Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The Rapido Single Sheathed USRA Box Car

 Revised

Following up on their beautiful double sheathed, 40 ton USRA offering, Rapido has just announced their version of the single sheathed 50 ton USRA box car.  By my modelling era of 1944, nearly 2000 of the original 25000 cars had been rebuilt or wrecked, leaving 22201 cars in service in their original configuration.  Of these, the Pennsylvania RR rostered nearly half with 9765 of their X26 class, Milwaukee retained 3857 of their original 4000 cars, and New York Central had 1967.  A complete list of cars extracted from the October 1944 ORER follows.

 

Mark

Start

End

Oct 44  # of cars

AA

90000

90199

198

AB&C

27000

27199

190

B&O

186999

187499

463

C&O

600

1505

51

CC&O

8000

8299

289

CNJ

20000

20499

482

CNW

143700

145698

980

D&H

17001

17500

463

MEC

36001

36300

297

MILW

700000

703999

3857

N&W

120000

120799

778

NYC

160000

160999

5

NYC

277000

277999

979

NYC

282000

282999

983

NYC

TOTAL

1967

PRR

37100

39865

2731

PRR

44001

46725

2693

PRR

83397

83572

173

PRR

86798

869000

100

PRR

90504

90513

10

PRR

93901

93925

25

PRR

97805

97948

141

PRR

511396

511430

35

PRR

512065

512069

5

PRR

518217

518949

723

PRR

530076

530080

5

PRR

531194

531198

5

PRR

540001

540798

785

PRR

549202

549282

81

PRR

564270

566090

1795

PRR

596001

596450

442

PRR

598438

598453

16

PRR

TOTAL

9765

RDG

5001

5999

678

RF&P

981

1140

144

RF&P

2451

2800

339

SP

26360

27359

970

WM

26300

26599

290

Grand Total

22201

 

Now to the applicability of the Rapido models to my era. 

 

The D&H, PRR, CNW, MILW, MEC, SP, CNJ, C&O. NYC, RDG, & RF&P cars are usable as depicted for a 1944 modeler.  The AA artwork is in the 90000 series, but the listed car numbers are in the 346500 series. I can’t quite make out the reweigh date in the online rendering.  The B&O model are lettered in the 90000 series and would need to be renumbered for 1944.  Are those actually the AA numbers?  N&W renumbered their cars into the 40000 series after 1945 so I would have to back date them into the 120000 series. 

 

I can justify several of the Pennsy cars along with a couple from SP, MILW and NYC.  Singletons from the usable list can replace Accurail and Tichy cars currently in my fleet.  Time to call my dealer!

 

John Barry

Lovettsville, VA

15 June 2021


Update: Thanks to Jim Gates eagle eyes, I removed the PRR 83589 X25 series I misread as X26 and updated the totals in the text and table.


JCB

 

Saturday, July 18, 2020

The Fe-U and the 1944 Railroad Map


I’ve had this map in my collection for several years, long enough that I’ve forgotten exactly where I found it.  For the longest time, I wasn’t sure when it was published, until I discovered a small notation, “6-44,”in the lower right corner, separated from the legend where you normally find the date.  Well, that made my day, but at 24”x36” with lots of fine print, not terribly useful to these aging eyes.  So back into the stash it went.  I came across it again while I was scanning some newly acquired photographs using my new Epson flatbed scanner.  Hmm, I wondered if I could use a digital magnifying glass?  After all, I do have a pair of pretty large flat screen monitors for my desktop.  My first thought was to find a large format scanner, as this had worked well in California with several maps and blueprints that I had borrowed.  A discussion with one of the local print shops that USED to have such a scanner led to the suggestion that I scan and stitch together in Photoshop as that I was what he would have to do.

I had a direction.  I scanned overlapping sections of the map at 1200 DPI and ended up with seven 3-400 MB files.  There things sat for several weeks as my copy of Photoshop was on a broken 13 year old laptop and I couldn’t find the original CD.  I do have PS Elements 15 on my current machine, but I hadn’t found a way to use Elements to stitch photos together.  Then on Wednesday, I viewed Ted Culotta’s Lightroom clinic.  I was impressed with the ease of reassembling the multiple screen shots that he demonstrated.  I resolved to resurrect my copy of PS CS2.  Before that happened though, Michael Gross posted that he had found the perspective crop hidden away in a dialog box on his copy of PSE15, the same version that I have installed.  That inspired me to see if I could find and use it as I had before my 2007 laptop was damaged.  A quick experiment with a photo I have of an Fe-U yielded these results:




ATSF 66299 Fe-U single sheathed auto box car straightened

The Bx-35 was converted from the Fe-U by sealing the aux door and extending the car lining inside it.  I’m in need of a pair of these for my 1944 layout and this was a natural to try the technique on as it could help with a future scratch building project.

