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odd US military depressed center flat car

spsalso
 

Well, it's being odd to me, so I'm submitting it here for comments.  Here's a link:



http://en.valka.cz/files/tank_t43_zd_418.jpg



The reporting mark is "USA 499051".  The photo was most likely taken between 1953 and 1956.  The tank is a T43E1, later an M103.


I'm puzzled that it's not "USAX" instead of "USA".  And I'm puzzled that the car doesn't show up in the ORER, at least in 1950 and 1956.  Interestingly, the car number is quite similar to the NYC series for flats.


So, what is it?  And does it have any siblings?


Any and all assistance will be appreciated,



Ed


Edward Sutorik


genegreen1942@...
 

In general the reporting marks "USA" instead of "USAX" identified US Army freight cars intended for or actually in foreign service.  Foreign service usually meant Korea or Germany but some cars and locomotives in the inventory could have the gauge widened to 60 or 66 inches which might suggest to some the possibility of use in countries other than those in western Europe (Spain excluded) or Korea.

The car in the photo appears very similar to the car illustrated on page 5-30 of Department of the Army Technical Manual (TM) 55-208 dated October 1976 which car was described as "Railway car, flat, depressed center, 56 1/2 (143.51 cm), 60 (152.40 cm) and 66 inch (167.64 cm) gages, 70 ton (63 metric ton), 12 wheel, foreign service."

The Department of Defense did not use the reporting marks in most internal documents so, unless you can get close enough to the car to find and read the Federal or National Stock Number, you can't connect the contents of TM 55-208 with contents of the ORER, if indeed the ORER is even applicable.

Gene the insomniac Green

BRIAN PAUL EHNI
 

That¹s an M103 heavy tank. Since it was deployed in 1957, this just
qualifies as STMFC material. LOL!

Thanks!
--

Brian Ehni

From: STMFC List <STMFC@...>
Reply-To: STMFC List <STMFC@...>
Date: Sunday, June 29, 2014 at 11:23 PM
To: STMFC List <STMFC@...>
Subject: [STMFC] odd US military depressed center flat car







Well, it's being odd to me, so I'm submitting it here for comments. Here's
a link:





http://en.valka.cz/files/tank_t43_zd_418.jpg




<http://en.valka.cz/files/tank_t43_zd_418.jpg>

http://en.valka.cz/files/tank_t43_zd_418.jpg
<http://en.valka.cz/files/tank_t43_zd_418.jpg>



View on en.valka.cz <http://en.valka.cz/files/tank_t43_zd_418.jpg>
Preview by Yahoo







The reporting mark is "USA 499051". The photo was most likely taken between
1953 and 1956. The tank is a T43E1, later an M103.



I'm puzzled that it's not "USAX" instead of "USA". And I'm puzzled that the
car doesn't show up in the ORER, at least in 1950 and 1956. Interestingly,
the car number is quite similar to the NYC series for flats.



So, what is it? And does it have any siblings?



Any and all assistance will be appreciated,





Ed



Edward Sutorik

Marty McGuirk
 

Why are you puzzled it's "USA" and not "USAX?" "USA" was a valid reporting mark assigned to the United States Army. As was "USAX." As far as I know they're still considered valid reporting marks by the AAR although most DOD owned rail cars are currently assigned "DODX" reporting marks, I know there's plenty of "USN" lettered cars still around (and some lettered "USNX"). So the existence of a "USA" car in the late 50s wouldn't surprise me.

 

I think it's very odd that the barrel isn't traversed and locked for transport. I also think some of the lighting looks little strange. That photo, provided it's not faked in some way, looks to be from the late 1950s. (The M103 tank was first deployed in 1957, but it may have been photographed prior to deployment when it was being developed and tested).

 

I'm not a tank expert but I know the 103 was primarily fielded by the USMC between 1957 and 1972, when they were all retired from service. A total of 300 M103s were built - with only 70 or so in the Army's inventory for a brief period of time - by 1963 the Army transferred all their M103s to the USMC. 

 

Marty McGuirk 

Charles Peck
 

I find the trucks interesting. Look like Buckeyes but with outboard bolster bearings for stability.
It's been a looooong time since I've been around one of those tanks but it does not look ready
for shipment. More like just a test loading.  I say this because of two things. The 50 cal. MG 
mount on top should be stowed inside, not exposed. And the main gun is elevated, not down
on its travel rests. 
And I wonder why this photo is evidently hosted on a Czechoslovakian website. 
Chuck Peck


On Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 12:23 AM, Edwardsutorik@... [STMFC] <STMFC@...> wrote:
 

Well, it's being odd to me, so I'm submitting it here for comments.  Here's a link:



http://en.valka.cz/files/tank_t43_zd_418.jpg



The reporting mark is "USA 499051".  The photo was most likely taken between 1953 and 1956.  The tank is a T43E1, later an M103.


