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From the Archives of Dave's Trains, Inc.

Hammer & Sickle Image Soviet Stalin-era Locomotive Hammer & Sickle Image

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About This Diesel Engine

A locomotive was included in every train set produced by the Soviet Union in the 1950's and 1960's. Like the Khrushchev-era engine, the Stalin-era locomotive was a diesel-type with a 4-4-4 wheel arrangement. (The European designation is 2-B-2.) This symmetrical, die-cast power unit measures 14 3/4 inches long (coupler to coupler), 3 inches wide and 3 3/4 inches high -- plus it weighs 6 pounds!

The unit has a 5-point star and a light on each end plus a manual reversing switch located underneath the cab -- inside the center section of one side. (The direction of the locomotive determines which light will be lit.) European-style bumpers front and back plus grab rails around each of the four doors serve to enhance the beauty of the engine. Additional decoration includes the Soviet emblem cast into the sides with "CCCP" -- Cyrillic for "USSR" incorporated into the logo and a quarter-inch red stripe at the bottom of the cab surrounds the entire the shell. A clear plastic window insert provides a nice finished look to the overall appearance of the cab. The chassis has sheet-metal truck sides with black or brown journals. The handsome spoked wheels were painted red and some engines came with the side rims painted white.

The Soviet Stalin-era engine was first produced in 1951 and its basic design was not changed throughout its history. There was, however, a government-mandated cosmetic change to the cab sometime in the early 1960's, reflecting the politics of the Soviet Union during that time. That edict resulted in the creation of what is known today as a Khrushchev-era locomotive -- basically a plainer Stalin-era engine.

Photos of three Stalin-era engines
Photo of Green Loco
Photo of Blue Loco
Photo of Metallic-blue Loco
Below: Photo of an Original Box for a Stalin-era Loco
Photo of an Original Box

Variations & Additional Information

The Stalin-era engine was first produced in 1951 and -- in addition to the decorations described above -- had "51" (the year of introduction), Stalin's initials (in Cyrillic) and "MEP" (in Cyrillic for the Ministry of Electrotechnical Industries) cast into the sides of the body. Those inscriptions -- along with the USSR logo and a thin, raised white stripe on the sides -- were generally trimmed in white. The metal bumpers appear to have been chemically blackened. There may be several different castings as one engine was discovered with the USSR logo to the right of the "MEP" instead of on the left and yet another engine has open rungs on the side ladders. (Most of the engines have ladders that are filled in.)

The Stalin-era engine came in various colors including at least two different shades of green and many shades of blue ranging from a dark royal blue to a grayish metallic blue. In addition, since all of the engines were hand-painted, many variations were created depending upon how the painter decided to trim the cab! For example, one engine has surfaced with the doors and vents outlined in white; another engine has the ladders below the doors detailed in red. (Some of the colors and trim work may indicate that the engine could have been part of a special set created for some high-ranking party member or a foreign dignitary.)

The original box -- which is fairly scarce -- is constructed of a soft, cardboard-like material and is held together by staples. The box is two-tone with the sides being light brown while the ends and the separate lid are gray. It was not adequate protection for the heavy engine and probably contributed to many pilots and steps being broken in transit. Conversely the weight of the engine probably contributed to the destruction of many of the boxes! The box measures 15 1/2 inches long by 4 inches wide by 4 1/4 inches high. Given the extra room as compared to the size of the engine, the carton may have come with some plain, light paper for padding. The box has no label, printing or identifying marks.

While exact production numbers are unavailable, evidence suggests that a little over 5,000 Stalin-era sets were produced and therefore, that many engines were made as well. Since most of the Stalin-era engines came with a serial number stamped on the inside corner of one of the pilots, we may someday be able to prove the validity of that estimate. Of the engines known to have been examined to this date, none have yielded a number higher than 5076.

Although the Stalin-era engine continued to be shown in the instruction manuals as late as August 1964, it is commonly believed that production of this item ceased somewhat earlier. What is known is the following: sometime in the early 1960's, Stalin's initials, the "MEP" designation and the number "51" were removed from the sides of the cab. The resulting (plainer-looking) locomotives became known as Khrushchev-era engines.

Identifying Stalin-era & Khrushchev-era Engines
Photo of Stalin Engine Markings Photo of MEP Marking
ABOVE: Stalin-era engine markings with USSR logo on the left
Photo of Reverse Markings on S-engine
ABOVE: Rare Stalin-era engine markings with USSR logo on the right
Photo of Khrushchev Engine Markings Photo of K-engine ID Marking
ABOVE: Khrushchev-era engine markings

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This page is an information document only; nothing on this web page is being offered for sale. This page and all of the other pages from Our Soviet Archives were developed to assist you in understanding the components of the train sets produced in the Soviet Union during the 1950's and 1960's. These sets are known today as "Stalin-era" sets and "Khrushchev-era" sets. We have used pictures from our old files and personal collection to construct this area of our website. If you are interested in buying something, please view our inventory listings to see what we currently have for sale.

This web page was last updated on September 9, 2005. If you have suggestions for improving this page or if you see any errors, please contact us.

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