😮 Rails EXCLUSIVE Rapido S160 Locomotives Announced

Posted by Jack Morgan on

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Rails of Sheffield is excited to announce a duo of exclusive USATC Class S160 2-8-0 steam locomotives, produced in partnership with Rapido Trains UK. Our two models cover two distinct eras for this iconic wartime beast - with 'Private H J O'Brien' replicated in its 1945 condition and 'Franklin D Roosevelt' in a special mid-1990s preserved colour scheme.


These two S160 locomotives are set to release in 2025 alongside the rest of the Rapido Trains S160 range, which you can see more on below. Bear in mind that these limited editions are to be produced in small quantities - so we highly recommend that you place a pre-order for your S160s ASAP to ensure that you don't miss out on a chance to bring one home to your collection.

S160 Launch Video

Pre-Order Now

WD701 'Franklin D Roosevelt'

Tooling Variations & Livery Details

  • Standard lamp irons
  • Straight strap smokebox door
  • PKP air pump
  • Pipework mounted behind chimney
  • Straight running boards
  • Right hand drive with pole reverser and original pattern firehole door
  • Standard wartime tender
  • Boiler-mounted ejector pipe fitted

Livery - Longmoor Military Railway blue with extra embellishments including red lining, red motion & tender bogies, whitewall tyres and white-edged running board.

About the Loco

WD701 at Alton in April 1991. Photo by Andy M.
WD701 at Alton in April 1991. Photo by Andy M.

This S160 locomotive was built by Baldwin as works No.3278 in 1944. It was sent straight to France in 1944 and, at the cessation of hostilities, the locomotive was given to the Itallian State Railways where it was absorbed into the 736 class and renumbered as 736.073. 


In 1959 it was sent to Greece after being sold along with 25 other locomotives. Eventually the engine was bought and moved to the UK in 1984 and based at the Mid Hants Railway. The engine was given the name Franklin D. Roosevelt and restored to operation. 


The engine was painted in a LMR inspired livery of blue with red lining, but featured extra embelishments including red motion and tender bogies, whitewall tires and white-edged running boards.

2582 'Pvt. H. J. O'Brien'

Tooling Variations & Livery Details

  • Standard lamp irons
  • Straight strap smokebox door
  • Westinghouse air pump
  • Pipework mounted behind chimney
  • Straight running boards
  • Right hand drive with pole reverser and original pattern firehole door
  • Standard wartime tender
  • Boiler-mounted ejector pipe fitted

Livery - All over Black with Transportation Corps U.S.A. on tender. Name and Battalion details painted on cab-side alongside extra embellishments including aluminium painted smokebox, firebox cylinder covers and saddle, white-edged running boards,white wall tyres and axle ends.

About the Loco

No.2582 was built in Ohio by Lima in 1943. The engine was sent to the UK in November 1943 and stored until August 1944 when it was sent to Europe.


Eighteen S160s deployed to Northern Europe carried names. The first of these was No.2582. 


On 27th February 1945 amidst the ruins of Liège in Belgium, a ceremony was held where Major General Frank S. Ross dedicated a suitably bulled-up No.2582 to Pvt. H. J. O’Brien of the 741st Battalion, who had been killed in an air attack on 24th December 1944. 


The engine continued to be used until September1945 when it was stored at the USATC dump in Louvain. In 1947 the engine was sold to the Polish State Railways and became No.Tr203.199 in the PKP fleet.

Image from the Pictorial Handbook of Military Transportation
Image from the Pictorial Handbook of Military Transportation

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

General Release Range

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Aside from our two exclusive S160 locomotives listed here, Rapido are also releasing a huge range of other examples covering Big Four/ wartime, Longmoor Military Railway and preserved examples. You can find out more about these models and pre-order them using the link below.

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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