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B-Type London Omnibus 1919 (38031) 1:35

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B-Type London Omnibus 1919 (38031)

1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd




After the invention of the motor car, it was only a matter of time before someone thought to apply it to carrying us proles around in groups, partly because the general populous couldn’t dream of affording a car at the time, but also because it cut down on traffic in the sprawling metropolis that was early 1900s London.  The London General Omnibus Company – LGOC for short, developed the Omnibus X, the omnibus part relating to everyone or all.  It was replaced by the improved B-type Omnibus which has seats for 16 inside and another 18 less salubrious seats upstairs that were open to the elements.  It was capable of breaking the speed limit of the day and could do a staggering 16mph on the flat, with headlights being introduced just before WWI began.


Up to 900 buses were shipped to the continent to bus the troops around the battlefield from trench to trench, with up to 24 fully-equipped men being carried on the two decks.  Of course, the word Omnibus didn’t last long and gave us the Bus that we know and don’t really love today.  At the end of WWI, the remaining operational buses were also used to ferry the soldiers back to the UK, but it can’t have been very comfortable or quick on balance.  Those that were still in decent condition resumed service with minor changes before they were finally retired in 1924.


The Kit

This kit is a recent tooling with a number of kits in the range, beginning with the militarised version in olive drab (39001), and now we’re looking at the second (third in terms of kits), later iteration of the civilian version with a new portrait-style box painting.  A number of the original sprues from the earlier variants are carried over, and another new sprue is included to portray the updated areas around the radiator and front axle.  There are unused parts on the new sprue in the form of lights and wing mirrors, which hints at an even later version being in the works.  The decal sheet of course is brand new, and the Photo-Etch (PE) sheet has been further re-organised to accommodate the curved advertising hoardings on the staircase and new number plate choices.  Detail is excellent with a full chassis, engine and interior included in the box, giving you just about everything you need to build a detailed replica of the 1919 omnibus.  In total there are nineteen sprues in grey, three in clear, a PE fret, large decal sheet and of course instructions with painting and decaling guides in the front and rear covers in full colour.


















Construction begins with the engine, which is well detailed and even has diagrams showing you how to wire up the spark plugs with some of your own wire if you wish.  The exhaust manifold and big clutch flywheel is added to the block along with a load of ancillary parts and hoses, then the gearbox is made up with its short drive-shaft to link it to the engine later on.  The chassis is made up from the two side rails and cross members, then the engine is inserted from below while the fan belt and blades; starting handle; leaf springs for the suspension, and a large rear axle are all added, then flipped over to begin work on the engine compartment.  A wood-textured bulkhead is installed aft, and at the front the newly tooled radiator is assembled and fitted to the front of the chassis, then linked to the feed hoses that were added earlier.  A small linkage is made from 0.3mm wire and joined with an end-piece that completes the link, which has a couple of scrap diagrams to assist you, one at 1:1 scale to ensure you have it right.


The chassis is flipped again and the new front axle is built then inserted into the leaf-springs, while brake rods are threaded along the length of the vehicle to provide the meagre braking force to all wheels.  The gearbox gets a guard fitted to its bottom as it is inserted into the chassis, at which point it is also linked to the back axle with another drive-shaft that is bracketed by a piece of PE.  The chassis is flipped again, and the gearbox is linked to the cab, with steering wheel, Toot Toot! style horn plus the cab floor with foot board and cut-outs for the steering wheel, foot brake and other pedals (right-hand drive of course).  Now the front and back of the engine bay are linked by the fixed centre panel, and you can build the cowling in either open or closed positions with PE plates attached to the vertical panels.  The chassis continues again with the exhaust pipe and muffler, which has a PE lip added to each end of the welded cylinder.  This and the remaining driver controls are fixed into the chassis, which is then set aside while the passenger compartment is built.


The passenger compartment starts as a U-shaped floor with duck-board flooring, which receives end panels that are first fitted out with glazing.  Seats are added along each side with back cushions fitted later, and the sides of the lower floor are made up with glazing and long narrow openers at the top of each pane, capable of being posed open or closed by choosing different glazing parts.  The front of the passenger box is also the seating area for the crew cab, with seat board, a thin cushion, and a cylinder in a pair of PE restraints installed ready for the later joining of the two assemblies.  Long advertising hoarding brackets are fitted on the window frames outside and the lower floor is set to one side while the upper floor is made up.  This has a slightly curved floor, solid sides, front and back, and four rows of double seats facing forward with a central walkway.  Various rails are added to the top, beginning the handrails for the winding stairs, as well as ceiling-mounted grab-rails for the floor below.  The two floors are joined together, and the staircase is begun at the bottom with the step-on platform at the rear, which allows access to the lower floor and leads to the stairs winding up the back of the vehicle.  These steps are curved and have two parts added together, then strengthened by a side panel, and two curved sections on the outside that are combined safety rails and adverting hoardings that have three PE panels fitted to the outside ready for the included adverts.  A number-plate and more handrails finish off that area.


Underneath, the double length mudguards are glued to the cabin by brackets, and then the whole assembly is installed on the chassis along with front mudguards, crew steps, set of lights and a front number plate.  The wheels were built up earlier from a central hub surrounded by two tyre halves, and with drum-brake for the rear wheels, and simpler wheels for the front.  Now that she’s stood on her own four wheels for the first time, the side-mounted people catchers are installed under the chassis between the front and rear wheels, preventing anyone unlucky enough to fall between the wheels from getting squished by the heavy back end.



The bus is painted in a dull red overall, with various accent colours from wood, metallics and brass colours, while many of the standard markings such as the destination and general stencilling are applied as decals.  The adverts are all printed on the rear page of the instruction booklet and must be carefully cut out and pasted onto the hoarding boards in the top floor sides and rear of the bus, taking care to use a non-marking glue.  The reverse of the adverts are gloss white, so glue absorption shouldn’t be a major issue.  The standard decals are shown applied to the bus inside the front cover of the booklet, while various new advertising options are shown there and on separate pages at the back of the booklet next to the adverts themselves.  This gives a pretty wide range of options to the modeller who takes a mix-and-match approach, but there are four options from London in the 1920s provided to get you going.






Decals are by DecoGraph, with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas.



This highly detailed kit provides you with everything you need to create a great replica of the 1919 version of this early bus.


Very highly recommended.




Review sample courtesy of


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