🚂 Full Details Announced for Rapido's All-New S160s

Posted by Jack Morgan on

S160s
S160s
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Rapido Trains UK have revealed full details for their newly tooled range of OO Gauge USATC Class S160 2-8-0 steam locomotives! A whopping ten variations of this highly anticipated model are to be produced covering a wide variety of Big Four/ Wartime, Longmoor Military Railway and preservation era colour schemes.


What's more, here at Rails of Sheffield, we have commissioned two special limited edition S160s from Rapido catering for a 1945 USATC liveried example as well as 'Franklin D Roosevelt' in mid-1990s era Longmoor Military Railway blue - you can read a full write up on these two models in our separate article linked below.


The nature of the S160 means that there were a huge number of modifications made to the locomotives over the years and Rapido have catered for many of the most common variations in their tooling suite. All of these new models are expected in 2025 and are available to pre-order now.

S160 Launch Videos

Rails of Sheffield Launch Video


On the Rails of Sheffield channel, you can watch our video detailing a thorough history of the S160 locomotives as well as a full run through of our two exclusive models.

Rapido Launch Video


Meanwhile over on Rapido's channel you can also check out their own video for a run through of the general release range of models.

Pre-Order Now

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DCC Ready - £229.45 (RRP £269.95)

DCC Sound - £322.95 (RRP £379.95)

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Product Features

Highly detailed model with many separately fitted parts including handrails, safety valve, whistle, footsteps, pipework and much more

Vast tooling suite with many detail variations covering many guises of the S160 including different lamp irons, tenders, air pumps, cab configurations and much more

Digital & Sound capability - 21-pin socket 

Pre-fitted with dual speakers - one in the locomotive and one in the tender

Dual LED firebox glow with realistic fire draw effect

Heavy diecast chassis

Powerful motor with twin flywheels

Locomotive and tender wheel pickups

Prototype Information

The USATC S160 Story

Builder
Builder's portrait of No. 5740 at Lima Locomotive Works. Public domain image.

“In the days to come the British and American peoples will for their own safety, and for the good of all, walk together side by side in majesty, in justice, and in peace.” - Winston Churchill addressing a joint session of the US Congress, 26 December 1941.

The year is 1942, the world is at war and the United Kingdom has limited resources to combat the enemy, let alone launch an invasion of the European mainland. What is available is becoming stretched far too thinly, including the nation's railways. Due to years of consistent bombing, the railways were struggling to cope with the increased traffic and locomotives and rolling stock were in short supply. 


Thankfully our American Allies stepped up, aiding us in our hour of need. Despite having joined the fray themselves in late 1941, and needing resources to pursue their own goals, they managed to reinforce the UK with a multitude of supplies, including a fleet of one of the most iconic locos to run on Britain’s Railways, the S160, a spectacular 2-8-0 powerhouse!

Designed by Major J. W. Marsh from the Railway Branch of the Corps of Engineers,this all-American loco had to fit the more restrictive loading gauge of the UK. Theyhad to be easy to build, quick to repair and reliable. Taking inspiration from its predecessor the S200, and the British WD Austerity 2-8-0, the S160 lacked thefinesse of many of the British locomotives it would work alongside, but other than afew teething problems and operational challenges it met its brief perfectly.

S160 technical diagram. Public domain image.
S160 technical diagram. Public domain image.

Constructed in the United States in multiple batches from 1942 to 1945, they were split between the ALCO, Baldwin, and Lima Locomotive Works. Collectively, almost 800 locomotives were shipped to the UK. Landing mainly in Newport, South Wales, as well as Birkenhead, Glasgow and London, the locomotives passed through major workshops before being sent on to the respective railway companies. 

The first 396 were assigned to the 4 railway regions of the era and under the guise of them being run in, 174 were issued to the Great Western Railway, 168 to the London & NorthEastern Railway, 50 to the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, and a much more modest 6 to the Southern Railway. The final 400 UK-issued locos were also stored in South Wales, where they were kept as part of the D-Day preparations.

Locomotives stockpiled in Wales for Operation Overlord. Public domain image.
Locomotives stockpiled in Wales for Operation Overlord. Public domain image.

With the invasion on the horizon, June 1944 saw the stored engines sent for servicing and processing, all leaving by early September 1944. Between 1942 and 1945 a whopping 2120 S160s were built by our American friends, these remaining locomotives along with those stored and gathered locos in the UK, were shipped to mainland Europe and further afield to facilitate wartime supply trains, aiding our European neighbours who had also had their railways ravaged by 6 years of conflict, and ensuring the Allied war effort prevailed. Until the days of preservation, the only S160 retained in the UK post-war was WD93257 (later No.700) Major General Carl R Gray Jr, used to train military personnelin driving and caring for steam locos at the Longmoor Military Railway.

6046 at Didcot Railway Centre in July 2021. Image by Hugh Llewelyn.
6046 at Didcot Railway Centre in July 2021. Image by Hugh Llewelyn.

Following WW2 the S160s were scattered across the globe, from China to Hungary. Whilst in the ownership of a plethora of different railways they were often refitted to accommodate their owners & needs. As time went on the original shape and details of many of the locos would evolve, which was in part, due to the interchangeable nature of their original design. Eight locos have been repatriated to the UK in preservation and all of them are different from their counterparts, some more subtly than others. Despite all having key visual differences, several of the preserved versions havebeen returned to running order, with no less than three examples currently inoperation with a number of others under restoration.


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