Then I thought, if that’s there, what about the stitching tool?  Well, it sorta is.  I discovered the “panorama” tool in the Guided mode.  It can and does (sometimes) combine images that have overlap.  My first attempt using all seven of my large files flopped.  Hmm, lets start smaller and combine only two.  That did work, and so did two of the combinations of three but not two of the combined files with each other.  That’s when I discovered the file size limit in PS Elements, 30,000x30,000 pixels and I needed something like 55x25 thousand to assemble my files as is.  Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing, and I’d scanned at too high a resolution to successfully reintegrate the separate images with the software I had.  But, I was able to downsize the files to 900 DPI resolution and combine the four files of the northern portion as well as the three of the southern into two transcontinental maps.  Better than seven, but still not what I was hoping for.  Starting with the northern map, I expanded the canvass and manually imported the three downsized files and manually aligned them.  I didn’t do a perfect job as I discovered that my scans each had some minor distortions.  But I managed to make it mostly work.  At some point, post covid, I will rescan the entire map on a large format scanner and eliminate the minor discontinuities.  But until then, this version will allow me to zoom in and out while tracing routings across the US and Canada.



1944 Rail Map issued by the Santa Fe Railway

I hope you find this useful as well.  You can download a higher resolution copy at Google Docs 44 Rail Map.  Even reduced and saved as a JPG, its still a very large file at 87MB.  Enjoy and stay safe!

John Barry
Lovettsville, VA
18 July 2020

Friday, March 13, 2020

Leopold to Aberdeen



Catching up on reading the Passenger train list today, the Troop Train discussion from last month stimulated me to look for some of the MAIN train advise messages that I had copied from the National Archives a few years ago.  I’m still looking for the folder where I filed the images, but in so doing I ran across this nugget for the freight car aficionado.
By Superx308 Jeffrey Jung email:superx308 at gmail.com - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4303820


The US Army exploited a lot of captured material during and after WWII.  Most of the armor and artillery were shipped to Aberdeen Proving Grounds In Maryland for testing.  One such piece of foreign gear was the German 280 mm railway gun, nicknamed Leopold.  The Germans abandoned the gun in Italy during their withdrawal northward from Anzio in 1944.  This gun was shipped from New York to Aberdeen via the Pennsylvania RR on 28 July 1945 in MTX 60567 from Greenville Yards, NJ to Aberdeen, MD. 

NARA RG 336 DeClassified



The train consist follows:
PRR 435341         F22         Flat & Gun, Steel Underframe
PRR 435390        F22         Flat & Gun, Steel Underframe
ATSF      91520    Ft-V       53’6 War Emergency Flat
PRR 363320         G30        Steel underframe, wood side drop end Gondola
PRr 275221          Gr           Steel underframe, wood side drop end Gondola
PRR 356135         Gra         Steel underframe, wood side drop end Gondola
Cabin Car

They evidently loaded Leopold onto the three flats and three gons to avoid compatibility issues with the German equipment.  

John Barry
Lovettsville, VA
2020/3/13

Thursday, August 8, 2019

The Blackhawks move West

The 86th Infantry Division was my dad’s unit, at least the one he went into combat with in 1945.  He didn’t start out with the Blackhawks, but returned to the infantry when the Army Air Forces drastically reduced the number of pilot candidates.  In the summer of 1944, dad and the division completed their field training in the Louisiana maneuver area at Camp Livingston just outside Alexandria.  Next on the agenda was amphibious training in California.  That was scheduled for Sep 44 -Feb 45, which would have made them available for Operation Iceberg, the invasion of Okinawa in April of 45.  Adolf and von Rundstedt intervened in Dec of 44 though and caused a shake up in deployment plans as additional forces were rushed to the European Theater.  The Blackhawks were one such unit, diverted from their amphibious training in Jan 45 before it was complete. 

Looking for the move to Boston in the division records now at the National Archives at College Park, I didn’t find anything on that move.  But I did find three administrative memos that described preparations for the move west.  These memos were the instructions to the division components about which units and how many members and what equipment would be on which train on what date.  This was at least the second set of memos about the move as memo #30 of 2 Sep 44 rescinded and replaced memo # 25 of 21 Aug 44.   That earlier memo didn’t make it to the file box in the archives, so I can’t tell you what changed, or even if it was the first cut at the plan or the third one.  But we do have a record in memos 29 and 30 of what was carried out as evidenced by memo 1A issued on 9 Sep 44 at Camp Cooke detailing drivers to meet the twenty incoming troop trains.

So what did the Blackhawks move and how?  What did it take to move an Infantry Division in 1944?  What did they NOT take?  The division moved 9146 people (650 Officers, 8496 Enlisted) and their weapons in twenty one passenger and two freight trains.  They used 464 rail cars to make up those trains: 28 Standard Pullmans (26 Officer Capacity), 221 Troop Pullmans (39 EM Capacity), 43 Baggage, 42 Kitchen, 62 Box and 68 Flat cars.  On the first freight, 3 flats took 9 armored cars of the Reconnaissance Troop, 15 took 57 M10 trailers of the Division Artillery, 14 took all of the 37mm guns, 2 took 3 small arms repair trucks of the Ordnance Company, and one carried the Signal Company’s SCR-339 radio with trailer and the HQ company medium sedan.  The second freight carried 12 flats with 12 155mm howitzers and 12 M5 tractors of the 404th Field Artillery Bn.; 15 with the 36 105mm howitzers of the 331st, 332nd, and 911th Field Artillery Bns.(Link to militaryresearch.org 1944 TO&E 12 guns/Bn); and 6 with 4-ton trucks of the 404th Field Artillery and 311th Engineer Bn.  What they didn’t take was their trucks, half-tracks and jeeps.  Those evidently were assigned to the training centers and remained in place for the next division to roll through.  The Blackhawks would use the vehicles assigned to Camp Cooke for their next phase of training.

