The Lesney model of the 9b Dennis fire escape was introduced into the Matchbox 1-75 series in 1958 and was a replacement for the earlier 9a Dennis fire escape,
It was not really a new model but in collectors guides it has always been given a seperate listing to the earlier model so it is best kept this way to avoid confusion.
The casting was the same one used for the 9a but the inscription on the underneath was changed from "Lesney England" as found on the 9a to "Dennis fire engine, made in England by Lesney" and it also had "No9" inscribed under the bonnet (hood).
The model also had a detailed grille cast in and a front bumper addaed which the earlier model (9a) did not have.
There was also a casting modification to the driver where the gap between the drivers legs and the floor was cast closed but this was most likely to be due to a damaged die.
The model was kept in the same red as the previous issue and it was enhanced with gold trim to the grille & bumper, the drivers helmet, the hose reel and the top edge of the ladder but this can vary from model to model and does not seem to be a natural reduction in trim over time as found on other models.
The wheels were originally 7.5 x 18 grey metal but later 7.5 x 18 grey plastic were fitted and the axles started out as flat head with crimped ends and later changed for dome head axles with crimped ends.
There were two different escape wheels used, the first had a 3.5mm wide hub and the edge of the rim was rounded, the other one had a 4mm wide hub and the edge of the rim was squared, later issues and the grey plastic wheeled variation were all fitted with the 4mm hub with squared rim.
The 9b is not as common as the 9a and the grey plastic wheeled variation is very rare but the price they usually fetch is not as high as it might be for such a rare piece.
The Dennis was packaged in 'B' type boxes and after just one year in the range it was replaced by the larger 9c Merryweather Marquis fire engine in 1959.