Re: Late 40's to mid 50's military rail movements

Daniel A. Mitchell

There’s some confusion in the statement "DODX six-axle flat cars were manufactured in 1953 to handle the Patton family of tanks, which were considerably heavier than their predecessors”. Tanks indeed were getting heavier, and a 6-axle car was in order to better transport them. But that wasn’t exclusively because of the “Patton” tanks. The progression of tanks from WWII was … 1) M-4 Sherman family, about 35-38 tons; 2) M-26 Pershing, about 45 tons; 3) M-46 Patton (an upgraded Pershing), about 45 tons; 4) M-47 Patton (an upgraded M-46 with an all new turret), about 45 tons, 5) M-48 Patton (an all new tank in 1952), about 47 tons.

Thus the substantial increase in weight occurred with the M-26 Pershing, which didn’t go into widespread use until 1946, after WWII. So, it was the M-26 Pershing tanks that "were considerably heavier than their predecessors”. The follow-on M-46, M-47, and M-48 Pattons were not significantly heavier than the Pershings.

The M-26 Pershing was not widely used until the Korean conflict in the early 1950s and this was when the substantial need for a higher capacity flatcar would have been felt, and later met, with the 6-axle cars. So it was the M-26 Pershing tank in 1946, followed in 1949 by the similar M-46 Patton tanks, that led to the 6-axle cars in 1953.

Dan Mitchell

On Oct 17, 2021, at 6:31 PM, Richard Townsend via <richtownsend@...> wrote:

Pure speculation on my part: the war was over and the army did not need the cars. But the pent up consumer demand had been released and the railroads had beaten many cars to death during the war, so they needed cars. The government got a little cash (likely "little" given how cheaply they disposed of war surplus) and the railroad got some cars at a bargain rent.

Richard Townsend
Lincoln City, OR

-----Original Message-----
From: Rupert Gamlen <gamlenz@...>
To: <>
Sent: Sun, Oct 17, 2021 3:22 pm
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Late 40's to mid 50's military rail movements

The 1947 and 1948 CB&Q ORER’s listed 40 U.S. Army boxcars (24167, 24169-24182, 24184-24186, 24190-29195, 24197-24210) as operated under lease by the CB&Q. They were 37’ 9” outside length, inside height 7’ 10”, 80,000 lb capacity with 6’ x 7’ 6” doors and steel center sills. I wondered if this lease/listing was a way to facilitate interchange as opposed to resolving a shortage of cars.

Rupert Gamlen
Auckland NZ
From: <> On Behalf Of Dave Owens
Sent: Monday, 18 October 2021 9:52 am
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Late 40's to mid 50's military rail movements
Bruce Smith is spot on about USAX (later DODX six-axle flat cars). They were manufactured in 1953 to handle the Patton family of tanks, which were considerably heavier than their predecessors.
Prior to that, general service railroad flats would have been used to transport tanks and other vehicles. Gondolas were also used if a vehicle would fit in the gon.
There were DF boxcars owned by the Navy that arrived in the 1950s for hauling munitions.
Most military freight cars from World War I through World War II were tank cars for hauling fuel and other chemicals.
Dave Owens
West Hartford, Connecticut

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