The advance party made up of 67 officers and 331 enlisted from elements of the division departed on 3 Sep 44 and arrived prior to 9 Sep.  They say an Army travels on its’ stomach and a portion of memo #29 bears that out, detailing who was to set up and run the two messes in the kitchen cars on the train and that the mess assignments would continue at the destination, Camp Cooke, until released to their respective messes upon the arrival of their respective units at the new station. 

The Army and the railroads choreographed the move to minimize congestion enroute.  All trains had to depart Livingston on the Missouri Pacific (SIMMS) and arrive Cooke on the SP.  In between, they took different routes.  Three Trains, numbers 1, MAIN 36485; 5, MAIN 36489; 12, MAIN 36496 CAMP LIVINGSTON -MP(SIMMS) - ALEXANDRIA-SP(TNO) - EL PASO - SP - CAMP COOKE
Five Trains, numbers 2, MAIN 36486; 4, MAIN 36488; 11, MAIN 36495; 15, MAIN 36499; 17, MAIN 36501: CAMP LIVINGSTON -MP(SIMMS) - KINDER -GCL - HOUSTON - ATSF - LOS ANGELES - SP - CAMP COOKE
Five Trains, numbers 3, MAIN 36487; 8, MAIN 36492; 14, MAIN 36498; 16, MAIN 36500; 18, MAIN 36502: CAMP LIVINGSTON -MP(SIMMS)- ALEXANDRIA - L&A - SHREVEPORT - T&P - EL PASO -SP - CAMP COOKE
Train number 6, MAIN 36490: CAMP LIVINGSTON -MP(SIMMS)- ALEXANDRIA - L&A - SHREVEPORT - T&P - FORT WORTH - CRI&P - AMARILLO - ATSF - LOS ANGELES - SP - CAMP COOKE
Two trains, numbers 13, MAIN 36497; 19, MAIN 36503: CAMP LIVINGSTON -MP(SIMMS) - ALEXANDRIA - L&A - SHREVEPORT - T&P - FORT WORTH - FW&DC - AMARILLO - ATSF - LOS ANGELES - SP - CAMP COOKE
Four Trains, numbers 7, MAIN 36491; 20, MAIN 36504; F1, MAIN 4843; F2, MAIN 4761: CAMP LIVINGSTON -MP(SIMMS) - ALEXANDRIA - LONGVIEW - IGN - SAN ANTONIO - SP(T&NO) - EL PASO -SP - CAMP COOKE
Train 9, MAIN 36493: CAMP LIVINGSTON -MP(SIMMS) - ALEXANDRIA-T&P - FORT WORTH - FW&DC - AMARILLO - ATSF - LOS ANGELES - SP - CAMP COOKE
Train 10, MAIN 36494: CAMP LIVINGSTON -MP(SIMMS) -ALEXANDRIA - L&A - SHREVEPORT - T&P - LONGVIEW - IGN - SAN ANTONIO - SP(T&NO) - EL PASO -SP - CAMP COOKE
The different routings resulted in this list of departure and arrival times:

Livingston
Cooke
ADV
ADV
31000
ADV
6????
F1
4843
71800
1
36485
111730
1
36485
80800
3
36487
112359
2
36486
81400
2
36486
120105
3
36487
81800
4
36488
121825
4
36488
90800
5
36489
122300
5
36489
91300
F1
4843
122359
6
36490
91900
6
36490
130545
7
36491
100800
8
36492
131830
8
36492
101300
9
36493
132245
F2
4761
101800
7
36491
132300
9
36493
101800
11
36495
142355
10
36494
110800
10
36494
150055
11
36495
111300
12
36496
150400
12
36496
111800
13
36497
151345
13
36497
120700
14
36498
151830
14
36498
121300
F2
4761
152359
15
36499
121800
15
36499
160515
16
36500
130900
16
36500
161430
17
36501
131300
17
36501
162355
18
36502
140900
18
36502
171430
19
36503
141300
19
36503
172015
20
36504
151000
20
36504
190030


I’ve compiled a spreadsheet showing the details of the trains and posted it to Google Drive.  You may download it by clicking here: 86 ID Livingston-Cooke.XLS.  Click here for copies of the de-classifiedadministrative memos.

I hope that you will find these tables both interesting and useful.  It took a lot of rolling stock to move a division, even one without its organic vehicles and just its weapons.  Also note that the division did not yet have its attached tank or tank destroyer battalions, only its recon troop of armored cars. The Freights were scheduled for 128 hours enroute.  The 20 passenger MAIN trains averaged 83.4 hours ranging from a 79.5 to 90.9 hours enroute.  



John Barry
Lovettesville VA
1102 JST 9 Aug 2019
44 years to the hour of the second event that saved my dad’s bacon in WWII.