I'm puzzled that it's not "USAX" instead of "USA".  And I'm puzzled that the car doesn't show up in the ORER, at least in 1950 and 1956.  Interestingly, the car number is quite similar to the NYC series for flats.


So, what is it?  And does it have any siblings?


Any and all assistance will be appreciated,



Ed


Edward Sutorik



John Barry
 

Gene,

Thank you for providing a reference to document what I have observed over the last 50 years.  Photos of WWII equipment so marked abound with stuff moving to Europe and never listed in the domestic ORER.  The flat is suspiciously similar to the AHM/Rocco that I received two of circa 1968.  Perhaps it DID have a prototype after all.  And I did see versions of same for sale in Europe with European buffers and couplers.  
 
John Barry


ATSF North Bay Lines
Golden Gates & Fast Freights


707-490-9696


3450 Palmer Drive, Suite 4224
Cameron Park, CA 95682


From: "genegreen1942@... [STMFC]" To: STMFC@...
Sent: Monday, June 30, 2014 12:42 AM
Subject: [STMFC] Re: odd US military depressed center flat car

 
In general the reporting marks "USA" instead of "USAX" identified US Army freight cars intended for or actually in foreign service.  Foreign service usually meant Korea or Germany but some cars and locomotives in the inventory could have the gauge widened to 60 or 66 inches which might suggest to some the possibility of use in countries other than those in western Europe (Spain excluded) or Korea.

The car in the photo appears very similar to the car illustrated on page 5-30 of Department of the Army Technical Manual (TM) 55-208 dated October 1976 which car was described as "Railway car, flat, depressed center, 56 1/2 (143.51 cm), 60 (152.40 cm) and 66 inch (167.64 cm) gages, 70 ton (63 metric ton), 12 wheel, foreign service."

The Department of Defense did not use the reporting marks in most internal documents so, unless you can get close enough to the car to find and read the Federal or National Stock Number, you can't connect the contents of TM 55-208 with contents of the ORER, if indeed the ORER is even applicable.

Gene the insomniac Green


spsalso
 

Re: the tank

I believe that, at the time of the photo, the tank was called a T43E1.  They were built in 1953-1954.  They were re-classified M103's in April 1956.  I have this belief because:

The lettering on the turret says "U. S. Army Ordnance".  And there's no star.  So I think this was a photo of a tank still in un-assigned service.  Hence it's unlikely to have gotten to M103 status.  Also, the photo is not a classic railfan type shot.  I looks to me very much like an "official" shot of a new-ish tank.  And that could explain how the turret got swung around for the shot--something easy to do if you are in the in-crowd.

And thus I would place the photo between 1953 and 1956.



Ed

Edward Sutorik

Dennis Storzek
 

Following on, the photo has the appearance of being taken to show how nicely the tank fit the existing "overseas service" flatcars. I suspect this was a staged photo for just this purpose, not a photo of a tank loaded for domestic shipment.

Dennis Storzek

spsalso
 

I was wondering if the car could have been in foreign service at the time of the photo.  And perhaps it was.  But as I noted in my just submitted comments, the tank looks to me to be in "pre-release" form.  Thus it would be unlikely to be out of the country.

Getting a tank on and off a depressed center car is MUCH less fun than a standard flat.  But if one needed better vertical clearance, say in Europe, it might be a good idea.  But that raises the question of European weight limits and axle loadings.  Total weight for a depressed center car is usually higher than for an equivalent load/flat deck car.

I note that the ORER says of the USAX reporting marks:  "See Department of the Army, Transportation Supply and Maintenance Command".  If the subject car were "owned" by Army Ordnance, it would reasonably not be listed by DOA,TSMC.

I find the number series interesting.  At the time, only NYC used the 49xxxx numbering.  Yikes, what are the odds?




Ed

Edward Sutorik

spsalso
 

I guess it's actually not that hard to get a tank off a depressed center flatcar (or something similar):





It is, after all, what they "do".



Ed

Edward Sutorik

Marty McGuirk
 

Ed,

I think you're right and this is a tank in its development and testing stage.

Of course, if that's the case the photo could date from anytime from the late 1940s through 1957-58 when the tank was deployed as the M103.

