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Trains in WWII

Discussion in 'Other Weapons' started by JCFalkenbergIII, Jul 5, 2008.

  1. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    One of my other favorite subjects. Trains. Troop and especially Armored. :)

    German Troop Train Protection Against Air Attack" from Tactical and Technical Trends

    The following intelligence report on German antiaircraft protection for rail transport is reproduced from the WWII publication Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 5 dated August 13, 1942. For further information on German antiaircraft units and tactics, see also German Antiaircraft Artillery, Special Series No. 10.

    [DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]

    GERMAN TROOP TRAIN PROTECTION AGAINST AIR ATTACK


    The movement of troops by rail is always attended by dangers incident to sudden air attacks. The extent to which these can be successfully warded off, may often determine the final outcome of a battle.
    The German Air Force Manual includes a section entitled "Protection of Troop Trains Against Air Attack."
    Where trains are to be protected by means of antiaircraft machine guns, the troops transported will furnish 3 antiaircraft sections. Three antiaircraft railroad cars are provided, one at the center of the train, and one at the center of the front and rear halves of the train. There are two types of railroad cars: an open high-sided car with a superstructure or scaffolding, and an open low-sided car. The type of car used depends upon the make-up of the train. Thus in the case of non-motorized units which will use roofed cars for the most part, the guns must be placed at a considerable height in order to get a clear field of fire. Therefore, two high-sided cars with a superstructure are used, and only one low-sided car. This allotment of cars is reversed for motorized units. The high-sided antiaircraft cars are spotted in the train with the roofed cars, the low-sided antiaircraft cars with the open cars. Where possible, the guns are mounted on vehicles when the low-sided car is used.
    In conjunction with the antiaircraft machine guns, 20-mm. antiaircraft guns may be used. When the 20-mm. guns are to be used, 2 antiaircraft sections are formed, and 3 low-sided cars, specially designed for antiaircraft use, are provided. One car is placed at the tail-end of the train and another at the center. The third car is placed immediately behind the locomotive so that when the direction of the train is changed, as in switching for example, the tail car need not be shifted; if possible, this car should also be provided with a gun. At least 2 open cars with low loads should be coupled to either side of these special antiaircraft cars in order to give a good field of fire. Additional 20-mm. guns may be used when required.
    Care must be taken that the guns are not struck by obstructions, such as passing trains, tunnels, signal posts, etc. For this purpose, lookouts are detailed to observe on each side of the train. When not firing, the 20-mm. guns should be pointed directly to the front or rear depending on their sector of fire. No warning of attacks can be expected, so all antiaircraft personnel must be kept in a constant state of readiness. There are two aircraft watchers, one observing an arc of 180° to the front, the other to the rear. These watchers should be selected from among the best-trained men and relieved frequently. The procedure for firing is as follows: The normal zone of fire of the guns near the front of the train is to the front, that of the guns near the rear, to the rear; these guns will support each other only when there are no planes within their respective normal zones. The guns in the middle of the train support the front or rear guns as the situation may require. When the train is moving, only tracer ammunition will be used since the motion does not permit accurate sighting. Care must be taken not to shoot up signal posts and other installations, and even if under attack no firing may be done where there are overhead powerlines. At prolonged halts, when for one reason or another fields of fire are obstructed, the guns should be dismantled and set up at suitable points in the surrounding countryside.



    German Troop Train Protection Against Air Attack, WWII Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 5, August 13, 1942 (Lone Sentry)
     
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  2. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    [​IMG]
    The Armored train Hurban now located and preserved near Zvolen Castle in Zvolen, Slovakia.

    The Armored train Hurban was an armored train used during World War II, during the Slovak National Uprising. The Hurban was constructed on September 25, 1944 in the Railway Manufactory in Zvolen, Slovakia, and was the last armored train used in the Slovak National Uprising.


    The commander of the train was Captain J. Kukliš, and his assistant was Lt. J. Belko, together commanding a crew of 71 men. Hurban operated in the BreznoČervená Skala area against the 18th division SS Horst Wessel and from October 23 – 24 1944 was the main factor in the fight for the upper flow of the Hron river. Despite suffering a damaged engine, it repulsed all German attacks. It was pulled to Harmanec, where it was abandoned in a railway tunnel, the crew fighting on as a partisan detachment.

    Armored train Hurban - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  3. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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  4. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Cool! Thanks Za!
     
  5. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    "German Railway Flak" from Tactical and Technical Trends

    The following intelligence report on German railway flak was originally printed in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 17, January 28, 1943.

