The Satellite Launching Car No. 3509 unlike the No. 3519, this satellite launching car was manually controlled. Available in 1961 and 1962, this car was not available for separate sale, but would appear in some of Lionel’s more economical cataloged and uncatalogued sets during these years. In 1961 it was part of the "Sky Scout Diesel Freight Set" No. 1643.
This car used the 3419-30 flat car chassis mold with the revision of an additional slot cut in the top of the frame to accommodate the short rectangular tab of the radar console. This console is not removable unless the tab is broken. The radar has a socket ball that is inserted into the console. Reproductions are available of this part.
Similarly, it used the same method of manually launching as the helicopter car No. 3409, however, the winder has a longer neck to accommodate the centering pin of the satellite. Early production satellites would have the upper chrome plated part secured to the lower solar panel part with a spring clip. Later versions would have these parts heat staked together. The solar panels in early editions would have a smooth curved shape, while later versions have a clearly angular shape. This later variation was originally made for Lionel’s HO equivalent (Part No. 0333-100) and is better scaled to this O scale car.
The satellites have been reproduced, but they lack the detail and quality of the original issues.
This car appeared in the 1961 catalog with a BLUE chassis, but it was never produced this way. This satellite car is less common than the remote controlled version No. 3519.
There were two different instruction sheets that were issued for this car. The first is an 8-1/2" by 5-1/2" four page fold out sheet No. 3509-5. We’ve shown the first and the folded out second and third pages of this sheet below. In addition, Lionel included instruction sheet No. 3509-7. Both of these sheets are dated 8-61.
There are two variations:
Variation A: GREEN chassis that has two AAR trucks with disc couplers and early satellite with curved solar panels.
Variation B: GREEN chassis that has two AAR trucks one with a disc coupler and the other with a solid non-operating coupler. Has the late satellite with angular solar panels.