For a lot of details on the tank - see M103 Heavy Tank 1950-74 (New Vanguard)

Might be interesting to send the photo to the author and see if he can offer more details on the photo, which I'm sure he uncovered in his research for the book. 

But don't get confused into thinking this was an "Army" tank - it was the mainstay of the Marines armored elements for two decades - the Army never really wanted the thing.

Marty McGuirk 


 

BRIAN PAUL EHNI
 

I notice that the photo of the tank on the DC flat has the cannon elevated
about the same amount as in the link belowŠ

Just an observation.

I would agree with the revised possible date span as well.

Thanks!
--

Brian Ehni

From: STMFC List <STMFC@...>
Reply-To: STMFC List <STMFC@...>
Date: Monday, June 30, 2014 at 12:42 PM
To: STMFC List <STMFC@...>
Subject: Re: [STMFC] odd US military depressed center flat car







I guess it's actually not that hard to get a tank off a depressed center
flatcar (or something similar):



http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e4/M103_Coleman_Barracks.jpg



It is, after all, what they "do".



Ed

Edward Sutorik










[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

Dennis Storzek
 




---In STMFC@..., <Edwardsutorik@...> wrote :

"I was wondering if the car could have been in foreign service at the time of the photo.  And perhaps it was.  But as I noted in my just submitted comments, the tank looks to me to be in "pre-release" form.  Thus it would be unlikely to be out of the country."

I wasn't suggesting that the car was out of country. I'm going to have to defer to the military experts here, but I don't think those "overseas" flats were ever deployed, but rather spent their entire lives on bases here in the US. I'm sure I've seen references to the  "Roco" style flatcars in Gov't surplus disposition auctions over the years, so at least some must have been built and held ready for deployment. If this is a new, in development tank, it stands to reason at some point that did a "test fitting" to the cars that were designed to haul them across Europe to the front lines.

Dennis Storzek

Bruce Smith
 

Folks,

A little digging on the web page where the original photo was shown at:
gives a very nice history of the development of this series of tanks (although the translation is rough at times!).

As several folks have noted, this appears to be a T43 test vehicle and not an in service M103.  The depressed center car was needed overseas because of tighter clearances.

Given that the T43 prototypes were sent from the Detroit Tank Arsenal to Aberdeen and Fort Knox for testing and with a weight of around 60 tons, these would have required an appropriate flat car for transport (probably NOT the overseas flat car in the photo).  This sort of "rare" load may only appear a few times as the prototypes made the trip from factory to test facility and back to the factory (and perhaps back to the test facility after modifications), but it can be an excuse to "bump" era a bit... for example, I have an M26 Pershing model that I purchased before realizing it was too modern for me... however, the T26E1 is just about perfect to send to Aberdeen.

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMHWWIJ-e94 for a brief video of the T43 undergoing testing.

Regards
Bruce Smith
Auburn, AL


From: STMFC@... [STMFC@...]
Sent: Monday, June 30, 2014 12:48 PM
To: STMFC@...
Subject: [STMFC] Re: odd US military depressed center flat car



Ed,

I think you're right and this is a tank in its development and testing stage.

Of course, if that's the case the photo could date from anytime from the late 1940s through 1957-58 when the tank was deployed as the M103.

For a lot of details on the tank - see M103 Heavy Tank 1950-74 (New Vanguard)

Might be interesting to send the photo to the author and see if he can offer more details on the photo, which I'm sure he uncovered in his research for the book. 

But don't get confused into thinking this was an "Army" tank - it was the mainstay of the Marines armored elements for two decades - the Army never really wanted the thing.

Marty McGuirk 


 



john.allyn@...
 

When I was stationed at Fort Eustis in 1972 there was a substantial amount of equipment configured for European service -- buffers, screw couplers, low clearance cabs, etc.  This was for training purposes.  At that time the Army was using true flat cars for tank loading, as they could be quickly unleaded circus-style.  Tanks also did not present clearance problems requiring a depressed center car.  I suspect that this photo shows a loading exercise at some CONUS base rather than anything overseas.  I will look at my Fort Eustis photos tonight to see if I have photos of anything like this car.

John B. Allyn



From: "destorzek@... [STMFC]"
To: STMFC@...
Sent: Monday, June 30, 2014 1:10:15 PM
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Re: odd US military depressed center flat car

 




---In STMFC@..., wrote :

"I was wondering if the car could have been in foreign service at the time of the photo.  And perhaps it was.  But as I noted in my just submitted comments, the tank looks to me to be in "pre-release" form.  Thus it would be unlikely to be out of the country."