    [DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]

    GERMAN RAILWAY FLAK


    Protection of troop and freight trains is determined by such weapon disposal as best assures the safe arrival of the train with the minimum of losses. The following article, reproduced by permission of the British Air Ministry, contains information which supplements that reported in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 5, p. 7.
    a. Equipment for Defense of Trains
    The normal Flak gun for the defense of trains is the 20-mm; machine guns are also used. It is possible that the 37-mm gun may sometimes be used, though this is not known for certain. The accompanying sketch shows a 20-mm railway Flak detachment.
    [​IMG]
    An open freight car is the type commonly used for the 20-mm gun according to the German manual. The gun can be accommodated at one end, and the crew under a removable roof at the other; alternate positions are provided at either end of the car so that the gun position and crew shelter can be reversed, if necessary.
    The muzzle-brake is removed from the 20-mm gun to reduce the length of the barrel. Safety fences on all four sides of the gun insure that it is not fired below the safety angle. These measures make it impossible for the gun to strike obstructions such as tunnels, signal posts, or other trains. Other safety measures include the posting of look-outs to prevent firing which might damage telegraph wires, signal posts, tunnels, or other obstructions, and a complete prohibition of firing on electrified lines with overhead cables.
    Photographic evidence suggests that, in practice, converted passenger coaches and roofed freight cars with part of the roof removed are often used instead of freight cars--a measure probably dictated by the need to economize in specially constructed cars.
    b. Employment
    It is understood that the allotment of Flak cars per train is as follows:
    (1) Three cars mounted with machine guns placed a quarter, a half, and three-quarters of the way along the train.
    (2) Three cars carrying 20-mm light Flak guns: one in the middle of the train, one at the rear, and one immediately behind the locomotive. The gun behind the locomotive is not manned, being a spare to permit reversing the train without shunting the guns.
    (3) On especially important trains an additional 20-mm gun is carried on a car in front of the locomotive.
    In practice the allotment of Flak cars varies considerably, and it is probable that the full allotment is rarely allowed. A recent report stated that on French railroads two Flak cars, instead of the usual allotment of one, were to be run at the rear of all trains in use by the armed forces; on the other hand, in many cases an allotment of as little as one gun to a train is made.
    Examples of trains (believed to be military) photographed in France are as follows:
    (1) Engine, 5 passenger coaches, 5 box-cars, Flak car, 12 box-cars, 5 flat cars, 3 box-cars, 8 flat cars;
    (2) Engine, 4 passenger coaches, 14 flat cars, Flak car, 25 box-cars;
    (3) Engine, 23 flat cars, 5 box-cars, Flak car, 3 passenger coaches, 2 box-cars, 16 flat cars, 1 open car, 2 flat cars, and 1 box-car.
    It is of interest that, in most cases in these examples, the Flak car is preceded or followed by box-cars, which must presumably hinder somewhat the field of fire.
    On the move the guns, continuously manned, are allotted 180° priority arcs as follows:
    (1) Forward--the front MG and center 20-mm guns;
    (2) Rearward--the center and rear MG's and the rear 20-mm gun;
    (3) Forward--the 20-mm gun in front of the locomotive (when carried).
    When the train is stopped, the guns may be moved from the cars and deployed on the ground so as to give a better field of fire. The decision to do this naturally depends on the probable length of the halt.
    c. Protection of Ground Areas and Lines of Communication
    In many parts of Germany and also, it is believed, elsewhere (especially in Russia), mobile heavy and light Flak units are employed with guns on railway mounts. They may be equipped with any of the following calibers: 20-mm (single or four-barrelled), 37-mm, 75-mm, probably 88-mm, 105-mm, and possibly 150-mm. These units move from place to place in special Flak trains, with their own living and kitchen accommodations. The heavy guns are not fired on the move, though no doubt one or two of the light guns are manned for defense of the train. On arrival at their destination the trains are broken up, and the guns and equipment sited on sidings.
