Tangent Scale Models HO General American 4180 Airslide Covered Hopper

Now in their 12th year of operation, Tangent Scale Models continues to bring quality and exceptional prototypical detail to their HO and N scale freight car lines. Their objective from the start was to create a line of rolling stock which would rival the levels of detail often reserved for locomotive models. Their latest release of the 4180 Airslide Hopper in HO scale continues to do just that. 

The Prototype

Designed in response to customer demand for higher capacity covered hoppers capable of transporting bulk commodities, the General American Airslide 4180 was launched in 1963. Production would continue for almost 20 years, with examples finding homes on railroads across the United States.


Predominantly carrying cargos such as starch, flour, and sugar, the 4180 could be loaded through the roof, and unloaded through four hatches on the underside of the car. These cars featured the patented Airslide design, which was first developed in the 1950s. Using pressurized air to aerate the fabric lining of the bays, the cargo would flow with much more ease than in a conventional hopper, allowing for a quicker, more efficient unloading process.

The 4180 continued in regular service into the 2000s but has since been gradually retired. Today a selection continue to lead a second life, acting as barrier cars on cross-country ethanol and hazardous material trains.

The Model

Continuing in their tradition of bringing locomotive-level detail to the world of realistic freight car modeling, Tangent has once again hit a home run with the 4180 Airslide Hopper. First released in 2015, the 4180 returned to their lineup in January 2019, with four new roadnames to choose from including examples from the Western Maryland Railway, reflecting cars from a 1971 order, Boston and Maine examples reflecting acquisitions from 1980, and the eye catching Grand Trunk examples, decked out in their 1978 deep blue paint scheme. Other previously released examples include GACX variations, Cotton Belt examples, and the modern BNSF “Buffer Car” scheme.



While the paint schemes appear flawlessly replicated with sharp printing and accurate tones, it’s the details on these cars which really shine. Tangent has taken care to accurately replicate the subtle differences between phase variations from different eras of production. Their current examples replicate three variations of the carbody which were seen between 1965 and 1980, featuring differences including either Apex or Morton running boards, bodyside post profiles, brake positions, and ladder arrangements.

One common feature across all cars is perhaps one of their most impressive assets; the rarely replicated intricacies of the underside, which have been prototypically reproduced to the smallest detail. From piping and valves to hatches and rivets, everything has been added in accordance with the prototype. On the ends of the cars both cut levers and hoses have been authentically replicated, and the scale Kadee couplers add to both the realistic appearance and the cars compatibility with most other HO scale rolling stock.


Constructed out of durable plastic, these cars display a realistic feel, featuring appropriate weighting for smooth operation. Details such as grab irons, ladders, and running boards have been produced out of metal and wire, additionally adding to the authentic appearance and durability of the model’s construction. See-through bolster arrangements have been replicated above the trucks, and the cars ride on smoothly manufactured metal wheels.


These cars are just one example in the stunning line of realistically detailed freight cars from Tangent Scale Models. Other equally detailed HO scale pieces include the Bethlehem 70-Ton 52′ 6″ Drop-End GondolaPS-2 4427 High Side Covered HopperBethlehem-Design Quad Hopper, and much more. For the full line of both HO and N scale Tangent equipment, visit our Tangent Scale Models selection at Modeltrainstuff.com!

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