
Produced in three successive series (306/3 from 1962) the chassis received bodywork by Padane, Menarini, Orlandi, Viberti and many others, but the usual body was by Cansa, an ex-aeronautical company which was brought into the Fiat Group in 1936, based in Cameri, near Novara. From 1977 the Iveco 370 started to replace the 306, which was produced up to 1982.
The model, in the “classic” light blue livery, is reproduced quite faithfully and it is indeed the correct choice for the start of the “Italian collection”. The body is plastic, while the metal chassis adds “substance” to the model. Dashboard and interior are well reproduced, the only difference with the French edition seems to be a missing decal near the left front door. One issue with this series is the absence of a box which is needed to store them, after all you cannot display them all the time.
The second model (#4 in the French collection) is a Mercedes-Benz O10000 1938. A real “king” among the Mercedes-Benz buses and until the Second World War the largest one ever produced. Its model name O10000, instead of the more common LO, highlighted the fact that its chassis was derived from that of the L10000 truck , but much modified for transporting passengers.
Designed mainly for long distance travels, it was also tested as a double-decker by BVG for use in Berlin, but its length limited its use and a total of less than 400 units were produced.
The Reichpost ordered 160 units, to use for its postal and passenger services on the new “autobahns”, but the fuel consumption was high and at the end of the war some of the still quite new vehicles were used by the Deutsche Bundespost as mobile post offices between the larger towns.
When production started in 1937 the engine was a 12.5 litre diesel straight six, but in 1938 that was replaced by a “fast” 11.2 litre diesel and the wheelbase further stretched to 6300 mm. The body is by Kässbohrer, more commonly known as Setra after the war.
The model is really imposing, the red and black livery and the protruding nose adding to the whole impression of brute power. There is a plastic body and metal chassis as usual. Baggage on the roof rack and a detailed interior, as well as the two entry doors. reflect the fact that this bus is for long distance runs. The radiator and the Mercedes-Benz star are nicely modelled. There are no differences to the model already shown in the French edition.
The third model (#5 in the French collection) is an AEC Regent III London bus of 1939 – What’s more British than a red double-decker ? At least according to the usual stereotypes, because you could find the same buses in Toronto and then start wondering if you had boarded the wrong plane. Big Ben, a black taxi and a red bus have been a well known image of London for so many years, probably for longer than you have been alive.
It was 1911 when the LGOC (London General Omnibus Company) designed its first double-decker and the following year its new subsidiary AEC (Associated Equipment Company) started its production. In 1929 the first Regent was born, following the example of Leyland it has a lower chassis, an inside rear staircase and platform, and a enclosed driver cab, to the side of the engine.
After the nationalisation of the London Transport, AEC becomes a private company, but maintains privileged relations with it and in 1938 presents the prototype of the Regent III RT, reserved to London Transport only. The engine is a diesel straight six of 9.6 litres and producing 115 HP. It was fitted with a pre-selector gearbox made by Wilson . First bodies were produced in London Transport workshops and subcontracted to outside body builders after the war and were updated as production took place. Weymann produced about eighty Regent RLH buses with a lower height for London Country, which had many routes where the railway bridges were too low for the standard Regent.
The model is quite heavy despite its small size, very well detailed and “classic” in its red livery, but many would have preferred some more colourful advertising. There are no differences to the French edition.
Editor’s comment: The adverts carried by the bus are of Diana Ross in Lady Sings the Blues which was released in 1972 so the model probably represents a bus from the later years of production. The last service operated by a London Transport Regent ran in 1979.
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