    Considerable reliance is placed by the Germans on these railway Flak units as a means of providing rapid reinforcement to threatened areas. Air reconnaissance has shown that frequently railway Flak has been moved to ground defense areas after a heavy RAF attack, in the expectation of further attacks on subsequent nights. Instances have also been reported of the employment of railway Flak at objectives where, for reasons of expediency, no permanent Flak protection is provided.
    Apart from the reinforcement of ground defense areas, railway Flak units are used, especially in theaters of active operations, for mobile protection of railway communications. For this purpose light guns are apparently considered of most value, presumably since stations, junctions, loading bays, and sidings are particularly vulnerable to low-flying attack.
    d. Composition
    Heavy railway Flak units identified from air photographs normally consist of four heavy Flak cars, two light Flak cars, and a command group. The command group comprises cars of a special type, often four in number, one of which carries the Kommandogerät (director and rangefinder) and a second, in some cases, equipment for remote fire control. The purpose of the remaining two cars is not entirely clear; one is possibly a plotting and control unit for the use of the gun position officer (battery executive) and the other may in some instances carry a searchlight. In many instances the command group is confined to two cars. These may correspond with the first two cars of the four-car command group, though it is not unlikely that they may be associated with units equipped with the lighter auxiliary fire-control instruments only, one car carrying the auxiliary director and the other the rangefinder. In addition to the operational cars there are several coaches which provide accommodation for the personnel.
    e. Siting
    So far as the limitations imposed by the railway tracks permit, an effort is made to lay out the gun positions in the normal manner. The heavy Flak cars are usually sited on the unoccupied tracks of a siding at the corners of a rectangle, the long sides of which generally vary from about 40 to 80 yards. The command group is sited at one end of the position, some 100 to 300 yards distant, and the light Flak cars generally at either end of the position. A position of this type is shown in the sketch on the following page.
    [​IMG]
    When only a single siding is available, the heavy Flak cars are sited along it at intervals of 40 to 50 yards, the remainder of the position being similar to the type described above.
    f. Construction
    There appear to be two main types of heavy and one main type of light Flak cars. Their dimensions and construction are shown in the accompanying sketches; since the measurements are obtained solely from photographic interpretation, they are subject to a margin of error of 10 to 15 percent.
    [​IMG]
    The extension to the center part of the broad-type heavy Flak car (outside the dotted lines in the sketch) is clearly shown by photographic evidence to be a folding flap. It is highly probable that the platform surrounding the raised portions is also capable of being folded or detached when in transit, since the movement of a 15-foot vehicle would be impracticable, except possibly on special sections of a railroad. The raised portions are about 2 to 3 feet above floor level; it is of interest that, whereas they are surrounded by a platform in the broad-type car, they extend the whole width of the narrow type.
    g. Organization Railway Flak units are organized into regiments, battalions, and batteries; the precise composition of the units is not known. It is believed that the regimental organization forms a pool from which units may be drawn as the necessity arises, either for mobile defense or for train protection. The unit most frequently met with is the battery, which in mobile defense probably moves and operates as a unit; in the case of train protection, the battery headquarters presumably administers detachments allocated to different trains. Although railway Flak units are part of the German Air Force and are administered through the usual GAF channels, it is probable that train protection detachments are operationally subordinate to the transport authorities; there is some evidence that guns provided for the protection of military trains may in certain circumstances be manned by army personnel.


