Locomotive Size Comparisons

Just for fun I set up a diverse set of locomotives from a couple of different countries, manufacturers and eras.  The reason I did this was to get a sense of the relative size of each of these locomotives (kind of similar as what I did with buildings several months ago).  The Above photo shows, from left to right:
  • A Fleischmann Class 64 tender engine (German; 1:160)
  • A Kato DF 200 Diesel (Japanese; 1:150)
  • A Minitrix CC 72000 Diesel (French; 1:160)
  • A Minitrix Class 47 Diesel (UK; 1:144?)
  • A Minitrix U30CG Diesel (US; 1:160)
So the above picture should have locomotives in three different scales (at least I think the Class 47 is 1:144, which is the English standard for N Scale, although its unclear to me if Minitrix was making these models in that scale while they were still producing British outline locomotives.  Which again shows you that Americans and the English have more than just a common language separating us! :-) ).

So I attempted to collect the prototypical height of each of these locomotives to see how they compare in their N Scale versions.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find this information for the Class 64 and SNCF dieselUPDATE!  Thanks to La Saucisse, I now have the height of the SNCF diesel, which changes the below conclusions.

Take a look at the 'head on' photo below and see what you think of the relative sizes in the photo with their prototype height:

 I was actually quite surprised that the old (1970's vintage) Minitrix U30CG wasn't as 'over-sized' as I expected- because next to everything else it sure looks HUGE!  Part of my test was to see just how 'bad' some of the scaling was done back in the early days of N Scale.  According to my eye (which is most important to me, which is why you don't see an actual measurement of the above locomotives), the BN U30CG locomotive looks about right compared to both the BR Class 47 and DF200.  Which is interesting is that both of those locomotives should be proportionally larger than their actual prototype (and I would have expected them to be much closer in size to the BN U30CG locomotive) but they all seem to look...okay.

Of course, what I'm most curious about is how the SNCF 72000 and BR64 compare.  These are the only other "1:160" models and sort of act as controls for this little comparison. UPDATE!  As is now apparent in the above photo (and wasn't prior to getting the height data for the SNCF diesel) is that both the JRF DF200 and the BR Class 47 are over-sized compared to the 1:160 SNCF 72000, which would be appropriate given the relative scales of Japan (1:150) and the UK (1:144).

So...what's the point of this post? First, US locomotives are, as you occasionally hear, really big compared to European and Japanese cousins.  Second, while I'm certainly not a member of the Legion of Prototypical Diligence, I am a little more particular about the relative size of the trains (and buildings) and want them to all look like they could be in the same 'world' (even if that world never did and never will exist).

Other than that, if anyone knows how high the prototypes are for the two missing locomotives, I would like to update this post with that information and see if it changes my initial thoughts.

A couple of more comments.  I love the Minitrix U30CG.  I think Minitrix painted this diesel in the paint schemes for about 5 or 6 different railways, even though only the Sante Fe ever had them.  Additionally, they were failures as passenger locomotives (not surprising given the 'quality' of most American industry in the 1960's and 70's).  This sort of 'creative license' by manufacturers is something that we hardly see any more (it seems like it used to be quite common).  I find this curious, and probably one of the side effects of the greater detail and accuracy of N Scale in the past decade or so.  What is still fascinating to me is that despite this, locomotives like the U30CG are still in decent demand on sites like eBay given all their clear 'flaws' or errors.  Makes you wonder.


  1. SNCF CC 72000 is 4290mm high.

    And, if you want to compare length to, it is 20190mm long.

  2. Ahhh...so if these locomotives were all 'in scale' the CC72000 should be higher than both the DF200 and Class 47! Thanks LS!

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    Spam getting you down?

  6. Yes, it seems to be a right of passage once you reach a certain level of volume! The interesting this is a lot of the spam is from Japan! :-) (which means I have to translate it if I want to be sure it really is spam!)

    They are definitely targeting any posts with 'Tomix' in it!

  7. Well what I find interesting is that the Kato DF200 is made for the "narrow" (actually standard) Japanese Gauge (1067mm) and hence fits perfectly OK with the others (even if a bit larger).

    Does anyone know (Jerry?) if the Thalys (and to a larger extend, TGV and European models) from Kato also is "officially" 1/150 (with a compromise on the gauge) or is 1/160 to satisfy EU/US customers?

    I'm just building my tunnel portals. Sometimes in R2 curves to gain Space, (220mm radius for most German rail systems).
    When the new Kato Thalys comes out later this year, I wouldn't want an unhappy surprise seeing it hit the walls despite shorter wagons ;)

  8. Piere: I am pretty sure they are 1/160 - based purely on my past perceptions (for example, my Relay Tsubame from Kato seems a bit too large when compared to the the Thalys, which would indicated - correctly I believe, that the Relay is 1:150 and the Thalys is 1:160), but that is a very good idea for another post/topic. Perhaps comparing some Minitrix and Fleischmann trains to Kato's European versions? That's interesting... expect to see it soon.