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RAILWAYS AND WAR before 1918. R.O.D. CONTRASTS (U.K.)


RAILWAYS AND WAR before 1918. R.O.D. CONTRASTS (U.K.)


Standard 2-8-0 goods locomotive

As the war progressed into 1917, the motley collection of R.O.D. locomotives was greatly supplemented, though never entirely replaced by, a number of standard designs. Foremost among these was the British designed and built 2-8-0 goods locomotive shown in this plate. It would appear that when the need for a standard heavy locomotive became apparent, the War Department first investigated existing British designs to see if any were suitable for purchase 'off the shelf \ Their choice fell on the heavy 2-8-0 freight locomotive designed by J. G. Robinson for the Great Central Railway. The class had been in service since 1911 and proved both robust and reliable; it was taken into service with few modifications except for the addition of steam heating gear and the Westing-house air brake, 521 examples in all being produced to military order by various British manufacturers. Leading dimensions were: boiler pressure; 180 lb/ psi cylinders 21 in. by 26 in., coupled wheel dia. 4 ft 8 in.

Requisitioned goods locomotive pulling a heavy gun

The use of railborne artillery was tentatively explored during the American Civil War; it became a reality for medium sized guns during the South African Wars at the end of the 19th century; it came into full flower during World War One with the development of monster long-range guns that could effectively be fired only from battleships, static coast defence works ... or from railway wagons. Such guns of 11- or 12-in. calibre, and even in one or two cases up to 15 or 16 in., were far too massive to be towed around the roads but did have a definite value in long range harassment of an enemy's communications and rear areas. The demoralising effect of heavy shells falling regularly on a village or town was considerable. At the same time the guns could not always be dug into a static position since they were vulnerable to a sudden advance and if located could often be shelled or bombed. Both sides, on the Western Front in particular, therefore, produced a number of special carrying wagons such as that shown here. They were normally built up from heavy steel box frames forming a braced girder in which the gun was installed, and mounted on multi-wheel bogies to keep down the axleload. The gun had a firing and maintenance crew of anything up to thirty men and a typical one could fire at a rate of some 4 to 6 shells an hour. Each gun normally had its own locomotive, usually an impressed civilian goods engine, and one or more service vehicles. Guns were moved from position to position as required and were frequently sited so that they could either be hidden in tunnels from which they emerged to fire, or established in a cutting which gave some protection. One problem was that the weight of the weapon gave it only a very limited traverse without overbalancing so that either a line had to be found pointing in the required direction or a special siding had to be laid. This was often laid on a constant curve, a so-called 'firing curve', that enabled direction to be varied by shunting the gun truck from one point to another along the line.
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(u.k.), 1918., contrasts, r.o.d., railways


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