    German Railway Flak, WWII Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 17, January 28, 1943 (Lone Sentry)
     
  6. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    I really fell in love with Armored Trains after reading Steven Zaloga's book on the Polish Campaign. I have 2 German Armored Trains and 1 Polish one for my miniature wargaming.
     
  7. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    Pah,
    All these are mere fripperies when compared to the armoured Juggernaut that was...
    The Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Light Railway:
    [​IMG]
    Guarding PLUTO, with the world's smallest railway.

    Cheers,
    Adam.
     
  8. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    [​IMG]
    Armored train number 695 of BP-35 type (PR-35 + 2 x PL-37) supported by BA-20 and BA-10 armored cars/railcars
    WW2 Rail-road armor
     
  9. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    [SIZE=+1]The armoured train nr. 11 (former "Danuta")[/SIZE] was commanded by Cpt. Bolesław Korobowicz.
    The train was initially assigned to co-operate with the 26th Infantry Division.
    During the first days of the war, since the early morning of 1 September 1939, it was used mainly on patrol duties, covering the division units in the area of Kcynia town and the Noteć River. On 4 September, enemy planes bombed the train at Szubin town, causing only slight damage. Later that day the train, assigned to the 15th Infantry Div. of the "Pomorze" Army, was bombarding enemy units near Bydgoszcz, at Bydgoski Channel. During 6-7 September, train nr. 11, assigned temporarily to the newly created operational group of Gen. J. Drapella, covered the withdrawal from Inowrocław town. On 9 September it reached Kutno railway junction, but as a result of air raids during the journey, the armoured train lost contact with its auxiliary section. In Kutno it met the armoured train nr. 14.
    The first - and last - major battle in which it took part was the battle of the Bzura river - a Polish attempt at a counter-offensive. To make it possible to get to Łowicz, the train's crew spent two days repairing the heavily bombed track, and even partially building a new track with embankment! The train came into action on 14 September, near Łowicz. Its tankettes, acting in reconnaissance, were shot at. One of them was damaged, but the crew was able to repair it and withdraw. On the next day, the train's crew found four 75mm field guns in an abandoned evacuation train - they were manned by the crew and, along with the train's artillery, utilised to repel the attacks of the German 24th Inf. Div. Later that day the train was supporting the Polish 16th Inf. Division.
    On 16 September, "Danuta" was still fighting against the German 31st Inf. Rgt (from the 24th Division). The train's artillery, corrected by a forward observer, halted a German attack in open terrain for several hours, while the manoeuvring train was not an easy target. Despite a few hits, the train's crew carried on fighting. Finally, the Germans managed to draw up some AT-guns and hit the locomotive, killing its crew. They also hit one artillery turret. Since the train's ammunition supplies were coming to an end as well, Cpt. Korobowicz ordered the train to be blown up and left. The Germans did not move further that day. Most of the train's crew was taken prisoner on the next day along with the Polish 4th Inf. Division. Only few managed to escape to Warsaw, where they were incorporated into an improvised armoured train.
    The train itself was not repaired by the Germans. Only the assault wagon of "Danuta" was used in the German train Panzerzug 21.
    [​IMG]
    This photo most likely shows armoured train nr. 11 ("Danuta") after its final combat. According to the combat reports, the train was blown up, injuring several enemy soldiers. However, the photo does not show that much damage. On the other hand, the photos of a blown-up train below, depict train nr. 12 "Poznanczyk". This issue remains unclear (maybe this description is partially confused with "Poznanczyk"?...)


    [SIZE=+1]The armoured train nr. 12 (former "Poznańczyk")[/SIZE] was commanded by Cpt. K. Majewski (- a map ).
    On 31 August 1939, train nr. 12 was assigned to the 56th Inf. Rgt. of the 25th Inf. Div., guarding the approaches to the small town of Krotoszyn. Since the early morning of 1 September 1939, the train supported Polish units defending Krotoszyn, among others bombarding German infantry at Cieszków (Freyhan). Since 2 September, it was ordered to co-operate with Wielkopolska BK (Cavalry Brigade), and was used mainly on patrol duties.
    On 5 September, the train was ordered to Warsaw. It was difficult, however, to drive the train through damaged lines. On 7 September, it became stuck near Sochaczew as a result of lines blocked by evacuation trains, reaching from Sochaczew to Blonie. On 9 September, still in that area, it fought against a German 'task force' of the 24th Inf.Div. trying to capture a ford across the Bzura River in Sochaczew. In the first few minutes, the train destroyed 7 enemy vehicles. When the Germans gathered their artillery, they managed to set one wagon on fire, and the train was forced to retreat to Blonie. Later that day, when the attempted breakthrough to Warsaw failed, because the line was captured by the reconnaissance unit of the 4th Pz.Div., Cpt. Majewski ordered to leave the train and destroy it. Most of the crew broke through to Warsaw. As is evident from the photos, the train was blown up and too heavily damaged to be repaired by the Germans.
    [​IMG] Apart from the photo below, these photos were previously recognized as "Danuta" wreck... In fact they most probably depict armoured train nr.12 ("Poznanczyk").

    Below right: the only photo with the assault wagon visible, which is different, from the one in "Danuta". The 75mm gun turret is visible, a dark shape on the right (above the artillery wagon) is likely a blown up armour strip. [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Nr.11 'Danuta' and Nr.12 'Poznanczyk' - Polish armoured trains
     
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  10. TA152

    TA152 Ace

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    Anouther great thread JC :)
    I don't know much about trains but during WWII did all European countries use the same gauge track ? Seems like I read that some countries used different track and the cars of one country could not go to anouther country.

    Also the pictures reminded me of the troop train from the movie Dr Zarvago.
     
  11. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    You are right the Soviets used a smaller track the most other European countries.
     
