Bossman Games are one of the leading developers of add-ons for Train Simulator 2021. In particular, their steam locomotive packs have really grabbed people’s attention with the high detail modelling, texturing, physics, and accurate sounds.
One pack that has been in development for some time now, stretching back into 2020, is the Southern Merchant Navy pack. This represents the Merchant Navy’s Pacific locomotives before they were rebuilt – something that Bossman Games have also represented.
Finally, the pack featuring the original locomotives has been released for us all to enjoy.
The Merchant Navys
In total, 30 examples of the Merchant Navys were built, and they were all originally in a distinctive air-smoothed streamlined configuration, with three series of locomotives, from Series 1 to Series 3.
These all had subtle differences, such as cab shapes and extra cowling, and all of the three series have been recreated in this pack, including the prototype of the class post-modifications. No.21C1 was in a very different shape when it first launched but is represented here in its more representative service conditions.
All of the locomotives made it past Southern Railway service and into British Railway service, with all 30 of the class rebuilt into the more conventional form that we know today. Eleven Merchant Navys have been preserved, and, of course, none are in the original air-smoothed configuration.
However, one preservation group is looking at un-rebuilding No.35011, ‘General Steam Navigation,’ to allow us to experience an air-smoothed Merchant Navy once again. The air-smoothed casing can still be seen on the smaller Light Pacific locomotives, and hopefully, Bossman Games replicate these at some point down the line.
What’s in the SR Merchant Navy Class pack?
We previewed the pack when it was still under development, but now we can finally look at a full run-down of its features. Priced at £19.99, the pack has all three series of locomotives, each of which is represented in various liveries.
We have Southern Malachite Green, Wartime Black, and British Railways Malachite. Post-1948 liveries are included too, as well as British Railways Green, Express Passenger Blue, and Experimental Blue with red stripes, with only one member of the class, the No.35024 ‘East Asiatic Company,’ carrying that final livery.
Customisable loco numbers are scripted into the pack, which also allows the player to change the lamp codes, shed plate code, and decide whether or not to have a nameplate. Three tender types are part of the pack, which are the 5,000-gallon, 5,100-gallon, and 6,000-gallon tender types.
Forty headboards are included that can be attached to the locomotives, ranging from the Southern days to British Rail, preservation rail tours, and the locomotives have sounds recorded from the preserved member of the class, No.35028 ‘Clan Line.’
Driving the Merchant Navys
There are certainly a few quirks and features to get around when operating the locomotive. The pack features the steam-operated firebox doors, activated when auto-fireman is turned on, and the steam-operated directional reverser, which is certainly a unique feature on a steam engine!
The injector physics take some getting used to, with the driver needing to balance out the settings for the water feed and the steam feed while keeping on top of the fire. Making sure that it is built up to the right fire mass is also tricky to judge.
Still, what helps is that the class were very free steaming in real life, so once they were hot, they produced plenty of boiler pressure. The adhesion of the class – the grip that it has on the rails – is also replicated accurately.
Open the regulator too much, too soon, though, and the engine will slip and spin its wheels: it’s a fine balancing act leaving a station with a heavy train on an incline. Nine scenarios and 80 Quick Drive consists are included in this impressive pack, too.
Bossman Games have now created three of the four iterations of the Bulleid Pacifics: the rebuilt Merchant Navys, Light Pacifics, and the original Merchant Navys. This leaves just the original Light Pacifics to recreate.
We have had models of both Light Pacific variations in Train Simulator for some years, but they are now a bit dated, and there has never been an original Merchant Navy Pack. The rebuilt Merchant Navys have featured, but that was some years ago in a pack that isn’t out there anymore.
This is, quite possibly, the best pack from Bossman Games, who seem to get better and better each time. Hopefully, it is not too long before we find out what comes next from this incredible developer – it might just be those original Light Pacifics.
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