Hornby King Arthur N15 class – as good as it gets!

On one of my previous posts, I reviewed the Hornby T9 class, concluding that it looked fantastic but performance was poor.  Well, to re-balance the review of that Hornby model I wanted to add one where Hornby managed to get almost everything right!

The first King Arthur N15 prototype, was built way back in 1918 and the class was useful through to their final withdrawal in 1962 – quite a length of time for a front-line express locomotive.  If you want to read more about the prototypes, check out SEMG’s website.  Suffice to say they are an important type for Southern steam modellers and as such was high on their wish lists for a super-detail version.

Arguably, there’s little if anything to criticise about the look of the model.  The cab is fantastic as always (see below), but most importantly the poise of the prototype is captured perfectly.  I’m sure anyone who has seen the only survivor, 30777 Sir Lamiel will agree with this.

The model performs exceptionally well.  It can pull heavy trains around my tight 2nd radius circuit without a problem and is both smooth and silent.  It doesn’t derail either and copes with point workas well as could be expected.

My example was chosen because of its name – Excalibur!  I thought it was a fantastic name for steam train!  The Southern Railway must have had a very decent PR team, as the names from King Arthur lend themselves to locomotives so well.  In fact, when a batch were replaced by British Railways standard 5MT, the names were transferred.  Hence the “Standard Arthur’s”, such as the Bluebell Railway’s Camelot.  In fact, my version was one of the prototype’s withdrawn early and replaced by a standard 5MT.

Ironically, my Bachmann model of “Standard Arthur” 5MT Camelot is outclassed in performance by my Hornby King Arthur.  Bachmann’s model although reasonable doesn’t have as much power and does not have pick up’s on the tender wheels so is prone to stall more.

If you are looking to get a King Arthur model, it pays to look around.  Prices vary massively – I paid around £50 for mine on ebay, but you can add an extra £100 to that price in some shops.  The various detail differences within the class are catered for so each model is very accurate to the particular prototype.  The more obvious detail being the tender types; these include a Drummond 8 wheeler tenders and also a 6 wheeler (some members of the class were given 6 wheel tenders to fit on Brighton’s smaller turntable!)  There are also detail differences between different batches built, so if you intend to re-name or re-number a model pays to do some research first so that you pick one with the correct characteristics.

Fitting the DCC chip was a little fiddly as space is tight in the loco body.  You need a small chip I’m afraid; not suprisingly the Hornby R8249 fits perfectly inside but the bigger Bachmann chips do not!

The Hornby King Arthur model is exceptional and arguably one of the best looking and performing models out there and so comes highly recommended.  If funds allow I may even expand my fleet in the future, I’d love a Brunswick Green version to go with my mark one carriages!  For now though, an olive green version looks fantastic with the olive green Maunsell carriages – together they’re pure Southern perfection in 00 scale!

Locoyardometer update! 5th May 2012.

Class: N15 King Arthur

Use: Express Passenger

Region: Southern

Era: 1918-1962

Preserved examples:

777 Sir Lamiel – National Collection (working on Mainline tours)

Manufacturer: Hornby

Model Reviewed: Hornby R2580 Southern Railway 736 Excalibur (click here for more info)

Motor: 5 pole Loco-drive

Power: Heavyweight

DCC options: 8 pin dcc ready/fitted

Locoyard Review



Fantastic cab.



Fantastic – detail differences between different class members catered for



Rich Olive green and malachite green versions are exceptional, brunswick green is good but does not have same depth as modern Bachmann models

Running Qualities:


Superb – pulls quietly and smoothly, haven’t known it to derail

Relative Power:


Outclasses the prototype, capable of seriously heavy trains



Pretty good.  NEM pockets, DCC socket/fitted versions but no DCC sound version yet.  Not much space for a decoder, so limits choice of DCC chips.



Expensive new, but worth it!

Overall Locoyardometer Score: 4.8

The fact that it’s only criticism is it’s lack of space for a DCC chip, reflects how difficult it is to find anything wrong with it!  In my opinion this is the best RTR 00 scale model on the market, it’s quite simply fantastic!

Detailometer 5, Outlineometer 5, Finishometer 5, Motorometer 5, Powerometer 5, Specometer 4.5, Valueometer 4.0, Locoyardometer 4.8