Overview: Military Railroading in WW II Europe
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Railway Operation Battalions in the ETO
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Links to ROBs on the Web
Image Gallery I: Unloading at Normandy
The following series of photos shows the landing
of U. S. Army railway equipment directly on the Normandy beaches sometime during
the Summer of 1944. Though undoubtedly U. S. Coast Guard (Public Information Division)
photographs, the images were culled from the Usenet newsgroup alt.binaries.pictures.rail, a collection
of postings by David Reichley.|
Image 1: A land track stretches over the sandy French coast to meet a Coast Guard-manned LST which is ferrying freight cars from England. When the
tracks built in the LST's tank deck connect with those on shore, the freight cars will roll easily onto the beach, ready for operation on
the vast rail network which supplies Allied armies on the Western Front (click to enlarge).
Image 2: Freight cars of the Army Transportation Corps emerge from the steel jaws of a Coast Guard-manned LST resting on the French beach to
complete their journey to the Western Front with supplies for Allied armies. The tank deck of the big tank landing ship is equipped with
rail tracks, enabling the vessel to serve as a floating link between railroads in Britain and France (click to enlarge).
Image 3: Preparations on the LST as it nears the beach (click to enlarge).
Image 4: Preparations on the beach (click to enlarge).
Image 5: More rail cars of the U. S. Army Transportation Corps leave the LST (click to enlarge).
Image 6: Preparations continue on the beach (click to enlarge).
Image 7: The car-unloading ramp is prepared (click to enlarge).
Image 8: Preparations on the LST as it nears the beach (click to enlarge).
Credits: Images 1 8, U. S. Coast Guard.
On February 7, 1941, the Baldwin Locomotive Works formally turned over to the Army Ordnance Department, exactly on schedule, the first 8-inch railroad gun manufactured by American industry since 1918. (In the photo at left, the first of the new railway gun mounts is shown leaving the Baldwin Shop at Eddystone, PA.
Charles E. Brinley, President of the company, can be seen at the right preparing to climb aboard the gun carriage.) While a group of high-ranking Army officers and Baldwin executives looked on, a locomotive hauled the 225,000-pound weapon from the Baldwin assembly floor to the yards for official acceptance by the Ordnance Department. Capable of hurling a 260-pound shell a distance of 18 miles, the powerful cannon shortly afterward left on a 250-mile track test run over the Pennsylvania Railroad's line to Harrisburg, PA, and thence to Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, where firing tests were conducted. Heading the delegation of Army officers present were Brigadier General R. W. Case, Commanding General of Watertown Arsenal, and Major D. N. Hauseman, Executive Officer, Philadelphia Ordnance District, who accepted the gun for the Ordnance Department. Charles E. Brinley, President of The Baldwin Locomotive Works, in formally presenting the gun, said: "General Case, Major Hauseman. On behalf
of The Baldwin Locomotive Works, I take pleasure in turning over to you this 8-inch railway gun mount, the first of the lot now on order, and I assure you that with this gun mount is included the loyalty and devotion of the whole Baldwin organization to the United States of America in all its Services."
Major Hauseman, in accepting the gun, said: "This gun is the first of many. The contractors, The Baldwin Locomotive Works, are to be congratulated on their fine performance in meeting their first delivery date on a difficult order new to industry." Overall length of the gun and mount was 49 feet, 6 inches. Width of the carriage was 10 feet, 2 inches. Despite its great weight, the gun could travel with high-speed freight or artillery trains and upon arriving at its firing point could quickly be emplaced for action. The mount for the gun was known as the 8-inch Barbette Carriage, a new design, so constructed that 360-degree traverse and 45-degree elevation were possible.
Adapting commercial railroad car construction practice, the carriage was similar to the standard railway car of the drop-frame type with structural steel underframe, mounted on special heavy-duty trucks. Air brakes, hand brakes, couplings and fittings were railroad-standard. Outriggers and "floats" were provided to take up recoil shock during firing. The firing platform was operated hydraulically, permitting emplacement within a matter of minutes. This type of gun mount was exceptionally vital to defense because of its extreme mobility and the ease and speed with which it could be put into action. It was a defensive weapon ideally suited for protection of the long coastlines of the U. S.
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