Rapido Trains HO Alco FA-2 and FB-2 diesels

Designed from 3-D scans of existing prototypes, HO scale models of Alco FA-2 and FB-2 diesels are back for a second run from Rapido Trains. In addition to accurately capturing the contours of its transition-era prototype, the HO locomotive is available factory-equipped with a powerful dual-mode ESU LokSound 5 decoder.

The prototype. At the end of 1950 Alco introduced an upgraded version of its B-B freight locomotives, the FA-1 cab unit and FB-1 cabless booster. These new locomotives were designated FA-2 and FB-2 and designed to be dual purpose. Alco designers added an extra 2 feet to the FA-2 and FB-2 carbodies to accommodate optional steam-generator equipment for passenger car heating. The steam-generator-equipped locomotives were designated FPA-2 and FPB-2.

When the Alco’s original FA-1 and FB-1 diesels were introduced in 1945, they featured 1,500 hp, 12-cylinder 244 diesel engines. Later production units had their engines uprated to 1,600 hp, and this improvement was continued through FA-2 and FB-2 production.

Between 1950 and 1956 Alco and its subsidiary Montreal Locomotive Works built 334 FA-2, 194 FB-2, 73 FPA-2, and 33 FB-2 locomotives. Most of the FAs were retired by the 1970s. Several examples survive as display and excursion locomotives.

The model. Our review samples are decorated as Erie Lackawanna (EL) FA-2 nos. 7381 and 7391 and FB-2 no. 7393. These units were originally built as Erie RR nos. 738A, 739A, and 739C in late 1950 and early 1951. They were repainted after 1960 when the Erie merged with the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western to form the EL.

In addition to matching prototype drawings and accurately modeling the extra length of the FA-2 and FB-2, the Rapido models capture other spotting features. These include the boxy number boards and the battery boxes along the sill under the cab windows.

Our EL samples accurately depict what railfans refer to as Phase Ia FA-2s, with “chicken-wire” style air intakes and vertical louvers on the battery boxes. Later production models had vertical louver Farr grills on the air intakes and horizontal louvers on the battery boxes.

All grab irons and handrails are separately applied. The side air-intake grills are etched metal. On top, the radiator grill is see-through, with visible fan detail underneath it.

The cab interior is fully detailed and painted. There’s clear glazing in all the cab windows, as well as separately applied windshield wipers and wind deflectors. There are no crew figures.

The underbody features piping and conduit detail. The American Association of Railroads (AAR) Type B trucks are well-rendered with separate, factory-applied brake cylinders.

The paint and lettering is smoothly applied, with sharp separation between the colors. All lettering and striping placement matches prototype photos.

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