  12. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Germany made use of armoured trains from the beginning of the Second World War. Extensive use was made of captured material, and new trains were built for the invasion of Russia in 1941. Military success was followed by lengthening supply lines, and armoured trains were needed to protect the railways from partisan activity.
    Attack, defence, patrol and maintenance of communications, even artillery support: there was a wide variety of potential roles for the armoured train. In May 1942 the decision was made to create a standard design of train - the BP42 - which, with a few improvements and modifications, was to serve to the end of the war. Eleven BP42 trains were constructed, and several older trains were re-configured to approximate to this standard, using the existing stock. Additional anti-tank firepower was later added, to make the BP44.
    Composition
    The complete BP42/BP44 train was symmetrical. In the centre was an armoured locomotive. This had an armoured tender behind, and an identical auxiliary tender ATG-2 in front to increase range. Next came artillery wagons ATG-3, each with some accommodation, for kitchen or medical purposes. The gun, a 7.2cm or 10 cm howitzer, was housed in a ten-sided revolving turret. Outside these came two nearly identical wagons. One was the infantry wagon ATG-5, and the other the command wagon ATG-4, nearly identical but distinguishable by minor differences in the roof plates and by its radio aerials. Outside these came an artillery and flak wagon ATG-6. The flak was the 2 cm Flakvierling, and the turret was identical with that of the artillery wagon. Armour for all units was between 1.5 and 3 cm. This extended down to protect the bogies. Articulating armour plates allowed the crew to move between the wagons under cover. The train's armament was strengthened by the addition of two tanks, to enable it to take the fight to the enemy. These travelled in tank-carrier wagons ATG-7 in a central well between the wheels, to give added protection to the running gear. A ramp at the outer end of the wagon enabled the tank to disembark rapidly. Typically two Czech 38T tanks were carried: not a match for the later enemy tanks, particularly in the East, but reliable, and highly effective against partisans. At either end of the BP42 was a pusher car ATG-8. This was essentially a flat car which was more expendable than the rest of the train and would hit trouble first. Facing the tank-carrier car a special automatic coupling enabled swift detachment so that the tank could be deployed more swiftly. The pusher cars were usually loaded with ballast and track-mending equipment.

    The BP44 was the improved version of the BP 42, introduced in 1944. The most visible change was the replacement of the pusher cars with Panzerjäger wagons ATG-9. Essentially these were flat cars with a low superstructure carrying the Panzer IV turret armed with the long 7.5cm KwK L/48 as seen on the Mark J. This gave some measure of protection against tank attack. Strengthening of the armour plate was largely precluded by the resulting weight increase. An order was placed for 46 Panzerjäger wagons, but may not have been fully implemented. Where possible the artillery turrets were to be up-armed with the 10.5cm Field Howitzer, or the 15cm howitzer. BP42 and BP44 trains were also provided with two Panhard Armoured Cars, able to operate normally but also supplied with alternative rail wheels for scouting along the tracks. The wheels not in use were typically carried in the pusher cars.
    Variations
    We have depicted the typical equipment for the BP42 and BP44 types. Variations did exist. As the war progressed, designs of existing cars were simplified. There was also the continuing use of older material, upgraded and re-armed if possible to match the standard of the BP42/44 specification. There were also some later modifications. The 2 cm Flakvierling was in a few cases replaced by the Wirbelwind turret, which improved protection for the crew. At least one train, number 32, mounted 3.7cm flak guns. There were also minor variations between the armoured locomotives. On occasion the Czech 35 T, or the French Somua or Lorraine SP gun were used in place of the 38 T.
    Conclusions
    The BP42/44 trains were formidable weapons. They had considerable firepower in their own right and their crew of in excess of 130 men was able to launch effective infantry action with armoured support. They were ponderous, and in some situations found difficulty combating the guerrilla tactics of partisans. They were vulnerable to mine-traps, and their great firepower was at times not fully useable. As the tide turned against Germany they proved very effective in the defensive fighting and protection of rail communications from the advancing Russians.

    WW2
     
  13. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Armored train "Ufa" of BP-43 type


    [​IMG]
    Armored train of BP-43 type [​IMG]
    Armored train "Metro of Moscow" of BP-43 type





    WW2 Rail-road armor
     
  14. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    [​IMG]
    Polish armoured train Danuta from 1939. From the left: artillery wagon, infantry assault wagon, armoured locomotive, artillery wagon.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


     
  15. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    [​IMG]
     
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  16. lebowski

    lebowski Member

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    is this a joke? what's the rationale behind those theme park style mini railway?
     
  17. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    No Joke.
    The RH&D railway was an existing miniature railway in Kent (the smallest in the world) that was requisitioned, armed, and armoured as part of the protection for the PLUTO 'Pipeline Under The Ocean' project.
    RHDR

    Cheers,
    Adam.
     
  18. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Does anyone have any info on this?

    In Malaya in 1942, an armoured train was part of Operation Krohcol, the British advance into Siam to resist the Japanese attack.

    "The last column was an armoured train, with a 30 men from the 2/16th Punjab Regiment and some engineers, advanced into Thailand from Padang Besar in Perlis. This armoured train reached Khlong Ngae, in Thailand, and successfully destroyed a 200 foot bridge before successfully withdrawing back to Padang Besar."

    Operation Krohcol - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  19. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    [​IMG] (Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch line) (the worlds smallest)
    [​IMG]
     
  20. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Italy

    [​IMG]
     

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