I wasn't suggesting that the car was out of country. I'm going to have to defer to the military experts here, but I don't think those "overseas" flats were ever deployed, but rather spent their entire lives on bases here in the US. I'm sure I've seen references to the  "Roco" style flatcars in Gov't surplus disposition auctions over the years, so at least some must have been built and held ready for deployment. If this is a new, in development tank, it stands to reason at some point that did a "test fitting" to the cars that were designed to haul them across Europe to the front lines.

Dennis Storzek

Marty McGuirk
 


John,

Agree with everything you wrote. But if they tried shipping that tank with the barrel elevated like that they may have some clearnace issues!

Would be interested to see what you turn up from your Ft Eustis days. 

If anyone is ever in the James River peninsula area a visit to Ft Eustis is pretty interesting.

http://www.transchool.lee.army.mil/museum/transportation%20museum/museum.htm

Of course, the Transportation Command is now moved to Indiana, but the Army Transportation Museum is at the old Fort Eustis facility.

 

 

Marty McGuirk

spsalso
 

Bruce,

There were plenty of straight flats with enough capacity available at the time to carry these tanks.  I'm not sure if the Magors had arrived yet, but the 39095 series appears to me to have been available.  And they had  a capacity of 100 tons.

I'll also note that the field manual for this tank shows the loading only for the Magor flats.  NOT for depressed flats that might have been in foreign service.  That certainly doesn't mean that info wasn't elsewhere, but it wasn't "important" enough to have been included in the manual.

If the photo was taken in the US, I s'pose the setup could have happened because of an unusual shipment through territory with low clearance.

I'm a just finding it interesting that there appears to be only ONE photo of this car or any of its brothers.  And no record of the series available.



Ed

Edward Sutorik

Bruce Smith
 

The Magor series of flats was built in 1953, which would coincide perfectly with the introduction of the T43 test program... so a brand new Magor flat with the T43 would be reasonable.  

As for the photo on the depressed center flat, to me that was almost certainly taken at Aberdeen or Fort Knox adn represented a test loading to demonstrate to the Army that the tank would fit the cars to be used, if needed, in the european theater.

Regards
Bruce Smith
Auburn, AL


From: STMFC@... [STMFC@...]
Sent: Monday, June 30, 2014 1:42 PM
To: STMFC@...
Subject: RE: [STMFC] Re: odd US military depressed center flat car



Bruce,

There were plenty of straight flats with enough capacity available at the time to carry these tanks.  I'm not sure if the Magors had arrived yet, but the 39095 series appears to me to have been available.  And they had  a capacity of 100 tons.

I'll also note that the field manual for this tank shows the loading only for the Magor flats.  NOT for depressed flats that might have been in foreign service.  That certainly doesn't mean that info wasn't elsewhere, but it wasn't "important" enough to have been included in the manual.

If the photo was taken in the US, I s'pose the setup could have happened because of an unusual shipment through territory with low clearance.

I'm a just finding it interesting that there appears to be only ONE photo of this car or any of its brothers.  And no record of the series availab! le.



Ed

Edward Sutorik

genegreen1942@...
 

Nice photo, Ed.  Thanks for posting it.  I arrived at Coleman Barracks in January 1961.
Gene Green

genegreen1942@...
 

The Transportation Supply and Maintenance Command in St. Louis closed down 20 years ago or thereabouts.  I would guess that its activities are now handled at Hill AFB or Tooele (sic?) Army Depot in Utah.

I can assure one and all that US Army rail equipment was present in and used regularly in Korea, Alaska and Germany.  (Alaska at least was an overseas assignment back in my day (1960-1987).

To get this discussion back well within the STMFC time period, there are a couple of loads we might occasionally used on our model railroads.  After WWII the planners were convinced there'd be another war in Europe.  Part of preparedness was a set of 5 freight car "kits" intended to be assembled in theater with unskilled troop or indiginous labor and use scrounged trucks & couplers.   See Dept of Army Technical Manual 55-2220-201-35.  My issue is dated December 1958.

Four of the kits were packed in wooden crates but the tank car was already assembled and placed on a flat car.  There were two such loaded flats at Fort Bliss until 1982.  The flats were built in 1953, sent to the tank car assembly plant and loaded.  These flats, and others similarly loaded, were shifted around from installation to installation as missions and planning changed. What we have here is a 53-6 flat (the Life-Like P2K model in HO) that was     loaded in 1953, traveled around from time to time, and was finally unloaded in 1982 - almost 30 years.

The TM refered to above has assembly instructions and drawings for all 5 cars.

Gene Green