3509 Satellite Launching Car
Production: 1961 & 1962
The 3509 Satellite Launching car was available for two years -- 1961 and 1962. This freight car is the manually operated version of its cousin, the 3519 remote-controlled satellite car. Interestingly, the 3509 is a fairly hard freight car to locate. Lionel included it in a couple low-end sets during those two year and was never available as a separate sale item in the Lionel consumer catalogue.
The 3509 is part of Lionel's "Space & Military" series. As with many of the items from that series, there are delicate parts that are prone to damage due to improper handling. Locating a complete, all original flatcar with satellite is a difficult task as few satellites have survived intact. Beware of reproduction satellites.
Standard features of the 3509 include: unpainted green flatcar with white lettering, AAR trucks -- each with a functional coupler, black winding and launching mechanism, gray console with a yellow dish-shaped antenna plus a brakestand and brakewheel.
The winding and launching mechanism is similar to the mechanisms on the helicopter freight cars. The 3509 used the smaller version launching mechanism -- which measured 1.375" in diameter. The metal portion attached to the bottom of the car was always plain sheet metal, not blackened metal as seen on other satellite and helicopter freight cars.
Original satellites had a black base with a chrome-type finish on top. The wings had simulated solar panels heat-stamped in white. Original satellites will command a premium as they are frequently missing or damaged.
Additional Detail, Photos & Box Information
The length of this flatcar is approximately 11 1/4" long (coupler to coupler).
Only Known Variation - The 3509 was always a green flarcar with a black and chrome-finished top satellite. The launching mechanism was always manual and never remote control activated.
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