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V-2 Rocket hot rod transporter

OK, so all you military history buffs think Whittlecreek and Eaton St Torpid Heritage Railway has acquired the means to convey Second World War V-2 ballistic missiles known in German as 'Vergeltungswaffe 2'. Well, think again. This is the heritage railway where quirkiness trumps history every day of the week (and three times on Sundays in Lent). So this transporter is for a hot rod Model T Ford with a ¼-size model of Robert Stephenson's 1829 Rocket providing the oomph – and the cylinders are arranged in twin-'V' (or 'V-2') configuration. So hence it's called the V-2 Rocket. Well, what else could it be called?

The hot rod is being transported on a repainted LGB 'stake wagon' which hitherto had been doing trials as a nukiller waste transporter. One day a whole train-load of steam-powered hot rod cars may need to be transported if the idea of drag racing them along the beach at St Torpid's Bay ever comes to fruition. After all, such custom cars would not be street-legal.

V-2 Rocket secured to the flat bed
The V-2 Rocket is secured to the flat bed with some fine black chain (0.8 mm x 4 mm x 3 mm if you really need to know).


This is an idea which has been kicking around in the head of the management of Whittlecreek and Eaton St Torpid Heritage Railway for some time. About November 2018 the 1:24 scale Revell 'Monogram' kit of a Ford Model 'T' street rod was acquired. This comes with a trailer which just calls out for being modified to a tender. The initial plan was to scratchbuild something like the Rocket locomotive boiler, firebox, chimney and cylinders etc. But other projects were more urgent.

Then in March 2019 the 1:76 scale Dapol kit of Stephenson's Rocket came to the management's attention. An ever-so-slightly informed guess was that the relevant parts would be about the right size to shoehorn into the Ford 'T' engine compartment. Wanting a little light relief from other overly-complexicated modelling projects, the management ordered the Rocket kit (it was under a tenner) which arrived promptly.


How Revell and Dapol intend their kits to be assembled. Photos not to the same scale.

Now Whittlecreek and Eaton St Torpid Heritage Railway exists at 1:20. And the Revell kit is 1:24 scale, so about twenty percent undersize. And the Rocket kit is 1:76 scale, which is a tad over one-quarter of 1:20 scale. Just as there are ¼-scale traction engines –and, perhaps, Rocket locomotives too – so this could be a model of a slightly undersize Model 'T' with a ¼-scale Rocket providing the power. After all, if it were real, a ¼-size Rocket would generate enough steam to power a two-seater car with a trailer-cum-tender too. Though, despite masses of infamous 'low-end torque', in all probability the maximum speed would be sedate.

Just to give you some idea, a ¼-scale Rocket would run on 15 inch gauge track, such as the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway. Although, just to create total confusion, the RH&DR locomotives are ⅓-scale, even though running on ¼-scale track.


    Although the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway ran almost behind the management's father's final home, where visits were made several times a year for nearly a decade, the management never travelled on the trains, nor visited the displays at New Romney station. Though from time to time the management did take refreshments in the railway's café at the Dungeness terminus. But more often meals were taken at the Britannia Inn, also near the terminus, or at the Pilot Inn at the entrance to the Dungeness estate.

    When on these parental visits the management made no attempt to follow the trackbed of the former Rye and Camber Tramway, an unusual example of 3-foot gauge railway (the same gauge as modelled by Whittlecreek and Eaton St Torpid Heritage Railway) designed by Colonel Holman F. Stephens in 1895.

    More regretably, at the time the management were simply not aware of the Colonel Stephens Railway Museum at Tenterden. Stephens (1868–1931) built sixteen light railways in England and Wales, often with bizarre rolling stock, so was a real precursor to Whittlecreek and Eaton St Torpid Heritage Railway.

underneath view of the V-2 Rocket
The underside of the V-2 Rocket.

The relevant parts from the Rocket kit fitted the hot rod kit amazingly well – almost as if they had been designed for this purpose! The cylinders were relocated to twin-'V' configuration and some easy-peasy scratchbuilding simulated an exposed crankshaft. All that was needed was a high-standard paint job. Unfortunately standards were not as high as intended. Nothing new there then… All-in-all this was remarkably reminiscent of the management's Airfix 'kit bashing' in the late-1960s.

The main aim of a little light relief was almost achieved (despite assorted frustrations with the final phases of assembling the Revell kit – see review below). Along the way, one of the somewhat complicated projects, the Scottish coach, was brought almost to completion. Though no progress was made with the 'first Porsche'.

The missing trailer

In the event, converting the trailer to a tender seemed like over-kill as the 'dicky seat' at the back readily took the Rocket kit's water barrel and small stash of coal. If the management succeeds in sourcing some 1:20-ish scale barrels (and both Trenarren Models and Smallbrook Studio have some) then the Revell trailer may yet be 'reborn' as a tender. Or maybe without the barrels as something even more whacky…

If it were real

The firebox on a ¼-scale Rocket would have woefully little space for burning coal. If such a hyrid car were real then presumably it would have to burn parafin. The ¼-scale barrel would suffice as a fuel tank – and the false floor to the 'dicky seat' beneath this barrel could easily be the top of a water tank. A suitable cylindrical piece of chromed plastic has been fitted such that a water tank could be refilled.

Revell reviewed

As I remember with Revell kits from the late 1960s, they are not especially well-designed to go together. In this case lots of really tiny 'joints' had to be made between chrome-plated plastic parts making up the front suspension, headlights and other 'minor details'. These parts simply hadn't enough surface area to take enough glue to provide the necessary strength (and three completely different types of glue were used in the attempt to find one that worked).

Then, almost at the end, the four wheels wouldn't go on simply because either the chrome plating was too thick or because the mouldings had 'flashed' before being plated (and perhaps a combination of both).

As this kit can hardly be described as cheap then the combination of poor design and inadequate quality control really does mean I won't be buying from Revell again. No such problems with the Dapol Rocket.

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Images and text copyright Bob Trubshaw 2018–2021